Friday, 23 June 2017

Just practising

Thank you everyone who commented and shared their views on blogging on my last post. I am glad that there are still many of us out there, who value blogs and are continuing blogging.

I've been busy these past few weeks mainly practising in my sketchbook. As I've mentioned earlier, I'm exploring botanical art at the moment and I'm taking a class to learning more about it. At the moment, it's all about drawing and graphite. I enjoyed drawing the tone scales, I never really quite realised how much difference there is between different brands. I always sort of assumed that an HB pencil was an HB pencil. Well, it isn't. My favourite brand is the classic Faber Castell 9000. This is also the lightest of the ones I tried out and it gives a good variation of tone. Caran d'Ache Grafwood and Staedtler Mars Lumograph are nice too. The Derwent Graphic I didn't really like. They were almost impossible to sharpen. For botanical drawing, you need a super sharp point. Often this is achieved by sharpening your pencils using a craft knife to cut away the wood, and sand paper to get a really long and pointed point. Here I used a new sharpener by M+R, which sharpens the pencil to a concave point. It sharpened the Faber Castells to a lovely point, the Grafwood are too big for the sharpener, the Mars Lumographs were okay too. But with the Graphics, the leads just kept breaking off. It was okay for the 2H, H and F, but for the rest, it was pretty much impossible. I have a few of those pencils, and I'll use them for other drawings, but definitely not for botanical drawing. Taking the time to make these tonal strips is certainly a very good way to getting to know your pencils - and finding your favourites!

I'm also practicing leaf drawing. And I still have a lot of practising to do! i have to admit that I became a bit sloppy with this one and the result is a very irregular drwaing. But it will be useful as a measure for my progress. In traditional botanical darwing, the subjects are drawn in actual size, which can be rather tricky. It's amazing how much detail there is in a leaf! A magnifying glass is quite essential, not only for getting a closer look at the leaf, but also for drawing. Drawing through a magnifiying glass is actually quite amazing! Especially when you look at your drawing afterwards and see the even layers that you would have had difficulties to achieve with the naked eye.
I started a new leaf but only got as far as the outline. Which means I now have to start all over again. That's the problem with leafs. You have to work relatively quick, as they wilt, some faster than others. Or maybe that's the advantage of drawing leaves. Once you've started, you have to keep going. No room for procrastination.

I also started working through Sue Vize's book Botanical Drawing Using Graphite and Coloured Pencils. I love the good old pencil, and am discovering the potential of coloured pencils. I wasn't aware how much you can actually mix colours by layering them. The colour wheel was done using just three colours, Cadmium Yellow, Ultramarin Blue and Alizarin Crimson.

There's lots of exercises in the book with both graphite and coloured pencils. They're a useful way to pracise your drawing skills as well as getting to know your tools. There are of course exercises in actual botanical art as well, I just haven't got so far yet.

Last weekend, there was a Medial Market here in Zürich, and my Mum and me went to have a look around. It was very nicely done, with a great mix of stalls selling hand made goods, food and entertainment, and wonderful costumes. It wasn't quite as hot as it is now yet, but I still wouldn't have wanted to wear some of those costumes, they look so hot!

The guards at the main entrance to the market - very popular with the Asian tourists...

The Medicus demonstrating is skills

The knights in their best plumes

Quackery and amber

Modern Middle Ages

The basket maker


  1. Loved your photos and your very expert examples of exercises!

  2. Your cketch book works are fine. Love the interesting photos you share.
    Happy PPF and weekend 🌼

  3. Your sketching skills are amazing, and I love seeing all the practices describing the pencils, shading and coloring. Looks like a really fun festival but you're right -those costumes must be awfully hot. Happy PPF!

  4. What an excellent talent you have for botanical illustration. It is a most difficult art, I think. I took a short course in it at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and couldn't wait for the course to end. In the week's time I completed one leaf. The teacher had us use a brush with about 5 hairs in it! I loved the color part and we also used only those 3 colors. My hat is off to you!!! Well done on all your pieces this week.

  5. I love your attention to detail and have so much admiration for your ability to really absorb yourself into learning a new medium of genre of art. I know very little about graphite as I haven't really used pencils since my school days - I keep meaning to start sketching more regularly but never seem to find the time but it's really interesting to read your thoughts on graphite and what you've learned about different brands - I also thought an HB was an HB regardless.

    I am fascinated with the colour wheel you drew with such a limited palette. I have so many coloured pencils but have never learnt to use them properly adding layers in the correct way and it looks like you will be becoming something of an expert with the courses you are taking and the samples of your work in this post. I'll look forward to seeing more of your botanical work.

    The medieval festival looks like it was a lot of fun - those costumes are amazing!

  6. Simply wonderful art. Your shading is excellent. What a lovely time at the festival.

  7. Thanks for your wonderful photos. And you leaf drawing is incredible

    Much love...

  8. A very interesting post. I love your leaf sketch. Happy PPf!

  9. I just love all your sketches! The leaf especially.
    Looks like a great festival. :)

  10. Oh my - absolutely amazing sketching skills! I really enjoyed reading about your discoveries with your pencils. The festival looks like fun!

  11. I love seeing your practice pieces! Makes me think I should do that too, it's a perfect way to get to know your pencils. You are very talented in sketching. That leaf is amazing. Reading about the magnifying glass I now understand how you can do all those details ...

  12. Gorgeous sketches and illustrations...beautifully done! Love your leaf..stunning! I love graphite too, I also find mechanical pencils are always great to have for a sharp line depending on the size lead used. all fun to explore! Enjoy!!looking forward to more of your art.
    Wonderful photos..looks!
    Happy PPF
    Victoria , no.38

  13. Wonderful shading! Love the photos, too. :)

  14. Love your practice tonal examples! Your photos are wonderful. TFS!

  15. The detail in that leaf is just awesome!! You have cerainly been busy!

  16. A very interesting post! Your leaf is so lovely, as is your drawings and colors. I did not know the colored pencils could be used to making layers.

  17. This is a wonderful post! Your information about pencils is most informative and your leaf is amazing! And we got a glimpse of "medieval Zurich" as well. Thanks !