Let’s draw joyful flowers together, step by step! This post is enabled by the grant that I got from Arts Promotion Centre Finland. This is the fourth blog post of the project, see the first one here, the second one here, and the third one here!
Here’s what we will create: flowers that have joyfully gathered together and reach towards the light. No references, imagination only!
I made the drawing in my colored pencil journal and used colored pencils only. But these instructions can be easily applied to other mediums too.
Step 1 – Flowery Blobs
Pick a pencil of any color and draw blobs.
More than perfecting each flowery blob, make sure that the blobs are:
a) not similar in size – draw small, medium, and big blobs!
b) not separate – draw some only partly so that they go on the back of others!
c) not fully on the paper – draw some near the edges so that they are only partly visible!
d) not spread too evenly – leave some space too, but don’t place it in the middle!
This way, you set the foundation for joyful flowers so that you express diversity (a), togetherness (b), continuity (c), and freedom (d).
Step 2 – From a Blob to a Flower or a Leaf
Pick flowery colors and a black pencil for the background. Focus on the area in the low middle and work towards either side of the paper.
With black, color notches on the blobs so that they begin to look like flowers.
With bright and flowery colors, color some random shapes on the blobs.
Color a center for the blob to make it look more like a flower.
All the blobs don’t need the center; they can be leaves. You can also draw veins on them.
Add many colors so that the leaves and flowers look lively. Layer colors to get a variety of tones.
Step 3 – Background
Start with the black background, but gradually change to lighter tones. Leave a pitch-black area small, and add layers of other colors, like blue, on the top of the black, then gradually let the different colors take over. Leave a blank area too. Color softly and gently so that every layer adds intensity to the drawing.
One of the joys of coloring is to relax and not rush at all. Stay in a small area and work with a few flowers only (Step 1) before feeling confident enough to expand the working area and focus more on the background.
Step 3 – Setting the Colors for Joyful Flowers
You can mark the colors for each flower and leaf by coloring them carelessly first.
When some parts are more finished than others, there’s both joy of looking and joy of coloring!
Step 4 – Changing Most Whites to Pastels
I assume that you now have white everywhere: between the strokes, near the edges, in the flowers, and in many places on the background. But let’s change that! Leave only one area in the background that’s pure white and color over other blank parts.
Add more color on the areas where careless coloring has left white stripes, and change the larger white areas to pastel colors. All this makes the image more joyful because the joy is in the nuances, not in the big changes.
Step 5 – The Joy of Cohesion
One of the greatest joys in art-making is to feel togetherness. So more than trying to achieve a particular style, I make changes to the image so that it feels like a place where I belong. I also want my flowers and leaves to look happy, but not so that I force them to smile by throwing “happy colors” but imagining that everyone has a friend in the scenery: someone to trust and lean on.
I also make some flowers look like me: who need to feel free to bloom. So they are less defined and almost disappear into the light, but their spirit still looks strong. So, the less realistic a flower is, the more room there’s for the expression.
At some point in art-making, I begin to question if other people will like the image. It’s comforting to know that if we manage to create the feeling of effortless belonging, the image will naturally resonate more widely. The joy of cohesion also allows something to go wrong and become different than we expected. If we make every element feel accepted and welcomed, joy will naturally appear.
I a flower or a leaf looks lonely, add a stem that connects it with others. Long lines can look commanding and stiffen the image, so erase a glimpse of a stem only. Stems also look more natural if they don’t start right from the flower but appear and disappear as softly as possible. Stems can also go across each other and form a connecting mesh.
When one flower leads to another, and the eye always finds a clue about where to look next, cohesion is present.
More Inspiration for Joyful Flowers
I have got so many ideas from flowers that even when I don’t create them, my visual language is very flowery.
This week, I started two big oil paintings. These are 120 x 100 cm – it’s the biggest size that I have ever painted!
My first inspiration source for these is floral still lives from the 17th century. But these are just beginnings, and let’s see how they will progress in the upcoming weeks.
My little studio has been full of projects this week and will continue to be so!
I hope this blog post inspires you to create joyful flowers – big or small, pencils or paints!