Draw Your Herbs

A pencil and sketchpad can educate the mind to see plants as never before.

| February/March 2001

  • Photography by Anybody Goes

Herbs have been known to seduce a gardener’s eye with their delicate foliage and subtle flowers. If you’ve ever wished you could capture that fleeting beauty in a method more subtle, more lyrical than a photograph, consider drawing herbs from your garden. Not only is it fun to draw herbs, it can lure you to look at your garden more closely than ever before.

In Victorian days, teachers believed that anyone who could learn to read could learn to draw. You say you can’t even draw a straight line? Not to worry. Nature doesn’t give us straight lines. Hate drawing outdoors with unpredictable weather and those annoying insects? Bring your herbs indoors to draw. If you have a reasonably steady hand and good eyesight and follow these step-by-step instructions, you’ll not only see garden herbs with a fresh eye, you may discover an unrealized talent.

First things first

Here are the materials that, to my mind, are essential for drawing herbs from your garden.

• White or pastel drawing paper no smaller than 8 by 11 inches, smooth enough for detail work, but with enough “tooth” to take graphite well. (I like Strathmore 400 Bristol, hot press drawing paper.)
• Graphite pencils: H, HB, B, 2B (H is the hardest, B the softest)
• Kneaded eraser
• Clear plastic ruler, 6-inch
• Magnifying hand lens
• X-acto knife
• A lightweight drawing board surface no smaller than 12 x 14 inches

The following materials are optional, but useful items you’ll want to have around if you find you enjoy drawing herbs.

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