I drew this self-watering useful swamp for a Tokyo Rail platform garden. I imagined irises, purple asparagus, lotus, thyme, taro and some lovely bullrushes, for thatch.
Someone then got inspired to actually have a go at making it. Its not at a train station, and not the plants I chose, but its a really good start.
Learning to draw better is not hard.
Its just like a language nobody has taught you. Its more fun than meditating, and you have something to show for it afterwards.
You will freak out at how you have never looked at ANYTHING until you have tried drawing it. Even the face of your most loved person - you will see it for the first time.
If you can draw on paper a garden you imagined, you have done most of the work. The garden already exists, in your mind and you desire. Maybe it starts existing in the desire of the viewer as well.
This newly-conceived garden of yours is just waiting for a day in the diary, a shopping trip, a planting party, and these events are jumping up and down to happen.
Its a bit like those first kisses that are so good, making children is semi-inevitable.
I used to run workshops on drawing up balcony gardens, and I will again. My students improved so quickly, we all got a surprise. There are all these tricks, someone just has to show them to you.
Easy way to draw a garden
1. Take a photo of a place you wish to make lovely.
|Asaba Art Square garden, before.|
3. Put paper over the top, turn out the lights, trace over the structural things - trees, walls. Use your brain so you don't hurt your computer screen, or make anything catch fire. If you can't work out how to do this safely, its not a good idea for you to become a designer.
|In my fantasy, I opened up the drains as rivers of stepping stones. I had wall-mounted tanks and sun-catching wall-garden. The heavy bridge, I ignored. Compass on the right shows where sun will shine.|
4. Erase what you don't want.
5. Now, do a Google image search of plants you think would suit. Trace them, separately.
6. Practice drawing them freehand, by looking at the simplicity of your tracings, and the subtlety of the original photo. Do this three times, and watch yourself improve as you 'get intimate' with how this plant is shaped. (added bonus: You will have a deeper love for this plant for the rest of your life. Seeing it will give you a pang of friendship)
7. Freehand draw or trace your plants in. If tracing, copy and shrink them first in a program that gives you control over size, like Word or i-web.
|Asaba Permaculture Garden color version with dachshund digging area|
Tips to make your tracing and 'pasting' look good
Now make it look good, in pencil or in color.
Pencil is usually enough to get a garden started, if you finish it nicely.
To add color, I put my pencil drawing back on the light box, fresh blank paper on top. I trace its outlines in Copic fine liner pen, then color in with marker pens, blending colors as I go.
Marker pen is not erasable, so I work slowly, deciding easy colors (green) first, commit to important colors last, kind of holding my breath till the end.
Just like my life.
Light things on dark, dark things on light, or else they all blend into shapelessness.
Make it friendly:
Can you see elements that look like they might be family, or at least friends? The orb of the passion fruit echos the sphere of the pink snail. The possum winds up the spring of his curly tail to fit in with the the passionfruit tendril. Emphasize these similarities. This brings connection and love to your picture, and keeps you entertained.
Use minimum image to achieve maximum communication. Don't draw ten leaves when three will do the job.
Adjust things so that negative space looks good too, so that there is no rejected, leftover, useless thing in your picture. Value the marginal. Its better to use up 'unemployed' space by exaggerating the size of plants and objects, so they can express themselves to the viewer. You make background space smaller, like a halo. Other space can be made bigger - not unemployed, but a place for the eye to rest.
Again, get decisive.
|Design for my business card. Not very business-like, is it? Me neither.|
You don't have to use perspective, you can draw things flat, like a medieval tapestry, or a kindergarten painting.
But be decisive, don't half-use perspective, it makes the viewer uneasy. In Perspecive, all horizontal lines, like the edges of these square tins eventually converge to a point in the distance. Find that point. Check that ALL the lines converge. Check that as distance increases, objects get smaller in the right proportions.
|Vanilla, Rose, and Blueberry Tea window box garden|
|Cecilia and Kohei working, July 2010|
|Permaculture workshop July, with concrete wall making|
|Asabas garden November 2010|
|Asaba's garden after declutter but before construction June 2010|
|With a vision, the energy to create just appears.|