Botanical illustration has a long history and dates back long before cameras were developed. At that time, making these hand drawings was the only way to convey to someone in a different location what a plant looked like.
Even today, when it’s easier than ever to take photos thanks to cell phones, botanical images have a role to play and many find sketching plants a relaxing hobby. Read on for botanical drawing information, including tips on how to draw plants yourself.
Botanical Drawing Information
Photographs cannot take the place of botanical illustrations. Artists making drawings of plants can provide detail that a photograph may not reveal. This is especially true for cross section drawings that include many layers of detail in a plant.
Whether you want to be a botanical artist or just want to learn how to draw plants in general, it’s useful to get advice and information from those who do it for a living.
Making Botanical Drawings
You don’t have to be a botanical artist professionally in order to want to know how to draw a plant. It’s useful for anyone who may be keeping a plant journal and wants to draw the various stages of growth of garden plants or record different plants encountered on a hike.
To get started, you will need drawing pencils, watercolor or colored pencils, watercolor paper and/or a sketch book. Buy the best drawing supplies you can afford since better products make drawing easier.
If you are wondering exactly how to draw plants, the first step is to acquire basic knowledge about plant anatomy. A plant is more than petals and leaves, and the more information you have about the different plant parts, the better you will be at making botanical drawings.
It’s useful to have some help when you get started. Go online and find resources or videos created by those in the field, like John Muir Laws, for example. These will give you basic techniques that will assist you to draw plants accurately for field sketching or careful botanical illustrations.
Advice on Botanical Illustration
Artists who create botanical drawings offer tips for people just getting started. They suggest that you don’t worry about producing a perfect image when you are starting out, just draw many different plants to develop confidence.
Make a rough draft first, then try to refine it. Don’t be impatient. It is a practice that improves your skills over time. Keep trying and don’t rush. Take as long as you need to capture the look of a plant. Patience and practice are key factors to keep in mind and soon even you can be a botanical artist.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.