The Ploughman’s Lunch, Watercolour Painting

I drew a detailed line drawing, working from the back and measuring as I worked, so all the elements were in proportion and the spacing was correct. I added a couple of elements to an otherwise loaded cheese board, grapes and baby beets, for distribution of colour and balance of shapes and colours.

I painted the pint of ale first, using a range of brown colours from light red to a chromatic black. I then painted the cloth in the background. Leaving white spaces of paper in this painting is quite crucial for colour contrast, as the backdrop and table are dark.

I then painted the bowl of mustard and the bowl of onions. I used yellow ochre throughout this painting, it is a fantastic pigment for both a brilliant yellow and a more mellow yellow when used in a larger paint ratio to water.

I then painted the bread (with my range of lighter browns I had used for the glass and bottle), then the radish and celery (underpainted with yellows), then the baby beets (using a purple lake, under painted with yellow) and then the ham. For the ham I mixed a red with a white, most unusually but I found that worked well when I tested it on a swatch.

For the bowl of pickle I worked light to dark, using my darker browns I had mixed for the bottle. I then painted the lettuce and tomatoes (under painted with yellow). I used Payne’s grey for the knife blade and Naples yellow for the handle and used a soluble black pen for the screws and markings on the handle.

I then painted the cheeses, using a mix of various yellows. I painted the grapes using the same formula as I had for the baby beets. I then added the shadows of the food with a strong mix of yellow ochre and light red.

Lastly I painted the backgrounds: the table first, the backdrop using a blue based chromatic black I had mixed, and the cheese board with a variety of yellows I mixed together in varying degrees.

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