Drawing expansion

Sunflower with drawing, watercolor and pencil

There are times when I look at a painting and know it has to go further. Its just not done. But its also a bit scary to think of adding another flower or some other item to a painting. What it I mess up? What if there are too many mistakes in the new addition that ruins the whole painting? Both are distinct possibilities. How can i minimize the likelihood of mistakes that will bring down the whole piece? There are some steps that can decrease these possibilities. Today, I worked on a way to incorporate a new flower into the painting without destroying the whole thing. I followed 3 easy steps to bringing in the new flower.

sunflower sketch

First, I went to my drawing pad and began the drawing of a new flower. I made a preliminary drawing and worked on the proportions and size I wanted the new flower to be. I did not concentrate on details or even worry about them much at all. What I wanted was to get the size right. How would it look if the new flower was disproportionally small or large? If I tried to go directly to the painting and did not get the proportions correct, I would have to do a bit of erasing. And if I still didn’t get it right, more erasing. More erasing means higher chance of torn paper or other damage that would effect the paint later on. Getting the size and basic outline of the drawing first makes sense.

Sunflower Tracing

Once I had the size and proportions like I wanted them, I went for the tracing paper. Tracing paper is my favorite go-to for keeping a particular flower or other subject for future paintings. I put the tracing paper over the drawing and traced it. Next I remove the drawing from under the tracing paper and turn the tracing paper over to the back side and trace it again so that I have a drawing on both sides of the tracing paper. It is important to use a good dark pencil but preferably not a soft one. A soft one may have bits of graphite that will smear on the painting. For this tracing I used a Musgrave 600 NEWS pencil. Sometimes I will use a Prismacolor Ebony pencil. Either is a good choice for the tracing paper.

Sunflower Drawing

With the tracing paper drawing, I can play a bit with how I want the flower to be positioned in the painting. The tracing can be placed in several locations until I decide where I want the new flower to sit compared to the current one. Once I have decided on the placement, I take an H series pencil and trace the drawing over the tracing paper onto the painting. It is important in this stage to press just hard enough to make a mark that is visible but not so hard as to indent the paper or make the drawing so dark that erasing becomes necessary. For this drawing, I used the Musgrave Unigraph 7H pencil. Once the outline from the tracing has been transferred, I put the tracing away for future reference. I may want a sunflower in something else so I’ll keep the tracing for that. Once the basic outline is in place, I begin to add the shading using 3 different H series pencils, a 2H, 4H and 7H, 7H creates the lightest most delicate shading with the 2H in the darkest of shadows.

Once I have completed these 3 steps, I am ready to begin the paint process. Following these steps has allowed me to add another flower to the painting with a minimum of risk of damaging the rest of the painting with the new addition. It was so easy, I may add two or three more flowers to the painting before I call it complete.

These are the pencils I used in this exercise:

Musgrave Unigraph in 2H,4H and 7H
Musgrave 600 News

For the small amount of erasing, I used a white polymer eraser. I never use any other kind of eraser in a drawing for underpainting. The white polymer will do the least amount of damage to the paper.

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