When Your Subject Envelops You

While there are endless subjects for drawing, there’s something that’s truly fascinating about botanical art in particular. Looking out my window, I can see the world bursting into life as I watched the hillside trees across the valley every day. In winter the trees were a dull brown, in which I could see the branches and even the curves of the ground, exposing tree trunks standing and fallen. A month ago, I noticed a change: color was beginning to flirt from the treetops as buds began to form. And now, the valley is a blanket of green, and if I didn’t know any better, I would think that I could lay my head on the soft pillow of foliage, oblivious to the reality of the branches and bark.

How to draw botanical art, Drawing by Wendy Hollender | ArtistsNetwork.com

Watermelon Radish (colored pencil on hot-pressed watercolor paper, 15×11) by Wendy Hollender.

On a more micro level, the flowers in my landscaping have pushed through the hard layer of dirt, forcing their will to meet the sun. Every day the plants grow a little bigger, a little prettier, a little more colorful.

It’s enough to make you want to draw them, before they begin the inevitable downward spiral that Fall will bring.

If you plan it well, you could create botanical art en plein air in just about any medium, but colored pencil is a convenient way to capture the beauty of flowers and plants, because the only other things you need are paper and a pencil sharpener. If you want to do one better, take with you the Wendy Hollender Botanical Art kit, which includes Hollender’s Botanical Drawing in Color: A Basic Guide to Mastering Realistic Form and Naturalistic Color and an issue of The Artist’s Magazine that includes even more lessons from this expert. Scroll down for a special flower drawing demonstration by the artist.

I hope that you have flowers and plants to enjoy in your daily life, perhaps at home, at work, or along your commute. But maybe you prefer to go out of your way to find subjects for your own botanical drawings. In Ohio, for example, there are several places that I can name off the top of my head that would make excellent drawing destinations. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Columbus Botanical Garden, and the Cleveland Botanical Garden are just a few examples. But tell me–where’s your favorite place to draw plant life? Comment on our blog or on the ArtistsNetwork Facebook page, and we’ll choose a random winner to win some free art supplies as a way of saying thank you for joining the conversation. (Must be a U.S. resident to win; winner will be chosen May 29, 2015)

Loving Spring,

Cherie Haas, online editor
**Free download! Learn How to Draw Flowers Today
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How to draw flowers: A Demo from Wendy Hollender

Click on the images below to see step-by-step demonstrations on drawing and coloring a tulip, reproduced from Hollender’s book, Botanical Drawing: A Beginner’s Guide. Wendy Hollender was a feature artist in the September 2009 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, available online at the North Light Shop.

How to draw plants, by Wendy Hollender | ArtistsNetwork.com

Click this image to see a larger version.

How to draw plants, by Wendy Hollender | ArtistsNetwork.com

Click this image to see a larger version.


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3 thoughts on “When Your Subject Envelops You

  1. BethSurdut

    In Sarasota, my favorite delight was having a solo exhibit of paintings I’d done at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. In Arizona, the Tucson Botanical Gardens will be my next home away from home.

  2. imblucas

    My favorite place to draw plants is in my mothers beautiful garden. It was designed by my Mom and Dad and has so many unique beautiful plants. It’s Japanese inspired design is so serene and beautiful.

  3. AmandaHunt

    My favourite place to draw plants is the Cairns Botanical Gardens in far north Queensland, Australia. The tropical environment surrenders up so many opportunities and inspirations for botanical work.