From My Sketchbook
Today I drew a philodendron in my oil painting class sketchbook. Our professor wants us to experiment with the eraser as well as the pencil. Borrowing a technique from Betty Nelson (author of “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”), I laid down a medium tone with a B pencil, then used a paper towel to smooth it all over.
Then I lightly drew in the contours with an HB pencil. I used my pencil as a measuring device to correctly recreate the height, width, and relationships of things from my perspective. This is called sighting.
I completed the drawing below in about two hours. I used the 4B for toning, and the HB for thin dark lines such as the tiny veins in the leaf. I used a kneaded eraser to pick up highlights. I also used it to erase the negative space around the plant and pot. This leaves a really nice atmospheric texture. Then I came back in with a soft value for the simple table surface.
I gave the drawing a final pass, darkening the darkest values, and creating further contrast where it was needed. It is important to keep the finest details only on the closest objects and let things get a little less defined as they recede into the distance. This adds to the illusion of depth. It’s part of the concept called atmospheric perspective.
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