Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sketching in the Tropics

No, I did not fly to the tropics -- instead, Tina and I went to the Volunteer Park Conservatory this past Sunday for some warm sketching on a chilly day.  We discovered that while 80 degrees sounds great in theory when it's 40-something outside, it's actually a bit too hot for comfortable sketching.  Especially when it's also humid inside those big greenhouses.

The place was beautifully decked out in holiday decor.

They even had a train!  

My favorite room is the one with all the cacti and succulents.  The plant below does not normally grow with bright red Christmas ornaments on its tips.

I opted to artistically remove the ornaments in my sketch.

Instead of my usual ink with water-soluble colored pencils, I did everything in ink with watercolor paints.  I found it a lot easier to get exactly the right color that I wanted, and was happy with the results.

After about an hour, I got acclimated to the heat, which is good, since we spent a good two hours sketching.

Plants are hard -- I tried to focus in on one small section, but even those were complex.

After doing those two drawings above in the palm/tropical rooms, I returned to the cactus room, which I liked best.  Again, I chose to ignore the Christmas decorations.

This was a most enjoyable afternoon.  The conservatory was relatively uncrowded, the subject matter was fantastic, and we even had a harpist playing holiday music for a while.  A great place to go in the off-season, and an excellent sketch outing location.


  1. All the sketches are terrific. I think you picked the perfect spot for cold weather sketching even if it did take awhile to get used to.

  2. Great drawings, but I hardly need to tell you that. I want to know what it was like, after being in the heat for two hours, when you had to step outside into the real world. Well it's Christmas day here so I'd like to wish you a happy holiday tomorrow and love and cuddles to Truman.

    1. It was cold! The late afternoon light was fantastic, though, and we wanted to take photos of the buildings and trees, so wandered around outside doing that until we could hardly feel our fingers and had to give it up and hop into the car. Brr!

      As I type this it is still Christmas Eve here for a few more hours, but Merry Christmas to you!