I’m drawing a sketch of a 4-prong American ginseng from a photo I took last year in May. The sketch will be titled “Ginseng in May”.
My First Show Entry
This drawing will be displayed (and will be for sale) at the show in Kingston, AR at The Place on the Square Art Room Gallery during the month of May 2016. It’s not going to be all my art, but a collection of the artists of our area. Please come out if you’re in the area during the month!
I thought I’d record my process of this piece. The first step was to draw a light outline. It didn’t show up in the scans because it was so light, so there’s nothing for me to show you of that first step.
Step 1 Initial Outline
The initial outline is the hardest part of a sketch for me. It’s where all the proportions of the subject must be nailed down.
After the light initial outline, I use a colored pencil to make the final outline and initial shading. Usually it’s the predominant color that I use for this. I have no formal art training, so this is just my own way of making drawings.
Step 2 Final Color Outline
Here’s the final outline in green (vert olive). I am using Prismacolor Premier pencils.
“Ginseng in May”
Here’s the photo I’m using for the sketch. You’ll see that my sketch is not an identical copy of the photo. I had to make adjustments to compensate for mistakes I made in the original outline.
This doesn’t bother me, since the aim is not to reproduce the photo. I could just trace it if that were my intention, or use Photoshop to render an outline from the photo.
Rather, this is my artistic interpretation of a 4-prong American ginseng in May, based on a photo I took of the plant.
I’m not going to include the nursery pots in the background, but will add the rock and dried leaves. Usually I only colorize one focus in my drawings, so the ginseng will be colorized but the background will be pencil shading only.
Step 3 Adding Background
In the photo below you’ll see that I’ve added in some background shading. My intention was not to be very detailed with the background, but to give the impression of depth and show the leaves that cluttered the ground beneath the ginseng plant.
This step is the most precarious to me. By this time I’ve invested a good bit of effort and time and shading the wrong spot can ruin the whole sketch. It’s also a bit difficult to get the right effect, or the effect I intend.
Step 4 – Adding Light Tones
Around the edges of the leaves and along all of the veins of each leaflet there is a light color that looks sort of like the bloom on a wild grape. I’ve added a light green shade for this now, because I’ve found it impossible to do once the darker shades are in place.
Step 5 – Choosing the Greens
In this step, and before I chose the pencils for the shading or any of the colors, I used a scratch sheet of the same paper the drawing is on.
After the colors are put down and the blending is done, it’s very hard to add another shade. Some of the greens have blue tints to them and I wanted to make sure I had the colors that gave me the look I wanted.
I’m not convinced that everyone sees the same colors in the same way, though. To me, these are the ones that look closest to the plant’s true colors. It also helps to have a large palatte of colors to choose from. Before I got the set of pencils I have now (a large tin of 150 Prismacolor Premier), I only had a set of twelve colors and it was difficult to get the exact shades of colors I wanted in the final sketch.
Here’s my practice sketch on the scratch paper to show how the colors look when blended:
The next step will be to add the greens to the leaves. Then I’ll blend the colors using a pencil with no color made just for that purpose. I may blend the background too, but I haven’t decided about that yet.
Step 6 – Applying Color
I usually do quick sketches. This is the first one I’ve done that took more than one full day to complete. Whew! Come out and see it during the month of May (2016) at The Place on the Square & Art Gallery in Kingston, AR.
Thanks for Following Along
If you do come out to see the art show, let me know and if I’m able maybe we can meet for coffee at the show. I’m listed as “Wild Ozark” in everything, so do a search and follow or friend me. Let me know you saw this post and I’ll be sure to follow/friend you back!
For the original, the paper is 8.5 x 11, charcoal mat with a framed size of 13 x 17.
Prints are the same size image, but there is a 1″ white space surrounding the 8.5 x 11 drawing. These are high quality prints made at a professional printer, packaged in clear cellophane with a backer board, unframed. They’re $30. You can get them from The Place on the Square, or email me and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice. There will be shipping charges added to mail-ordered prints. You can also order from my online shop.
If you’d like to make your own nature sketch but want a head start, order the color page . You’ll get downloadable files of the guide and a .jpg high res file to print the outline.