The subject of today’s sketch is natural light from above illuminating a pealed orange. It is from my Sketchbook Project sketchbook and it was done from reference I shot. It’s also one of the very few times I opted for a colored pencil drawing over an oil painting.
In an attempt to eat healthy, especially during the work day, I always have what amounts to a classic still life setup on the counter directly behind me. (Today’s is pictured below). This classic still life usually consists of a few bananas, some apples, grapes, and oranges. Sometimes it takes every ounce of restraint I can muster to keep from turning my back on more pressing issues and start sketching or at least photographing the lovely forms of these succulent delights before I consume them.
One very sunny summer morning last year I just couldn’t help myself, and before pealing the cover off this beauty, I whipped out my camera and began composing some shots. I placed a white napkin on a stool, positioned it in the shaft of brilliant sunlight streaming in through a nearby skylight, partially pealed the orange, placed it on the napkin and shot away.
I think a partially pealed orange is visually alluring because of the interesting organic shapes and the play of light and shadow that the skin creates when it’s in bright light. Additionally there were some great cast shadows too.
Next I pealed the orange all the way and took a few shots. Not so interesting that. Although the cast shadow thing began to intrigue me more and more.
Then I started slowly cracking her open while continuing to shoot. I decided to pull one section out further than the rest and - Viola! An interestingly shaped subject which had plenty of highlight, mid-tones, shadows and reflected light, and even a compelling cast shadow. The fact that it somewhat subliminally looks like a hand or claw with an outflung appendage makes it all the more pleasing.
Finally, after processing the digital picture up really right to use as reference, I decided to do it up in colored pencil. Perhaps a mistake that. I can convey luminous light way better in oils than I can in pencil. I’ll probably put this in the “to do” category in my head for a future oil painting.
I had a tough time deciding on a crop. I probably should’ve cropped more of the top off and made the focus on just the cast shadow. Or done the opposite and focused on the orange itself. Ah well, another issue to solve in the oil painting version someday.
Well, That’s lunch!