Monday, September 30, 2013

I love candy corn

3" x 3", Prismacolor colored pencil

Happy October! As a seasonal addition to my series of "botanical hearts", I give you the iconic candy of autumn in America—candy corn!

I love candy corn. I know, it's full of junky ingredients (mostly sugar) and I did find it humorous that this year's packages boast "Made with Real Honey" just above where it says "artificial flavors". But it's just so cute and nostalgic. It has certainly earned its iconic status—it was created in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Philadelphia-based Wunderle Candy Company. While I was researching that historical tidbit, I also learned that The National Confectioners Association estimates that 20 million pounds—just over 9,000 metric tons—of candy corn are sold annually. (I certainly did my part and consumed a bit while doing this little drawing.)

Just for fun, I thought I'd show you what my drawing board looks like when I'm testing colors, even for a simple little piece like this:

And here's another little WIP shot:

Happy October!

Note: If you'd like to see the other pieces in my Botanical Hearts series, the most recent one here has a link down toward the bottom of the post. One of these days I'll group them all together for easier viewing! 

Friday, September 20, 2013


I've been eyeing the radicchio at the market—isn't it beautiful? I love how the leaves nestle together so snugly. (Perfect for Illustration Friday's topic of "together" this week, in fact!)

I'm not a huge fan of radicchio's bitter taste when eaten raw. However, I was reading that, while Americans tend to use it mostly as a raw salad ingredient, Italians usually grill it or cook it in risotto, etc. So, I plan on cutting this baby into wedges, drizzling some olive oil onto it and throwing it onto the grill this weekend—we'll see!

It was a treat to use these colors for a change. Some of you may think that I should have drawn more of a pronounced outline at the white stems, but I like how the red leaves sort of emerge out of the white paper. What do you think?

Here's a WIP shot...I really love this stage; I'm always tempted to stop here!

I'll let you know how my grilled radicchio turns out; 
have a wonderful weekend and Happy First-Day-of-Autumn!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Three rocks

A quick sketch of
three little striped rocks
that I've had sitting on my desk.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Plums...and Friday the 13th

I remember reading a story about how Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner once had a bowl of apples removed from the set because they were too big—apples were smaller in the '60s. Well, he would have a hard time filming Betty Draper shopping at my Safeway; I recently noticed that the peaches are the size of softballs and even plums seem to have gotten much bigger. That may explain why I was attracted to these little Italian prune plums (or "Empress" plums) they had this week. I know, a little exotic for Safeway, right?

I've never attempted drawing fruit with lots of that dusky bloom on it, so I figured it was time. I browsed through a couple of my favorite colored pencil reference books and decided to give it a whirl...

I set up my little still life with my usual viewfinder approach.
(I wrote about it here if you're interested.)

Then I did my pencil sketch (below) on tracing paper and transferred it to my drawing paper.

I was actually most apprehensive about getting the plum flesh right, so I started there, in case I had to scrap the first attempt. I've seen photos of these plums with both green and golden flesh; I'm not sure if there are different varieties or if they're degrees of ripeness.

Hmmm...okay it'll do. Now onto the dark skins:

This shot is after layering two dark colors so far:

We interrupt this post for some Friday the 13th misfortune...

Yikes! Even though I'd done little swatches of how I thought the skins would work out, 
I made a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad mess of it.
There will be no photos or details here —trust me, it's a mess. 

I was feeling really frustrated about the whole thing as I went out to get my mail,
but I'm over it now. 

This helped:

So, how was your day?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My green pencils need a rest.

"Brussels Sprouts"
Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore Bristol vellum, 3" x 11"

About a year ago, a close friend of mine gave her aunt a framed print of my drawing of an artichoke. Her aunt lives in a Northern California coastal area known for growing artichokes, pumpkins and Brussels sprouts, and kindly asked if I might draw those as well. You may recall that I finished the pumpkin, but the holidays intervened and when I finally had time, no Brussels sprouts (on the stalk) were to be found at the markets. (By the way, if you haven't eaten Brussels sprouts in a while, you should try them again. In recent years, some of the bitterness has been bred out of them—they're delicious!)

I almost never draw from reference photos; I just get a better result from real "models". But rather than put this drawing off any longer, I decided it had to be done. Now, if I were to draw using my own photos as reference, that's one thing, but this time I had to rely on stock photos I found online. The ones I ended up using had no photographer listed that I could request permission from and/or give credit, and they were all used extensively on  the internet as "generic" pics of Brussels sprouts. I also bought some loose fresh Brussels sprouts which were very helpful in achieving realistic colors and textures. (I posted some WIP shots in this previous post.) I'm happy with the end result, but can't help but feel a bit guilty about using those photos, even though they weren't "artistic" photographs per se.  How do you feel about that dilemma?

I've been a little negligent of my blog; I've been trying a new drug for my Parkinson's and had more than a few "foggy" days, but am feeling much better now. Looking back at my last few drawings, it's high time to draw something—anything!—that's not green.

Note: I just remembered that this week's topic on Illustration Friday is "lush". One order of lush Brussels sprouts coming right up!