Fall is definitely approaching! I could feel its chill breath even in the late afternoons this past week.

I finished the week with two plein air drawings. One worked and one, well. I’ll show you what I did and let it go at that.

I doodled a tree from imagination using nothing but lines late one evening and have wanted to try the same method with a plein air drawing. This week, that was what I did for the first drawing. I spent 23 minutes on this and used three colors.

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 5 The First Drawing

It’s not totally disappointing. There are some nice value shifts and interesting shapes and it does look like the tree I was drawing, but it didn’t turn out quite as I’d hoped it would.

The fact is, I was dissatisfied enough to find something else to draw and landed upon this little leaf of wild violet growing—or trying to grow—in the back yard.

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 5 The Second Drawing

The Method I Used

Drawing the leaf was a simple matter of basic sketching and drawing. I roughed in the general shape first, then added the veining within the leaf, and began drawing color and value through several light layers—all with limepeel. Next, I layered olive green into the shadows and middle values, then continued to develop color, alternating between those two colors.

To finish, I added yellow chartreuse for a highlight color, then burnished the highlights with cream. Finally, I drew a few accents with sepia.

I started drawing with sharp pencils (I always try to sharpen pencils before heading outside), but continued drawing as they became blunt. That helped capture the surface texture of the leaf, which was soft and kind of dull looking.

Time Spent Drawing

I didn’t measure time on this drawing. Instead I just sat down and started to draw. I also worked on this drawing two days.

What I Learned

It never hurts to experiment. Trying new things when drawing is a great way to learn what new methods might suit your drawing style. Since it’s also a good way to discover what doesn’t work, experiment with sketches. Not on important work!

It’s not always necessary to draw a background. The one thing I don’t care for in the leaf drawing is the background. I thought adding a dark background would enhance the drawing by creating contrast. Unfortunately, it actually looked better without that background. When you’re sketching or drawing details like this, you don’t need to add the context of the drawing. Let the details you put into whatever you’re drawing speak for themselves.

Don’t be afraid to revisit the subject again. If you have time to go back and add more detail to the drawing, do so. I didn’t have the time the first day to get the level of detail, color, or value I wanted, so I found the same leaf again and worked on it a little more the following day. You won’t always be able to do this, but when you can, it’s helpful to see what you may have missed in the first drawing and to maybe do a second drawing of the same subject under slightly different circumstances.

Tools Used

Mead Academie Sketch Book, 9 inches by 6 inches, Heavyweight white paper

Prismacolor Pencils

  • Limepeel
  • Olive Gray
  • Dark Brown
  • Yellow Chartreuse
  • Cream
  • Sepia