From Lesson 2, I moved onto the next logical step… Lesson 3. Finally, I have escaped mechanical skills hell and am onto drawing real things! It was not without its challenges even though it was a territory much more familiar to me. The lesson opens with a couple of exercises much like Lesson 1 and 2 except that they’re specific to the business of drawing plants. The first is to draw a page of leaves and the second is to draw a page of stems. I struggled somewhat with the leaves as flat objects existing in 3D space. I did quite a few pages of this but didn’t go overboard like I did with my Lesson 2 sausages with contour ellipses (I did about 50 pages of that because I wasn’t getting it). I don’t feel like I nailed it down in the end so it’ll be something I need to practice. Similarly, I had trouble with the stems in the same way I had trouble with the ellipse sausages - I have trouble seeing the ellipses turning in 3D. I did about 10 double sided pages of this one morning before breakfast… yeah, you shouldn’t do that. It’s a bit hard to control a pen when your hands are shaking from hunger. Anyway, I moved on from it and thought I’d just wing it with the plants, which turned out to be the right thing to do because I got the hang of them when drawing my plants. Finally, I got to drawing actual plants. I started off by following along with the video demos, which I highly recommend as they provide solid clues about how to approach certain problems in drawing plants. With these demos, my first drawing was at the same pace, drawing along with the video. The second attempt, I paused the video and used the reference in the video to draw it at my own pace using the ideas presented in the video. In the case of my first demo drawings, I then did some drawing from imagination without referencing back to the reference or my previous drawings. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, I don’t think it was actually particularly useful except as an exercise to see how much I actually remembered.
In subsequent demos, I skipped the drawings from imagination. In my second demo (the cactus seen in the cover image), I experimented with different forms and the placement of the texture as well as trying to implement some critique Uncomfortable had given me about not drawing the outlines, but just the shadows. I think this page was one of my most successful. My third demo draw along was the pitcher plant. This one isn’t a video demo like the others, but rather a text and image based tutorial or sorts. I followed this one along and only really ran into trouble with how the leaf folded around the lip of the plant as well as the little leaf overhanging the mouth of the plant. The fourth and final demo was the potato plant, which is a very busy plant with a lot of foliage. I struggled to keep my lines clean while drawing this one and was pinged on it in my critique. I also drew a sort of pear plant on the same page from the reference album provided on the website. It’s the only one from that album as I didn’t find the references overly inspiring.
I took a walk to the local park with the intention of doing some sketching for life. Unfortunately, I saw more interesting plants on my walk there than I did at the park itself. Luckily, I took some photos of these plants (earnt myself some odd looks) and drew them later with mixed success. I had a photo of a bird of paradise and some other cute flowers. I did a page of random plants I found on /r/whatisthisplant which… weren’t great. I got frustrated pretty quickly with them but I pushed on and my next page was a page of Australian native plants that I googled for references of. I think this is where I found my groove again.
The first one I drew on this page was the grass tree in the pot. I laid down a flow line like in the stems exercise because the reference image was quite bendy. The one to the left of it was somewhat referenced from the image I had but it was mostly drawn from imagination. I approached it more like a cylinder and I feel it was ultimately more successful. The texture on these was kind of fun too. I then drew the Sturt Desert Pea. These things are kinda… odd to say the least. I never really realised they’re actually a flower, in fact, I’m not sure what I thought they were. These were a horrible failure to be honest.
I drew the bottlebrush flower after that, which was really cool to draw because it seems messy and chaotic but there’s an order to the bunches of flowers. I started this with a cylinder to contain the bunches and a flow line for the stem that runs through the middle. I was quite quick and loose with the flowers, adding little dots to show the blobs of nectar on the ends.
My final drawing on this page was the waratah in the bottom right corner which is probably one of my favourite drawings despite being a little rushed. I started off with a hemi sphere (half a sphere) and drew the stem out the bottom with the leaves and flow lines. I observed that the “petals” had these kinds of knuckles on the end and they layered up in an alternating pattern (like bricks) into a point at the top. I used a little bit of black to make sense of the chaos. These are not shadows in a traditional sense, though, they’re just there to break up the texture. I was really sloppy with this drawing and I’d love to attempt it again when I’m not mentally exhausted from hours of drawing.
My second to last page, I focused on drawing the calla lily, which is a funerary flower. I’m not sure what made me choose this one, but it was an interesting exercised in drawing petals, which are very similar to drawing leaves. I struggled a little with this and I feel it came out very stiff at times but it was an interesting challenge. My final page of drawings as a page of mushrooms. I tried to do multiple mushrooms located in the same scene, to see if I could make them feel like they belonged together. I feel I had mixed success with this. I am quite proud of the limited texture I applied here. This lesson had its frustrating moments but it was also a bit easier because I was drawing familiar objects and I knew what success constituted here. Success would be the drawing looking like the plant it was supposed to, and looking 3D to boot. One of the things I’m proud of in this lesson was where I added texture, I was able to find a happy middle ground between too little and too much. Onwards to Lesson 4. Yuck, bugs.