September 25th, 2016

Zinnias from my Garden

Artist: Leslie Fehling, United States
Artist Statement: The zinnias in my garden are a mass of color every summer, and I often cut bouquets to bring inside. When I was looking around late one evening for something to draw for a daily sketch challenge that I’ve been participating in during September, I spied this arrangement of zinnias on my kitchen table. I grabbed my 5.5″ x 8.5″ Stillman and Birn Zeta series softcover sketchbook, my paint palette, a #14 round Escoda Prado brush, and a Tombow Dual Brush Pen #977 Saddle Brown. One of the rules for the September challenge I’m participating is that I draw directly in ink with no pencil underdrawing, so I began my sketch by placing light dots to mark the boundaries of a few of the foreground flowers with the fine tip on the Tombow pen. I then drew the flowers, petal by petal, not fussing over accuracy, but sketching quickly to get it all down (so I could go to bed!) I continued to use the dot technique to give myself guides for the shape of the flowers as I worked my way up the page. Then it was time for the watercolor. Using a #14 brush allowed me to paint the flowers quickly, without a lot of fussing. I left white highlights on the flowers where they were struck by the light. The Tombow saddle brown ink is water-soluble, so the lines were softened as I worked, the brown mixing with the watercolors to mute them a bit and add unity to the varied colors of the blossoms. I worked my way around the page, allowing one section to dry while I tackled another flower. The lightest greens were painted on stems and leaves, then after they dried, deeper blue-greens were added. A darker wash on each flower was used to indicate shadows, with the darkest values reserved for the deep dark burgandy brown around the flower centers. All in all, the sketch didn’t take much more than a half hour to complete.

Sketching daily is a great motivator and attitude-changer. It helps me get over my hang-ups and perfectionist tendencies and encourages me to just dive in and do it without worrying about the end result. Here, my quickie bedtime sketch turned out better than I had dared hope it would. Sometimes the secret to successful sketching is in having no expectations of greatness when we start out. Just getting something down on paper, being in the moment and really looking at what it is you’re sketching often results in a sketch that’s full of life and expresses the happiness and wonder you felt as you sketched it.

MEDIA: Ink and watercolor
SURFACE: Zeta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

Leslie Fehling is a full-time watercolor artist who makes her home in rural Pennsylvania. She teaches workshops across the US and in Europe, sharing her unique approach to illustrated watercolor journaling. Her popular Everyday Artist blog [ ] has connected her with art enthusiasts around the world and inspired countless followers to find their own creative voice.



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