A time lapse painting of an apple in a botanical style in colored pencil

I love the clean lines of botanical art, how leaves, flowers, and fruit come to life on a white page with no background. In that same style, this apple comes to life right off the page, with some help.

Watch the time lapse or skip down for more.

Layering problems

apple-1So I decided to tackle this apple differently from the mountain and quail I did before this one. First I changed to a quality watercolor paper. Second, I added many layers. Third, I kept my pencils super sharp, incidentally breaking my sharpener in the process. At first, no problem. But after more than a few layers, I discovered that the white of the paper was still showing through. I didn’t want to burnish but somehow I had to fill in the tooth or risk burnishing again.

An Easy Apple? Or Not!

I chose to work on this apple for the simplicity it offered as well as the beauty of it. The photo was clean and it was easy to see all the attachment points and the lighting on every aspect of the apple and leaves. In the end, that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to struggle with it.

Again with the Blending

apple-2After still more layers, and an apple still showing some paper, I finally broke out the blending solvent. Surely at this point I had enough layers on the paper for proper blending. Dabbing my brush in the solvent and drying it off, I gently scrubbed all that color into the paper. And what a difference it made. No more paper showing and a brightness to the colors. I was also able to soften the transitions between some of the shading to create a better gradation.


apple-3Blending comes at a price. I lost detail in some of the apple, specifically the stem area. And I also lost all detail in my leaves, leaving them blurry and fuzzy. Back came the sharp pencils and my poor broken sharpener to add yet more layers with more blending until I had a deeper level of color saturation and some of the crispness back.

Supplies Used

I switched over to Fabriano Artistico Hot Pressed, extra white 140 lb water color paper. I think I might just need to come up with a short hand notation for that paper.

I still used my Faber Castell polychromos and Gamsol solvent. And my poor Kum long point sharpener bit the dust on this project.

What is next?

If you have been following me on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, you’ll know it was a graphite falcon. Let me know in the comments what you are currently working on.


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