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Henny’s Iris Design Journal Iris Stencils

Henny’s Iris Design Journal Iris Stencils

I’ve been meaning to do an Iris Stencil for some time and on a recent trip to Wales I was inspired by this perfect group of Bearded Irises growing around a garden spring in the Brecon Beacons. They really caught my eye so I sat down to draw and the ‘Iris Journey’ began! The petals were like soft, deepest magenta with bright golden yellow caterpillar-like stamens – quite captivating – sitting in this tranquil setting.

I love the drawing process at the beginning of a design where you try to capture the form and beauty of the subject. Some drawings are just musings and others have more serious intent and take shape quickly in my mind as a potential stencil design, maybe because of the outstanding beauty or because the shapely design elements of the plant will look just right on a decorative panel, or a cushion cover, blind or large wall piece.

Bearded Iris Sketches

Most of my botanical and flower stencil designs start life as ‘plant portraits’ – usually drawn in pencil, sometimes painted. I usually start with pencil line drawings, drawn carefully from observation. The linear drawing is an essential part of the design process for stencils because you are looking for outlines that capture the essence of the shape of the plant and easily give a sense of its form. These outlines will then go on to form the cut out shapes of the stencil, so it is an important stage – one that will ultimately determine whether a design is going to be a good one or not!

Designs taken from drawings not photos ultimately have a deeper understanding of the form of the plant and I always feel a better translation of the three dimensions into two dimensions. Photos are great and brilliant for capturing hard to access subjects, but where possible I like to use them as design inspirations, colour notations and so forth.

The drawing muscle when well worked gives not only the form of the flower but an innate feel for the shapes in-between, which in design terms are often as important as the image itself.

I don’t always or often ‘work up’ a drawing, but sometimes it is good to get further into the sense of form of a subject and add a full range of tone and shading and mark making for veins and stamens and other intricacies. The sense of depth that comes with a tonal drawig will also help down the road when stencilling and adding dimension with colour.

I also sometimes create some sketchbook notations – kind of prosy, poetical descriptions that again help with the sense and character of the flower or plant. Often a bit romantic, of course flowery – the drawing process is a little love affair – in the moment. Descriptive notes as well can help later with colour and graphic ideas and are useful aids like photographs.

Photos taken Upstate New York and Brecon Beacons, South Wales. The great thing about iris is the sheer range of colours and markings they can have – interior design wise this is great for matching to a host of colour schemes.

The ‘fill’ stage of the design process, where before digitising fully I check the strength and dynamism of the design by creating a black silhouette of the line drawings for the main layer. This gives me a read-off of what changes or design tweaks might be needed and a good look at the graphic appeal of the design.

The great thing about Irises is the range of colours they naturally and horticulturally appear in. In design terms they work perfectly in cool shades or warm vibrant hues. You can stencil in whites and blues or yellow and magentas, reds and more, altering your background colours to suit the mood. Or stencil simply in silhouette single colour palettes for graphic design effects.

See part two of this design journal for stencilling techniques for decorative items shown in our Iris shoots.

Botanical Stencil Gallery

Motif Copyright

All Motif stencils, stencil designs, photographic and graphic images are protected by copyright and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Henny Donovan stencils are sold for private usage only and may not be used for commercial projects or retail reproduction, or for any kind of resale or reproduction of stencilled images either photographically or for marketing, advertising or publishing of any kind. The stencil and graphic images on this website may not be used or reproduced for any kind of logo, letterhead, website illustration, advertising or other, either personally or commercially.  If you have any queries relating to copyright or usage of Henny Donovan designs please use the enquiries form on the Information and Enquiries page.

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