News Stories

Telling Bluebell species apart

Story posted: 15. May 2018 by Lizzie Harper

May is a really wonderful month for botanical illustration; all the spring flowers are in bloom and there’s almost too many subjects to illustrate!  I always like to visit our local bluebell woods at this time of year, and thought it might be an idea to write a blog on how you can tell the difference between a native bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta and a Spanish or garden variety Hyacinthoides hispanica (or a hybrid of the two!)

Native bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta

The iconic British bluebell wood, carpeted with deep purple-blue flowers, is one…

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Category: Scientific Illustrator out and about    Comments: 0    Viewed: 141

Botanical Illustration: Cheating doesn't exist

Story posted: 10. May 2018 by Lizzie Harper

When I chat to people who are just beginning botanical illustration, I quite often get questions about whether or not certain things are “cheating”.  This annoys and upsets me; everyone should be encouraged to draw and paint, and to use whatever tools are available to them.

There seems to be a strange idea that various shortcuts , tools, and techniques which are incredibly helpful to a botanical illustrator are somehow “cheating”.  I want to try and dispel some of these ideas, and by so doing I hope to encourage beginners to draw and paint plants and flowers without any…

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Category: Illustration techniques    Comments: 0    Viewed: 173

Illustrating a Pansy step by step sketchbook study

Story posted: 10. May 2018 by Lizzie Harper

Pansies and violas are one of the loveliest garden plants to study through botanical illustration; they’re also common, affordable, and quite easy to paint.  This blog will talk you through the basic steps in completing a sketchbook study of a viola or pansy.

First, choose a plant whose petals have colours that you think you’ll enjoy working with.  Purples, whites, yellows and warm pinks predominate.  I was taken with this pretty plant, and it also allowed me to play about with both pale and dark petals.

Draw up the flower in pencil, as always I use a…

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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 88

Pencil Botanical Illustration: Drawing a Bean leaf

Story posted: 29. March 2018 by Lizzie Harper

In order to complete a decent botanical illustration, you need to understand about lights and darks, and be able to see where your shadows fall.  One of the excersizes I recntly got my flower painting workshop to try was to complete a detailed pencil study of a relatively simple leaf, in this case the leaf of a runner bean.

Working on cartridge paper, with a soft eraser and a sharp pencil (I love mechanical pencils like the Pentel P205 , and use HB and H leads), I started out by plotting the outline of the leaf shape onto the page.

Step 1: Basic rough outline


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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 388

Woodpecker Skull Biomechanics: Natural History Illustration

Story posted: 16. March 2018 by Lizzie Harper

Sometimes I get asked to complete natural history illustrations on topics that are as fascinating as they are random.

Last week, Bloomsbury Publishers got in touch to ask me to do a diagram for one of the books in their “Spotlight” series of natural history titles , this book will be all about woodpeckers.  (I've done diagrams for other titles in the series including "Spotlight: Robin" and "Spotlight: Bumblebee").

This specific illustration was to be showing how a structure called a hyoid helps support the woodpecker tongue, and also has a vital role in cushioning the…

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Category: Zoology Terms and Anatomy    Comments: 0    Viewed: 294

An Eye For Nature: Lizzie Harper's Exhibition of Watercolours

Story posted: 15. March 2018 by Lizzie Harper

Lizzie will be holding an open envening on

Tuesday 29th May at  Shepherd's , 6.30-9pm

She'll have her sketchbooks and portfolio on show, and will be chatting and selling prints, greetings cards, and a wide selection of unframed original drawings and paintings; along with the framed work in the exhibition.

Please come along!


Lizzie's watercolours of wild flowers and animals will be on exhibition at Shepherd's Ice-cream Parlour in Hay on Wye from

April 27th - July 11th 2018


Browfield landscape, on show at the exhibition


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Step by step Botanical illustration of a Sliced orange

Story posted: 2. March 2018 by Lizzie Harper

In the middle of winter it can be hard for a botanical illustrator to find good subjects to paint; so for my Monday Botanical illustration drop-in class in Hay on Wye I chose to work on a sliced orange as a subject.  The process of breaking down a painting into steps can be tricky; what surprised me most about this subject was how much harder it turned out to be than I’d anticipated!

A good thing about choosing an orange as a subject is that in most places you can get your hands on one easily, and no matter what the season.

(I do need to offer a minor apology, I took the…

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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 429

Blooms & Bees: Illustrating a Honey Label

Story posted: 16. February 2018 by Lizzie Harper

I love it when I'm asked to produce botancial illustrations and natural history paitings for packaging, it's a different side to what I do and I find the change refreshign and challenging.

Sleeping Bear Honey Farm in the USA have commissioned me before to produce artwork for their honey labels, botanical illustrations of the Orange blossom and of the Tupelo (click here for a blog on the steps involved in producing these).  This time they wanted something a little different, a landscape.

Sweet orange Citrus sinensis artwork for another Sleeping Bear honey label…

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Category: Zoological step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 389

Exhibitions: A step by step guide

Story posted: 2. February 2018 by Lizzie Harper

Every once in a while I get around to putting on an exhibition of my illustrations.  In many ways I'm incredibly fortunate, as all I need to do is to flick through the past year or two of botanical illustrations and natural history paintings and decide which ones might look good framed up, or might be appealing enough to sell.  It's a good opportunity to see what work I've done, and to get some of it out of the attic!

There are many things to sort out when arranging an exhibition, so I thought I'd put together a brief step by step guide.


First up, even…

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Category: Illustration techniques    Comments: 0    Viewed: 498

Step by Step Botanical illustration of Tupelo & Sweet orange

Story posted: 19. January 2018 by Lizzie Harper

A recent natural history illustration commission was to complete two botanical illustrations for labels on jars of honey.  The plants in question were Sweet orange Citrus sinensis and Tupelo Nyssa ogeche .

Neither plant grows wild here in the UK, and there was quite a tight deadline so I needed to work from other illustrations and photos.  For more on how I go about doing this, please check out my blog .

First step is to complete the pencil roughs.  I worked with a mechanical P205 Pentel pencil , and I’m currently working on Stonehenge Aqua Hot Press watercolour paper…

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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 933

Teaching Botanical Illustration at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens - Autumn

Story posted: 2. January 2018 by Lizzie Harper

In the autumn I was lucky enough to do two day’s teaching at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens teaching a botanical illustration course with a focus on drawing autumn fruits, berries, and leaves,  to a class of twelve adults who varied from quite experienced to complete beginners.  The first day we looked at leaves, and collected a wonderful assortment from the gardens.

Table of autumn leaves collected from the Botanic gardens

We looked at colour as well as shape, veins, margins, and how the light falls on the surfaces of the leaf blades.  The students did some…

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Category: Painting workshops    Comments: 0    Viewed: 179

Step by step botanical illustration of a Holly leaf

Story posted: 15. December 2017 by Lizzie Harper

As it's Christmas time, I thought it might be a nice idea to do a seasonal step by step blog.  Holly leaves are one of the few winter subjects that look just as good in the middle of winter as in summertime, and since they're pretty easy to come by and defiantly seasonal, I chose to work with the holly Ilex aquifolium .

I decided to work up one single leaf, and found it remarkably tricky!  However, here's my best attempt at painting a leaf and at breaking it down into easy to follow steps.  (If you can find a sprig with a red berry on, then you're all set to make a…

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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 1053

Botanical Illustration step by step: Painting Bloom on a Fruit with Watercolour

Story posted: 30. November 2017 by Lizzie Harper

In this blog, I’ll go through the steps involved in creating a life like botanical illustration of a fruit with a “bloom” or cloudiness on its skin, such as these Sloes ( Prunus spinosa ).

These feature on a series of stamps completed for Jersey Post in their Fruit and Berries issue , out now.

Other fruit which have this distinctive blue-ish bloom on their skin include plums and grapes.  Sloes differ from these in having a far blacker underlying colour, which you can see if you rub off the bloom on a berry.

It’s surprisingly easy to get the bloom…

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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 975

Hereford Art Week & Upcoming Winter Hereford Open Studios (Nov 25th/26th)

Story posted: 17. November 2017 by Lizzie Harper

Back in September, I took part in Hereford Art Week for the first time.

Hereford Art Week logo

Going under the name of Beautiful Botanicals , Lea Gregory (another botanical illustrator) and I set up in her gorgeous hill-top studio, and opened our doors to whoever chose to visit.

Busy working desk during Hereford Art week

We decided to have a bit of everything on show, so her flower art prints were on the walls alongside my original framed watercolours.

Lea Gregory: Framed prints and greetings cards on sale

Lea does a good line in…

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Category: News of current projects    Comments: 0    Viewed: 336

Natural history illustration of Gull anatomy

Story posted: 5. November 2017 by Lizzie Harper

Sometimes commissions for natural history illustration or botanical illustration can be really straight-forward and simple.  I recently had a job for Bloomsbury Publishing which fell into this category.

Bloomsbury needed a few very simple illustrations for their upcoming publication, “Gulls of the World” by Klaus Olsen.

These were to be pen and ink line drawings for anatomical reference, they’ll be reproduced in black and white, and the art editor provided me with lots of reference to work from.

As with all job, its vital not to infringe anyone’s copyright by making…

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Category: News of current projects    Comments: 0    Viewed: 472



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