Sunday, September 2, 2012

Botanical Illustration and Botanical Art


"Yellow Rose" by Hazel Buys

What is botanical illustration?  Botanical art?  Floral art?  The members of CVABA do all three, plus general nature art.  But there are differences between the three.

Botanical illustration (BI) is considered a scientific discipline, a subset of scientific illustration.  In BI, accuracy and precision are key elements.  The plant being depicted must accurately represent the attributes of the plant.  For example, a flower needs to have the correct number of petals, stamens and anthers (within reason- some are hidden from the viewer, especially when there are many of them!).  The leaves must have correct veining (alternate, opposite or parallel). Colors must be as accurate as possible, though different lighting conditions create some variability in color. The botanical illustrator also strives to depict different parts of the plant (flower, calyx, thorns, hairs, stems, fruit, seeds, leaf and root, for example) in different stages of development.  There are also several conventions that are followed:  in general, light is depicted as coming from the left: the back of a leaf and underside of the flower should be shown: the plant is drawn life size when possible, and any changes in size from plant to drawing should be indicated: and there is no background nor cast shadow (shadow outside of the dimensions of the plant).  Despite these rules, there is still room for artistic expression!  BI is traditionally done in watercolor, but it can also be created using graphite (pencil), pen and ink, colored pencil, and other media.

Botanical art is art that depicts any type of plant.  It does not need to follow the rules of BI and there is greater latitude regarding how the plant is depicted.  Many media can be used. Floral art is similar to botanical art, but focuses on flowers.

Follow us to see examples of each over the coming months!

"Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven't time, and to see takes time - like to have a friend takes time."  Georgia O'Keeffe

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