Weed or not? Good sketching, either way!

So I have been posting mostly finished drawings lately, but I want to remind folks where it usually starts – sketching!

With a recent move to a new house and summertime activities with kids at home, my drawing time has been limited. But even if there is no major project or deadline looming, it is easy to find a few minutes (maybe 20 or 30?) to do a quick study or sketch of something that inspires you.

Yesterday evening, after a walk to the park with my older daughter, I wandered around our new yard for a few minutes, pulling weeds here and there. One plant with very broad, green leaves had popped up by itself in the muddy patch of the yard where some utility work had been done last winter.

Deciding that it must be a weed, I pulled it out. I was surprised, however, to see a long tap root emerge rather than a clump of weedy roots. Pale yellow/orange, the root smelled a bit like a vegetable, furthering the mystery. The stem of the plant was a deep purple red towards the root, fading into green towards the top of the leaves.

Whatever it is, I was intrigued and decided to grab some good paper and my pencils and start a little study. I wanted to do it life size to better document my puzzling find. This is a 12×18 inch sheet of Fabriano Artistico 140 lb hot press watercolor paper.

I added a bit of shading here and there and a few notes about the plant and that was it! Very satisfying to have some time to observe and document what, to me, is a mystery plant.

It can be easy to forget how important sketching and quick studies are, but they are a great opportunity to keep drawing on a regular basis and also to have a visual record of plants and other finds. These can be used at a later date to inform finished pieces. So whether you have a regular sketchbook or just some sheets of drawing paper to use when you get inspired, grab those pencils or pens and get started!

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