Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

Plants in Pots

Series of the MonthKerrie Woodhouse

Drawing plants in pots has made for a  really enjoyable little series. I think 'little' is part of the reason it was so enjoyable. Scaling down your task into something manageable makes it far more approachable. Also, as we all know, it is one of the rules of the universe that small things are cute. Like this funky pot for instance...


Within the parameters I set for myself this month (small watercolour illustrations of plants in pots) I did have some room to experiment. Most of the time I started with a complete pencil sketch. Often I added an outline in pen - this gerbera for example.

Plants in pots no 7

The cartoonist in me likes the pen. But sometimes it doesn't feel right, in which case sticking to pencil seems better. These geraniums feel so loose and abundant - I couldn't possibly trap them in a harsh ink outline.

Plants in pots no 14

By the middle of the month, obviously on a day when I was feeling bold, I painted rather than drew most of the plant. It can feel a bit scary sometimes to go straight onto the page with a charged paintbrush. But the golden cane palm has fronds which are far more easily achieved by a brush than a sketch. I put in light pencil lines to indicate where the central rib of the palm frond would be. Then I let my lovely springy Chinese brush do the rest of the work.

This brush took a bit of getting used to, but I must admit it is one I keep coming back to. Apparently it is made of weasel hair. Hmm. Not sure what I think of that. But it is a lovely brush. It's the smallest in this set, if you were wondering.

Plants in pots no 9

Drawing a cactus was great fun. I am pondering an entire cactus series. When it came to the spikes for that I decided to get out one of my coloured Sakura Micron Pens. They are available in quite a few colours - not just black. For the cactus I used the sepia cone.

Plants in pots no 10

There is a surprising array of foliage that you can draw in potted plants. It is a chance to practice adding textures on a tiny scale. Take this bonsai. They are very textured things, bonsais, so do them justice I used pen scumbling (that's scribbles to you and me) for the gnarly trunk and a stiff spiky brush to dab in leaves. Of course it sits in a porcelain dish, so that offers a chance to suggest the smooth shiny surface by paying attention to the light and shading.

Plants in pots no 6

I also abandoned my paint set entirely for a couple of the illustrations and drew directly onto the page with my beloved tombow markers. I love their bold colour.  I could have activated them with water to give the variation that we associate with regular watercolour. I didn't do that, probably because they were so small.


I was drawing fuschias which are quite complex blooms and that is what made me think of using markers in the first place. While trying to draw these complicated little beauties I was wondering how in the world I would manage to add the colour with a paintbrush. The brush tip tombows seemed the perfect solution since you can effectively do the drawing and the painting simultaneously. Hurrah!

Plants in pots no 13

I did miss the effect that the water brings so I only did two paintings like this and then returned to my lovely Schmincke watercolours. How wonderful to be spoilt for choice.

The final potted plant in my series was this little topiary. Spheres are fun to shade. So are square pots. And the long shadow cast by a setting sun seemed an apt conclusion to the full series.

Plants in pots no 16

Which one is your favourite?

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