Nuances of Nuts (Botanical Art Homework Week 8 – Entry 15)

What’s better on a lazy Saturday night than curl up on the couch in front of a rom-com movie with a glass of wine, a handful of snacks and your botanical art sketchbook? Perhaps a second glass of wine!

To kick off the big night in, I cozied up with my snacks and my first botanical subject, a leaf from my Australian native violet plant.

I love this plant primary because of its leaves that look like little lily pads, that when left to grow will take off and create an ocean of green on the ground. Even when separated, each of these leaves packs enough visual interest with their little lumps and bumps to make them an excellent drawing subject. And if you squint when you look at what I’ve drawn, I think it works.

Really, I think what’s working in this sketch is the depth. It’s pretty clear that the stem is in front of the leaf, and it even appears to be casting a shadow. Overall, I think it feels a little sloppy and lacks the finesse I really wanted to achieve, but I’m glad to see that the development of depth is well on its way!

Sketch of native violet leaf - 31 03 2018


After finishing up the violet leaf, I decided to try my hand at a few of the new gum nuts in my collection, starting with a gum nut that I recently scored which has dried blossoms stuck in the nut cup.

Other than the blossom, I tried to place the focus on this sketch on the cracks at the top of the nut cup as they really made the specimen unique. I’ve certainly gotten them to show in the sketch, but they’ve less textured then they are in person. One detail I missed when sketching this picture was creating shade on the dried blossom. If I’d done this I think I would have really made the picture. Better luck next time!


Dried gum nuts with blossoms - 31 03 2018

With some more snacks in hand, I moved from the heavily detailed nut to a simpler selection that had less wear and tear, which would give me the opportunity to focus on depth. To get the depth into full gear, I started off by making the right-hand side as dark as possible. With so much focus on the right-hand side, I forgot to keep the colour consistent on the stem, which makes the stem look like it’s a different position to the nut. Whoops!


Two dried gum nut sketches - 31 03 2018

With a few drawings under my belt, I moved to the final sketch of the day, a gum nut with so much texture inside the nut itself that I just had to capture it! Despite my complete lack of shading and texture know-how I still found it was awesome fun to try and bring this nut to life. On reflection, I think it’s clear that the shading worked, but the texture didn’t (apart from the star pattern at the bottom of the nut that survived despite my attempts to wipe it out when I shaded over the top of it), as you can see above.



Looking back on my lazy night of sketching, I think the biggest thing I could have improved was to double-check my work. If I’d taken just a few minutes across the board to make a couple of tweaks, I think the end products could have been something different.

Top Tips

  • Before you declare your drawing finished, take a little time to double check and correct your work to make sure that those little inconsistencies won’t hold you back.
  • To get the best out of your shading, remember to shade all of the elements of the sketch, and don’t leave things (like dried gum nut blossoms) out.
  • Texture is something that I’m not really well versed in yet, so it’s time to add it to the ‘to learn’ list!