Bird of Paradise
Term: 2 Year: 2008
Life size observational drawings using coloured pencil and Cartridge Paper
At the beginning of the lesson, we discussed the structure of the flowers, leaves and stems, in terms of how
to draw such strange looking flowers, and how to place the flower/s on the page. The angle of the stem, leaf and
flower was noted, in terms of diagonal lines creating less rigid compositions than vertical lines. Organic line was
used, drawing in the direction of the growth of the plant, from the base of the stem, leaf or flower, to the tip.
Soft coloured pencils such as Polychromos, Progresso or Stabilo Softcolour were used on Cartridge Paper, as this
paper has the right amount of tooth to create texture and to enable colour mixing by layering.
Preliminary warm-up contour drawing exercises were undertaken, using two or three pencils in the hand at a time,
in the colours of the flowers or leaves. The aim was to look at the flowers more than the A2 page and to describe
the flowing curving lines of the plant. By using several pencils at once, the student was not too concerned about
whether the line was perfect or not.
The drawings were placed in the centre of the room for group discussion, looking at composition, scale, accuracy
and liveliness of the drawing. Students tried to incorporate these ideas when completing their final drawings, which
were coloured in full.
One coloured pencil was used this time, in a colour related to the plant. The students used light pressure, allowing
for a gradual build-up of colour and no heavy outlining. Once the flower was sketched in, the colouring began.
The direction of the strokes of colour was carefully considered, by way of suggesting either the growth lines or patches
of light and shade. The direction of the strokes of colour was not arbitrary, but planned.
Colour mixing was achieved by layering, from light to dark or dark to light. There were no rules, other than the
colours were to be layered. Students discovered what worked for them. Most began with the oranges and greens that
they saw on the petals and leaves, but once other colours were added, they discovered surprising results, especially
when they were working with the darker shading between petals and leaves. Students found that the flowers became
more vibrant with a final layer of deep yellow or orange and they enjoyed quite a thick shiny mixture of colours
rather than a light, sketchy effect.
Methodist Ladies College
Suitable for Years 9 & 10