My month of drawing orchids every day is over already! I drew 26 of the 28 days. I learned a lot from this challenge, but here are the five biggest lessons from Daily Orchids.
My drawings aren’t always as bad as I think they are at the time I make them. When I wrote about this project before, I didn’t even consider putting my drawings in the post. I was twelve days into the month but I hadn’t felt good about much of anything I’d done yet. When I went back through my drawings to find images for this post, I saw that as early as day 5 and even on day 1, I had made a decent sketch of an orchid.
Blind contour is the bomb. While it doesn’t look like much to the viewer, blind contour is a great muscle building exercise for the artist. I did blind contour whenever I was feeling tired enough to hesitate to draw. It’s much easier to draw if there isn’t any pressure to produce something that looks good. While I didn’t wind up with pretty pictures, blind contour drawing enabled me to really study the orchids and I know later drawings were better because of this practice.
Orchid flowers are beautiful, but their leaves are cool, too. When my inner critic was getting bored with flowers, I switched to drawing leaves. The apparently simple shapes were a great challenge and a nice change of pace.
Orchids have elephant ears and dragon mouths. (OK, snake tongues. Anyone who’s actually seen a dragon mouth hasn’t lived to tell us what they look like, but I kept thinking of dragons.) I would like to do more nature journaling and realized that my daily orchid studies are actually a good first step. So I followed John Muir Laws’ advice and wrote down what orchids remind me of.
Sticking with one subject makes things easier and harder all at once. While I never had to wonder what I was going to draw, there were definitely days when I thought, “Orchids, again?” Any reluctance I felt was quickly overcome by finding new things to try (drawing negative spaces, drawing leaves). It also inspired me to switch to different plants and as a result, I noticed subtle differences between the varieties we own.
I got so much out of this project that I want to keep drawing orchids in March. I think it may be time to start working in color, even though the deep red-violet orchids are going to be a challenge.
What have you learned from your daily drawing or working in a series?
Technical note: All these drawings are done with a ball point pen, except for the Day 1 Orchid and Buds sketch, which used some kind of fine liner. I chose to go B&W this month so I could focus on shape.