Monday, August 5, 2013

The Tale of the Abandoned Watermelon

Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore Bristol, vellum, approx 3" x 3"

Oh, it started out simply enough: The beautiful patterns in the rinds of the small, seedless watermelons at the grocery store were calling my name.

When I got home, I set up my "model" to do the base drawing. Sometimes what appears to be a simple rounded shape can be one of the trickiest to draw. A "flexible curve" is an amazingly helpful tool. I've had this one for ages, since my designer days, but you can find a similar one wherever art/drafting supplies are sold. You just bend it around until you have the curve you want, and then lay it on your paper and use it as a template. Nifty!

Then I did some not-so-pretty swatches to figure out how to achieve the colors in the rind. As you probably know, with colored pencils, it's all about layering. I often pull out some reference books for ideas. Three of my favorites for this are Botanical Portraits with Colored Pencils by Ann Swan, Painting Light with Colored Pencil by Cecile Baird, and Colored Pencil Solution Book by Janie Gildow.                   .

One tip that I learned ages ago (probably from one of those three books) is that a very light layer of Canary Yellow under the greens of a botanical piece will add a lot of light and life.

Well, at this point, I got overwhelmed. I was trying to do a life-sized drawing, and even though it was a very small melon, it seemed a bit daunting (and more than a bit boring) to fill in the whole thing. I thought, should I cut it in half to expose the center? Nah...the red center always gets all of the attention. I decided to sleep on it.

The next day, it dawned on me: my little botanical/nature heart series! A while back I started these as a way to explore textures in a small piece—almost like doing swatches. In the end, I had so much fun working on this, and I know that if I'd tried to fill in that bigger watermelon piece, I'd have gone a little nutso. I just don't have that kind of patience. Here's a little overview of the process:

Canary Yellow and Tuscan Red

adding Indigo Blue
Olive Green, Dark Green...and  a few other greens!

If you'd like to see the other hearts in this series, start here.

Happy watermelon-eating August to you! 

P.S. The last of my travel posts will be up shortly.