As expected, I found them really interesting to draw. I ended up layering many colors of colored pencil to try to replicate the beautiful polished-wood hulls. The drawing was initially done without the shadows, mainly because I was afraid of ruining the whole piece. Shadows can be very tricky to draw, and if they're not rendered accurately, the viewer's eye knows it, and is distracted by the shadows instead of focusing on the object. To further complicate things, shadows contain many colors, depending upon the color of the light source, and including reflected light from the object itself. Intimidating. After staring at my finished chestnuts for a day or two, I took the plunge. While not perfect, I'm satisfied that the shadows add to the drawing. Hooray for risk-taking!
And hooray for the humble chestnut. American chestnuts were pretty much obliterated by the accidental introduction of blight in the early part if the 20th century, but there has been a movement to re-establish chestnut trees in the United States. While researching chestnuts online, I found two sources practically in my own backyard. The first is a book by San Francisco author Susan Freinkel that looks fascinating, American Chestnut: the Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree. I also learned that there's a chestnut orchard not far from where I live, and I'm already looking forward to visiting it next fall!