If I had a dollar for everyone that ever told me that they couldn’t draw, I’d be rich!
Truth is, it isn’t that they can’t draw, they just don’t know how to draw – yet. Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly ok to use patterns for your work, there are plenty around for sale, some for free. But there is a freedom that comes with not being limited to doing it that way.
You don’t need wonderful drawing technique, you just need an eye for placement and even that develops over time. All that is required is a few simple shapes that act as ‘placeholders‘, while you refine the overall look – pencils and erasers at the ready!
Let me give you an idea of the process I used in the design above. I knew I wanted a simple, Scandinavian styled piece (this is based on the Os style of folk painting). Most folk painting/decorative art designs are based around a few simple layouts, involving ‘S’ curves, circles, ovals, ‘C’ curves, etc.
This design is based on a ‘3 from 1’ layout. There is one main element, with three smaller elements sprouting from it.
I started by drawing in the first circle (you can use one of these shape templates pictured above if you like, but not necessary). Then three smaller circles above it in a type of triangular formation.
The next step is to connect the smaller circles with the larger one with stems.
The next most important element in a design like this is the main leaves. Draw in a couple of leaves per flower – remember, you are drawing in pencil and therefore easy to erase and move around anything you change your mind about later. At this stage I am not concerned about colour schemes or even what type of flowers they will be. The circle is just a placeholder and could be roses, daisies or tulips!
Now it gets to be fun. With the strong backbone, so to speak, of the design in place, it is time for the support act. Choose a couple of flower and leaf shapes to add in fillers to the design. In this case I chose a berry twig, a ferny type leaf and the heart looking one (very technical terms here, I hope you appreciate!)
Now that my elements are in place and I have played around them if needed until I am happy with them, I ‘zoom in’ to design. Here is where I decided what type of flowers they are going to be and sketch it in. I don’t know if you noticed, but even though I drew this in, I still changed my mind when painting the design. The large flower didn’t end up exactly like I sketched it, but that’s ok. This is just to give our creativity a framework to move in, not to restrict us.
Once I have the design how I like it, I trace it on tracing paper and transfer it to watercolour paper.
I use a piece of transfer paper under the tracing paper, hold it in place with tape, then draw over the design.
Now we are ready to paint.
I hope this was an encouragement to you to try your hand at drawing your own designs for painting.
It might seem a bit daunting to you at first, if you don’t have experience in sketching, but you can learn to do it and practice always makes better.
I’d love to read your comments below if you have a try.
See you soon
(P.S. Have you taken my free course ‘Faux Calligraphy for the Decorative Artist – and everybody else’?
This is a six-part course, delivered straight to your email address, covering the basics of this simple, yet creative lettering style. Want to know more? Click here for more info.)