Two years ago I made a nature drawing of American ginseng in October, with yellowing leaves against the dark backdrop of the Wild Ozark forest.
Repeating the Same Nature Drawing
Since that time I’ve learned a little more about certain techniques I can use with my pencils, specifically blending, and so I wanted to re-draw the picture so I can enter it into a contest.
Usually I like to scan each step as I go along with a drawing, but for this one I forgot. This one picks up at the blending of the background stage.
You can see in the image that most of the drawing hasn’t been blended, only the very bottom part.
Although I have some color on the leaves and plant itself, I have barely begun on that part of it and have a lot more color layers to add before blending for that part begins.
Needs More Detail
Once I finished blending the ground background, I decided I wanted to add some more form to the surroundings. So I added a christmas fern, one of ginseng’s habitat companions. Now it balances out the empty woods surrounding the main object.
Looking at it from Different Perspectives
When I scan each step, I’m doing more than just recording a step in the process.
When I look at the picture in another format, like on the computer or the small screen of my phone, I can see things I didn’t see in the original.
The first image I posted showed me that the background was too empty.
The next one showed me where I have spaces that are too light or need *something*.
At the base of the fern and on the lower levels of the background above the floor, it needs to be darker and I’d like some vague suggestions of more fern to the left.
Here it is again, with the background blended, after I added darker lower levels and a bent fern frond to the left.
The next step will be the dried leaves at the bottom. Those two dead leaves are the foreground. Once I get those done, I’ll start working on the ginseng plant.
Here it is again with the dead leaves done, and the background finished. I’ve just begun working on the ginseng now.
I really like drawing autumn and winter leaves. Here’s the dead leaves, closer:
Signing off for today. So far, this has been several days of work. Today was the first day I spent the entire day on it, though.
Tomorrow I should be able to get this wrapped up and I’ll post the finished scan …
And here’s the finished drawing:
The first drawing
I didn’t know about blending at all yet when I drew this first one. But that really didn’t matter at the time to me, because I drew it in situ, and it was only meant to be a journal entry. It was late in the afternoon and dark in the woods, and finding the plant to begin with was unexpected.
I’m glad I have it now to go by, since I didn’t get any photos of the plant that year. Now I can’t find the same plant at all.
The Blending Process
The blending takes a long time. It’s tedious and it makes my arm and eyes hurt if I don’t take plenty breaks. So just finishing the background alone could take several days of steady work at blending.
I’m not sure if there’s an easier way to do this step or not. I saw on one tutorial video that the artist used mineral spirits. Well, I tried that and it didn’t blend very well at all. Perhaps we used different brands of pencils.
I use Prismacolor. The only set I have right now is the Premier Soft Core and a colorless blending pencil. I need a set of the VeriThin, but that will have to wait until after the taxes get paid for this year.
The paper I’m using is a water-color paper for Epson printers. It comes in very large sheets that I have to cut down to size. Our printer does fine work for smaller art prints, like those I use on my note cards. And this is archival quality acid free paper. However, for larger than 5 x 7 prints, and especially those I sell as “art”, I use Scott’s Frame and Art (Scott Imaging) in Fayetteville.
I’ll post updates to the work as I make progress. Let me know if you have any tips!
ETA is the end of the week because there’s a deadline involved for the contest I want to enter.
If you’d like a print, stop in and see me at the Downtown Rogers Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, now open year-round!
Here’s their FB page and ours: