Learning the Lines (Botanical Art Homework Week 2 – Entry 3)

The old adage is true, practice makes perfect. And in an effort to get closer to perfection I’ve been putting time into practising outside of botanical art class this week.

Firstly I worked on perfecting my line work by trying to document some dried leaves. By taking drawing dried leaves I was hoping to practice all the different directions that lines and leaves might take. Reflecting on this array of leaves I’m happy to see that all of the sketches are clearly leaves, but none of these images look light and delicate like the leaves were in real life. There’s a slight fine line on the top sketch, which gives that side of the leaf a taste of delicacy, and if I can work on getting lines like this on the entire subject I feel the image would also be improved. Another quick win to improve these images would be to clean them. There are quite a few marks on the page around the main sketches that distract your eyes from the actual sketches, so I will need to make tidying up my work a priority in the future.

Dried Leaves Feb 2018 Undated


Determined to create a drawing that looked more delicate, I attempted a Swedish Ivy leaf using an HB pacer lead. To me, I feel like this finer HB pacer lead has helped develop finer lines in this drawing, which in turn gave it a more delicate look. While not necessarily adding a delicate touch, the inclusion of tears and holes in the leaf gave the drawing more character, and character is something that I’m looking to show in my drawings in the future.

The HB pacer was also broken out to tackle a frangipani. When I first picked up the flower, I was pretty convinced that it would be an easy subject as all of the lines are so clearly defined and it is such a simple shape. Boy, was I wrong! Simple lines, like the ones in frangipanis, are hard things to get right. After a while, I lost count of how many times I erased either part or the entire flower but from the sheer amount of eraser debris that was left over it’s clear to me that more time was spent rubbing lines than drawing them!

Frangipani & Swedish Ivy from 13.02.2018 and 14.02.2018


After the unexpected challenges of simplicity, I thought I might be able to spare my eraser by taking on a subject with more detail, so I returned to the remaining Chrysanthemums from the bunch that I took from my last art class. I firstly returned to the side view of an opening bud as I previously felt that this was my most successful angle. This time I tried to show a little more detail in the sepals and show a greater number of petals to give the drawing more points of interest to look at. While I feel there’s more detail here, the sketch could be improved by using a finer point or a pacer as the lines are a little heavy for such a fine flower.

Chrysanthemum Bud - 13.02.2018


Fine detail was something I wanted to capture when I reattempted a foreshortened image, but as you can see fine details are the least of my worries here. This drawing is hilarious! This drawing was an attempt to get foreshortening happening in my work, and there should be no doubt in your mind (as there’s no doubt in my mind) that I have no idea at all how to get foreshortening working in my drawings. This is obviously a skill that needs much more investigation in the future.

Chrysanthemum Front On - 13.02.2018


After the humour of the foreshortening debacle, I wanted to set myself up with the right frame of my before my next botanical art class to make sure I didn’t laugh uncontrollably throughout the class at my poor attempts at floral art. Getting myself in the mindset was fairly easy when I returned to my favourite angle, the side-on view. Since a few days had passed I had a few drooping flowers in my vase so I had my choice of the most interesting wilt. My specimen had an obvious bend in the stem, which you can clearly see in the drawing, but other than that nothing was wrong with the flower. There was a neat element, where a side petal was turning itself around the petal bundle, that I tried to capture on the right side of the image, but I’m still not sure if this was successful executed. Execution is something I need to continue working on, but as I mentioned earlier, practice makes perfect. And I still need some more practice!

Chrysanthemum Bud Dropping- 16.02.2018


Top Tips

  • You can create emphasis in your line drawings by making lines thicker and darker.
  • Remember to clean up your images a little after you’ve finished drawing them. Taking a little more time and care to do this will really improve the final drawing.
  • One way to bring a little character to your drawings is to include the imperfections.
  • Laugh! Sometimes drawings look funny, and that’s funny!