Painting Blackberry Flowers
Watercolor Painting Tutorial

by Jennifer Branch
YouTube Watercolor Painting Tutorial

Here's a watercolor painting demonstration of a blackberry flower in my garden. It's a fun little sketch that I usually paint outside this time of year!

I'm an obsessive gardener. I love flowers and I love kitchen gardens. If I can combine the two with flowers that make edible fruit, I'm in heaven!

People forget that the humble blackberry bramble is not so far from a rose. Roses and blackberries are even in the same family and both produce fruit, though blackberries taste far better! They both have delicate petals, nasty thorns and delicate fairylike stamens. They are both beautiful and a joy to see in spring.

These wild blackberry brambles are in a particularly awkward place in my yard, right where I'm going to place a path. The "problem" is that they are covered in blackberries most years, far outproducing my tamed and trellised raspberries. Every year I plan to move them and every year I remember the heavy bushes dripping in fruit. I just can't do it - yet!

This sketch is a simple dark surrounding light composition. Since the petals are so translucent, it's important I just used transparent watercolor for them. Lots of negative painting! The stamens are very delicate, but opaque in contrast so I used white gouache for them.

It's a lovely simple sketch of the promise of a blackberry flower in spring!

Painting Blackberry Flowers  Watercolor Painting tutorial

Painting Tutorial Level

Skill Building

Art Supplies


M. Graham watercolors

Azo Yellow
Quinacridone Red
Quinacridone Gold
Pthalo Green
Pthalo Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Burnt Sienna
White Gouache

Painting Demonstration 1

Painting Blackberry Flowers  Watercolor Painting Lesson 1

I start the watercolor painting with my usual mix of pthalocyanine green and azo yellow. The greenish yellow is a good, luminous background for flowers. Since the blackberry flowers are translucent, I can see some of the greens and blues of the background in the whites of the petals. I'm remembering that in my first wash.

I'm basically outlining the flower, but leaving lots of whites to sparkle. After all, there are more flowers in the distance!

Painting Demonstration 2

Painting Blackberry Flowers  Watercolor Painting Lesson 2

In the video, I speed things up a bit!

I drop rich pthalocyanine blue into the pale yellow-green background. Everything blurs together in the wet into dry wash, leaving the white flower outlined in dark values. This contrast always makes painting white flowers so much fun!
Remember pthalo blue is extremely staining, so only put it where you want to keep it!

Painting Demonstration 3

Painting Blackberry Flowers  Painting Tutorial 3

Working with the very wet wash, I drop burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and pthalo green / yellow in. I let all the colors flow together, not overworking it.

Now I have a good dark background the white flower will glow against. I let it dry completely before I start the next wash.

Artist Tips

When using an dip ink pen on an almost finished painting, always test it on a scrap of paper first!
Painting Blackberry Flowers  watercolor painting tutorial by Jennifer Branch

Painting Demonstration 4

Painting Blackberry Flowers  Painting Tutorial 4

I start out very pale on the white flower. I want to maintain the tranlucent white of the flower. I need to not make any mistakes that would need gouache!

I paint some yellow, ultramarine blue and quinacridone red. I also use clean water and the pale washes to pull paint in from the edges of the flower.

I work a little on the leaves in the background. I don't want too much detail there, just enough to say they are blackberry leaves. The little blackberry flower I also hint at. Not much, a few strokes defining it as a flower.

The little pink buds I roughly define.

Painting Demonstration 5

Painting Blackberry Flowers  Painting Tutorial 5

I continue pulling paint in from the background into the flower. This creates lost and found edges. Shadowed areas are blurred into darkness. Highlighted edges still show up stark against the dark background.

When you're painting something like a flower, let your brush strokes move with the growth pattern of the petals. The blackberry flower has lines radiating out from the center, so move move your brush along those lines.

Painting Demonstration 6

Painting Blackberry Flowers  Watercolor Painting Tutorial 6

A bit more softening of the flower edges finishes the lost and found edges effect. I add a bit of detail to the flower center in yellow and green. I also paint shadows, ultramarine blue and pulling in background color, under the flower center. This really starts the three dimensional feel.

Let this dry completely!

Painting Demonstration 7

Painting Blackberry Flowers  Watercolor Painting Tutorial 7

I paint the blackberry flower stamens in white gouache. I like the contrast between the opaqueness of the gouache on top of the transparent flower.

If you don't feel like using gouache, you can mask it from the start - but that would be rather stilted in comparison. You could use a razor blade to pull out the stamens, but that would be a rough scratchy feel instead of smooth stamens and you don't have the opaque / translucent contrast. Think about these things before you start painting!

Painting Blackberry Flowers  Watercolor Painting demonstration

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Painting Blackberry Flowers Final Watercolor Painting!

For the finishing touches, I've done the tips of the stamens in quinacridone gold with touches of azo yellow and burnt sienna, so they look more dimensional. I've added a bit of splatter paint to relax the painting a bit more. Splatter is also a great way to add detail (in the background flower) when painting every detail would look forced.

I darken a few of the petal shadows, keeping my brush moving along those radiating lines. Just a few more touches of blurred shadows makes the flower peek in and out of the blackberry bramble, highlights glowing against the dark shadows.

Blackberries are blooming like crazy right now so I encourage you to go out and paint ones near your own backyard.

Painting white flowers is always fun and a great challenge. I think it's better to start painting flowers with white flowers. All the "bones" of the flower are revealed and simplified so you learn how to paint delicate shadows and leave highlights. To make something like this into a pink rose, I would just a tinges of pink, especially in the midtones. Starting with white flowers is a great way to perfect your flower painting skills.

I hope you go out and paint white flowers of whatever variety this weekend!

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