Monday, January 17, 2022



12/29/21 - 1/11/22 ink and colored pencils in Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook

I have never been big on house plants, mainly because they usually drop dead as soon as I walk into the room. However, the amaryllis that a friend gave me has brought me much pleasure in more ways than one. First, it has been growing and changing so quickly that it’s simply fun to watch; it’s almost a pet more than a plant. Now that it has bloomed, it is giving our kitchen a much-needed splash of color during these dismally dark winter days. Most of all, I have so enjoyed documenting its changes in my sketchbook. I filled a spread in my 7 ½-inch square Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook with two weeks of its growth.

From a coloring perspective, these two sketches were my favorite to make.
It was so much fun to make the subtle transition from green to red on the buds.

Now that all five blossoms are fully opened, I think I have only one more sketch I want to do: a portrait of a single blossom.

Speaking of five blossoms, I was curious about why one bud was so far behind her sisters (noted as No. 3 in the sketch). I realized it had been tucked behind another, so I gently pushed the showy sister’s petals away. Exposed to the window directly now, the fifth blossom perked up! See below for a few photos I took whenever I sketched.

Technical note: This line-first-filled-in-with-color style (which I call the “coloring book” method) is the way I started when I first began urban sketching. It’s an efficient, straightforward technique that many sketchers use. I gave it up gradually as I made the transition away from watercolors and toward water-soluble colored pencils; it has been years since I’ve used it on location. Using it again here gave me a lot to think about related to drawing with lines. Stay tuned as I try to clarify those thoughts by mumbling aloud.




1/11/22 Four blooming blossoms, but the fifth is still tight.

1/12/22 I curled a neighboring petal away from the fifth bud to expose it to the window.

1/13/22 The one on the right is the late bloomer -- open by the next day!

Materials used: Mostly Polychromos and few Pablo and Prismacolor pencils. 
Line drawings done with Sailor Naginata fude de Mannen fountain pen. Notes made
with Uni Pin pen.


  1. The sketches look like you really enjoyed documenting the changes! This is fun to see!!

    1. I had so much fun that I'm thinking of getting another one next year so I can do it again!

  2. I am interested in the Colouring Book vs the WC Pencil method. Will youdo a blog post on this topic soon?

    1. Actually, tomorrow's post is not specifically about wc pencils, but the approach is the same for all colored pencils.


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