Sketchbook Exchange – Finishing with a Peony!

The second round of the international sketchbook exchange has finished up! This round only had 7 participants, so it went a bit faster.

I had much inspiration to choose from with spring blooming all around me. However, I knew that when I went for our annual walk through the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden at peak bloom that I must attempt one of these gorgeous blossoms for my last entry.

The peony garden is a real treat to have here in town. It is the largest collection of heirloom peonies in North America, containing over 270 historic varieties (cultivars) from the 19th and early 20th century.  They are arranged in 27 beds with each full bed containing 30 peonies, and when filled to capacity the garden holds nearly 800 peonies and up to 10,000 flowers at peak bloom. (source: About the Garden.)

I was fortunate to see the blooms at peak and took many reference photos! In addition to the wide variety of blooms, I really enjoy the buds. Round as a golf ball and bursting with color, I knew that I wanted to include both in my drawing.


I did a rough sketch in pencil, using my 4H for light lines. Then I went over it with ink. This time, I used a new pen I purchased recently. It had read about it on a nature journaling group online. This is the Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen, Super Fine. It has cartridges for ink, so it is clean and easy to use. It also has a nice feel in the hand and you can get a bit more variance in line width. I really enjoyed using it and look forward to doing more with it.

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Finally, to add color, I used my Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. I puzzled a bit about how to render the delicate pink blossom. I layered Pink Madder, Pink Carmine, and Rose Carmine, which worked well. However, the shadow areas were a bit tougher. I tried a bit of Cold Grey II, but it was too dull. Finally, I realized that a light layer of Manganese Violet was perfect. It gave a bit more life and depth to the shadows without dulling. I used that throughout the blossom for shadow areas.

I am very glad to have been able to participate in another round of sketchbooks. However, I am looking forward to putting some of my work in my own sketchbook moving forward! A recent trip to South Carolina yielded more great reference photos and fun finds, so I have plenty of material for ideas. Stay tuned for a future post on that!




2 thoughts on “Sketchbook Exchange – Finishing with a Peony!

  1. Hi Carol, Have been loving your “new” blog–and am enjoying seeing where your work has been going. Also want to say that I really did enjoy seeing your article in the GNSI mag. about the sketchbook exchange you’ve been taking part in these past several years. The other participants must be enjoying the sketches you share. Reading about it is really kind of exciting. Makes me more determined to do more sketching myself. The outdoors is always just steps away, and now the season is now changing from wildflowers to mushrooms–and such a variety I’ve been seeing popping up. I’m sure you’re enjoying them too. –Anita.

  2. Hi Anita! I am so glad you are enjoying the “new” blog. I am trying to post more regularly. Glad you enjoyed the GNSI article, too! I find that I really enjoy the sketching thing and need to do more of it for myself, too. The change of seasons is always a fun one to document. I hope you enjoy some new discoveries! – Carol

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