Cactus Surprise

I love sketching in the summer for many reasons, and one of them is: Flowers. I like the colors and textures of flowers! Some are flashy, some are delicate, some are subtle, some bloom and die so fast, you hardly know it. I like to see the potted plants of others, and though I keep my pots pretty simple (usually one species of plant), I admire others who can bring several types together to make a unified statement. One such pot was at a local shopping area.

This pot had several species, and I couldn’t get the purple flowers as vibrant as they were in person. But I tried!

I also sketched my mom’s neighbor’s hanging pot of Impatiens. I liked how the red flowers dotted the green foliage, Christmas colors in the summer! A red hummingbird feeder rounded out the sketch.

I also enjoy sketching stranger species, ones you don’t see every day. The last few years I have noticed a person whose garden contains cactus. I was shocked to see cactus in Minnesota, but every year they come back, loitering up to the edge of the border along a bike path. I finally got out my bike and rode over to sketch them last week. I had noticed them in bloom with yellow flowers a couple weeks ago, but last week, the flowers had died and it was just the green spiny plants themselves. Still fun to sketch!

The trick to making flowers not look flat (like the sketch above), is to use values (darks and lights of a color) to create the illusion of 3D form. I’ve learned about values over the years from many artists, and always make sure to put them in my sketches. You look for where the light hits and where the shadow areas are, and then color them accordingly. On this cloudy day, I had to look closely, but you can still see lights and darks. I mixed a few greens and went to work. I used a Gelly roll white pen for accents, especially for some spines.

What plants can you sketch in your neighborhood? Get out the bike or your walking shoes, and go find some. It might surprise you what you see!

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