Updated: Feb 16
Part 1: by St. Louis Fine Artist Jennifer Klemp
As with most years since having children, the Christmas season is extremely busy, and there is barely time to reflect before the first of the New Year is upon me. In January of this year, 2022 I decided to do things a little differently. I spent the first two weeks of January reflecting on both of my Instagram accounts as a strategy of sorts, and I took the time to assess (at least somewhat) what I had done in the previous year (I am still going through the photos from 2019 - on!)
This assessing of photos and content gave me an overview of my 2019 for both of my creative businesses. (One is for Sobriety Products- Sunrise Today Brand, and the other is for my Fine Art and Fine Art Prints.) For much of 2021 I worked heavily on marketing the work that I had already created, and included building this website. Conquering some marketing challenges, and actually getting work 'out there' and developing a better marketing strategy was integral, however, being a Fine Artist mostly means that I love to actually make Fine Art. (Oh, the paradox!)
Feeling a bit removed from the actual 'creating' at the beginning of the year, I felt an itch to get back to 'my roots', so to speak. I started mid-January with a drawing challenge, mostly for myself, with the intention of also making the challenge open to all Fine Artists, as a way to brush up on the basics. (See the challenge on Instagram!)
I decided to start the challenge with plants since plants are a relatively simple subject, in and of themselves, and are great for contour drawings.
Within this Blog Post Series on the 30 Days of Drawing Challenge/Plants I will be including some good instructional information on contour drawing, and beginner techniques as well as some historical information on the plant drawings of Henri Matisse and Ellsworth Kelly.
Here are first 8 days of the challenge so far- l will be writing blog posts as I progress with the challenge:
Day 1: Anything you want to draw in any way just to get back into the practice of drawing. I did a pencil drawing on a small tablet of Yupo paper that I had lying around.
Day 2: Pencil Drawing - Contour- Keep track of your time spent on your drawing. I did this one for a total of 41 minutes I think, but promised myself to keep better track of the time on future drawings.
Day 3: Repeat two drawings with time parameters of 15 minutes each: semi-blind contour. On drawing I, I had 7 minutes to spare, so this drawing took 8 minutes. I decided to do another drawing for 15 minutes, drawing the same plant in the same position as felt the perspective was off and I wanted to improve upon the first one. I felt the second one had a better perspective, however I felt the first drawing was better overall.
Day 4: Different and more complex plant from aerial perspective: contour drawing in black ink. Loving the results of the micron pen/semi-blind contour/with a time parameter, I did the same type of drawing as day 3, however, I used a more complex plant. I used a clipping in order to simplify. I wasn't terribly happy with the end result but happy with the fact I'm doing a daily challenge and drawing every day. This drawing took me 26 minutes.
Day 5: Contour drawing in Micron Pen of a very small and simple plant at coffee shop. I took a little tiny plant with me to the coffee shop. (I needed to get out of the house- it was 12 degrees.)
Day 6: Same plant as Day 5: same perspective, but in pencil- objective is to compare to Day 5. I let myself take as much time as I wanted, but noted the time. I compared and contrasted the pencil drawing from day 6 to day 5 in pen. This drawing took 34 minutes. Is it better than the contour drawing from the day prior? (I think the Day 5 drawing took 8 minutes) I was starting to recognize at this point that these fast drawings are better than the ones where I make corrections in pencil, and try to get the perspective more accurate.
Day 7: Draw a new plant in ink: contour drawing: leave some information out. What can you leave out, and what needs to be there (on the paper) Key point of this one is to make what is complex, simple. Plants can be confusing, and have a lot of information. For this one, I used a super frilly looking plant called an alligator fern, which made for some cool lines. The thing that I changed for this one was that I sketched a line drawing in pencil first, and then I went over the lines I wanted with the black pen. I erased the pencil marks. Therefore, this one had the advantage of being a combo of the benefits of using pencil first to sketch, but also have that quality of assuredness. (This drawing took 12 minutes.)
Day 8: I tried to use pencil like I had used the micron pen on a new plant I purchased which had a lot of leaves and was complex. I got stuck on this one, and made a ton of erasures, (when I intended not to). I used some water soluble graphite pencils and created thick lines, which were impossible to erase. Some people love seeing those marks, and some don't, but I decided to stick with this one despite not liking it, and make it into a drawing where many lines from the leaves are drawn through other leaves. This is a technique that will help you to draw accurately. (This is known as drawing through objects.) The artist draws through objects even though he/she may not be able to see that particular line he/she is drawing. I decided I liked a few of the leaves and overall, it was an okay sketch in the end. For this plant, which I purchased at a 'way too expensive' plant store, I thought this would be a better subject, however, it really wasn't at this point in the succession of my drawing days. (MAYBE this plant will be better as I move on...)
Just make it to your sketchbook at first. Setting the timer for those 15:00 minute sessions helps me to keep the time at a minimum if I'm crunched for time elsewhere.
Make it fun and easy. This is why I started with contour drawings. Actually, I could spend a whole month on contour drawings. (And, I am tossing this around as well... I'm not sure if I'll even get to shading.)
I went to an expensive and fancy nursery that is also a coffee shop, and spent some equally big money on the latte, and toast that really wasn't worth it. Live and learn but the plants I purchased at Trader Joes were just as good.
I'm a big fan of buying a new supply or two if it motivates you, and that includes a tiny plant or two. Drawing new things is exciting!
I'm going to carry on with the 30 Days drawing challenge and I will let you know how it all goes. My intention is to document the challenge so that any artist could read about what I did each day, and use those suggestions. I am on the fence on if I will be using the Yupo paper, which I started with, or stick to the Moleskine Sketchbook I've been using for most of the days I've been drawing. (I used the Yupo Paper once)
Additionally, I need to decide if I am going to incorporate shading into the challenge. I am making the drawings up as I go and I want them to be a time to play, and draw for the sake of drawing.
YOU CAN SEE MY WORK HERE:
You can see my work on www.jenniferklemp.com . I am developing a Grid Series which is abstract and geometric. In addition to that work, I have figurative pieces that you can see there, and am going to be putting some of the sketches of PLANTS on there very soon, so that I can fill up a whole new section on Plants and Plant Still Life drawings and paintings...