Blackberries

Like many people I grew up picking blackberries, and still can’t get my head around the fact that people buy them. Ours were added to crumbles or pies and I particularly love their taste as the juice bleeds and mingles with apple. That flavour reminds me of late summers, visiting my great aunt Doll in the New Forest, to me her whole house smelt of brambles and the countryside, a huge contrast to where I lived at the time in South London. Now I go with my husband on walks around Kent and I especially love blackberrying on the edges of apple orchards where the scent of ripe apples, floats on the air.

Blackberry patch

Blackberry patch

I’ve had an idea for a while of a glass bowl of blackberries, that continues with the theme of still life objects pressed tightly together and it was whilst planning that painting I had the idea to draw the way the brambles grow. I wanted to capture the difference in the weight of the ripe fruit and delicate scratchy spindly stems. They are quite beautiful to study and the pale shadows added another dimension to the composition. Working out how to convey the memories or taste of the subjects I draw and paint is challenging and I think it mostly comes through in colour and changing the scale.

Experimenting with the blotted line technique and quick sketches of blackberries.

Experimenting with the blotted line technique and quick sketches of blackberries.

Rough compositional sketch of blackberries in charcoal by Lucy Clayton

Rough compositional sketch of blackberries in charcoal by Lucy Clayton

Pencil drawing of blackberries on Bristol board in progress by Lucy Clayton

Pencil drawing of blackberries on Bristol board in progress by Lucy Clayton

Bramble - Pencil Drawing by Lucy Clayton

Bramble - Pencil Drawing by Lucy Clayton

Once the drawing is complete, I use the blotted line technique to print the image onto stretched watercolour paper. I trace my image, secure one side of the paper with masking tape onto a sheet of paper. Next, using a dip pen and waterproof ink I follow the lines on the back of the tracing paper and then press this against the clean sheet. The blotted lines on the stem turned out to be patchy but I liked the effect and if needed, could print again once painted.

Printing with the blotted line technique

Printing with the blotted line technique

Blackberries - watercolour and blotted line painting in progress by Lucy Clayton

Blackberries - watercolour and blotted line painting in progress by Lucy Clayton

This painting is a lot smaller than my recent work and it made me rethink how I apply watercolour paint. I tend to build up washes and let colours bleed into each other, however as the druplets were small the paint didn’t behave in the same way.

Removing masking fluid on Blackberries - work in progress by Lucy Clayton

Removing masking fluid on Blackberries - work in progress by Lucy Clayton

Blackberries - Blotted Line and Watercolour Painting by Lucy Clayton

Blackberries - Blotted Line and Watercolour Painting by Lucy Clayton

I didn’t have a set idea how this piece would turn out and I was surprised it has a faded feel to it and a glassy look where the paint doesn’t quite meet the ink. It also has a stylised element that I hadn’t planned, probably my natural disposition for pattern is coming through.

For me this painting captures the taste and imperfections of wild blackberries and fond memories of sunny walks and juice stained fingers. And the crumbles…

The original drawing, Bramble and original watercolour, Blackberries will be exhibiting with The Kent Painters Group 25 - 27 October at Sevenoaks School, Kent.

Giclee Prints and cards of Blackberries are available in my online shop.