Drawing Skills Pt II : Drawing Plants and Flowers

Exercise : Negative space in a plant – OCA p 63

Fig 1 : Negative space in a plant

Fig 1 : Negative space in a plant : sketch #69

I used a Peace Plant for this exercise (fig 1) as I like the delicate intricacy of the leaves and emerging flowers. Working with negative space is interesting and absorbing; I thoroughly enjoyed it and also enjoyed putting the wrinkled shading in the negative spaces.  I used pencil (4B) for this exercise and A3 paper.




Exercise : Plants and flowers in coloured pencil : OCA p64

Fig 2 : using coloured pencils : sketch #70

Fig 2 : using coloured pencils : sketch #70

Fig 2 shows my practices with coloured pencil and in Fig 3 you can see my attempt at drawing anemones in coloured pencil.  This exercise took hours and I feel I have little to show for the time spent but I wanted to persevere and I find coloured pencils slow-going.  It is drawn on A2.

Fig 2:  Plants and flowers in coloured pencil

Fig 3: Plants and flowers in coloured pencil : sketch #71

I enjoyed making the effort, however, and am halfway pleased with the result.  I like the contrast of the cricket ball on the table by the flowers as it brings the reds down to that area causing a triangle of reds. It was really hard to capture the way the light shines through the anemone flowers.  The main source of light was from the right with a little at the back.  The shadow of the ball shows up but in my photo the shadow of the vase is not clear. I used pastels for the table cloth and blue curtains because I wanted them to disappear into the background rather than be prominent and spoil the focal point.

Exercise : Drawing with other colour media – OCA p 65

In the drawing below (fig 4) I have taken the picture of the anemones and brought the focus in closer so that only a few flower heads and the top of the vase are featured.  Anemones open very quickly and change daily so some had to be thrown out! It is interesting to think about a composition such as this and easy to ruin it by using a fast-coloured medium that spoils the result!  I started with a water colour wash to each area and then washed in some slightly stronger colours.  This still looked wishy-washy so I began adding coloured pencil which seemed to work quite well over the water colour. I wanted to make some deeper areas of colour and used felt tip brushes and pens but I felt this looked too harsh so used coloured water soluble crayon to blend.

Fig 3 : Drawing with other colour media

Fig 4 : Drawing with other colour media : sketch #72

I still wasn’t happy with the result and decided to use brush pens for the black outlines which, again seemed too harsh  –  at least the way I had used them, so I used ink to squiggle some of the edges into submission. I learned that blending with felt-tip is impossible (obvious really) and it is a very hard and cold medium so perhaps I should have left it out of a subject I wanted to have a soft effect.  However, the addition of black ink here and there balanced the felt tip disaster a little.  A good learning curve and I’m reasonably pleased with the final result, particularly because it looks more spontaneous than drawings I take a lot more time over.

Check and log

  • My experiments with negative space will certainly help my future drawings.  I seem to be able to be more accurate when I look at the negative rather than the positive space. It fees my brain from thinking I know where the lines ought to be and putting them where they really are.  A good learning.
  • I used my viewfinder and sometimes some grid-lines to ensure I drew my plants in proportion.  I also constantly checked that each component was where it was supposed to be compared to another.
  • I tried using light and dark to achieve three dimensional space.  The use of shadows also helps and the blurring of the background and sharpening of foreground.
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