Black and redcurrant “In red and black”

Dear Friends. You have been waiting for this step-by-step demonstration for a while so here it is. As you can see, you don’t have to go far to find inspiration. The garden is the best place for it. Nature fills us with such an amount of fruit and berries that in summer, you just have to bend to pick them up. I really enjoyed, as usual, looking for the perfect shade to use on the berries, the blackcurrant in particular which is anything but black…

- 140lb cold pressed Arches watercolour paper 10x14in
- Brushes : Raphael series 8040 and 8402 #6, Raphael mop series 804 #4, flat synthetic
- Nib holder
- Clutch pencil with HB lead
- Eraser
- Crepe rubber
- Kitchen paper
- Masking fluid
- 2 water jars

Background:
Aureolin
Cadmium Lemon Yellow
Translucent Orange
Indigo
Winsor Blue
Winsor Red

Blackcurrant:
Winsor Blue
Permanent Rose
Indigo
Payne’s Grey
Cobalt Violet Light Hue
Translucent Orange
Sepia Brown

Leaves:
Green Gold
Phtalo green
Translucent Orange
Sap Green
Payne’s Grey

Table:
Naples Yellow
Opera Rose
Translucent Orange

Redcurrant:
Scarlet Red
Opera Rose
Cobalt Violet Light Hue

Stalks:
Green Gold
Permanent Rose
Sepia Brown

Shadows:
Cerulean Blue
Opera Rose
Payne’s Grey
Ultramarine Blue
Raw Sienna
Indigo

Step 1: Drawing and masking fluid
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Step 2: Background
First, I turn my sheet upside down to wet the background and easily get around details.
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Step 3: I turn the paper the right way up and brush cadmium lemon yellow, aureolin and permanent orange on the damp background.
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Step 4: While the paper is still damp, I drop in little touches of Winsor blue, a mixture of Winsor blue and Winsor red, and indigo. I fill the gaps between the leaves with the same shades.
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Step 5: Looking for the right hue of the blackcurrant.
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Step 6: Blackcurrants
To create the highlight, we have the choice between 3 methods:

  1. Masking fluid: easy but can give a stiff result
  2. Lifting-off: softer but it can be difficult on a small surface to lift the white out of a very dark colour
  3. My method: using the HB pencil, I lightly indicate the highlight with a wider outline and mark the center with a little dot that will be erased when the watercolour is dry. Sometimes a simple dot is enough to spot the highlight. I dampen the paper with clean water all around the highlight and brush my colours.

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I wet the area.
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I drop the Winsor blue.
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I add the permanent rose.
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I mix a blue from indigo, Payne’s grey and a little cobalt violet. You can play with the proportions of grey and violet, or mix grey with sepia for a darker tone. I add a touch of translucent orange at the bottom of the berry for the stamen.
Remember to leave a white outline around the berries.
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Step 7: Leaves
I mix 2 greens: one from green gold with phtalo green, the second from green gold with sap green. I apply them over the leaves, varying the tones and adding a bit of transparent orange to the mixture.
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Step 8: table top
I brush a wash of yellow Naples mixed with opera rose and reinforce the proportion of rose under the blackcurrant on the foreground to suggest the reflection of the light.
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Step 9 : The first red berry is painted with a mix of scarlet red and opera rose. When still wet, I add the cobalt violet in the shadow.
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Step 10 Raspberry: after preserving some highlights for the drupelets with masking fluid applied with a nib, I paint the fruit with the same colours as before (step 9).
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Step 11 : I finish building up the blackcurrants with the same wash as before and then the leaves with sap green mixed with indigo for the shadowed areas. For the plate and the cast shadows from the berries onto it, I use a mixture of indigo, Payne’s grey and cobalt violet.
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Step 12 : I paint the stalks with green gold, permanent rose and sepia.
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Step 13 Darks: place wet-in-wet ceruleum blue then opera rose and finally indigo.
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Step 14 : I wet the shadowed area, including the 2 blackcurrants at the back and apply raw Sienna followed by a violet mix made of ultramarine blue and opera rose with a touch of indigo.
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Step 15 : I remove the masking fluid and glaze over the table on the foreground with a light wash of orangey pink.
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Finished painting!