Introducing a new creative project I’m taking on for 2017, one that will help me work towards improving my drawing skills while learning more about a subject I’m interested in, in the process.

Last year I attempted a 100 Days Project. And while it was fun, I didn’t last too long—mostly because I found it difficult to fit in half an hour to an hour of drawing every day. But I definitely found myself missing having a purely creative project to dig into, so I’m starting a new one this year.

Those who know me, know my love for Hawai‘i runs deep, so it was a no-brainer to look to the place I love so much for inspiration. I easily and quickly found it through Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, who I have followed on Facebook for quite awhile.

Dedicated to the protection of the native plants and cultural heritage of Maui, they are an amazing resource. Over the past year I have noticed and become fascinated by their plant of the day catalog, where they feature one native plant a day alongside plenty of rich information about its origins and characteristics. Perfect subject matter for a creative project.

So this year, I’m going to focus on one plant a week (or so—I’m not giving myself too many rules), creating drawings inspired by their photographs, while also learning more about the place I love so much. I’m not sure how many drawings I plan to end up with or how long I will continue, but I’m excited to see where it goes.

So, without further adieu, I’m beginning the series with the first plant in their catalog: ‘A‘ali‘i.

Here’s a few of the basic details about the plant, but be sure to check out the original image for more:

Hawaiian Name: ‘A‘ali‘i
Scientific Name: Dodonaea viscosa
Family: Sapindaceae (Lychee Family)
Status: Indigenous
Where found: Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Hawai‘i, O‘ahu & Kaua‘i
Water/Light: Dry, with full to part sun exposure Elevation range: 10 to 7,700 feet
Height: Up to 30 feet, with a spread of up to 15 feet

Here’s the images I used for reference:

Photo Credit: Jupiter Nielsen
Photo Credit: Native Plants Hawaii

I started with rough sketches…

Then I outlined the primary shapes in ink, and then built up layers of color with my trusty Prismacolor markers to make the finished product.

For this first one I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to focus on the close-up or the full plant, so I just did both. I probably won’t do this every week, but I may switch back and forth between the two as I go. We shall see.

Number 2 will post early next week!