Hello! Welcome to Week 2! How did Week one go for you? Have you managed to bust through fear of the blank page?  And how are the drawing demons in your head? Have you managed to quell them? It all takes time so don't be too hard on yourself. If you have managed to do some drawing - whether good or bad - you are winning!

Have you been drawing in your garden? I ask that because mobile phones have made it so easy to snap, snap, snap and give us a reference to draw from later. But the drawings are never the same. When you experience your garden up close - you make so many more decisions than when you draw an image on a screen. For one thing, you experience the moment. You hear your garden as well as see it, you get a sense of temperature - a cool spot under the trees - and you see colour in a way that your camera often doesn't. You bring all this to the page. Having a limited time frame forces you to make decisions and to edit what is in front of you. When you refer to a photo and keep on referring back to it you can get bogged down in micro-details which really didn't grab your attention when you were sat with your plants.


What we are aiming for is a sense of the plant - is it spikey, or flouncy, droopy or erect? Considering the 'essence' of the plant, helps you to draw it in a way that captures the energy. A moment is more than what you see - and drawing is a holistic experience, so try and encapsulate the whole moment. This could be with the addition of words, or adding colour to your drawing, it could be finding a mark that symbolises the plant. I often uses dashes as a shorthand for grass. Or you could use a spiral to describe the petals of a rose.

I think that most of your drawing development will come in the moments when you're not trying too hard, when you enjoy the moment in your garden where you have created some space and time to connect with nature and creativity. I know from working to create the daily tasks that when I let my brain keep reminding me that this drawing was for my e-course and it better be good - it rarely was. 

When you can find your flow and just keep turning up at the page you are more likely to create surprises and a little bit of magic will happen on the page. To do that, it is important to want to draw. This means creating layouts and set ups that inspire us to draw and offer up ways of processing ideas.

We can have some fun with this - remind ourselves of the joy of spontaneous creativity when we were kids, when we laid out a supper for the fairies, collected leaves and pressed flowers from a nature walk or imagined we were explorers.

I love collections and museum displays. I love the labelling of plants and species - I imagine myself to be a Victorian plant collector filling my sketchbook with newly discovered species. 

This week I want you to experiment with layouts and set-ups with foliage and leaves that you find in your garden. What's the story? Is it a diary of your summer where you can embellish the pages with the date?  Are you creating a story of the butterflies who visit your garden and where they touch down? Are you a fairy discovering the cool corners of your garden and the giant foliage above? 

This is just a way to free you from the pressure of drawing - to help you look at your garden from a different perspective - and to bring some fun to your creativity. 

Creating different sets to draw from gets us looking before we start drawing. instead of sitting there earnestly with a pencil over a blank page staring at our garden, creating a display to draw from engages our creative faculties as we select what to draw. As we place the items we make decisions about what to put in and what to leave out. We balance the items, adding more colour or taking out an errant stem - creating a layout or set-up is like arranging flowers. All the while you are looking at the items or plants, noticing a shadow, a pattern, the veining on a leaf. Once you sit down with your paper and pencil to draw, you are half way there! (or at least a little way!)

Last week I showed you how I prepare the pages of my book to add texture and colour from the get-go. I also work onto the pages to create precious frames for drawings. I do this randomly - not knowing what will end up in the windows I create. I don't work through my sketchbooks in sequence, instead finding a page that might suit a structure or plant or idea.

Some of the pages are like mini abstract paintings waiting for a drawing to be added over the top. Some are collages that create layers, perhaps with book pages or painted papers to add more texture and context.....

This week keep a playful attitude to your drawings. Look for interesting viewpoints and intriguing compositions. Think of the story behind your image and the context you can create. 

Think about how you place the image on the page - remember to keep filling the page and drawing to the edge. Don't let your images tip into the middle of the page surrounded by space. And don't get too finicky. If you find you are struggling with the detail - you are probably drawing it too small, zoom in on one area and blow it up to fit a whole page. Experiment with painting or collaging backgrounds that you can draw onto.

I am inspired by most art forms but mostly by illustration, abstract art and textiles. You can take snippets of inspiration and use it in different ways. I might look at abstract art to inspire ideas of putting down paint to create backgrounds that I can draw on to. Have a look at:


Cy Twombly - I love his energetic 'scribbles' - when a drawing is getting a bit 'tight' I might just scribble to see what happens. Or scribble into a background with colour to make some energetic marks to draw over.

Howard Hodgkin - wonderful loose colours and frames

Rothko - stripes and blocks of colours create spaces to draw into.

These abstract artists inspire me to get energetic marks into my sketchbooks.

Whilst writing about maintaining a sense of playfulness and wonderment I was reminded of these books:

Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book by Terry Jones/Brian Froud

Flora - Nick Knight

Cabinet of Curiosities - Gordon Grice

Where My Wellies Take Me - Michale Morpurgo/Olivia Lomenech Gill 

And here are the books that I mentioned in the video:

20 ways to draw a tree - Eloise Renouf


Print & Pattern Nature - Bowie Style

Paint some colour blocks that you can draw on to this week. Create some collaged backgrounds that will frame a small observational drawing. Come and say 'hi' in the forum and let us know what is happening, what is delighting your inner artist and what you are discovering along the way. Then move on to this week's tasks. 


Helen Hallows


Nurturing Creativity since....

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Nottingham, UK

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