Botanical illustration started life as a means of creating a record for doctors so that they could identify the features of which could be used in medicine.
(see Herbals and Florilegia).
In doing so they needed to draw plants so they could be clearly recognised - and they needed to highlight the parts which mattered for the medicine.
During the Age of Discovery, when botanical illustrators accompanied explorers and plant hunters, botanical illustration became a way of making a record of what a plant looked like. This then enabled the scientists in botanical gardens to make sense of the dried specimens of plants being brought back from overseas expeditions - which were often in a press and brown and flat.
Often any dissections were undertaken on board ship and watercolour studies of the plants were painted to indicate colour and morphology.
Cydonia oblonga (Quince) By Franz Eugen Khler, Khler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
Source: via Wikimedia Commons
Study nature diligently, be guided by nature.... for truly art is hidden in nature and he who can draw it possesses it
TODAY, if you want to succeed as a botanical artist
you need to:
Many professional botanical artists develop their artwork by working through themes - creating collections of paintings of varieties of a species.
TODAY, to become a professional botanical illustrator
you need to
I've met a number of the younger professional botanical illustrators working today in Botanic Gardens across the world at the RHS and major exhibitions. Several of them have developed their knowledge of botany via undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Botany.
It's not unusual these days to find myself talking to a professional botanical illustrator with a PhD in Botany!
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