Part 2, Project 3 Detailed observation of natural objects Exercise 2

Detail and Simple Line

The aim

To depict a natural object with a line drawing without lifting the pen.

The process

I chose to draw a tiny agave plant in a pot using a fine black biro-type pen. The leaves of the agave created some interesting textures and shapes, spiralling out of the pot in a sort of rosette pattern. Each leaf had lots of ridges on creating some interesting light patterns. I took the plant outside and drew it in strong sunshine. For the main plant I managed to keep my pen on the page most of the time, however I really struggled to depict the pot and the shadow in a similar way. I ended up repositioning several times, trying not to just scribble. I ended up doing the drawing twice, from two different view points. I also had to go back to some of the dark areas to make them more dark to contrast against lighter tones.


I found it very hard to keep track of where I was with these drawing. The shadows on the leaves were intriguing to draw and the strong sunlight made the tones very obvious, but I would just feel I had understood the shape, look down to draw then find I had immediately lost my place when looking up again. In my first attempt I failed to fill the A4 sheet of paper. I was drawing on a board on my knee as the actual pot plant was tiny, about 4 inches high. This enabled me to get close to it and draw. However it also meant thatI couldn’t move away from my drawing (and get back to the same place again) so I ended up not taking a long view. Tis meant that I was a little hunched in drawing, and I think that is why I ended up not filling the page even though I set about this task with every intention to produce a bigger image! I added a little background to stop the rectangle of paper taking over. My second attempt was better in this respect. One of the consequences of a too small and image was that the detail got a little lost in the pen lines. In particular the difference of tones in the leaves. The second attempt has a much better feel of the light playing on the leaves. I had issues with the pot in both drawings. The plain flat surface was difficult to depict using a continuos line with out scribbling the shadows in. I found the shape and perspective to get right (without rubbing out!!). In the second drawing I have been quite minimalist with the pot and the shadow for two reasons. Firstly I felt that the exercise was about the plant, the pot really just gave it some context, and secondly the pen started to run out so I didn’t want to start blocking in the shadow in its entirety and not be able to finish it. I glad I didn’t, the drawing works with the suggested shadow. Overall I am more happy with my second drawing, although I don’t think I would have been able to do it without having completed the first. I just got better at the technique with a bit of practice!

What I have learnt

  1. Think big to keep the drawing big on the page
  2. Smooth curved man-made objects are very hard to depict with a line as there is little detail.
Part 2, Project 3 Detailed observation of natural objects Exercise 2

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