Check and log: Drawing plants and flowers
How will your experiments with negative space help your observational drawing in the future?
Understanding negative space better greatly increases the amount of information available, so my experiments with it will help me describe the distribution of space in any future drawings. In fact, I put it into practise with the very next drawing I did – the coloured pencil drawing of flowers. Negative space was a vital element of this piece, so making a close study of it in the exercise before was extremely helpful. Also, it helps one to focus on seeing what is actually there, rather than what one might assume is there. When I was drawing some of the more unusually shaped japanese anemones, for example, it would have been easy to fall back onto thinking ‘I know how these flowers are shaped’ – but observing the negative space kept me on track, particularly where foreshortening was involved. I’m also becoming more aware of looking for interesting negative shapes, which will hopefully improve my future compositions.
What techniques did you use to ensure you drew your plants in proportion?
I used a viewfinder to establish the area I wanted to draw, and then measured the height and width of the plants in relation to the space I wanted to fill (by holding a pencil at arm’s length). Also, I noted where different points ‘fell’ on the paper – the centre of the page, where the quarter points were, etc. In addition, I used flowers as comparative sources of information for each other – e.g. how the narrowest one measured up to the widest, and so on. Lastly, I drew faint shapes to establish placement on the paper before I began the drawing in earnest.
How did you achieve an effect of three-dimensional space in your drawings?
I made a close study of how the plants were formed – the ways flowers and leaves attached to the stems, etc. Most importantly, perhaps, I noted where the shadows fell, in order to create depth and roundness. Distance was another important factor – in the coloured pencil drawing, there were indistinct branches in the background, and not a great deal in the mid-ground, so the emphasis was placed strongly on the foreground. Scale was another consideration – some of the flowers appeared smaller because they were further back in the composition. Similarly, foreshortening of certain flowers created a sense of depth. The overlapping of petals and stems was a further means of suggesting three-dimensionality.