Saturday, June 25, 2011

Red Day Lily Challenge--Vickie Henderson

I spotted this day lily growing in a little garden plot near the carport and grabbed an afternoon free of thunderstorms to make this sketch.   A comical, yet enlightening experience.
Breezes are beyond wonderful when it comes to comfort and keeping insects away, but they do play havoc with the moisture in your palette, as well as, on the page. And of course, I always forget something. This time it was my spray bottle, making it doubly difficult for me to have anything go right in the water-pigment balance department.

Without realizing I was complicating things even more, I decided to sketch this day lily with watercolor without penciling it in first. The result was the sketch you see below, and my reaction to it was one of disappointment. Then I remembered my long-time watercolor instructor's words as we began to show our work in class. She would say something like:  Tell us what you enjoyed while you were painting and what you like about the result. And if there is something you don't like or would like to do differently next time, you can tell us about that, too.
I looked at the sketch again, not as a whole, but its parts, and my attitude began to soften.  I liked the bud and its leaves.  It looked pretty good for raw brush work and had a spontaneous feel to it.  I did not like the flower petals; they had totally lost their shapes.  With the lily still in front of me, I pulled out my pencil and began to sketch in the petal shapes.  I was back in my comfort zone.  This instantly made the whole sketch feel better to me.  I added more details after going inside.

A wise exercise.  When you're feeling frustrated, ask yourself to be specific:  What do you like; what do you not like?   All of it is valuable information.

To read more about my experience with this sketch visit:  Don't Throw out the Kindergarten Efforts.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts while sketching the above day lily. I always get confused whether to add pen/ink after my watercolor sketch or to do the sketch all in watercolor w/o any other mediums added to it. It's a freer feeling to do the sketch with no rules while expressing yourself in a sketch. If I'm not comfortable with my sketch I don't post it on my blog. Your sketches are always very lovely. I love to sketch nature and capture my surroundings.

  2. Thank you, Lois. Varying how we sketch--having no rules--is a great way to expand and experiment, and discover more about what we like. I love watercolor, but I also realized while doing this, that pencil sketching is my foundation and my tried-and-true comfort zone. It was fun to re-discover this while enjoying a closer look at the lily, all at the same time.

  3. This REALLY turned out,'s lovely.


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