Natural History Illustrator Out & About: Crickhowell Art Trail

Story posted: Friday, 12. June 2015 by Lizzie Harper

It's been a busy few weeks for a natural history illustrator and botanical artist; Hay Festival, demonstrating at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales (more of which next week), and illustrating and meeting the public during Crickhowell Art Trail.

Bookish, a wonderful independent book shop in Crickhowell, asked me to be their artist in residence over the bank holiday weekend, when this bustling and delicious little town is crammed with visitors on the trail of art.

Botanical illustration natural history illustration Lizzie Harper Bookish Crickhowell Art week

My natural history illustrations in the window of Bookish, Crickhowell

The reason why Bookish invited me to take part in the Crickhowell Open Studios event is because one of their members of staff is Adele Nozedar, reknowowned forager and author of both "The Hedgerow handbook" and "The Garden forager"; books which I've illustrated with my sketchbook botanical illustrations.  Not only would it tie in with the shop, but it could help promote sales of the book, too.  Everyone's a winner!

Lizzie Harper botanical illustrator natural history illustrator Crickhowell open studios at Bookish 2015

Mounted, framed, & loose pages of my botanical sketches in the window of Bookish, Crickhowell

The Crickhowell art trail/Open studios runs over the May bank holiday weekend and this year took in 29 venues and featured the work of over 200 artists.  Printmakers, sculptors, furniture makers, fine artists, and illustrators all are around, showing and selling their work, and discussing what they do with the public.

I was keen to get people involved, not only talk to them, so provided art materials so anyone who fancied it could have a go at botanical illustration.

Botanical illustration natural history illustration Lizzie Harper Bookish Crickhowell Art week

Spare watercolour box and some tools of the trade in the window of Bookish, along with sketchbook study of Himalyan balsam (see last week's blog for more on this plant).

Interestingly, the only people who take the opportunity are children, and they seem to love to have the chance to work with really good quality equipment (Winsor and Newton paints and brushes, Fabriano hot press paper) with a ittle bit of input from me.

Crickhowell art trail clizzie harper botanical illustrator children drawing in Bookish

Two children painting a dahlia from life in Bookish, Crickhowell

There was a steady stream of fascinating visitors and topics as diverse as saw mills, dryads, and insect egg cases were covered.  Plenty were generous enough to buy my work and greetings cards, which is always a wonderful feeling.  A few came for repeat visits, to see how I was progressing with my dahlia illustration (answer: very slowly); and I got to hear about all the other wonderful things that were going on over the weekend.

Botanical illustration natural history illustration Lizzie Harper Bookish Crickhowell Art week

This study of a geranium was done by an 10 year old from a potted plant.  Not bad, eh?

It's always exhausting demonstrating, but it's a total luxury to meet people who say complimentary things about your work - what other profession gets to hear positive feedback regularly from total strangers?  I also find talking about what I do helps me consolidate and reflect on the processes involved. Describing the techniques I use neccessitates them being put into clear words, again, this is a very useful excersize.  It provides focus.

Lizzie Harper natural history and botanical illustrator promotional information for Crickhowell art trail 2015 at Bookish

Promotional illustrations used by CRIC to publicise my work during Crickhowell open studios

Being at Bookish, with streams of visitors, the chance to promote The Garden Forager and to sell work, getting to watch the magic of children tackling drawing from life, being given cups of tea and having fascinating chats with both members of the public and the lovely people who work there was a real treat.  Who knew that earning a living could be so thoroughly enjoyable?

Next year, though, maybe I'll be doing the Art Trail rather than demonstrating, I'd love to know who else was out there and what they were creating!


On another topic entirely, I'm afraid I've had to turn off the "comments" button on my blogs due to spamming.  If you would like to give any comments or feedback, please do so on my Facebook page or Twitter account or email me at  Many many thanks; and apologies.

Category:  Scientific Illustrator out and about   |   Comments:  0   |   Viewed:  1542

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