Fall Fruits

I went on a “sketch crawl” at the Connecticut College Arboretum last weekend expecting to draw trees. Instead, the “crawl” felt more like a race, as we were given 15 minutes to draw in a particular location before moving to the next site. Between hiking, settling in and packing up, there was precious little time for more than a very loose sketch and a hasty wash of color at each location. It was a good exercise, but I quickly abandoned the idea of doing a detailed tree study in favor of focusing on simpler plants.

click to view larger

click to view larger

Back at home,the warm-toned fall fruits and foliage just seemed too stark on white paper. I finished the page by adding the background wash of yellow ochre, which set off the baneberry’s white fruit nicely and helped to pull together the separate elements.

17 Comments on “Fall Fruits

  1. I love the yellow ochre background. The wash is so smooth, I thought you’d laid it in first. Your Virginia creeper is beautiful–feels just like fall!

    • When I go back in with a wash, I typically pick a single color, which makes it easier. I started with all of the closed spaces between branches and leaves and then did the larger sections. It’s a good exercise in doing a wash.

      • Jean that is a VERY helpful tip! Thanks for your generous instruction… it is much appreciated! I find doing quick sketches a bit refreshing, but I would need someone hustling me along too – I get wrapped up and time flies! Lovely page 🙂

      • Yes. The push to move on required absolute focus when sketching. But think how many times we only have a few minutes to sketch– it’s good to see what you can accomplish. At the same, the sketch crawl did enable me to get into a rhythm– sketch, paint, move, sketch, paint, move– that is hard to replicate in a 15 minute block. Glad the tip on the background wash was helpful. It can be a little tricky, depending on the paper, but it can really add a lot to a page.

  2. Lovely quick studies. And, as always, I am envious of your detail. (I would lose the white on the baneberry in seconds!) Thanks for sharing it.

    • Thanks! Yep- losing highlights and murking up whites is easy to do– but maybe knowing that can be your red flag at the start of a painting. And maybe for me, only having a few minutes for painting meant that I didn’t have time to go back in and muck around. I liked your recent farm piece– nice mood to it.

  3. Your pages are gorgeous! It’s hard for me to believe you did these sketches in just 15 minutes. I love the background wash–it ties everything together! Would you mind sharing what sketchbook you use? The watercolor looks so lovely on that paper!

    • Hi Linda- Thanks much! The sketchbook is Stillman and Birn, hardbound 5.5×8.5″ with Zeta paper. I love the paper for ink and it takes watercolor well– but it is very smooth and a little tricky with wet washes. I like the Beta paper as well and find it a little easier to work with for watercolor. You can find Stillman and Birn sketchbooks online or in many art supply stores. Thanks for checking in! — J

  4. I love your sketches. No way can I tell that you were rushed. I was immediately struck by the beautiful warm yellow background against all the other colors and was grateful to learn, right away, that you used a pale wash of yellow ochre. I’m new to sketching with watercolor and I appreciate your sharing of such lovely sketches and your friendly, helpful tips. Your e-mails are an inspiration and a great encouragement.

    • Hi Liz- Thanks for your nice feedback. I’m glad to know that the tips and notes about the process of painting are helpful. Feel free to ask questions if you see things you want to know more about. Good luck with your sketching and painting! — Jean

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