Flower in Vase

For this somewhat complex drawing, I created a flower that is detailed, but not an exact replica of the flower I saw in front of me. Instead of crafting each individual petal based on exactly what I saw, I allowed myself the freedom to extrapolate on the basic shapes until I had what resembled a believable flower. I considered for a moment whether I was doing this simply because precision would be “too hard,” and the thought did cross my mind. (Or perhaps “too boring” would be more accurate—there are a lot of petals.) But was what I did just taking an easy shortcut, or was I using a particular method of drawing? Comment with your thoughts below!

The original sketch, with “extrapolated” petals:


I started adding color with a Prismacolor colored pencil in Peach. Although there are surely more varied colors than necessarily meet the eye, I decided to keep it simple, as often when I have tried to explore the variety of colors I get much less realistic, more wild-looking pieces, which is not what I was going for this time.


Next, I tackled the cream-colored petal tips. To start out, I added a single layer of Cream pencil over all the leaves, planning to add shadows and variations later in the process. I let myself color speedily, covering the whole surface of the flower in Cream instead of focusing on each particular petal at this stage. (Another shortcut, or just “working smart”?) Then I started to suggest the glass stones in the bottom of the vase as well as its golden handle and the flower’s stem.


While I liked how the centered flower looked on its own (disregarding “proper” drawing composition), I realized that I had to let the flower sit on something because, through the glass of the container, the shading I was seeing was based on the color of the wooden surface. My wooden desk has a pattern of opposite diagonal stripes, which I tried to imitate using a few different shades of brown. I also started sketching out the vase’s shadow on top of the shiny wood.


Coincidentally, the wall behind the flower almost exactly matches the color of the center of the flower’s petals, and I used that color instead of inventing a background because I liked both the simplicity and the repetition.


While I thought the flower looked pretty, I felt that it needed to “pop” more, so I added some shading in warm grays. However, I think this ultimately damaged the look of the flower, which had been so delicate before. I used harder pressure on the peach wall, and then began to blend the brown of the wooden desk with a white pencil, to imitate the shiny, slightly reflective surface.


Next, I added some Burnt Ochre to soften the shadows on the leaves. I think it worked, to an extent. As I began to fill in the vase, I concentrated on leaving white space to represent bright reflections. Unlike with the flower petals, I branched out and added some colors I saw to the bottom part of the vase: a light shade of green (I went with Jade) and some dull yellow (Sand). I also finished blending the wood with my white pencil.


Finally, I completed the reflections in the vase, and signed my name! I still think I was happier with the flower during the earlier stages of the drawing.

What do you think? Should I have left out the harsh shading?

IMG_4399Flower in Vase, colored pencil on Mixed Media paper, 2019 (11×14)


  1. I would have left out the harsh shading on the petals, but not on the background. At frame five you were winning – all you needed to do was complete the background and pot interior and the flower would have stood out for you. Done it myself too often..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. With the strong shadows, the flower doesn’t indeed look delicate. I agree with Graham that shadow on the background would have made the flower pop out. That said, the vase looks really interesting, and I think its shadow has potential, too. The piece as a whole looks somewhat graphical and lively and the simplification in the petals suits the mood.

    In case you want to try working on it again – depending on the type of colored pencil, I think it may be possible to erase some of it, e.g., with a kneaded eraser, and/or paint over it using opaque media such as pastel or thick paint.


  3. I think it’s beautiful. I’m not qualified to comment on your techniques but I like both the more-delicate rendering and the completed piece that “pops.” I would be hard-put to choose one over the other, as far as the flower itself is concerned. I love the final picture.

    Liked by 1 person

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