Drawing English garden Flowers

Court House Farm cutting garden , Sweet Peas and Opium Poppies, and the parish church next door.

A perfect English summer’s day in June, and here we are for an RWA drawing school class: Drawing Flowers at Court House Farm. I have 12 people to introduce my own tried and trusted drawing methods of capturing the colours and forms of a bunch of flowers – well that is the morning’s workshop…try my way and see how/if it works for you – if it doesn’t you have at least learnt this method doesn’t work for you! *

Helen Read the owner and designer of the cutting garden had, that morning, hand picked a selection of flowers in differently coloured bunches, and they were waiting in the large open barn for the students to choose from.

Then back to their tables to start the class…..

I wanted to quickly establish my basic advice to get everyone started, so that I could assess how best to help each student individually…the class had been pitched at all levels of drawing experience, including absolute beginners, and a mixed group they certainly were. But fascinating to work with.

I started by asking each person to choose their favourite item from the bunch, write at the top of the page what had made them choose it, then draw it in full colour on a large sheet of white paper using only the media I had stipulated for the course, pastel crayons, pastel sticks, watercolours….

The students ranged from a few complete beginners to people who may never had tackled flowers in this way before, but who obviously were experienced enough to adapt their own methods to my strictures. I kept visiting each table and discussing the drawings – either suggesting to them to move on or to really look more carefully at the details and colour. Mixing colours together to get exactly the right shade and tone is a major skill to develop for drawing what you see.

Some people are quick and make bold statements with bravado..others take a long time and seem very nervous of showing the results and most often people who are nervous draw small. I always advise people find their own size and pace for their drawings. I think it is a fundamental concern for developing your own work

After a short lunch break, I asked them to draw the whole bunch, either building on the knowledge gained in the morning for the beginners, or just doing their own thing; hopefully there would be a mixture of the 2 ways of working.

The results were as varied as the students themselves…

The lessons in developing colours certainly had been taken on by everyone. At the end of the day everyone put out all their drawings around the barn and we all enjoyed a really good look at what had been achieved -a true mixture of different visions of what they had put in front of them – truly observational drawing but with character of either the flowers but often the maker.

and then an image of a student just enjoying the day…almost as much as I did!

*I was taken at my word and one of the group decided to leave at lunchtime saying he had learnt that it wasn’t for him…and as I have been requested to crop out an image of one of the participants for reasons of anonymity I am not giving the list of the participants….privacy needs to be respected.

6 thoughts on “Drawing English garden Flowers

    1. Hi Ann,
      thanks for this – yes it is an absolutely beautiful place and perfect for this class, but students work was really interesting in all its variety.

  1. Beautiful beautiful beautiful, Janet! What a treat to attend one of your drawing classes at Court House Farm! The perfect setting to the perfect workshop. ❤️

  2. thank you Ilaria, you are right this is a perfect match of garden and drawing class, I really enjoyed it all day as this set of students were very rewarding to work with.

  3. Thanks Maris, yes you are right it was lovely, and I forgot to mention that by mid – day and all afternoon the warmth in the bard scented the air with Sweet Peas…

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