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.