Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Sketching in New Zealand January 2016

Pen and watercolour sketch of a flax flower, 1981

My first trip to New Zealand was in 1981. I met my husband there, so went back on a number of occasions to visit family, friends and of course the beautiful country itself. I was just back for my niece's wedding and, while I didn't get a chance to do much landscape or urban sketching, I did manage to pick up a couple of New Zealand flowers to draw.

I drew my first flax flower back on that first visit. I used a number of isograph pens - those rotten things that you spent more time cleaning and shaking to get them to work than actually drawing with - but they created wonderful even lines.

I have always enjoyed sketching, painting and drawing flowers as I can work from life. I'd love to do some more birds but they obviously move so I'd need to work from photos or in a museum :-(

Green flax flower sketch. Pencil and watercolour,
Moleskine watercolour sketchbook A5

Flowers are a perfect subject. I work life sized where possible and they are generally botanically accurate. There were plenty of other coloured flax plants to choose from but I found three in my niece's garden and tackled them.

This one had quite soft colouring so I used pencil to draw it, then watercolour.

Red flax flower sketch. Pen and watercolour, 
Moleskine watercolour sketchbook A5

The red one reminded me of my first flax study. I used watercolour rather than pen to get the stem nice and dark.

The beatle was dead but I added him as well.

This one was very dark, so lent itself to more pen and ink drawing. I usually use an EF Sailor fountain pen for sketching fine detail, or a Pilot Falcon, with a waterproof Document Black ink. I still love linework, which is perhaps why I am so attracted to these and other rather 'aggressive' looking flowers.

I finished it off in the airport since I wouldn't have been able to fly the specimen into Australia.

Flax flower sketch. Pen and watercolour, Moleskine watercolour sketchbook A5

The last is a sketch of a flower from a Pohutukawa tree - wonderful trees with bright red flowers and deep leaves on the top side that are lighter underneath and almost seem to shimmer in the wind.
Pohutukawa flower sketch. Pencil and watercolour, 
Moleskine watercolour sketchbook A5


  1. Ahhh...much nicer than colour swatches :o) Lovely delicate rendering of line and colour.

  2. Beautifully rendered. Was in NZ in 1986...forgot about the Pohutukawa blooming at this time of year. Nice to remember!

  3. I love the pen and watercolor of the very dark flax plant--such wonderful form and line!

  4. Lovely drawings. I love drawing flowers, too. Sometimes just freehand in watercolour without using pen or pencil first. Works well with anemones