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Try to be one of those people upon whom nothing is lost.  — Henry James

Look deeply: the skin of a ripe, red tomato is not an opaque layer of bright color. Just like our own skin, a tomato is covered in tissue that is slightly transparent. The colors that lie below the skin surface are just visible enough to have an influence on the more intense outer color. Even the ripest tomato will often have a little subcutaneous green or yellow blush around the stem end. If you have grown them, you know that each young tomato must ripen its way through phases of bright green and yellow, finally reaching the robust red of juicy maturity.

Get yourself a ripe tomato — even a cherry tomato will work fine for this experiment. Paint your way through the ripening process, using thin layers and waiting for each color to dry before adding the subsequent one. Don’t have watercolors handy? It also works with colored pencil, but you’ll need to use a very thin layer of each color to keep the transparent effect. Here’s a colored pencil page full of ripening roma tomatoes from our garden of several years ago. Enjoy!

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