Botanical Drawing Warm-up Tasks

Posted by Sarah Jane Humphrey on

What a year it has been with many great intentions having to take a reluctant pause. Hopefully, your drawing practice hasn't had to be on the list to put on the back burner.

Whether it has or not, with shorter days and a change in the weather meaning more time indoors, this is a great time of year to immerse yourself in creative projects. Easing back into drawing or even taking it up for the first time can be a little daunting. This is why a short warm up task can be a fun and simple way to build up confidence again. 

Why warm up tasks are important

Botanical Drawing Workshop, at the Port Eliot Festival
 Botanical Illustration Workshop at the Port Eliot Festival


At the beginning of my Botanical Illustration Workshops, I like to introduce everyone to a quick study where we don't have to work to any preconceived expectations. Often these drawings produce beautiful imagery or at the very least conjure up a few giggles amongst the group which certainly loosens any apprehension about the main event.

From years of teaching hundreds of new students at my workshops, very early on it became quite apparent that whilst drawing is something that is pretty much second nature to me, it can be quite overwhelming to others. Beyond this, as a professional illustrator with experience, I have recognised within myself to never become complacent with drawing. It is indeed a practice and something which still deserves respect and open-mindedness. Warm up tasks are a great solution to explore techniques and gather new perspectives on drawing.

Warm up tasks to try

Continual line drawing
Continual Line Drawing


1. Continual Line Drawings

The continual line drawing is a great one to begin with. Using a pencil or pen, draw your subject without taking it off the paper. It is a really useful warm up as it forces you to truly observe your subject, and quite a mindful practice with regards to slowing down your process in order to make the correct form. You can see here in my example I have traced up and down the stem to get precisely where I need to be to make the drawing.
Drawing without looking
Drawing without looking

2. Drawing without looking

Another fun task,draw the subject this time without looking down at your paper.  I chose to draw a fern, and because you cannot concentrate on your mark making, it allows you to use your other senses more adeptly. This technique is an excellent way of learning to trust your eyes and improve hand-eye coordination.

Last note

However you approach these tasks, use them to empower your drawing skills. The aim is not to create a masterpiece, but to explore and deepen your observational drawing practice. 

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