Dried orchid flower

These small drawings were getting me back to drawing after a break of several weeks, having been travelling, then Christmas and other interruptions. My daughter had been given a beautiful orchid, but one stalk had died, leaving the crisp, dry flowers still in place. The folds and twists immediately attracted my attention, so I rescued the flowers before they were disposed of. I have drawn them larger than life, and once I had drawn the basic form I allowed my imagination to continue the drawing, so in many ways these are not an accurate representation of the flowers at all, but an extension of their form.

Maybe I will do large drawings based on these, but I have photos of more of the dry flowers that I can work from to make more small ones like these. They are drawn in a 14cm square sketchbook, using Derwent pencils for the first and Faber Castell graphite for the second – it has been interesting for me to compare the results from the different pencils – not sure which I prefer.

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

18 thoughts

  1. Gosh, the Derwent and Faber Castell are quite different from one another but I couldn’t say I preferred the look of one over the other. They both look lovely.
    These are studies of transformation by death. Most of us would just see the dead stalk and chuck it straight out but the artist in you has recognised the flowers’ fascination.


    1. As I worked my feelings changed about the pencils, when I started on the second drawing with the FC I thought ‘so much better, decent darks’ then I realised I couldn’t get much subtlety with them – most of this was done just with a 2B. However, the Derwents felt almost scratchy, and have a yellowish tone, but more range of light tones. The paper would have an influence too. Thanks for your comment – I do find beauty in places most people wouldn’t!


  2. That’s really interesting. It looks like one pencil holds details better than the other one. The second one looks to be darker and adds depth, both great results. Nothing like a withered flower to get excited over! So beautiful, the twists and wrinkles!


    1. You’re absolutely right Cathe – the Derwents were definitely better for detail, the FC for dark tone. I suppose the simple answer is to use both! I do feel I have overworked the second (darker) one. Looking back at the photo I took of it still mostly in line it had more character. Maybe I will revisit it …


  3. These are beautiful Anna, and I agree with both Julie and Cathe about the pencils. I always get a chuckle over what we find the beauty in, dead flowers, lichen etc. Some of my friends are always amazed that these become our choice of subjects, but seeing beauty in the everyday is such a gift and if we can encourage others to this this gift how fabulous is that! Karen


  4. I like that you’ve made these your *own Anna . Both drawings are lovely in their rendering of fulsome withering form …
    I admit sometimes I tie up stems of roses and allow them a graceful decline …


  5. These are lovely, Anna. At first I was more taken with the one on the right but now I am not sure. I have found that even with using the same pencil you will find variation. Or at least with pens. Many years ago I did a whole lot drawings done with Bic black pens and some had warm tones to them and some were cool in tone. I too am getting back to working on a scratchboard now after a break, which is not ordinary for me. I can find beauty in the most ordinary of things. I learned to see that way a very long time ago and it is very useful in all aspects of my life.


    1. Thank you Nancy – there are so many nuances with materials aren’t there? Sometimes I have an idea for a drawing and spend ages trying to decide which medium to use, and then having to decide what brand of pen or pencil just adds another layer of complexity! Now scratchboard – that is something else I have waiting to be used! Have fun with yours!


  6. I absolutely love the details in this. I love that you still captured the beauty and life of the flower, even after it had dried up.


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