With the increasing interest in nature and gardening more and more people are becoming interested in trying their hand at botanical illustration. You don’t have to be an artist or interested in a career illustrating plants to enjoy creating them on paper and Ravet-Haeverman’s book The Art of Botanical Drawing: An Introductory Guide is a valuable tool to develop the needed skills. It provides drawing and watercolor techniques as well as masses of illustrations that provides a feast for the eyes as well as an inspiration for personal creativity.
After a brief history of scientific illustration, the author describes the materials you will need to complete a botanical illustration in watercolor. She recommends buying 12-15 colors and makes suggestions for paper selection. She assumes nothing about the reader’s experience and explains all of her choices even for pencils and erasures.
Rave-Haeverman begins with lessons on basic drawing techniques including shapes and volumes, texture, and color and then proceeds to consider the depiction of the various plant parts including leaves, storage organs, barks, stems and branches, flowers, and fruits. Next, she devotes sections to specific garden plants such as poppies, nasturtiums, and fuchsia. Other sections are devoted to a variety of plant material including grasses, mushrooms, ferns, succulents, and vegetables. A presentation on magnified detail, and mistakes to avoid round out the work.
The title of the book is somewhat of a misnomer since most of the book is devoted to the watercolor techniques involved in botanical illustration. Much of the information presented can also be applied to other media but a better title would suggest the focus on watercolor. In addition, the word “Introductory” in the title suggests that the book is for beginners but experience in basic drawing is necessary to fully appreciate the value of the presentation on watercolor techniques.