Herbs: Basil (Part 1 of 3)

One of my friends recently moved into a new apartment, and she asked me to make some art for the wall in her kitchen. Have you seen those incredibly popular herb prints on Etsy? She wanted something like that, but was cool enough to seek out a local artist for some originals (i.e. me!)

And I’ve got progression pictures!

Technically, I started this project some weeks ago…but I finally got down to business on at least one out of three.

I really admired the pretty, carefree watercolor versions I saw on Etsy, so that’s what I started out by attempting. But, being me, I had to go for some more details and realism. I personally am not yet able to achieve that with watercolors, which I learned for certain during a practice session. So I added some colored pencil to the mix. I decided on three popular herbs: basil, oregano, and parsley. I think parsley is going to be the hardest. As you can see, I’m avoiding it already. I came up with the idea to “tie” each bundle of herbs with a dark blue ribbon, which I think will look pretty cool.


As always, the first stage of the process is the pencil sketch. I started with the word on the bottom because I didn’t want to finish a beautiful piece only to ruin it with some misplaced Sharpie.


Next, I broke out the watercolors. I got two shades of green (Olive and Chromium Oxide) just to make my life a bit easier, but I also mixed my yellows with blues to achieve some additional shades of green. I mostly used a #8 round brush, because my friend got a good one for me and it is so clearly superior to my other brushes. The size was fine for this 11×14 drawing.


I think I had originally planned to go from light to dark, then actually started darker, and then just got all random with it.


I finished with my watercolors and added the blue ribbon with one of my new Tombow brush pens.


Then it was time to begin incorporating the colored pencil. I concentrated on dark shadows first, and then moved on to the veins of the leaves.


Here is how the whole thing turned out, including the word on the bottom:


In my opinion, that wash of blue over the word on the bottom was a stroke of genius. I love how it looks.

So, is this drawing finished? While it’s hard to allow myself to ever be fully done with a drawing, I’m trying to be more relaxed about it. I’m quite happy with the result. But even now I am noticing little flaws and places where I left out details. However, I told myself I was done! Can I handle it?? I think I achieved both general realism and a slightly looser look, in places.

I signed with my initials so that it wouldn’t be as in-your-face for this type of project, but I did sign fully on the back.

At the end of this process. I plan to take a picture of all three herbs, framed and hanging on my friend’s wall.


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