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Flower Anatomy: Botanical Illustration workshop

Story posted: 1. September 2017 by Lizzie Harper

I recently taught a workshop at the wonderful Walled Garden in Treberfydd on flower anatomy.  I think it's vital for botanical illustrations to be well-informed, and to this end I think botanical illustrators need to learn some of the basics of how flowering plants are put together.  One of the best ways to do this is to learn through drawing, discovering and recording as you explore a specimen.

We began with a brief overview of flower anatomy, obviously this varies enormously from family to family but if you can recognize basic parts such as the stamen, pistil, sepal, anther…

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Category: Painting workshops    Comments: 0    Viewed: 114

Botanical Illustration Norfolk Field trip: Weeting Heath & Cranwich Camp

Story posted: 18. August 2017 by Lizzie Harper

A recent fieldtrip to Norfolk with a botany group I’m a member of,  the Institute for Analytical Plant Illustration ( IAPI ), was a wonderful way to spend a hot July weekend; poring over plants in the sun and doing sketchbook botanical illustrations on site.



Sketches from Weeting Heath

For more on our first day, a visit to Wicken Fen , please click the link. Our Second day saw us visiting two really interesting Breckland sites, and stumbling across an enormous number of plants there.  We were lucky to have members of the Iceni Botanical Artists’ Group with us, who…

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Category: Scientific Illustrator out and about    Comments: 0    Viewed: 100

Sciart Natural History Illustration of a Chironomid Midge

Story posted: 4. August 2017 by Lizzie Harper

I recently was commissioned to complete a natural history entomological illustration for an expert in fossilized midges at the Natural History Museum in London, as a surprise retirement present.

The recipient is Steve Brooks, who examines the fossilized heads of non-biting midges (Chironomids) to examine climate change through time.  For an overview of his work, do take the time to read this article , it’s fascinating.

The person commissioning the work ( Kimberley Davies ) not only is an expert in midges herself, but also grew up in Hay-on-Wye (where I’m based), an extra…

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Category: News of current projects    Comments: 0    Viewed: 134

Botanical Illustration Norfolk Field trip: Wicken Fen

Story posted: 10. July 2017 by Lizzie Harper

I recently went on a botany fieldtrip to Norfolk with the Institute for Analytical Plant Illustration ( IAPI ) and it was a fabulous way to spend a sunny July weekend, and to discover a whole new area of Britain.

Our first day was an exploration of Wicken Fen , a gorgeous nature reserve full of fenland species, peat, wind pumps and dragonflies, run by the National Trust.  Please click the link to hear about our exploration of Breckland rare plants on the second day of our trip.



Old wind pump, now used to pump water into rather than out of Wicken Fen

We had a…

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Category: Scientific Illustrator out and about    Comments: 0    Viewed: 182

Slugs: Workshop on slug identification

Story posted: 7. July 2017 by Lizzie Harper

As a botanical illustrator who does lots of natural history illustrations too, it’s important to learn about the animals and plants I get asked to draw.  I realised recently that not only did I know almost nothing about slugs, but I also had never done a decent illustration of one.



One of only two slug illustrations I have completed, it's not good enough!

Soon after, I saw a day-long course on slugs offered by the School for Field Studies (who offer lots of fabulous courses) run by Chris du Feu (who you can email on chris.r.dufeu@gmail.com).

We assembled at…

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Category: Scientific Illustrator out and about    Comments: 0    Viewed: 157

Botanical Illustration: Comparing Hot Press Watercolour Papers (part 2)

Story posted: 21. June 2017 by Lizzie Harper

As a botanical illustrator, having a good hot press watercolour paper to work on is really important.  Unfortunately, recently the paper I used to use, Fabriano Artistico , has had some changes to its manufacturing process and is no longer quite as wonderful as it was.

I, along with lots of other botanical illustrators, am busy testing alternatives to see what papers are out there, and how they work for us.

In a previous blog and youttube video I tested Arches HP,  Moulin du Roy hot press, Canson Heritage HP, Saunders Waterford HP,  and Botanical Ultra Smooth…

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Category: Illustration techniques    Comments: 0    Viewed: 364

Natural History Illustration: Water Meadow Landscape

Story posted: 12. June 2017 by Lizzie Harper

I was recently commissioned to complete a large natural history natural science watercolour illustration of a landscape of a water meadow habitat, complete with wildlife and botanical illustrations of the plants that grow there.   This illustration will be used on an interpretation panel, and was a challenge and a joy to create.

Linda Francis is a designer friend I’ve worked with before, so I was more than happy to take on this job for The Wychwood Project and Woodstock Town Council .

There are to be two interpretation panels, one will have archeology information and…

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Category: News of current projects    Comments: 0    Viewed: 279

Botanical Illustration: Fungal Diseases of Wheat Crops

Story posted: 26. May 2017 by Lizzie Harper

I was recently commissioned by Farmer’s Weekly Magazine to do some botanical illustrations of both Wheat ( Triticum aestivum ) and three common diseases of wheat crops.



Common wheat plant ( Triticum aestivum ), free of disease.

The first one is the fungus Septoria , the other two are rusts.

Septoria

Septoria triitici is a fungus that affects the leaves and stems of wheat plants.  Infection occurs in autumn and spring, with fungal ascospores brought on the wind.

Once established, the disease spreads as pynidiospores through crops by…

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Step by step Botanical illustration of the Greater Willow herb

Story posted: 19. May 2017 by Lizzie Harper

One of the botanical illustrations I was recently commissioned to complete for the Field Studies Council is the Greater willowher, Epilobium hirstutum. This will feature with 30 or so other of my common British wild flowers illustrations in an  upcoming leaflet on Wayside wild flowers.

Here is an explanation of the steps involved in creating a botanically accurate illustration which is also visually appealing, and allows a novice to identify that flower in the field.

First, I gather my reference.  The illustration rough was done in January, so no Willowherbs were…

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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 574

Botanical Illustration: Comparing Hot Press Watercolour Papers

Story posted: 5. May 2017 by Lizzie Harper

As some of you may know, there’s been a bit of a panic in the Botanical illustration community recently.  This is because the firm favourite hot press watercolour paper of many illustrators, Fabriano Classico (and Fabriano Artistico) has altered its manufacturing process.  This has resulted in the surface of the paper being given a different sizing, which results in it being less smooth than before, and now when you paint on it the watercolour bleeds and pools a little, clearly not the effect a botanical artist is after!

It should be pointed out that the difference is not…

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Category: Illustration techniques    Comments: 0    Viewed: 987

Botanical Illustration of Red Clover- step by step

Story posted: 20. April 2017 by Lizzie Harper

This botanical illustration of Red clover Trifolium pratense was completed recently for the  Field Studies Council who are producing a leaflet on identifying plants and wild flowers of the wayside and hedgerows.

First step with any sciart botanical illustration is to get good reference.  Not only do I know where a local patch of red clover is growing, so I can gather leaves to work from, but I also back this up with good reference books like HarperCollins Guide to Wild Flowers by David Streeter , Streeter and Garrard's The Wild Flowers of the British Isles , and the…

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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 717

Botanical Illustration: Telling Gorse species apart

Story posted: 6. April 2017 by Lizzie Harper

Whilst working for The Field Studies Council on charts of Heathland and Wayside plants, I needed to illustrate the three species of Gorse ( Ulex ) found in Britain.

Gorse is a shrubby, spiny family of plants in the pea family with spiny green prickles or spines and bright yellow flowers.  Young plants have trifoliate leaves (slightly resembling elongate clover leaves), but on mature plants these disappear leaving the spines and the flowers.



Painting of Gorse with specimens

All three of these plants are found on heathland and acidic soils, but their…

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Category: Showcase of themed natural history illustrations    Comments: 0    Viewed: 472

Botanical Illustration step by step: Painting Heather

Story posted: 24. March 2017 by Lizzie Harper

One of the plants I completed a botanical illustration of recently is the Bell heather,  Erica cinerea; it'll be used on a leafelt on Heathland plants produced by the Field Studies Council, and is one of several British heather species (see my blog for more) on the chart. Although both leaves and flowers are small I thought it might be interesting to break it down into a step by step process.

First, I drew up the pencil rough onto Fabriano Artistico Hot press paper with a mechanical pencil (I like the Pentel P205 ).  For reference I used the plant itself, still growing in…

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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 753

Teaching Botanical Illustration at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens - Spring

Story posted: 10. March 2017 by Lizzie Harper

This week I had the good fortune to be asked to teach a course of botanical illustration for beginners, at the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens .

I was so impressed by the classroom preparation and friendly welcome from the staff – a spotless room, daylight lighting, neat desks with drawing boards and pots for water neatly laid out for the students, and a gorgeous view onto the lawns and borders and trees in the botanic garden.



The classroom at the Cambridge Botanic Gardens

Before the students arrived, Felicity (Head of Education at the Gardens and I…

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Category: Painting workshops    Comments: 0    Viewed: 434

Botanical Illustration: Comparing Three Heather Species

Story posted: 23. February 2017 by Lizzie Harper

Whilst undertaking botanical illustrations for The Field Studies Council , I was asked to illustrate three different species of heather for a leaflet on heathland plants.



Illustration of Common heather or Ling in prgress; you can see the plant, The Collins Flower Guide, Garrard and Streeter's The Wildflowers of the British Isles, Stella Ross-Craig's amazing line drawings, my Series 7 Winsor and Newton 000 paintbrushes, and a 10x magnifying glass.

Although there are eight species of heather or heath found in the UK and Northern Europe, the three I illustrated are…

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Category: News of current projects    Comments: 0    Viewed: 557

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