Holiday artwork and happy memories

For those wondering after my previous post. Mister Plod the Policeman has not yet been to investigate the suspiciously illuminated greenhouse. Maybe the neighbours have not grassed me up, or maybe the local coppers have better things to do (involving tea and Christmas cake at the station).

It is traditional to post about the highlights of the past year. Mine have all involved friends made via this blog. Culminating in my trip to Montreal in September to meet up with my blogging buddies Dominique, Dee Dee and Linda. The highlight of my year by far.

One quiet afternoon during this visit Dominique arranged some zucchini flowers on a plate for me to draw. The photos I took and the graphite drawing gave me a nice opportunity to develop a quick colour drawing during the holidays. It also allowed me to be nostalgic and to look forward to my next visit.

So here it is. Step-by-step.

The photo and sketch from Montreal.

Transferring the sketch to Bristol Board and using Prismacolor Black Grape and Verithin Violet to shade under where greens and yellows/oranges will be.

Then we start to add greens to the stems, veins and calyces. In this case Polychromos Permanent Green Olive and Polychromos Earth Green Yellowish.

Then slowly build up the oranges from dark to light, finishing with yellow. The various pencils used are shown in the subsequent picture.

White was used to add some reflected highlights to stems etc. And then it was finished๐Ÿ˜Š. I finished it whilst listening to Leonard Cohen to mentally reinforce that link with Montreal.

Thank you all, my friends, for making 2018 so great. I send my love and wish you all a wonderful 2019๐Ÿ˜.

Happy New Year!


  1. I find it fascinating that you use purple first. How do you know to do this? Would it be different if the flower colour was different?

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    1. Hi Ali,
      I was given this tip by my mentor Susan Christopher Coulson. The basic principle is to add the shading first, using the complementary colour – i.e. the colour opposite on the colour wheel. So for lemon yellow flowers I use a light violet blue, for green leaves I use a reddish purple like pridmacolor black grape, for oranges I use a dark violet. For colours that are natually dark it is more tricky. For instance if shading a dark red it would be a waste of time to use just green in most cases – so I would use a very dark colour, perhaps indigo, then add some green to it. Then put reds on top.

      Same principal applies to shadows too – if I did a still life of something on a white background and wanted to put its shadow on the white I would not use just grey – in nature the shadow of any coloured object will include a tint of it’s complementary colour. So the shadow of a red pepper would have a hint of green in the grey.
      What I never do is use just greys to add shade/tone or shadows because it tends to flatten the top colour. Using the complementary colour instead adds vibrancy. Hope that helps?

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  2. What an amazing talent you have Darren and if you don’t mind me add a philosophical slant, I enjoy taking it to also represent the endless posibility we have in our lives. We can start our day or any day as a few black and white lines on a page and transform it into something beautiful – if we so wish!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy New Year my lovely friend. And thank you for creating those memories for me. I am glad you liked the drawing. It was important to me.

      By the way – I just chased molly away from the ipad. What has she been up to? I must go and look…

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I take the step by step photos as much out of laziness as anything. If I had time I would use a proper sketchbook with colour notes in case I need to re-do something in future. It is easier to just take photos!


  3. You said that you ate zucchini flowers, but it was all just a story till now. It really did happen! I am stunned to learn about using complementary colors before adding the color one would expect. Brilliant! Looking forward to the next visit! Hugs, my friend! ๐Ÿค—

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  4. I absolutely love this post. I always learn so much from you. I love that Do arranged these as well. So much inspiration in this piece. Thank you for sharing the colors. I have made notes on this. Much love and hugs my friend!

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  5. Another example of your beautiful and stunning artwork, Darren! These zucchini flowers look ready to be fried – which I love by the way. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m always amazed what you can do with pencils, I think I’m much too impatient for them. ๐Ÿ˜ Happy New Year, my friend! ๐Ÿ˜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Sarah๐Ÿ’•. Pencil does take such a long time. I hope to experiment with other media again this year once I meet the deadline for exhibition submission later this month. Happy New Year to you too my friend๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 1 person

          1. That sounds so exciting, Darren! I will keep my fingers crossed they will – how could they not? Your art is unbelievably exquisite and excellent, it would be just perfect for the exhibition. โค

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