This week I'm doing brief book reviews of three recent publications about botanical art / illustration / painting.
While you might expect them to be fairly similar, you'll note as you read the reviews that they are in fact three very different books.
In general, with new books, I tend to decide which gets an in-depth review or makes it on to the main page of RECOMMENDED BOOKS on my website The Best Botanical Art and Illustration Instruction Books after 6-12 months - which gives time for:
Botanical Illustration - The Complete Guide
Botanical Illustration - the Complete Guide by Leigh Ann Gale is a very thorough and well-structured manual of information about the process for producing botanical illustrations of a high quality.
It is possibly the most traditional of the books I'm reviewing. However it's also very traditional in being very thorough and well thought out. Methodical is a word which sprang to my mind - in a positive sense!
A large part of the book focuses on painting - preparing, developing and completing a watercolour painting - but it also includes sections on basic botany, other media and what follows on after a painting is completed - and also how guidance on to continue to develop your skills.
The botanical illustrations in this book are of the type found in a Florilegia rather than in the pages of scientific publications. I'd suggest this is a very relevant book for those who aspire to produce botanical paintings and illustrations for a Florilegium, given Leigh Anne's familiarity with the sort of expectations of the standards required.
It's a very apt title - this is a comprehensive and COMPLETE Guide! In fact, the book is almost overflowing with content - which is the way I like books to be!
In my very firmly held view, books which are simplified too much and filled with oversized images do not impart as much knowledge or help develop learning and skills development. I'm all for those who want to dot 'i's and cross 't's when it comes to getting things right! However one of the consequences of having a lot of content in this instance is that the font size is quite small - which may not suit everybody.
The book also includes a lot of visual information / images covering different aspects of the process. The book is packed full of images - 391 in total! The illustrations are also of a very high standard and also include some by her students.
To be honest I think some of the process pics could have done with being a tad larger. This maybe suggests that a more ruthless edit might have improved the overall presentation in terms of upscaling the size of a few through the loss of some which were maybe of more minor importance. However it's not a major issue.
Speaking as an author myself, I well know the difficulties of balancing out words, images and white space on a double page spread. It's always REALLY difficult to get it right.
What I also liked was the sense of who the author is - and of her not being hide-bound by publishers who tried to limit her too much in terms of what she was trying to achieve.
It serves to create a book which, while treading some "extremely well trod" ground, still manages to deliver a LOT of content which, in turn, I am sure will add a LOT of value to the experience of those who buy it. Not least because of the scope and extent of the content.
UK Publication date: 26th June 2018
Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd; Illustrated edition
Format: Paperback: 208 pages | 391 colour images
Size: 280 x 220 mm (the largest of the three books)
Retail Price: £25
E-Book Edition: £20.00 (incl. VAT)
Amazon price (UK): various c. £18 for hardback; and £13 for Kindle
Amazon.com price (USA): $45; and $16.90 for Kindle (publication November 2018)
Note: I was sent a copy to review by the publishers.
I'm also a MAJOR fan of the Crowood Press publications which I think set a very high standard in terms of content and a refusal to "dumb down".
NOTE: I'll also be reviewing the ebook version in due course - along with the ebook version of tomorrow's instruction book from the same publishers. I'd be very interested to receive any comments from those who prefer buying their books this way.
About the author
Leigh Ann Gale has an honours degree in Graphic Design. She completed the diploma in botanical illustration at the English Gardening School, (now the Chelsea School of Botanical Art). She is a member of the Florilegium Societies for Hampton Court Palace, the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney and Nymans. Her work is held in the Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation. She mentors students on botanical illustration diploma and certificate courses.
The Best Botanical Art Instruction Books
What I've tried to do is:
As a guide I've also included the average ratings out of 5 stars for each book (in the UK and USA). Plus a guide to how to interpret these ratings as they are various factors - detailed in my guide - that influence how many ratings a book has got to date.
Book Review: Botanical Illustration
Author: Valerie Oxley
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - This is an excellent manual for those who like their botanical art to lean towards illustration with a strong botanical slant.
This book differentiates itself by focusing on botany. It's very detailed and practical and consequently very helpful.
It provides lots of detailed facts, useful information, tips and techniques - doubtless derived from the author's many years of teaching botanical illustration and developing a diploma course.
For example, it includes
It's a sub-page of The Best Botanical Art Instruction Books in the Education Section.
Botany for the Artist: An Inspirational Guide to Drawing Plants
Author: Sarah Simblet
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - This is the best rated book on the market for those who want to understand more about
The quality of the text and illustrations is first class and the whole book provides a fresh perspective on botany for the artist while losing none of the fundamental and enduring truths of what is required of botanical illustration.
The emphasis of this book is on:
It's a sub-page of The Best Botany Books for Botanical Artists and Illustrators in the Botany section.
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