Wednesday, 3 October 2012


It has been a while again since my last post. Partially because I haven't painted much since my last blog. At least, not very botanical anyway. BUT now I have finished something that's worth sharing.
Some weeks ago I went to a nursery ("De Vrolijke Noot") of fruit trees and bushes. The owner gave me a cutting from one of his apple trees. The apple is named "Sterappel". That means "Star Apple" if you translate it. Stars, because the apple has very clear bright lenticels on the very dark red skin.
I posted the end result on Flickr and Facebook already and was very happy when Rosie Sanders complimented me on the painting. Rosie made a few years ago the famous Apple Book. She knows a lot about the different varieties and asked me what kind this is. I didn't know the English name of it. I only know the German, French and Dutch name. Later Rosie sent me a bit of more information about the apple: "I've looked it up in the National Apple Register and it seems that it is Reinette Rouge Étoilée, first described in 1830, provenance Belgium or the Netherlands. Has lots of synonyms including Sterappel and Sternrenette. Interesting!". 
What I do know is that this used to be a very popular apple in the Netherlands but has become very rare now. The problem with these apples is that it falls too early from the tree. Often it hasn't got the deep red colour yet when it hits the ground. To give the apples the wonderful, dark colour the apples were placed on straw between the trees to get more sunlight and the cold from the nights. To save the apples from dehydration the apples had to be wetted. Also to get an even red colour the apples had to be turned after a while. Very intensive work if you have a large orchard.

Now, about the painting... I used for this Arches HP (I was out of Fabriano) and painted it first in watercolour. Using masking fluid to save the "stars". After that I put on layers of coloured pencil. And although I did get a very nice and rich dark red colour with the watercolour, the coloured pencils made it even more alive. I really loved this way of working and I think I'll use this technique more. The only thing I don't like is that the watercolours roughen the paper surface. I will have to find a cure for that. More experimenting is needed. 

The painting (only watercolour) with the masking fluid to protect the "stars".

Oh, and remember that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.... right? Not really.... I went to the doctor last week and it turned out that I have a very sportive right arm: a golfer's and tennis elbow (bilateral epicondylitis). With painkillers it's possible to work for about an hour a day. So the next project will take some time to get finished. But I promise, it will be a bit different ;)