Possum Patty from Pencil-vania Illustrating Life

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sketching in the Kitchen with Kay: Earth, Woman, Mountain


I was fascinated with a tiny plant arrangement that Kay had made. She called it "Heaven, Earth, and Man."  She explained "Ikebana" (ee - kay - bana) the Japanese art of flower arranging that brings humanity and nature together. (My second new word of the year!) The emphasis is on shape, line, and form. These attributes can refer to not just the flowers but the stem and the leaves of a plant.


So even though Kay had a lovely bouquet of roses and baby's breath, I wanted to sketch the plants because of their different heights, colors, textures, and interesting leaf forms!


I started with a really fun really blind contour sketch to loosen up. But I was soon to learn that it didn't help much! Maybe I was way to excited to use this set of Derwent Art Bars that had been tucked away in a drawer for a VERY long time. 


I was all agog and so focused on the texture that these water soluble waxy crayons produce that I was not "seeing" my sketch.


Kay looked up from her incredibly beautiful painting and was silent for a moment. She asked me what it was that I liked about what I was doing. Still focused on the media, I must have said something about the colors or the texture. Kay queried, "Is the picture about the paints or the plants?" (Below is the original sketch.)


Obviously, I was NOT in touch with nature. There was no FEELING in what I was doing. No CONNECTION to my subject. No SEEING in the true sense. So we went over the different dull and stiff aspects of the picture. Later on, while her lesson was still fresh in my mind, I made a second sketch. Here are a few comparisons between the first and second versions.

#1 The plant leaves stacked in a row. No feeling. Too stiff. No movement. Notice lower stems are bare and awkward.

#2 Plant leaves at varying angles. Livelier. Definitely more feeling. See below for lower stems.

#1 Kay said this plant looked liked "soldiers marching in a row".  Too uniform. Definitely too stiff.



#2 Dancers instead of soldiers! I also added some "ghost" leaves behind the dancers so the lower stem of the tall plant doesn't look so bare and awkward.

#1 Completely lost the form on this little plant!


#2 More shape and form.


#1 This flower stem is all wrong! Too stiff. Too few blooms.

#2 Closer to the real thing. More blooms on the stem.

#2 I added a second stem with flowers and put a touch of an bright aqua background. 


Happy with the final result that I named "Earth, Woman, Mountain."


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