botanical art for beginners

I got hooked on colored pencils on my last vacation. I painted a red onion and was surprised at how well the color came out even though I’d blended a bazillion colors together. This wouldn’t happen with paint. With paint, too many colors always turns into mud.
I looked around online for some instruction and found the amazing Ann Swan. She’s not only a great botanical artist, but she also describes her craft in a way that a novice like myself can digest.
I read the articles on her website and purchased her book, Botanical Portraits with Colored Pencils.
I spent the day today drawing my neighbors rose hip plant. This took me about 4 hours total.

1. asked the neighbor if i could pick these rose hips. I can’t really draw from a photo as well as I can from a real plant. Photos lack something – depth? not sure what it is – but when I draw from a photo it looks flat.



2. did a loose sketch. this was hard because with botanical art I guess you’re supposed to try to draw things true to size. There are probably exceptions to that, but I’m new to this so I don’t know all the rules.

rosehip sketch

first sketch of rosehips

3. shaded with grey colored pencils. I had no idea this was a step! apparently it’s a very important one. I’m new to this, ok? Don’t roll your eyes.

shaded rosehips

first layer is grey shading

4. layer colored pencil over this now… wowza. shading in grey first made such a difference!

shading rosehip leaves

shading with greens...

shadign rosehips red

...and reds...

5. after I colored in the rest I used a blending pencil. its like a colored pencil with no color. it smushes the colored pencil into the paper more so that it looks, well, blended. it is supposed to look more like paint when you do this…but mine looks like pencil still. I’m sure there’s something I’m not understanding about that step…but I was still happy with the outcome – Rosehips Neighborus

neighbors rosehips



2 thoughts on “botanical art for beginners

  1. Gina, you are awesome ! With each drawing, you improve so much that I’m truly impressed by each incredible effort ! You MUST take some classes… I’m struck with how talented you are. You go girl !! Love, n. xox

  2. I mostly agree with Nancie’s comment except for the taking classes part. This is a beautiful drawing with great depth and color. If you wanted to take art classes, I would certainly not discourage you. But I think you would do well to just let yourself develop your own natural talent. You seem to be doing perfectly well on your own.

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