How to Draw a Flower or,

How Flowers Are Put Together

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These are not just little tips and techniques, but a full course of learning how to see, think, and draw like an artist.

You could say I started to learn how to draw a flower where I grew up in New England, where my parents had a house in the middle of 15 acres of forest. 

As a girl I loved collecting wildflowers, and pressing them flat in books to put them in a little album.  I’m not sure I would recommend that today, since the pollen sometimes made a real mess of the books, and their perfume from the crushing occasionally left quite a lasting stench!  But I memorized the flowers well enough at the time to even today have a satisfying mental database to draw on for labeling them in my sketchbook; I don’t have as good a database for garden flowers, but you see my point:  taking an interest in your subject in an organized way can make it more fun.

Early morning view from my bedroom window where I grew up.

But more importantly, being familiar with your subject will contribute to your drawing it well – you will know what to look for and will it easier to interpret the lights and shadows to render.  So it is well worth getting a rudimentary knowledge in botany as you learn how to draw a flower. This section will help you understand how flowers are structured and put together – their “anatomy” if you will, or as a friend of mine puts it, their “bone structure”.  You will also acquire the minimum vocabulary so that as you work your way through this material you will know what I’m referring to.

As we learn in school, a flower comprises the reproductive organs of the plant.  To attract little creatures like bees (or birds – or even bats!) to ensure fertilization happens, it has petals laid out in a manner specific to each type of flower; this petal arrangement is called the “corolla”.  Botanists have categorized corollas into four groups; but before getting into that, let’s take a closer look at all those fussy little details inside the corolla that we will need to know in order to draw a flower.

Unlike animals and, um, humans, some flowers have the strange characteristic of each containing both the necessary masculine and feminine equipment to reproduce – botanists call these “perfect flowers”, and the ones that are either male or female are called “imperfect flowers”; be that as it may, what bees, birds and bats do is actually as they rummage around in any corolla is to inadvertently get pollen from the male parts to the female parts.

Native to my New England:  Kalmia Latifolia, or Mountain Laurel.

The Female Bits

“Pistil” is the name for the flower’s female reproductive system; the tip that can receive and retain pollen is called the “stigma” – this is where the pollen in fact germinates.

The “style” is the pistil’s central section, which generally looks like a cylindrical little column on an enlarged base; that enlarged base is the “ovary”; and just as in animals, the ovary produces ovules. Interestingly, when an ovary matures it turns into a fruit, and when an ovule matures it becomes a seed.

The Male Bits

The “stamen” comprises the flower’s male reproductive system, consisting of a slender “filament” supporting an “anther”; the anther is where the pollen is produced.

Other Bits

The “calyx” is the base of the flower; it includes all the “sepals” – the small green leaves under the flower that enclose and protect the bud as it develops. Sometimes there’s what looks like an extra set of sepals, and that is called collectively the “calicle”.

So now you have the basic anatomy to know how to draw a flower.

Ready to learn about specific blossom shapes, or "corollas"?  Click on the link below.

Go from “How to Draw a Flower” to “How to Draw Flower Blossoms”

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