C is for...

Creativity, Chocolates, Champagne and Cactus

'Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.' -- Edward de Bono

Chocolates and Champagne also start with the letter C, but are not directly part of this project!

Cactus: A succulent plant with a thick fleshy stem which typically bears spines, lacks leaves, and has brilliantly coloured flowers. Cacti are native to arid regions of the New World.

Project C

Having practiced the alphabet’s letters to create patterns and rows of shapes, the follow on project is about exploring the shapes a bit further. The project will be quite specific, with a specific selection of letters used to concentrating to create particular shapes.

Drawing Cactus Plants

Cacti and succulents have quite simple rounded or cylindrical shapes, and these are covered with spikes. In this project you will create these bulbous shapes by means of lines of letters. The video explains the project in more detail.

There are three cactus samples varying in difficulty. There is also a template (download here) of five cacti shapes in grey watercolour, you are welcome to use these and cover them with letter spikes to try it out. The letters used to create the drawings below are U and I as I found they work best to start with.

Cactus One

I used the letter U connected with a line to form the outline and sections of the cactus. Another letter U is drawn on the other side of the original U, I adjusted the U shape slightly, making the rounding into more of a V shape to resemble the spikes. The cactus shape is very simple and a good way to practice this concept.

Cactus Two

The same letters and method was used, but the cactus is a little bit more dimensional, with an added arm.

Cactus Three

The letters U and I are drawn in rows to create the cactus form. The formation of the U and I are not in a particular order, and this will result in more natural design. The U and I shapes are repeated on the other side of the original lines, then connected to a central line. This project allows for more exploration of dimension within the cactus.

Keep to line drawings at this stage. Pen or pencil and keeping to your regular handwriting is better to keep the letter shapes authentic, scaling up and using a paintbrush will be explored in this weekend’s art project where I will demonstrate watercolour techniques and incorporate more letters.

Once the basic idea of the cactus drawings with the suggested letters are completed, you can try your hand at more options and other succulent plant shapes.


Letter shapes are used to create the form and the spikes of a cactus plant. Adaption of handwriting and creating of expressive marks are important aspects to incorporate in this project. The quality of the mark is important in this simple project.

Inspiration. Have a look at this Pinterest board for plant shape ideas:


© 2020 Esté MacLeod

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