Monday, December 10, 2018

Studies in White: Garlic

12/2/18 Derwent Lightfast
A couple of weeks ago I talked about white colored pencils and compared all the brands I own. My main use of white is as a highlight on toned paper (especially in life drawings), which means I don’t use it much. But making that comparison chart of white pencils made me realize how much they vary in opacity and even hue temperature. As anyone who has ever looked at paint chips at a hardware store knows, there’s no such thing as white white.
12/5/18 Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle

All of this got me thinking about the color white as I use it in a sketch. I rarely think about white except when I need it to depict light, and in that case, it’s mostly a matter of remembering to retain some part of the white paper. Otherwise, white is usually just the negative space around whatever I consider to be the positive space. But what about when the subject matter in the positive space is white?

I grabbed the first white thing with an interesting shape that I laid eyes on: a head of garlic. It’s white, but of course, white is never really white. In this case, it’s yellow, purple, taupe and gray. I had fun pulling out all three versions of Stillman & Birn’s Nova sketchbooks for these small studies.

12/5/18 Caran d'Ache Pablo


  1. Garlic is so much fun to sketch or paint. It has so many subtle variations in color...many more than you would see in the petals of a white flower. Nicely observed and depicted!

    1. Thank you, Joan! You're right -- garlic does have many subtle hues that are unlike other plants.


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