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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth De Cicco

NYBG Colored Pencil Class: Green Apple

My first real assignment in the NYBG Colored Pencil Class was a green apple.

Last year, the week before COVID shut everything down, I attended a one-day colored pencil workshop. We used a combination of Polychromos and watercolor pencils to illustrate a daffodil. This was actually my first botanical illustration class, ever. I had recently upgraded my watercolor palette, so the watercolor pencils felt clunky and redundant.

But now, I'm learning how to make the most of this medium. I did a graphite reference study and started my colored pencil drawing with a grisaille and some waxy, white primsacolor pencil to create a resist for the spots on my apple. Within the first few layers, it looked like things were going well.

Since I had done a study of all of my greens with various earth tone grisailles, I decided on a multi-toned grisaille. I used light yellow ochre, Venetian red, chrome oxide green, and raw umber in the grisaille. In oil painting, I would use a combination of dark red and green to create my own blacks and shadows, so I applied this reasoning to my illustration. The layers were extremely light, but just enough to create the depth and form needed. I alternated my cadmium yellow (light side) and lemon yellows (shadow side) with earth green yellowish and may green. I think I also added some riskier colors, including ultramarine blue, more Venetian red, and either raw umber or yellow ochre to tone down the bright greens.

I was vary careful to leave the spots white, while also adding form shadows over top. The spots were not a true white and they faded as the apple aged, so I started layering greens and yellows into the them.

In the critique, my teacher suggested lightening the shadow at the base of my apple.

Here is the finished apple:

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