The Dark Side of Bananas

tomatoes, pepper and bananaI like to keep life simple and my sketches are usually line first, then colour. And that’s it. But here I wanted to indicate form too. I’m not good at multitasking so could I simplify the process to three discrete stages; line, form then colour? It didn’t quite work out.

Using the Tower Pen nib in the dip pen and brown Noodlers’ Ink, I drew the orange pepper first then added a tonal wash in paynes grey. Blue sits opposite orange on the colour wheel, so I guessed that a wash of orange over the greenish-blue Paynes grey would add form without throwing the colour off-key. The Paynes grey should theoretically work as an neutral shade. It’s not such a bad solution to the problem but the drawback is that I’ve lost the transparency of the orange. I’d like something more luminous.

For the tomatoes I remembered the advice of botanical illustrator Agathe Ravet-Haevermans; lightest colours first. The tomatoes started as an overall pale golden yellow, omitting only the highlight. The calyxes and stalks started as an ochre yellow. I prefer this approach because what I might lose in sculptural solidity is made up for in more luminosity. The white of the paper is still able to show through. A tonal under-drawing of Paynes grey would be more suitable for an architectural subject.

Bananas have long been problem for me. What colour is dark yellow? Again I started with an all over pale lemon yellow and instead of having neutral shadows I looked carefully to try and see the hints of green and sepia reflected in the yellow.

Just the kiwi-fruits left to draw now!

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  1. Would love to see step-by-step illustrations of how you applied the colour.

    First came across your sketches when a friend gave me your book on Britain for Christmas (knowing it was my sort of ‘thing’), and have followed your blog ever since, I now use brown ink all the time for sketching. Keep up the good work!

    1. That was such a dream of a job, 12 months exploring Britain with a sketchbook. I got so hooked on it that I’ve been doing more or less the same thing ever since.
      Thank you for the encouragement; now that I’ve practiced on those three pen and watercolours, I’ll have a go at filming a step-by-step.

    1. Your country diary is looking good so far, Peter, I look forward to seeing how you get on with it.
      I haven’t tried them yet but I found a pack of 4 Pitt artist pens by Faber-Castell in sepia, which should work well for sketching on the move. But I love my vintage dip pen nibs which date back to the time of Edith Holden. Some of them were probably manufactured within a couple of miles of where she lived.

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