One of the labs in “Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists” is called Abstracted Minutia, in the chapter “Inspired by Nature. Following is a more elaborated tutorial than found in the book:


1. Gather some dried leaves, flowers, pods, shells, feathers, rocks, seaweed, grasses… anything you find out and about that looks interesting to you.


2. Next, gather some paper and drawing and mark-making tools. I’m using charcoal, various types of graphite, and just one or two colors of PanPastels; I like to keep my palette limited to mimic my subject matter. The paper I usually work with is Fabriano Artistico 140# hot press.


3. Start arranging your items into an abstract design. Try not to think “flower” or “leaves, but just look at shapes, textures, and colors and place them in a design that doesn’t read as anything necessarily.


4. When you’ve settled on a design, get ready to draw it:


Keep your hand as loose as possible when making your marks, especially when using charcoal._2__0214

Vary your pressure for darks and lights; smear charcoal areas to soften.


Don’t worry about copying the design exactly. Use your pod setup as a starting point, but then let the drawing tell you which elements you might want to leave out, or if there are areas you would like to add more to. Here is my finish:


Have fun with it, and play with your materials!

Photos by Matisse Lorance Berthiaume