I can find fault aplenty with this watercolor onion of mine, but that’s not where I am going today. I can spend way too much time in the land of fault-finding. I’m thrilled with how this came out.

In our first class, we were to draw an onion from 12 different perspectives. I hadn’t even peeled it and already felt a few tears welling up. How was I going to do this, and a dozen times no less? Then I remembered I was there to have fun, to learn new techniques, to play with color.

Each week, as a warm up exercise, we choose a different onion to paint.  One week it’s monochrome, one week primary colors. The week of this onion it was tertiary colors, blending primaries (red, yellow, blue) with neighboring secondaries (orange, purple, and green).  I loved swirling a bit of red into yellow, then a bit more and more until I had a red that barely tilted orange. Could I swirl red into blue for a blue-violet of similar intensity? To my eye, the outer onion skin needed to lean way toward yellow with  just enough orange to resemble an onion and not a clementine.

Skewing the background on the diagonal was my anarchy for the day.  The most fun? Patterning the blue-violet section. You’ll never guess how. With stencils and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. First, paint your watercolor. Let it dry and then tear off a small bit of the Magic Eraser. Wet the eraser and squeeze it until it’s barely damp. Place your stencil over the painted section you want to modify and lightly scrub the area. Carefully lift your stencil and there you are.  Magic!  I have a stash of the erasers but no stencils.  Gotta change that.


  1. Pam Ziarnik

    I love this! It is beautiful and so creative!

  2. Elizabeth

    I could tell it was an onion and I love the basic tri-color of the piece and the diagonals. That don’t seem like anarchy to me. They add texture and depth and help the onion to pop. Well done!

    • Debra Darvick

      Thank you, Elizabeth. I was going to divide the background horizontally and
      then something said, “Go diagonally.” Shades of Harry Potter! (Diagon Alley)

  3. LaurieL

    I love the colors and the freedom to paint the onion any way you wanted to. It’s an onion to me, but it has the flavor of Debra in it and on it! I would never know how to do this, with all the marks perfectly placed to create such a pleasant visual. Thanks for being you, Debra, and showing all your colors in this one picture.

    • Debra Darvick

      Thank you Laurie. This class has shown me that I like working with watercolors.
      My onions are pleasing.


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