The Artful…Pinecone?


Written by Rohn Strong

Y’all know I talk a lot about Botanical Illustration and if you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter…you get even more of it! As I delve more deeply into flexing my artistic muscle my fascination grows. Last week I began working on what’s often called a value study.

Now, a value study does two main things, it allows me to draw the shapes that will make up the final painting/composition as well as to assign a value to every shape from 1 (the white of the paper) to 5 (the darkest dark).

With a value study I’m able to see where I need to place what colors as well as get an overall feel for the work. It’s an incredibly important step and one that most artists shouldn’t skip. The step by step order in which you assign value is often the same order in which you’ll lay down color.

My subject was a Virginia Pine Cone. To prep the cone I baked it in the oven for a few hours to make sure it could really pop…and to kill all the spiders. No body wants a swarm of pine cone spiders invading their house.

Then I went to work:

First I photographed the cone and drew a quick outline of the cone.


Then I set to work. I used a 4B Faber Castell Graphite Pencil to do most of the work. I also had my trusty eraser and a bit of wax paper to make sure I wouldn’t smug too much. Detail wasn’t the main goal, it was just about getting the general and overall value.



In all this piece took about 5 hours to complete, with the little bit of detail I did add. I think it turned out pretty good! I can see where I need improvement but I can also see where I did a great job. I think taking breaks will be incredibly important. Starting at the top right and finishing at the bottom left…you can see where I became a bit impatient and just started hurrying through.

The best part of this was accomplishing something that, at first, seemed impossible. Afterward I am motivated and encouraged to continue!

2 thoughts on “The Artful…Pinecone?

Comments are closed.