24 June 2007

Botanical illustration

Yesterday I attended a workshop in botanical illustration at the Harcourt Arboretum (part of Oxford University's Botanical Garden) run by Valerie Price, an artist trained in scientific illustration who has done work for, among others, Kew Gardens. Although you might not guess it from the very loose paintings I've posted here recently, I've always been fascinated by this type of detailed, highly accurate drawing and painting. I very much enjoy doing this style of work, even though I'm nowhere near being capable of the incredible detail the real experts can achieve. It seems to be unusual for people to enjoy producing both very loose and very detailed work; I suppose it doesn't really make sense to try to work in different styles, but after all I'm only doing it for fun, not to make a living!

My experience of taking classes in watercolour is that teachers invariably want you to work larger, wetter and looser, so it was a refreshing change to take a class with someone that thought my number 6 brush (the second smallest I own!) was "rather long", who stresses careful preliminary drawing involving painstaking measurement, and for whom A4 is as large format as it gets! I wouldn't want to work like this all the time, but I really enjoyed the day.

This was the result of my day's work...a single flower! But I'm quite pleased with it; I think it has a good feeling of transparency. It's mainly done using W&N opera rose on Fabriano Artistico cold pressed paper. Oh, and the flower is a lavertera.

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caseytoussaint said...

My goodness - this is so very beautiful. It's loose, and yet you've captured the detail, and transparency. Wonderful job Better to spend a whole day for one really good painting than several mediocre ones..

Laureline said...

Well done, Dave! I find pinks and reds the hardest hues to work with, but you've done a wonderful job. I agree that you've got the transparent petals captured nicely.
Thank you for being such an enthusiastic and nice commenter on my blog, by the way.
All the best,

Irene said...

Beautiful. Gotta love that Opera Rose.

Robyn said...

Lovely transparency and very realistic veins, Dave. Don't stop at this one! I also have a passion for botanical art. I didn't even try for a long time because I knew I could never get the detail. I got quite a shock when I found myself improving. Never say never! The workshop must have been fascinating.

Africantapestry said...

Another beauty. I agree with you...there is beauty both in looseness and in detail! I love them all. The colors are so nice here and your transparency beautiful..

Katherine said...

I also find the pinks and reds very difficult - well done!

Sounds like you enjoyed yourself at the workshop as well! I've not seen valerie Price's work - I must have a look for it. A$ is certainly not a size which the gold medal winning artists at the RHS shows limit themselves to - but I guess it could be sensible unless you were trying to win a medal.

Have you taken a look at my project for July? ;)

Anonymous said...

Well done Dave! Have you done any more? If you are looking for inspiration these two sites have lots of antique botanical illustrations:


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