Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Summer Still Life

7" x 7", Prismacolor colored pencils 
on Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper, Light Blue
(click to enlarge)

The other day, I was looking at some fresh blueberries on an enamelware dish and thought they looked like an old-fashioned all-American summer day. So I started this little patriotic piece—you get the "flag" composition, right?—deciding to use this blue paper because it reminded me of sun-faded denim or chambray. As a result, the whole piece looks a little faded—I like that.  I have a thing about that paper with blueberries; I used it this very same week three years ago on this blueberry sketch!

I kept accidentally smearing the red pencil into the white areas, and had to redraw them once before just resigning myself to pinkish stripes. I was originally going to have a bowl of blueberries, but changed the bowl to a plate for a more casual arrangement of the berries.

One thing I'm still deciding: does it look better showing  a bit of the paper (below) or cropped as it is above? Feel free to leave me your opinion in the comments.

Happy almost-August!!

Some set-up and WIP pics:
(I had blueberries everywhere before I was done.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ground cherries?!

Ground Cherries, "Aunt Molly's"
Physalis pruinosa
4" x 9", Prismacolor colored pencil on Stonehenge paper
(click to enlarge)

Among the heirloom seeds that my daughter gave to me for Christmas, was a pack labelled "Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries"Ground cherries?  Even at my age, this was a new one. The fruit in the photo looked more like little yellow tomatillos—a smooth fruit within a papery husk—and what's with the "ground" part? Well, I read the packet to learn that they have that name not because you grind them up (admit it, that crossed your mind too...), but because you wait until they fall to the ground to harvest them. And the sweet fruit, also known as Cape gooseberries, are indeed related to tomatillos. Huh! Who knew?

Isn't it funny (and a bit eerie, if I'm being honest) when you learn about something for the first time, or hear a term you've never heard, and then it pops up again almost immediately? Well, this spring, what did I see in my grocery store, alongside the berries? Pichuberries, which seem to be identical to my Ground Cherries! Check them out here. Apparently they're a new "super fruit" or something. But my favorite fun fact from that discovery is this: "In France, this fruit is also referred to as 'Love in the Cage'". Well, if we're getting all lyrical, I am compelled to add that, while I was drawing,  my composition started looking to me a little bit like a nativity scene: two adoring parents and a new baby. Am I crazy or do you see that, too? And if their husk shape looks familiar, it's because they're also related to the ornamental Chinese Lantern plant, usually a showy orange or reddish husk.

My plants aren't huge, but this has been a tough summer in our garden; we're trying to water just enough, considering the drought we're in. These first ones, that I gathered to draw, are on the small side as you can see here:

Here is my initial sketch, followed by a few more WIP scans:

How about you: are you familiar with ground cherries aka cape gooseberries aka pichuberries?

Friday, July 11, 2014

SunSugar Cherry Tomatoes

Hmmm. This is one of those pieces that didn't turn out quite as I'd envisioned. Maybe I should've used richer colors, or should add a background—I'm not sure. Things just haven't clicked: I even felt like the hot weather was affecting my pencils, making them waxier than usual! 

These little "SunSugar" cherry tomatoes are so beautiful on the vine—the way the clusters become a rainbow of color as they ripen. I wanted to capture that stage, as I've drawn fully ripe ones in the past. 

Here are a few work-in-progress pics. This time, I used an empty slide mount instead of my usual viewfinder that I've shown you before:

I decided to enlarge it to 5x the original little thumbnail sketch on the right:

The tomatoes continued to ripen and change colors as I worked—what a show!

As I look at this next pic, I'm thinking that I like this "unfinished" stage more than the final one. The negative space where the vine will go might've looked more interesting left alone."Food for thought" for the next piece.

Well, while there's nothing horrible about this drawing,
I think that I'll chalk it up as a learning piece.
(Or maybe I'll just have to add a background before it drives me crazy...!)