I was not able to attend my drawing class this week so I sat down and made up the time so at least I will not fall behind all the others in the class. I have left the tulip (it is not finished yet) and started on the chrysanthemum. I wanted to start to see how the reds would work together and assess the composition. Photograph not very good……but I can’t face tackling photo editing again……
More daffodils than you can shake a stick at this week, not that I am a great fan of daffodils really, but a bunch in the house provided drawing material for several days. They are very complicated to draw and I need to practice.
Surprise, surprise ten weeks have passed and today I will (hopefully) be producing my 70th drawing. Outside spring is really in the air, the sun is hotter and the wind is gentler, and the birds are really letting us know that it is time to be getting on with spring type business. Washing is drying on the line and the heating has not been on today……….. Maybe I will get outside and do some outdoor drawings next week? (ha! I suspect that be a signal for the winter to leap back out!). This week’s drawings:
Week 6 draws to a close and I find myself pondering how my day now revolves around the activity of producing ‘a drawing a day’. It is almost the first thing I think about in the morning, and it hovers in the periphery of my consciousness until, either the drawing is done, or I have decided when to do the drawing. It’s not a problem; it is just something that must be fitted into the jigsaw of my day. Some days are easy, like Friday when I do my life drawing class, some are more difficult when there are lots of external commitments that pull on my time. Anyway for what it is worth, here are this weeks offerings – you get two for the price of one on life drawing days!
Well I’m keeping up with the daily drawing but it is impacting on my other drawing……..it seems that I can only manage so much drawing a week, but I am enjoying the discipline of having to go upstairs and sit down and draw, in fact I look forward to it. It has been helpful recently to have an activity that can stop my mind thinking about STUFF! Drawing brings its own concentration and intensity and there is no room for anything else and that is a blessing and relief. I am noticing too the turning of the year, although at the moment it is bitterly cold, spring is not far away and the plants are showing this to me. The snowdrops, aconites and hellebores are all back, my winter friends – I draw them every year (note to self….dig out the old drawings and see if I have made any progress, or maybe not….. I might be very disappointed………..).
Link to the group page – group is now nine
This week has felt really busy but I can’t really define anything particular that I have done, just the same old, same old. On the botanical art front I have almost finished the Bromeliad drawing, I just need to tidy up the raggedy edges and clean up the smudges on the paper. I am pleased with the way it turned out, given that it was a different way of working for me, I worked directly from the plant onto ‘good’ paper and then coloured without paying much attention to finish and used the limited colour palette of twenty pencils that I have written about before.
This image clearly shows that you can see the individual pencil marks, which for this type of stringy leafy plant are quite suitable.
The finished drawing…………onto the next one. Looking around the garden, my eye has been caught by the Bergenias that are looking really lush and glossy at the bottom of the garden. They have big dark fleshy leaves and bright pink flowers (not in evidence yet), so I think they will be my next project.
The drawing a day project with six other women has taken off, and now our page is proliferating with images and everyone is very enthusiastic, it makes such a difference to ‘all be in it together’, supporting and encouraging each other.
I started a life drawing class this week, heavens above, life drawing is hard! I sat and produced the most utterly embarrassing rubbish sketches of my life. The only consolation is that I can only get better.
Still working with Wendy Hollender’s book ‘Botanical Drawing in Color’ I copied two of her drawings to try out her limited colours. I tried a tulip, which I just drew out really quickly with graphite pencil and then coloured in following her step by step instructions.
Then I followed the instructions for a bunch of crabapples.
What I really noticed, was that she uses a much freer and more ‘sketchy’ way of applying the pencil to the paper, and looking closely at her images I can see individual pencil lines. This method is much quicker than trying to eliminate all traces of the makers mark which is how I have been doing things previously.
I then went on to experiment with an original drawing of my own of a Pomegranate.
Now this was really fun to do, I loved building up the layers of colour, I loved the ‘scribbly’ speed of working and the texture left behind by working quickly and more intuitively. I also like the depth and variety of colour.
So now, how to progress? Hmmmmm………I guess it will resolve itself as I start into the second year of my blog and my more focussed attention on drawing. I have more or less decided that I will commit myself to doing a drawing a day for 2015….and have reviewed Frederick Franck’s guidelines ‘The Awakened Eye’ from my post way back in June.
Bit of a quickie this week…………
Started the week having a go at some pumpkins, they are satisfying to sketch with their lovely round forms.
Then my eye was caught by a Callicarpa growing in the garden, it catches my eye and my attention every year because of the glorious colour of the berries, its common name is ‘beauty berry’ and I understand why.
I decided to make this the subject of my next coloured pencil drawing….. a great excuse to use the purples that have been lurking around unused since I tried a Cerinthe back in the spring. Lush!
A close up of how it is progressing.
An enthusiastic group of students, an experienced and knowledgeable teacher (Ann Swan), a great studio (despite the abundance of spiders and other creepy crawlies) wonderful weather and a full six days of time; the recipe for a really enjoyable and productive week.
I learned so much:
- Which side is the right side of the paper, I got this wrong twice and was made to start again. A stern teacher indeed but I will pay attention in future.
- Which greens are ‘good’ and ‘safe’ and make natural looking greens for leaves.
- How to use a light box, I got this wrong too in two ways 1) I reversed my image and 2) used wrong side of paper. Had to laugh though…….. and I will be much more careful next time.
- Found out what a Plamp is (no I am not telling you, you will have to look it up for yourself). Have also found out how to make one for myself (super scrimper that I am).
- How to sharpen and pencil and why a sharp pencil is important.
- The order that a coloured pencil drawing is best done.
- Different methods of underpainting and how this works really well if a graphite drawing is planned.
- What baby oil really is; not oil at all – who knew?
- Burnishing and bloom: what colours to use and how to do it.
- How to remove random marks e.g. fly poop, pencil slips from paper starting gently and moving onto the heavy guns of Milton fluid.
- How to select colours for shadows, not necessarily greys but a pale complimentary instead.
- To be much much braver when I lay down my first layer……….this is hard as I can feel myself not wanting to ‘go wrong’ but to get deep intense colour I must plunge in.
Here is my output for the week:
Here you can see the resist veins and the initial shading.
Here is a finished leaf, photo has dulled it rather but the depth of colour was good.
Backside of leaf (if you excuse the expression), this is generally duller than the top often with a velvety texture, Veins incised with ivory, bluntish pencils used to create softness. Used wrong side of paper again and reversed image on light box. Tutor commented on lack of observation on where the veins finished, but I was able to add some extensions to bring the veins to edge of leaf.
A lot of hours went into these little babies! I loved the little dancing calyxes and that was what made me want to draw them. They ripened as I watched. I feel I have captured some of their perky nature, and preserved some of their luminance and translucency (don’t read on Karen because there is a ‘but’ coming) but I could work on them some more to intensify the colour.
My final piece of work was this drawing of Clematis Tangutica and I don’t think the photo does it justice, it is not quite as washed out as this picture portrays. I am happy with the composition of this drawing and used many of the ‘tricks’ I observed and learned to put this picture together. I thought it was finished but it needs ‘beefing up’ Ann’s words and I will do that and try and strengthen the colour.
I had a really positive experience on this course and am fired up to keep going, I have improved skills and a better understanding of the medium as well as a long shopping list for pencils and paper and other sundry equipment.
It’s not that I have not been drawing but I have not been drawing very much, my intentions of drawing every day just flew out the window. The only artistic tool I have had in my hand for the last month has been a paintbrush – a house painting brush.
So, what have I done? Well on two occasions I was overambitious and started drawings of large specimens which I was unable to continue with or to finish. I did not think forward about how my days were going to pan out and then when I got back to the drawing the specimen had shrivelled, withered and I did not have back up photographs. Another good lesson to learn; think hard before starting something ambitious. Pictures attached are very poor as the graphite is too faint for my photography skills and I have over adjusted the contrast. I have just put them in for the record.
I also had a go at drawing outside again, sitting in the sunshine with the breeze waving the plants around. Good practice at looking and remembering and not being too precious. I love poppy seed heads, they are so much fun to draw, seem like little crowds of people.
I also had a go at Crocosmia, which actually flowered in the garden this year, it seems to have been a good growing year for many things. This also was a venturing into colour for the first time for a long time – and it was orange again – I have a weird attraction to orange I realise that now……. Again I was disheartened by my efforts, my petals end up heavy and lumpy.
The final drawings I have managed are of a fantastic Dahlia flower that is so luscious in colour changing from apricot (orange!!), peach (pale orange!!) to yellow with lots of yummy shades in-between. A massive challenge to draw with so many petals twisting and turning this way and that, but that bit went quite well. I then traced off my drawing to give me the base for a colour drawing. Taking advice from others that have been kind enough to support me I used an underpainting of yellow watercolour to cover the paper before starting with the coloured pencils.
The colours are not quite right in the photo so this detail shows them better.
But my petals are still lumpy and thick. However, excitingly, I am starting a coloured drawing course later this afternoon with Ann Swan who is a brilliant coloured pencil botanical artist and I am hoping to learn loads; whole week of drawing and learning, how lucky am I!