As much as I love art and seeing the work of other artists, I find it important to have a diverse pool of interests and inspiration. On Instagram, which has become one of my favorite sources of new ideas, I follow many gardening and farming content creators in addition to art focused accounts and friends. I have a small set of raised planter boxes at my home, but these gardeners and farmers are on a whole other level with their commitment to their plants. It’s so wonderful to see! So, for this India Ink drawing project, I searched for photos of fruit and vegetables from a few of these incredible creators to serve as models for my work.

Initially I was anxious to produce something that honored the love of chili pepper from frederickfamilyacre, as their ingenuity and cultivation of a variety of chilies always catch my attention. It was the challenge of figuring out what tools, paper, and material to use to make this my own tribute. Honestly, this was the first time I have ever created a piece of art using this method, and I was extremely curious.

Needless to say, pulling out the ruling pens, ink, paper, water, and choosing a brush was super simple and there’s nothing wrong with simple in art, just as there’s nothing wrong with complicated. Finding that balance, or the sweet spot where someone is most excited and confident, is important for an artist to recognize in themselves and their work. 

Researching chilies was an educational and enlightening undertaking. So many colors and sizes (and I’m sure flavors too!), they are different and yet decidedly the same in so many ways. I chose a larger chili, the name of which I didn’t record, because I knew it would lend itself to the image I wanted to create.

It took several tries learning the correct balance between water and ink. Using the ruling pens and ink to create the drawing was my first step, so the water was the variable I had to experiment with. Too much water muted, diluted the ink and the subject lost all its dimension and depth of actual color. Too little made the painting more like a drawing and didn’t change the image enough for my taste.

But at long last, I found my groove and finished a piece I was very satisfied with. Here’s my finished chili pepper:

Now, if you know me, you know that one iteration of this project wasn’t enough. Thinking of the chili peppers I just drew, my mind naturally went to bell pepper next. Again, almost immediately, I thought of an IG site that always has amazing photos of garden delights. So, I searched all.i.plant and, voila! There it was! A large, beautiful, purple bell pepper ready to be drawn.

I had found it!!

Now with my confidence on high, I just went for it. Using India Ink as my drawing tool, my focus went right to that pepper. I even skipped the “sloppy copy”, or “rough draft”, I usually make beforehand this time! I was just too excited. 

I was happy with the drawing and was quick to grab my paint brush and add water. The controlled use of water is vital and truly something you learn by doing.

Even though the pepper was deep royal purple, I went gentle with the deep tones concentrating more on the “shines”, or reflection of light, on my subject. I figured since I went deep and bold on the chili, now it was time to experiment in a different direction.

I could not have been more pleased with the results! My form looked good, my balance of positive and negative space was spot on. Here is the finished bell pepper:

Now I needed a new subject for the actual video and always love the amazing produce coming from as_we_watch_it_grow. After a quick search, another gift of a stunning photo was at my fingertips, this time a luscious tomato. I knew that I wanted this gorgeous fruit to be the subject of my filmed artistic creation. 

I combined all that I learned during my previous garden vegetable ink and water illustrations, and, as you saw in the video, here is the final artwork:

This is a new beginning for me in my personal artistic journey, and in my desire to learn and teach new things to anyone who wants to learn. Until we meet again, I’ll be searching for that next interesting subject and process…

Update 1/14/22:

I used this same technique to draw a stack of beach rocks. Check it out below!