Plants and Flowers in Coloured Pencils

Plants and Flowers in Coloured Pencil

For this exercise I bought an assortment of flowers from the Tops supermarket while I was visiting my kids for a meal for my oldest daughters Birthday. The flowers I chose were orchids and some red and pink roses, I really was not thinking about shapes or colour when I purchased them but I am glad I made the choices that I did. On an A2 sheet of white paper I began to draw.

Roses and Orchids
Roses and Orchids

Now the brief said to experiment with different methods of blending in my sketchbook first, however I thought I had had enough practise blending colour with colour pencils so far in this course so I put pencil straight to paper, for the flowers this was no problem but for the leaves I wish I had done as the brief said and practised a little more.

Drawing the Orchid
Drawing the Orchid

I began with a neutral colour for each subject starting with the orchid and working my way around the composition working on the most prominent flowers and leaves first keeping a careful eye on negative space.

Part way through the drawing I read the brief again to find out I had skipped over some valuable instructions:

  • Make the plant the focal point of your drawing but draw the background
  • Do not draw the plant in isolation
  • Draw in the context to give depth and substance to the drawing

The background I had chosen was a plane white wall with brown skirting boards and very pale floor tiles but I decided to carry on and I am glad I did. Using three different types of flowers with large leaves and petals on the orchid the composition and the vase I had placed them in made up the main subject and the background. Placing the largest flowers at the front and the smallest at the back helped me to create a nice three dimensional effect with the large orchid flower taking on the role as the focal point of the drawing.

I used different methods of blending for each of the flowers with layering used on all, the Still Life Group in Tone Exercise early on in this part of the course really helped using 3-4 colours on each flower but starting off with the lightest colour first and working my way to the darkest.

I used long strokes for the orchid to give it a stretching outwards feel and to me it almost seems like it as a life of its own.

Drawing in the Red Roses
Drawing in the Red Roses

For the red roses I coloured them in a spiral motion then layered the darkest colours over the top rubbing out the colour from time to time to let the lighter colours show through.

Flowers Complete
Flowers Complete

The pink roses were the most challenging of the lot with the colours and details being so delicate I decided to tackle them in a different way by hatching then squiggling over the top for the flowers where you can see the petals grouped together.

Aspects of the Drawing I am Satisfied with:

I am really happy with the 3 dimensional feel of the drawing and the way the different solutions I came up with to tackle each type of flower pad off. I am also very happy with way the drawing came together using the practise I had from the Negative Space in a Plant Exercise helped me to piece the drawing together like a jigsaw.

Plants and Flowers in Coloured Pencil
Plants and Flowers in Coloured Pencil

Aspects of the Drawing I am not happy with:

As always I wish I had read the brief again and again until I was clear on what I had to do but then this would have lead to a one or two plant composition  which would have probably been a lot less challenging.

I wish I had practised blending colours in my sketch book if just for the leaves and stems, although not all the leaves and stems are clearly visible I can see that I definitely could have improved on the blending on those parts of the flowers.

The final drawing is very sketchy although this is a big difference from some of the final drawings in part 1 of this and I know I allowed the the sketchy artist I researched earlier to influence me in this exercise I would have preferred a more realistic finished  drawing.

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Still Life Group in Tone

Still life group in tone

After the last exercise ‘Still Life Group Using Line‘ this exercise sounded like it was going to be a breath of fresh air and indeed it was…

Still Life Group in Tone
Still Life Group in Tone

I started with a bit of a study to firstly get the right composition for this exercise and then to try out different colours so I could find three colours that would give me three different tones for this drawing. I feel like I cheated on this exercise as I chose objects that could be drawn easily enough with just three colours, a yellowy green banana, an apple and two green bananas but I just started a high fruit diet the week before and I used objects that were at hand.

Like it instructed me in the brief I screwed up my eyes to take a look at the dark colours only and lightly sketched them in and then chose a different colour to sketch in the mid tones, then another for the light tone. On completion of the initial sketch I decided that my darkest colour was too light and so changed it for my final drawing.

Still life group in tone
Still life group in tone

I changed the composition of my final drawing slightly so I could depict the full form of the apple and I’m glad I did. The final drawing took me less than two hours going at a really steady pace and I am really satisfied with the completed drawing and my choice of colours, It would have been nice to apply a fourth colour though and also maybe a variation in orange and reds.

The one thing I am not happy with is the amount of blank space I left on the paper but I tried to make up for this by shading with my darkest colour.

Masters of Detailed Drawing 2, Modern Artist, Eliot Hodgkin

Eliot Horgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

For this research point I was asked to find two artists who exemplify mastery of detailed drawing 1 from the 19th century or earlier and a modern artist. I already researched the 19th century artist Thomas Hartley Cromek in ‘Masters of Detailed Drawing 1, 19th Century, Thomas Hartley Cromek‘ and it was now time to find a Modern artist. Again I wanted to find an artist that I wasn’t familiar with so I started my search on Google looking for British artists of the 20th century. A list of names of British artists came up on Wkipedia so I went down the names looking at their work 1 artist at a time.

I came across the name Eliot Hodgkin, a name that I was very familiar with but I’m not sure from where so I took a look at his work to see if I recognised any of his paintings. I had never seen any of his paintings before but what I did see was truly inspiring and perfect for this part of the course. With the image below Large Leaf 2 particularly catching my eye as near my school there are some very similar large leafs that I would love to draw for this part of the course.

Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card
Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

Curwen Eliot Hodgkin was an English painter born into a Quaker family in Purley-on-Thames on 19 June 1905 and was the cousin of abstract painter Howard Hodgkin. Eliot Hodgkin was educated at Harrow School but his artistic life began at the Byam Shaw School of Art and then at the Royal Academy Schools where he studied under Francis Ernest Jackson.

Eliot Hodgkin Seven Brussel Sprouts
Eliot Hodgkin Seven Brussel Sprouts

Hodgkin had already established himself as a still life and landscape painter by the mid-1930s and regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy. In 1937 Hodgkin started working in egg tempera a recipe that was given to him by his close friend and former teacher Maxwell Armfield.

Hodgkin stated that he wasn’t attracted to tempera as a medium as it was used by Italian primitives and their work did not do anything for him, he simply used tempera as it was the only medium that allowed him to express the unique character of the objects that fascinated him.

Hodgkin said that his conscious purpose was to ‘show the beauty in natural objects’- that people would usually think unattractive such as ‘Brussels sprouts, turnips, onions, pebbles and flints, bulbs, dead leaves, bleached vertebrae, an old boot cast up by the tide.’

When i did a search for his paintings and saw his work the first thing that went through my mind was how beautiful his paintings were and yet his compositions are so very simple. I have heard of tempera before but as far as I know I have never seen anything painted in it until now and I knew at firs glance that they were painted in a medium other than oil or acrylic.

He depicts the texture of his objects wonderfully and his paintings are so crisp and life-like but still he manages to express them in a way that makes u aware of the beauty of these objects for the first time with wonderful contours and a brilliant balance of light and dark tone, whether it be a dead leaf or a toilet roll.

Toilet Rolls Eliot Hodgin
Toilet Rolls Eliot Hodgin

Like Eliot Hodkin Says ‘ People sometimes tell me that they had never really ‘seen’ something before I painted it, and I should like to believe this… For myself, if I must put it into words, I try to look at quite simple things as though I were seeing them for the first time and as though no one had ever painted them before.’

For me I agree with others that to see these objects in his paintings is to ‘see’ them for the first time with detail and beauty that you would never notice before. Hodgkin really makes you notice every part of the object, every leaf, every crease and every pattern on the objects surface.

Bibliography – Wikipedia