For the last six years or so, my wife and I have been taking natural history illustration classes from a retired illustrator, who lives not far from us. We study with her a two mornings a week, from fall through spring. Our subjects have included skulls, insects, moths, butterflies, shells, plants, flowers, and feathers. We frequently consider what the next-thing-to-draw will be.
Our neighbors have apples. There are a half dozen ancient apple trees on their place, which is just up the hill from us. The neighbors have a very busy life in the Boston area, don’t come here often in the fall, and are happy to let us pick what we can from their old, barely tended, little orchard. The fruit is almost never perfect. In good years we get enough fruit of decent enough quality to make bags and bags of dried apple slices, and to fill our freezer with a winter’s supply of applesauce.
This fall, as the time for drawing class drew near, we had been picking and processing apples for three or four weeks. The apples came in so early this year that we were almost too late with our harvesting. We had a box of rejects on the counter in the kitchen. They had interesting colors and shapes, so I took some with us to our first class of the fall, and selected two of them to draw.
We first make a sketch of our subject, on tracing paper. You try to get your proportions and relationships right. It’s a good idea to make as many of your mistakes as possible before you start drawing on good-quality drawing board.
Here’s what that sketch looked like, after a few hours of work.
After the first two sessions, colors are roughed in. Four hours have passed.
Two more hours will finish the drawing. Final details need to be improved. Thousands of black dots, in ink, will be applied. A final coat of blender pencil will go on areas where the paper still shows through.
Thank you, apples, for not getting rotten during the weeks of work.
Thank you, refrigerator and plastic bag, for making such longevity possible.