Today I am going to suggest a drawing habit that can be extremely rewarding.
Choose a plant that is going to be changing over the summer and make an appointment with yourself to draw it once a week.
Start with a contour drawing, a simple line drawing with the shape nearest to you drawn first. Overlaps are much easier if done this way. Choose a smooth pen with which to draw and draw with a nice firm line. No pencils no erasers at least at first. If you make a mistake, plants are quite forgiving. If you really don’t like what is happening, don’t cross out but turn the page and try another.
• Clematis and other climbers are fun, but you will find yourself chasing them up the lattice. You may need to draw more often than once a week, they change so quickly.
• If the plant seems “same-old” try a different tool: watercolor crayons, colored pencils, a felt tipped marker. This might be the time to try a shaded pencil drawing.
• When it is time, pick your chosen plant if it is a flower, bring it inside and draw it daily at a different angle while it lasts.
• Draw an outside-shapes-only contour of your flower arrangement
• Draw the cast shadow of your plant as it falls on your paper.
• If your plant expires or stops being interesting, change to another one.
• Instead of flowers, try something from the vegetable garden: corn or tomatoes offer lots of choices. Even zucchini.
You may be surprised at how much you learn about the plant while you draw. I chose a maple branch one spring. You know those long dangles of flower clusters come out before the leaves uncurl? Each one of those little tiny flower jewels becomes a seedpod with wings. They hang in huge clusters until the signal to launch — like a helicopter attack.
For two summers I have chosen a lily as my flower and the third summer decided to draw whichever lily was blooming that week. Did you know that some lilies have 11 whorls of leaves, 3 leaves each, and they have only 33 leaves when they are 18” high; still only 33 leaves when they are 4-5 feet high? I wonder what extraneous facts you learn (and I would love to hear!).
From the same sketchbook — a drawing of SOMETHING every day.
© Caroline Buchanan, 2008
photos updated 5/13