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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: 188

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: 310

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: 128

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: 206

Botanical Illustration Comparing Hot Press Watercolour Papers part 3

Story posted: 20. October 2017 by Lizzie Harper

As a natural history illustrator and someone who does plenty of botanical illustration, it’s been easy to get embroiled in the quest for the perfect hot press watercolour paper to work on.

Like many other botanical illustrators, I used to work on Fabriano Artistico or Classico; sadly recent manufacturing changes mean this paper is no longer ideal.  The quest is on for an alternative, and this will be my third blog (also available as a youtube video with time-lapse footage and discussion on each paper's merits) trialling possible replacements (please see my first and…

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Category: Illustration techniques    Comments: 0    Viewed: 602

Botanical Illustration step by step: Painting a Blackberry Watercolour

Story posted: 4. October 2017 by Lizzie Harper

I love doing botanical illustrations of blackberries, so I was thrilled when Jersey Post commissioned an illustration of the Jersey Bramble Rubus caesarius as one of the postage stamps on their “Fruits and Berries” issue .  I thought I’d break down the steps involved in painting a ripe juicy blackberry in watercolour, and  write a step by step blog.

All illustrations in this blog are copyright Jersey Post (www.jerseystamps.com) 2017 and must nbot be reproduced without the express permission of Jersey Post.

First, make sure your drawing of the blackberry is…

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Category: Botanical Illustration step by step    Comments: 0    Viewed: 824

Botanical Illustrations of Fruit for Jersey Post

Story posted: 22. September 2017 by Lizzie Harper

I love doing botanical illustrations of fruit, so when Jersey Post commissioned a series of "Fruits and Berries" for a postage stamp issue I was delighted.

The fruits and berries that needed illustrating were the Dewberry Rubus caesius , the Elderberry Sambucus nigra , the Wild strawberry Fragaria vesca , the Jersey bramble Rubus caesarius , Sloes Prunus spinosa , and Black bryony Dioscorea communis .

All the botanical illustrations in this blog are copyright Jersey Post (www.Jerseystamps.com) 2017, and must not be reproduced without their express permission.…

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Category: News of current projects    Comments: 0    Viewed: 365

Botanical illustration: Sedges Workshop

Story posted: 8. September 2017 by Lizzie Harper

In my career as a botanical illustrator, I sometimes come across whole groups of plants or animals that I know very little about.  The sedges fall into this category, a fact which became increasingly clear to me as I completed a whole swathe of these plants for the Field Studies Council’s leaflets .

I managed to complete the illustrations, although I found it tricky, but I decided then and there to back up this initial trial by fire by doing my best to learn a bit about these pretty plants.



Glaucous sedge Carex flacca

Luckily, FSC has lots of diverse and…

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Category: Scientific Illustrator out and about    Comments: 0    Viewed: 423

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: 552

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: 356

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: 308

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: 567

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: 388

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: 873

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: 516

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