I have always loved antique embroidery, and it inspires my art too. This week, I invite you to treat your pen as a needle and doodle the look of the precious hand-stitched fabric. My drawing – I call this Doodler’s Sampler – is 9 by 12 inches but you can make a smaller or bigger piece with these instructions. The best paper for this is Bristol paper. It’s smooth and nice to color with watercolors.
Step 1 – Draw a Grid
Because we aim for ornamental stiffness, a grid helps to place the elements. Use a pencil so that you can erase the lines before coloring. Start by outlining a space for a frame. Then divide the rest of the paper so that they help to place the main elements.
I wanted my Doodler’s Sampler to be symmetrical, so I drew a vertical centerline, and then divided the two halves into three parts. Another idea that I had was to have a vase of flowers. So I drew horizontal lines that mark each third, and the lowest third is reserved for the vase.
Step 2 – Sketch the Structure
Old samplers are filled with decorations but at the beginning, it’s enough to sketch the places for the biggest elements and their shapes.
I wanted to have something rectangular on the top corners, the vase on the bottom, plant-like organic shapes coming out of the vase, and then an angular jewel-like thing on the top of the ornament.
Step 3 – Doodle and Decorate
Pick a thin-tipped drawing pen, that has permanent ink, and start doodling! Make more shapes and fill them with circles, rectangles, flowers, hearts, anything you can think of!
My pen is Copic Multiliner, tip size 0.05. I add shadows to my doodles so that they don’t just outline the shapes but there are darker parts too.
I make the decorative border simpler so that it doesn’t take the power away from the centerpiece. Trembling lines look more decorative than straight ones.
Here’s my Doodler’s Sampler after Step 3, ready for coloring.
Step 4 – Color the Background
You can use any supplies for coloring, but in my opinion, the softness of watercolors complements the sharp black lines best. Start the coloring by adding some color to the background.
I use very little pigment and many tones so that the background looks like old antique linen.
Step 5 – Color the Doodles
Pick one main color for the sampler. My choice is cool carmine red. When coloring, add more decorations like dots and other decorative shapes. You can also color around a shape instead of inside the shape.
Pick slightly different tones for the frame. I use warmer red and a little bit of orange.
When you have colored the sampler with a very narrow color scheme, make it more lively with some new tones.
I added blue and yellow, but very sparingly.
You can also highlight the main elements by making the darkest areas pitch black.
Here are the black and white version and the colored version side by side. Click the image to see it bigger!
Doodler’s Sampler – For the Love of Flowers and Hand-Stitching
Henri Matisse has said: “I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things”. I think that to me, it goes like this: “I don’t paint things. I only paint the similarities between things.” So here’s for the love of flowers and hand-stitching!