Exercise: Plants and flowers in coloured pencil


Filling an A2 piece of paper using coloured pencils was a challenge. Things started well and then turned into a bit of a saga…

I did some experiments in my sketch book to look at how to achieve different effects with coloured pencils. Then I explored options with different arrangements of flowers and compositions through sketching and taking a few photos.

I opted for a jug of lilies on a window sill with a view of the garden behind. Judging by my initial sketch it looked like this should work well. All the lilies were closed except for one which was partly open. I liked the subtlety of this. Then as I got going, the  lily opened right up very quickly.  I adjusted and carried on drawing what was there but when I stepped back to look at my work (now quite advanced), I realised the one open lily right on top of the jug looked  like a strange windmill and had completely unbalanced my composition.


Cropped to a square to improve the composition

Then it got dark and my view outside was obliterated and all the light changed. I had taken a photo but by this point I was concerned that using the garden behind as my background would result in a green jungle jumble. So I opted (not very creatively!) to simply draw the dark windows.

To rescue the situation, I did some adjustment to the colours of my picture to try to stop the one lily standing out like a windmill and being too dominant. My thinking was that if I warmed up the colouring elsewhere in the picture, it would  would help the lily to merge with the other picture elements. I think this worked to some extent.


Earlier lighter, whiter version

I feel this drawing is more successful  when cropped to a square as centrally placed object seems to work better in a square.

What works

  • Flowers are quite loose in style – they look alive not wooden.
  • Reasonable depth of tone achieved with the pencils
  • Doesn’t look flat

What doesn’t work

  • Bit of a cop out on the view through the window.
  • Not a balanced composition
  • Slightly odd rendition of the jug
  • Light got confused as the daylight faded and the objects became lit from the front.

Preliminary work


Exploring composition


Practice with blending coloured pencils


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