Sketchbook Petals

Scaling Up
February 25, 2017
Paper Roses
February 25, 2017

Developing an idea through sketchbook ‘notes’ is an integral part of the ‘work’ of making art. Whenever I have been really diligent about it, it has always been an amazing source of inspiration.

I wrote before about how, when I had to work within tight constraints tight, the abundance of ideas that eventually burgeoned forth was astonishing; how a seemingly boring idea, the vertical line, became such a fascinating subject that, in the end, after a series of sketchbook explorations, I felt that I could have made it my life’s work.

So today I want to talk about the results of another, similar sketchbook exercise that I did when I was researching my (as yet unfinished) series of paintings based on the frangipani flower.

During a trip to visit my sister in Maui, Hawaii I was completely blown away by the many varieties, colours, shapes of frangipani that there were. Their exuberant abundance was exhilarating and I decided, then and there, that I HAD to make some work about them.

It’s a flower with a fairly simple structure so it would have become quite monotonous to just keep painting the same flower over and over. I decided that I wanted to see how many ways I could find of representing it. I decided to work in monochrome because it would focus my mind and my eye. Gathering together any materials that I had in black, white and anything in between those two extremes, and a variety of different drawing implements Iset to work, using just a single photograph of a single flower as my starting point to create 12 variations.

What emerged was an interesting series of images that each had a particular and unique quality with different emphases and mood. Here are a few of them.

Light and shade in pencil I began, of course, with a simple tonal pencil drawing, using a soft pencil with varying tones to pick out shadows and shapes.

Line, Tone and Shape   Next I used some light washes of Indian Ink in various dilutions to create the shadow areas and fine pen lines to define the shapes and movement.

Stencilled Shapes



After experimenting with few pencil, pen and ink alternatives, I decided to cut a stencil and see what emerged from that. Simply tracing the shapes resulted in a much more abstract and graphic look.



Using that framework I then created a collage/ink wash version, where the direction of the newsprint also helps to define the direction that the petals are falling. There were several other variations that I will be happy to share if you contact me on Facebook at

Collage and Ink



by Mary-Lynne. Find out more about Mary-Lynne here.

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