We have all seen the Fall cornucopia illustrations with delectable fruits spilling over, or the simple drawing of a glass of wine that makes your lips purse in thirst. How is it that an artist is able to make these portraits so appetizing with pencil, paper and water color? Drawing realistic food is not as easy as it seems, and requires months of practice before you can even begin to get it right.
In the real world, it is more than our eyes that look at food. All of the senses are affected, especially the sense of smell. In order to get your food painting right, you need to remember that and use is to your advantage.
As a subject for artwork, you really can’t beat food. It’s appealing universally and won’t move around when you are trying to capture its essence. Still it is can be a challenge. Just like with cooking it, sometimes you can create something that is recognizably mouthwatering, and other times you create nothing more than a hot mess.
There is a reason why there are no pictures of Brussels sprouts adorning the walls of fine art museums. Artists know that when drawing food, it is important to stick with what they know and like, and there are not too many of them extolling the virtues of that little green veggie. When choosing food for your subject, pick something you know and love and are intimately familiar with.
Southern American artists understandably have a knack for drawing fried foods that you just know are crispy if only you could touch it. That comes from their familiarity with anything that comes out of a deep fryer. These artists have brought genius to coming up with the varying shades of tan and brown that you see after dropping a battered chicken leg into a deep fryer.
With some foods, like ice cream for example, you have to add some other elements to ensure that the viewer knows what it is they are looking at. A bowl of chocolate ice cream is not very appealing in print until you add some whipped cream and throw a cherry on top. Accessorizing your food drawings is often what will make them visually appealing.
Play with the colors and blend them to make the food more realistic looking. If you study a red apple, you are going to see that it is not entirely red all over. There are changes in the shades that you should emulate in your painting. Study your food subject carefully, with your eyes, hands and nose, to make it look as close to the real thing as possible when you put it down on paper.
Many artists view food drawing as simplistic and even amateurish, but that is far from the truth. Trying to capture the essence of something that we care so much about is a difficult feat to accomplish. Give yourself plenty of time to master this skill and you are going to more than pleased with your palate pleasing paintings.