Monthly Archives: July 2021

Cashew! Bless you!!

Cashew fruit (false fruit), nut and leaves

Knowing that the first week of the month is usually peppered with admin distractions, including the recent termite attack and a plumbing leak, I decided to start work on a botanical painting that could be handled as a project that allowed stops and starts.

I used a photograph that I had taken of a cashew fruit and leaves from my wife’s grandparent’s farm. The photo is on sale via Alamy if anyone is interested in using it.


I made an initial pencil sketch on A3 paper based on my photo. The photo itself was taken a few years ago with fruit and leaves carefully arranged on a white background and photographed in natural light.

I then lightened the pencil lines with a soft kneadable eraser so as to give me a guide without creating more work to erase the lines after painting. When painting in watercolour I prefer to have very light pencil lines only.

The leaf veins were painted in with a light wash of cadmium yellow before applying a light cadmium red wash on the fruit. I pulled off some colour with a damp brush to ensure I knew where the highlights would be. As the nut is a pale colour I decided to paint it first, initially with a very light wash of raw umber before subtly building up the colour.

To see more clearly where I needed variations in tone I applied a very pale wash on the leaves – darker in parts where I wanted to see shadows.

I then made adjustments to the nut to give form and texture.

As I did with the fruit (pseudo fruit – as the seed is formed outside the pulp rather than within it – which defines a fruit) I used a damp brush to take out colour in the leaves where the highlights would be.

I had thought of leaving the fruit to the end but, as it was the star of the painting, I painted this next.

The leaves of the cashew are a yellowish green so, to accentuate this, I painted a yellow-green wash over the leaves to make them more vivid. A couple of subtle washes were added to the nut: red at the top and green below – barely visible but it made a difference.

I worked on each leaf, working on each segment between the veins, until all of them were painted. I had to take out some colour to create smaller veins on some leaves.

The final stage involved adding shadows in key areas and adjusting the colours to show where the leaves were slightly deformed.

I would have preferred a brighter red for the fruit as I find it too dark. That may be a result of the paper I used. Perhaps hot-pressed paper would be better.

I like to leave this type of painting for a few days to take a fresh look and make adjustments if necessary. I may add some shadow under the leaves.

Thanks for following.

Shoot Stock


Slow week

Red-billed Blue Magpie

I managed only two paintings this week, my time having been taken up with household activities after a second attack of termites in the house was discovered just after releasing my last post. Having left things for a whole week the termites are back today. It seems there are forces at work to keep me from doing what I want. C’est la vie!

The first painting I completed this week was of a Red-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa erythroryncha). It is one of my favourite birds from my Hong Kong days. I lived there for a total of ten years – most of that time in the Mid-levels within walking distance of my office – but also for a few years further out, at the edge of the Tai Tam Reservoir Park.

Among the 25 species of birds that I saw on a daily basis I would see several of these Magpies moving through the trees in the Mid-levels.

Watercolour painting on A3 paper

Tufted Coquette

Tufted Coquette (Lophornis ornatus)

This is the second time I have painted this bird (having painted all four of the Brazilian Coquettes), the first time was on A4 paper. This lovely bird is resident in the extreme north of Brazil including Amapa where I would spend the occasional weekend when I lived in Belem.

Watercolour painting on A3 paper

Stay safe.

Shoot Stock