Blends of Green

I am more used to drawing hairy and feathery textures but when I decided while out walking to start drawing some of the early flowers that are now appearing on local walks I had assumed that it would be fairly straightforward.

Drawing the initial shape was not the problem and the petals so far have not given me too much difficulty but what I had not anticipated was how tricky the leaves were going to be.

Each leaf has a subtle blend of different greens.

Take a close look at a leaf … it can be on a flower or a tree … it does not matter. You will notice immediately that there is a difference between the top and bottom surfaces of the leaf. The top surface is usually shiny while the lower surface is more of a mat green. Also the veins have a darker shade on one side and are slightly lighter on the other side.

A further complication is that no two leaves are exactly identical and as each leaf hangs off the plant they will also curve in different ways. Blending the different greens to replicate this requires a bit of thought.

Now it would be easy to ignore all of this and settle for a generalized impression of each leaf but that would not look natural and anyway where is the challenge in that!

A sensible approach would have been to take one leaf and play about with it until it was reasonably representative. I on the other hand just jumped straight in there and started with the entire plant.

Collage showing work in progress for Wood Anemone
Collage showing work in progress for Wood Anemone

Getting the leaves right on the Wood Anemone is going to take some time and while I put the practice in I can take time out as thankfully spring and summer have other subjects to be inspired by :-

Swallow in flight
Swallow in flight

New drawing subjects for summer!

The days are getting longer and when the sun is out you can feel the warmth making local walks more enjoyable.

In the local woods splashes of white, gold and pink are appearing as spring flowers make the most of the light before they are shaded out by the leaves in the trees.

Here is a gallery of three different flowers that I can spot locally:

From left to right are the white Wood Anemone,yellow Lesser Celandine and pink Cuckoo Flower
From left to right are Wood Anemone, Lesser Celandine and Cuckoo Flower

Photographing flowers is not always easy. Getting the right light and suitable equipment to get as close as possible to capturing the detail is only part of the problem. Just as you have everything set up along comes a breeze and you end up with a shaky image. But this year the challenge is to draw flowers from the photographs that I have taken and double check their details from diagrams within field identification books.

Another advantage of drawing the flowers is that I can isolate a particular specimen from the background and if I choose to do so, emphasize a particular characteristic.

This way you get to know the plant better. Everything from the intimate arrangement of petals and leaves to whether the plant is hairy or hairless. These finer characteristics can only be appreciated by observing a plant carefully.

Here is a start on the Wood Anemone, the first of my spring flowers. It is also known as the windflower and while it looks delicate it is in fact strong enough to withstand a stiff breeze. Another interesting observation is that the petal like structures are described as sepals. Usually in other flowering plants these are the structures that protect the petals but the Wood Anemone is described as having no petals!

I have chosen the Wood Anemone as it is a good indicator that spring has finally arrived.

Wood Anemone
Wood Anemone

The first point to note from this experience is that I have lots to learn about drawing leaves!