With one weekend to go, and my other work having progressed very satisfactorily*, I turned my mind to a suitable subject. Should I paint a scene from the farm? An Alpaca? The Highland cattle? I looked at the table in front of me... one mug of roibos tea, cold. A plate with crumbs from lunch. Salt and pepper ... a plastic pack of cherries. Hmmmm.
I called for volunteers.
I selected three suitable candidates. Two were very dark, one redder. They had good stalks, evenly curved, albeit rather dried-up. I tried them in a variety of arrangements, and finally settled on one that was interesting, but also had interesting negative spaces - the shapes between the stalks.
It's going to be a watercolour painting.
Working on 300gsm paper, I carefully and lightly penciled the shapes of the cherries and their stems.
I made them slightly larger than life size.
I find it's best to do the lines very lightly first and when I am happy with the position of a line, I do it again slightly darker. I hardly ever erase. If I use an eraser it can scuff up the paper surface and then when I lay down the paint, it doesn't go on evenly. Also, even if I erase the marks, pencil lines can dent the paper, and paint can accumulate darker in the dents (although sometimes this is useful).
I took my time and looked hard at the colours I could see in the cherries. The front one was pinker, the back ones a deep, deep maroon, almost black. I know from experience that purple (blue and pink) with a little orange, will make that plummy maroon. (If you add too much orange or yellow it goes to the brown).
I very rarely use black. I find it 'deadens' paintings.
The patches of gloss are best achieved by allowing white paper to remain. I have to be careful not to paint over them. The pink pigment especially, stains the paper and won't come off.
Here was my palette:
I painted each cherry separately in the pink, then added the orange, then the blue.
|Whoops, forgot to photograph |
the stages of the first cherry.
|I spent a lot of time looking at the real fruit.|
|Orange is laid over the pink on both the front cherries|
|Blue laid over the right cherry. |
Have to come back to that one, it's still too pale.
|There, another layer of blue on the right hand cherry.|
|A layer of blue on the front cherry. |
I must remember that I don't want to go as dark with this one.
|More blue on the front cherry.|
|Adding a shadow suddenly brings the fruit off the page.|
A few tiny specks of blue at the base of each stem anchored them into each cherry. Shadows are very important to give the illusion of 3D.
More orange and more red brightened up the surface of the blue, without mixing unto it.
I exaggerated the front cherry's redness, to contrast with the others. Artist's license.
Each cherry reflected onto its neighbour, darkly.
The pale of the table reflected up onto the cherries as a paler stripe.
And below that, the shadow reflected up too, as a dark stripe.
|More shadow and careful touches of almost full-strength|
prussian blue makes the dark reflections look rich and glossy.
I also spent some time with a tiny brush
'washing' off colour that had crept onto the white sky patches.
Almost good enough to eat.