When I interview the botanical artists who have just won an RHS Gold Medal at the RHS Botanical Art Show, I always ask them for tips for those aspiring to do the same.
In 2017 I was rewarded - more than I can say - by hearing from Mariko Ikeda who won the Best Exhibit prize at the RHS London Botanical Art Show 2017. She wanted to thank me profusely for everything I've written before as it really helped her with preparing her exhibit!
Then Kate Barling, another exhibitor, found me to thank me for the tip about how to mount the work - and I collected another tip from her which you'll find below!
So the bottom line is what goes around comes around.
Note: Unfortunately last year I started this post but forgot finish it. But it's never too late to pass on a few more tips!
READ ON for my very belated post about the top tips from the RHS Gold Medallists in 2017 - which is now complete!
Today I have some of the Tips I received from my interviews with the RHS Gold Medal Winners at last month's RHS Botanical Art Show.
Later this week you will also have tips from the RHS Gold Medal Winners in 2017 too! This is because although I drafted most of it last year for some reason I didn't finish the post and publish it!
This is a LONG POST with lots of content - so you might want to get a hot drink and a notebook before you start to read!
It's been my habit, for some years, to ask each of the Gold Medal Winners who speaks reasonable English to tell me what would be the three tips they'd like to pass on to people aspiring to exhibit at the RHS Botanical Art Show. Some include ones I've heard before - but good tips are always worth repeating.
I have however omitted
TIP: Focus on what you are passionate about
Recommended by Laura Silburn and various artists. More than one artist told me this - in various ways. Variations include:
It is so much easier to complete a major project - such as a portfolio for an RHS Botanical Art Show if you are in love with your subject matter.
TIP: Being a grower helps a lot!
Recommended by Simon Williams Nepenthes
Simon Williams told me he has been growing carniverous plants since he was 16 - and loves them. He's invested in heated greenhouses. The advantages of being a grower are that you get to see your plants through a complete life cycle and can watch them through every season.
TIP: Keep a sketchbook
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Botanical Art with Scientific Illustration by botanical artist/illustrator and tutor Sarah Jane Humphrey is PACKED full of content relevant to the artist and illustrator who aspires to a professional career in botanical art and illustration - a lot of which is not covered in other books.
It will be getting a more in-depth review on Botanical Art and Artists in the near future - including a review of the ebook version!
Overall, I'm impressed with this book. It very much comes across as the work of a full time professional botanical artist/illustrator/tutor who earns her keep from her work. Well worth a look for those who aspire to becoming a professional rather than just painting good botanical paintings.
This book was published on the first day of the RHS Botanical Art Show last month - at which Sarah Jane Humphrey, the author, won an RHS Gold Medal. Not a bad week! ;)
What distinguishes this book is that Sarah Jane has reconfigured the "what do you need to know to be a botanical artist" instruction book.
This is emphatically NOT a "how to paint" step by step book.
This is a book which is more suitable for all those who have acquired some skills and competence in drawing and painting - and now need to move up a gear. It's written in a conversational style which I think a lot of people will find very accessible.
Importantly, much of what she talks about
This book offers great value for money! It is very dense in terms of content - and will definitely reward more than one read. I'd expect aspiring botanical artists to reference it many times.
Chapters which impressed me included those which talked about matters which sometimes get too little attention. It's not so much she is saying anything completely novel so much as covering all the aspects that people need to think about in more depth than often happens.
I'd recommend botanical artists wanting to make a career from their art to buy this book on the strength of Chapter 12 alone - about professional practice. I've not yet seen any other book which provides comprehensive cover of contemporary professional BUSINESS practice for the botanical artist and scientific illustrator - including how much time needs to be invested in a multitude of activities and the other knowledge and skills you need to learn - other than drawing and painting - in today's digital world. Success is not all down to being the best painter you can be!
I was really surprised to find that the publisher's description understates the real value of this book - within the context of what else is on offer. I suggest they have a rethink!
Incidentally, I queried with the Crowood Press why they had published two books about botanical art and illustration at more or less the same time (see yesterday's post REVIEW: Botanical Illustration - The Complete Guide by Leigh Ann Gale) - and they said they were very different books - and they were absolutely correct! Both are packed full of information and both are good but for different reasons.
I've taken a look at the ebook version - and read it using Adobe Digital Editions. I've not yet seen the Kindle version. I can confirm it's constructed as a proper ebook with the ability to navigate via the table of contents. My personal preference is for the paperback - but then I like 'proper' books!
Publication date: 11 Jun. 2018 (Launched at the RHS Botanical Art Show!)
Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd; Illustrated edition
Format: Paperback: 176 pages | 429 colour illustrations
Retail Price: £18.99
E-Book Edition: £14.99 (incl. VAT)
Price on Amazon UK: various - around c.£14 for both paperback and Kindle
Price on Amazon.com: c.$38; Kindle $19
Note: I was sent a copy to review by the publishers, having talked to Sarah Jane about the book at the RHS Botanical Art Exhibition.
About the author
Sarah Jane Humphrey is a botanical artist, a natural science illustrator, an author and a tutor. Graduated from Falmouth University with an Honours Degree in Illustration. In 2018 she was awarded a Gold Medal by the RHS for Medicinal Fruits and their symbiosis with Pollinators. She delivers workshops on Botanical Illustration in Cornwall . She is represented by the Wildlife Art Company for illustration work and has had a wide variety of clients for her illustration work.
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