2.8 A rose by any other name

The purpose of this exercise was to experiment with the genre of natural science reportgage.

Key words from the brief:

  • Choose a house plant, a cutting from the garden or a bunch of flowers
  • Be as accurate in describing shape, form and details as you can
  • Draw the plant again – describe the plant but in simpler and bolder terms

Accurate rendering

For the more realistic rendering is drew a vase of red gladioli sitting on a wooden kitchen table. I’d got a new fountain pen with black Indian Ink that I wanted to test, and combined this with the use of marks and patterns, a theme that came up on the Urban Sketchers Boot Camp in Prague the previous weekend.


A rose by any other name 01
Gladioli in a vase – Fountain pen, Indian Ink and coloured pencil, A2 sized

Stylised interpretation

The day before doing these stylised interpretation of the flowers I went to see the Van Gogh And Britain exhibition in Tate Britain. Some of the work was incredible. The exhibition contained the work of numerous artists and printmakers from the same period that gave additional historic and biographical context. I wasn’t aware that Van Gogh was an avid collector of prints (he owned 2,000) that were very popular during the period he was in London (1873 to 1875). The examples of these ‘black and whites’ in the exhibition were of gritty London landscapes showing people, places and the industrialisation. It’s interesting that these engravings consist of thousands of inventive marks and patterns cut into either wood or copper plate that when printed together produce dramatic pictures in light and shade. I wonder if there’s a connection with these and his own distinctive visual language.

The exhibition ended with his 1888 painting Sunflowers that is part of the National Gallery’s permanent collection, on loan to the Tate.

It was only right that I bought some sunflowers (along with flowers of other shapes and colours), to work with.

The images were all created on A1 paper using a variety of materials including Posca pens, Sharpies and Poster Paint.

Interpretation 07
Interpretation 05
Interpretation 01
Interpretation 06


What went well

  • It was great fun making this series of images.
  • Interpretation 5 is my favourite. The use of a very different line weight along the outside edge of the flowers gives an interesting dynamic to the image. This is a technique used by Lucinder Rogers in her reportage drawings.

What I’d do differently/better

  • I feel like I could have pushed these further. I was learning combinations and marks that worked together as I was going.
%d bloggers like this: