Ruskin wrote of flowers ‘it is difficult to give them the accuracy of attention necessary to see their beauty without drawing them’. If you love flowers then through botanical illustration you start to observe their beauty even better. Some members have said ‘you are teaching me to look’ and good observation is the key to Botanical Illustration. This is probably the primary difference between Flower Painting and Botanical Illustration; detail matters. Botanical Illustration is broader than detailed flower painting; it covers anything from the world of botany, not just flowers, but also fruits, seed heads and even fungi. This is quite a specific art form owing to its concentration on botanical detail, but a relaxing and enjoyable one.
The first group was formed in September 2000 and in January 2015 a second group for beginners was formed.
Botanical Illustration 1 - Ongoing Group
During the year we work through the four conventional media for Botanical Illustration: graphite pencil, pen & ink, coloured pencil and finally water colour. Each year the course follows the same pattern to enable new members to fit in easily; however the topics are sufficiently broad for continuing members not to be working on the same species each year unless they so wish. We share information about books, courses and exhibitions covering any aspect of Botanical Illustration.
The group meets fortnightly in Holwell Village Hall. The hall looks rather rustic but it provides a happy meeting place for the members. There is always lots of chatter and interaction between members since looking at one another’s work is part of the learning exercise.
Botanical Illustration 2 - Beginners Group
The initial aim was to take Beginners who wanted to experience the discipline for the first time, but as the class has moved on, several of the members are now more accomplished and indeed we also have a nucleus of experienced Botanical Illustrators who have joined us. This is most beneficial to newcomers who quickly become aware of what is achievable. Four areas are explored during the year: graphite, coloured pencil, pen and ink and watercolour. The material covered encompasses flowers, fruit, vegetables, seeds and fungi. Some folk may wish to delve more deeply into their studies and extend an interest or project. Each member is free to do just that. Complete beginners are of course steered more gradually through the first year. The ethos of the group is always enjoyment, relaxation and encouragement and everyone sharing in what they achieve, however small. It is a friendly group full of interest and enthusiasm sharing a love of beautiful books on the subject, media coverage and information on courses and exhibitions.
The group meets in the Raleigh Hall in Sherborne, fortnightly, on Tuesday mornings between 9.30 am and 12 noon.