Template painting in gouache of a pear. For my how-to instructions of creating great template art

Sweet and Tempting Template Art

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A Technique to Try at Home – How to use Gouache with Templates

Doing a search and find book is fun, but it means a lot of computer work which isn’t necessarily good for the eyes. I am yearning for simple, messy, wet, colourful paint. But, I do not want to fall in the habit of trying to make things look hyper-realistic whilst painting. So I have decided to use a template technique with gouache. It is easy to learn. And for a simple image, you won’t need much time at all. 

All you need is some thin cardboard, 1-2 bristle brushes or a kitchen sponge, cut up and some gouache or cheap acrylics, a sketchbook, a knife and an idea. 

My suggestion is to ransack the fridge. You probably have some fruit in it. You want to keep your experiment simple, so select a piece of fruit. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, I chose a pear that was turning brown. I placed it on a white plate just in case it started to leak. (It didn’t). 

Getting Ready

  1. Place your fruit (or vegetable) in a place where it casts a nice looking shadow. 
  2. Set up your palette. For this pear, I use yellow, dark blue and caput mortem, which is a reddish purple. Note: gouache dries more slowly than acrylic and you can reactivate it with water. You will have to cover up the acrylic or add a moistening medium to it to keep it workable.
  3. Cut two rectangles larger than your drawing will be. Draw your food shape onto one rectangle.Now draw the shape of the shadow on the other. I would recommend just exaggerating the food shape in width and length. Don’t worry about being too specific. Tip: Label your templates, i.e. Pear, Pear Shadow.Cut out the food shapes wiith the knife. Set them aside.  You should now have two negative and two positive forms each. 

Insider Tip: My newsletter readers can download and print out the pear templates I’ve made.

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Photo of a cropped pear ©Kimberley Hoffman. The pear is half brown with the tapered part golden yellow
You can use this pear as a painting reference. (But for personal use only)

Next comes the fun part.

  1. Place the rectangle shadow template on your paper and tape it down. 
  2. Place the cut out fruit (not the shadow) over that. The open space that is formed will be where you paint the shadow.Tape it down, too.
  3. Dab your bristle brush into the blue and then onto your paper inside of the template. You can let a little of the paper show through. That will add an interesting texture. Let dry for a few minutes. 
  4. Next line up the square fruit template over the image you’ve just painted and tape it down. 
  5. This is where I made a happy mistake. I dabbed a little of the blue onto a spot on my pear. I changed brushes and then used some of my cadmium yellow. It smoothed over the blue and made a nice green spot. Try that.
  6. Finally, dab the reddish brown paint onto parts of the pear. Remember to paint the stem, too. 

You are done. Wasn’t that easy? You could make a whole fruit bowl this way.

Photo: Stencilling in the sketchbook. Image of my sketchbook, a bristle brush, a pear and stencils ©Kimberley Hoffman

If you liked this how-to about creating some easy art templates, then you might like the following articles, too.

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