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Art Masterclass - 131

How to Paint Rose Hips in Watercolour with Julie King

September 2017

As summer fades, autumn embraces warm colours and abundant fruits and berries. One such fruit, the rose hip, stands out dramatically against its complementary green foliage. An orange red bulb, its smooth shiny surface reflects the light, giving a bright little highlight.

My painting focuses on these beautiful fruit, glowing brightly in the sunlight tucked behind foreground leaves: jewels of autumn! This painting demonstrates a selection of techniques, including wet on wet, wet on dry, negative painting and interpreting highlights.

My choice of palette is limited to just four colours. Feel free to follow the instructions and the colours I have given, or use them simply as a guide to help you interpret the painting in your own style.

Enjoy the fruits of autumn!


Demonstration Fruits of Autumn

You will need


  • Fabriano Artistico watercolour paper 140lb NOT block or stretched paper on board (21x29.5cm)

QOR Golden Artists’ watercolour

  • See colours, below



  • Da Vinci Maestro sable, Series 35, Rounds Nos. 6, 8 and 10
  • Da Vinci Cosmotop Round No. 16


  • Pebeo masking gum
  • Fine old brush or feather
  • B pencil
  • Paper towel



Stage One

sketch the rosehips

Sketch the rose hips and the leaves using a B pencil. To retain a neat edge to the rosehips before painting, apply a fine line of masking fluid with the tip of a feather or fine brush just on the inside of the line and on the highlights of the leaves. Leave to dry thoroughly..


Stage Two

apply pools of green

  1. Prepare two pools of dilute green: 1) a yellow green mix of new gamboge yellow with phthalo turquoise and 2) a blue green mix of the same two colours, but with more blue in the mix.

  2. Wet the entire paper surrounding the rosehips using a No. 16 Round or pointed mop brush. Apply varying pools of the two greens. Add a little more pigment in the mixes if required to make slightly stronger tones and apply on the left and top right of the painting beneath the foliage.

  3. 3. Lift paint out of the stem by applying some pressure with the edge of a folded paper towel and dab out a few more soft highlights on the leaves on the bottom left. Leave to dry thoroughly.


Prepare four new, stronger pools of colour in readiness to paint the negative background spaces surrounding the stem foliage and hips.

colours palette

  1. A yellow green from new gamboge with a tiny amount of phthalo turquoise.

  2. Phthalo turquoise on its own.

  3. A stronger mix of equal parts of new gamboge and phthalo turquoise.

  4. A stronger mix of phthalo turquoise and new gamboge combined with a touch of pyrrole red to add depth.


Stage Three

create a suggestion of hazy leaves

  1. Wet the paper, working one section at a time, beginning with the top two segments. Begin with the yellow green and work in the indicated sequence of colours using a No. 10 Round brush. Allow the colours to run together to create a suggestion of distant hazy leaves. If the surface is really wet, tip your board to let the paint move.

    complete the background

  2. Continue until the background is complete. The occasional back run, when a lighter watery paint is applied, can add to the naturalness of the foliage.


Stage Four

add definition to negative leaf shapes

  1. Add a little strength and definition to the negative leaf shapes. Working wet on dry, apply a wash of the yellow green mix either side of the central vein. Add variation by applying the blue green with the point of the brush while still damp.

  2. add strength over highlighted areas

  3. This leaf requires more strength over the highlighted areas. Apply the yellow green wet on dry along the centre and around the edges.

  4. diffuse the colour

  5. Whilst wet, diffuse the colour with a damp brush and drop in the blue green mix.


Stage Five

finish leaves and add thorns

  1. Continue with the negative leaves and apply a suggestion of the veins wet on dry. Apply a light wash of water over the stem and run a No. 8 brush along the lower edge loaded with the pale yellow green mix. A touch of quinacridone magenta plus phthalo blue can be applied on the top of the damp stem.

  2. Add the thorns using a warm mix of quinacridone magenta and new gamboge to make a warm brown shade. Whilst damp a purple mix of quinacridone magenta and phthalo turquoise can be added to give depth. Leave to dry thoroughly.

  3. Gently rub your finger over the masking fluid surrounding the rose hips to erase.

Stage Six

blend colours together

  1. Prepare three pools of colour: 1) new gamboge, 2) quinacridone magenta and 3) pyrrole red. Wet the central rose hip leaving an area of white paper for the shiny highlight. Apply new gamboge followed by quinacridone magenta, allowing them to blend together.

  2. soften hard edges

  3. Whilst still damp apply pyrrole red over the yellow or magenta in areas, allowing the colour to bleed. With the point of the brush gently soften the hard edge of the highlight, drawing the water inwards whilst allowing for enough white paper to remain.


Stage Seven

add depth in shaded areas

  1. Continue painting the remaining hips with the same method, making sure to wait for each one to dry before working on the adjacent one.

  2. To add more depth in shaded areas make a purple using quinacridone magenta and phthalo turquoise. When applied to an orange base it produces a warm brown and on a hot red it becomes a cool purple.


Stage Eight

apply stronger tones

  1. Continue to apply wet on dry stronger tones of either quincridone magenta or pyrrole red.
  2. add to shadowed areas

  3. Quickly diffuse with clean water and continue adding the purple mix of quinacridone magenta and phthalo turquoise to the shadowed areas as before.


Stage Nine

add suggestion of the base

  1. Use the tip of the No. 6 brush to add a suggestion of the base of the rose hips with a mix of pyrrole red and new gamboge with a dash of the purple mix to tone it down. Leave touches of white.

    add stronger tones for detail

  2. Add detailing by using stronger tones of a pink purple and a blue purple made from quinacridone magenta and phthalo turquoise.


Stage Ten

add final touches

Complete the remaining stems and add any final touches.


The finished painting

Fruits of Autumn, watercolour, (21x29.5cm)
Fruits of Autumn, watercolour, (21x29.5cm)

Julie King

Julie runs art classes and workshops throughout most of the year. Visit for details.



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