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Crafty Question: On Sketching Flowers

June 22, 2016

16June22)Craftsy_Flower Demo_03

I have a follow up question this morning in my travel sketching class, on the topic of sketching flowers.

Now, I am not by any means a botanical artist. I’m not even a painter of flowers in watercolor (not yet!).  I know the botanical people are committed to accuracy, and the flower painters are all about lush color and beautiful compositions. But this particular class is more about being able to sketch anything, anywhere, anytime!

I guess flowers are going to come up as often any anything else:)

I think this question has been tricky to answer in the class, because I’ve been going on and on about drawing shadow shapes – and often students think I mean *darks* when I say shadow shapes. But of course, some shapes are quite pale. They’re still shadows on a form though! And naturally – a high key, delicate thing like a flower – that is something ill suited to pen and ink in the first place. So it’s going to take a light touch!

BUT – we can’t shy away from that.  Just go for it, and think – less is more when it comes to this sort of thing.

16June22)Craftsy_Flower Demo_01

Here’s two little sketches – first – if I was going to just draw this flower in pen-and-ink, and second, if I intended to paint it.

In point of fact, if I was going to paint it, I might draw that in pencil, so the line was even less dominant. But – for the purposes of this demo, this is a Platinum Carbon EF nib fountain pen, and a few touches of the Kuretake Sumi Brush pen.

16June22)Craftsy_Flower Demo_02

Some notes – see the pink line drawn over the photo (click to enlarge) – that is what my eye is ‘tracing’ when I’m drawing the shadow shape of this flower.

16June22)Craftsy_Flower Demo_03

Here’s some light washes. See how I’m using that shadow shape like a map for placing the color?

This is how sketching helps us learn to paint. Over time you’ll train yourself to see these shapes without a guideline. But when you’re sketching fast – that pen or pencil line is invaluable to help you paint it later.  (Just like the other day, when I was sketching from life, and painting after).

16June22)Craftsy_Flower Demo_04

So that’s going out for Louise B :) Hope that helps clarify my earlier explanation!




20 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2016 1:11 PM

    Thanks for sharing, Marc! And hello from Calgary. It helps a lot a beginner like myself to see step by step how you would tackle a subject like flowers! Brilliant!

  2. June 22, 2016 1:33 PM

    Am taking your Crafsy class and it is EXCELLENT. Your flower tutorial is bloom’n great!

  3. June 22, 2016 1:45 PM

    wonderful advice!

  4. chronicallyfatiguedsite permalink
    June 22, 2016 1:50 PM

    I love the wash effect.

  5. Annie permalink
    June 22, 2016 2:01 PM

    This IS bloomin’ great – thanks!

  6. June 22, 2016 2:10 PM

    Thanks so much! I have a white peony..I am going to try.

  7. Lydia Akers permalink
    June 22, 2016 2:20 PM

    Thanks, Marc. This is perfect. I haven’t checked into the travel sketching class for a while. It’s probably a good time to do a refresher and look at the different conversations.
    I sketch a lot of plants….this is extremely helpful!!!
    If you feel like doing a quick demo on sketching “plant masses” I would love to see that!!! Although, I think this demo technique can also be adapted to plant masses. I’m going out to give it a try!
    Always a pleasure to see how you work and approach different subjects.

  8. June 22, 2016 2:23 PM

    Looks simply incredible! Love the fluffly looks you gave to the flower.

  9. June 22, 2016 2:24 PM

    Enormously helpful! I have been obsessed with painting watercolor flowers for a few months now – very loose, no pre-sketching, and your explanation gave me stars in my eyes because I was able to ‘see’ in a way I hadn’t before! Thank you!

  10. Louise Boyer permalink
    June 22, 2016 2:43 PM

    OMG Marc, thanks, you really made it clear for me now!!!
    Can’t believe you did all this to answer my question. I really appreciate this and will keep a copy of your wonderful work, study it.
    You’re an amazing teacher

  11. June 22, 2016 2:52 PM

    Hi, Marc, I love the clarity you bring to your postings! Here the notes and color outlines along with your wording really help! Thanks so much!

  12. June 22, 2016 4:18 PM

    I’m in the middle of a nature theme and nearly managing to avoid sketching flowers… part out of confusion and fear because I’m just not sure how to approach them. I love seeing your eye tracing lines for your sketch. Really appreciate seeing the steps in this post. Immensely helpful my friend!!

  13. thefrugalcrafter permalink
    June 22, 2016 8:59 PM

    Great demo! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Jennifer permalink
    June 23, 2016 3:17 AM

    This is just the kind of information I am looking for. Thank you so much. I find that when I want to do a “sketch anything because I want to practice” kind of drawing, I am naturally drawn to the shapes and beauty of flowers in this season. Definitely not going for the botanical artist accuracy, but I want to do my best to get proper angles, proportions, etc. And add color sometimes, too. Your photographs here will help a lot of people, for sure. (I am taking your sketching people in motion class. Love it!)

  15. Limarea permalink
    June 23, 2016 4:16 AM

    This is great, it helps a lot! And it’s beautiful! Greetings from Sweden :)

  16. permalink
    June 23, 2016 12:13 PM

    Marc, Thank you for your endlessly generous spirit! I so enjoy all of your works and it is so kind of you to share your stages with us.I always enjoy your posts and the two Craftsy classes I have of yours as well. Best to you! Melissa

  17. anniedrawsthings permalink
    June 23, 2016 2:01 PM

    Beautiful sketches and paintings! Thanks so much for sharing the process!

  18. Linda Lebrun permalink
    June 23, 2016 4:06 PM

    Thanks so much for this Marc, it really helps. Linda L, Coquitlam, BC

  19. October 5, 2016 1:35 PM

    I really enjoy looking through of all of you art and reading the captions. They help a lot, especially when I’m trying to figure out ways to draw something.

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