The Nichols Arboretum is one of my favorite spots here in Ann Arbor. Aside from being a beautiful outdoor space to walk, run and paddle - it's also one of my favorite spots to sit and sketch.
The first week of June is the best for viewing the Peony garden in bloom, so I headed over there for an afternoon of flower-watching and flower-inspired drawing.
I started with a few blind contour sketches, letting my pencil follow the curves and ridges of the blooms without looking down at the page.
By playing with placement and variances of petals/leaves/negative spaces I draw a sort of "map" of the way I see the flower. Sometimes the resulting compositions are interesting and worth exploring further, so I transfer those to a canvas or a larger sheet of paper. And of course, sometimes they are just a mess of lines that don't seem to tell a story or impart any truth of the plant and those just stay in the sketchbook.
(I used these Derwent pencils from Amazon for the contour sketches - I really enjoy the freedom to create lines AND washes from the same tool, less to carry with me and easier to quickly get sketches down on the paper.)
What about you? Have any favorite places to sketch outside?