Drawing Flowers With Colored Pencil

Drawing Flowers With Colored Pencil

Whenever I show people one of my colored pencil drawings, they never seem to believe that it really and truly is colored pencil. After that, they want to know how I did it. I tell them, first of all, I wasn’t using the colored pencils that we all buy for our kids when it comes time to get supplies for school. That clears up a lot of confusion right there. I know they are picturing me grabbing a box out of the local grocery store and somehow drawing realistic flowers with colored pencil. And I know from experience that those kinds of pencils will not produce any of the same results.

I thought I would show many of the stages one of my drawings goes through so that people can see what it is I’m doing and maybe, hopefully, get inspired themselves. Because colored pencil is such a wonderful medium. Out of all the mediums I’ve tried, it often feels the most like “home” to me.


(You can click on the links below to read my descriptions and reviews of the following items)

Your Reference Photo or Life Itself

Stonehenge White 90lb paper

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Caran d’Ache Luminance Pencils

HB Graphite Pencil

Gamblin Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits

Small Round Paintbrush (I used size 3)



Starting a colored pencil drawing, or any piece of art for that matter, is always both exciting and daunting to me. Sometimes, though, colored pencil feels a little extra daunting because it is a very sloooooow medium. I am always hesitant to do anything bigger than 12″ X 16″ because it starts to feel impossible to ever finish. Halfway through it, I’ll start picturing myself old and gray in a rocking chair, still trying to finish that same drawing. But I’ve gotten myself to be a little more open to doing backgrounds, which I have usually hated for many years. So, maybe I’ll tackle a huge colored pencil drawing some time just to challenge myself and see if I can like it after all.

This particular drawing is 9″ X 12″. I apologize for the lighting. This is just the beginning where I get the initial drawing on there using a graphite pencil and make spots where I want to show highlights. I used an HB pencil but you can use any lead that you please. Just try not to choose anything too dark, like 3B or higher or you’ll get too much smudging.

This drawing phase is the quickest part for me. I usually finish it within an hour.


And here’s where it’s like I take a deep breath and dive in before I change my mind. This always feels like the real beginning of the colored pencil drawing. I start the basic shading while avoiding the points of lights. I do the background first, for two reasons. One, if I do the flowers first and get the values all perfect THEN work on the background, it might throw my colors off and I’ll have go back over it. Having to go back over things after you thought they were perfect is a drag. Two, if I do the center of interest first, especially when the background is not my favorite part, I may end up thinking, well, forget the background, I don’t feel like it now. 

Despite the initial daunting feeling, I start to begin feeling relaxed. I begin to slowly enter that “trance” where my mind and soul drift into the world of dreams, imagination and possibilities.


And the background continues…

As I add several layers of pencil, I use my mineral spirits to blend the colors more smoothly. They work great on this paper. They don’t take long to dry and blend the pencil layers so well.


Oh my gosh, could it be? My colored pencil flower drawing is nearing the actual flowers. Ironically, after I mentioned that doing the background is my least favorite part, I am starting to enjoy the background a little bit. Or maybe I’m just glad it’s almost done. 😀


I have finally finished the background and can now move onto the table that the vase of flowers is sitting on. Again, I apologize for the lighting and how everything has been slightly blurry. I need to get better with my camera settings as well.


I think I used about ten shades in this table to produce the colors I wanted. It isn’t just brown but also creams, peaches, beiges, and cool purples. But I’m pleased with how it came out. I wanted it to look rich and warm against the coolness of the background.


In this stage, I finally took a few pencils to the vase itself. The white of the vase against the lightness of the background is a bit of challenge to shade so that it comes forward yet appears to be shadowed. I also put in hints of greens, purples and browns to show how the surrounding objects affect the reflections of light on the vase. This helps create more realism.


After all that background and endless grays and whites, it’s exciting to finally begin the actual bursts of colors in this picture. I’m starting to feel excited about the end and how the flowers are going to look against the background. 


There is a point in every piece of artwork where it starts to have that “coming to life” kind of feeling. It’s a different point for every artist and what one feels might differ from what another feels. But right here, is where that feeling of Life started really happening for me. The green really pops against the background. I used about four or five different shades of green. And underneath the green are shades of yellow ochre and lemon yellow. I’m really trying to capture the warmth. Between the table and the flowers, I am really hoping they come bursting forth against the cool background.

This flower colored pencil drawing was at this stage when I took it in to show an art group I am part of. I am usually hesitant to show art that I’m in the middle of (see my article about that here). But every once in awhile, depending on who it is, I will show it. Everyone there had nothing but compliments and looks forward to seeing it completed by the next meeting. So, onward and upward! Yay!


Now, I’m getting the feeling of…”it’s almost there, I’m getting close to the end!!!” 


It was past midnight on the night I finally completed this flower colored pencil drawing. I absolutely could not go to bed when I was so close to being done. I had to get up at dawn to get everyone off to school so I signed it and gave a big, contented sigh of relief. It always feels so satisfying to finish a piece of art. I also felt kind of sad that it’s completed.

But then comes the excitement of…WHAT’S NEXT???

Stay tuned…:D

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