News Stories in category: News of current projects

Beautiful Bryophytes: Botanical illustrations of moss

Story posted: 2. February 2017 by Lizzie Harper

I've been working on lots of botanical illustrations for the Field Studies Council recently, and a lot of the plants on the list of heathland species are bryophytes, beautiful mosses.

I'm lucky enough to have had an enourmous amount of help assembling species to work with (see my blog ) and have been working on the painted finals over the past few weeks.



Moss specimens in storage

Below is a gallery of some fo the moss illustrations I've completed so far for this job.  This blog is more of a "what I've been up to" posting than a mossy step by step , or…

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Natural History Illustration of a new Damselfly species

Story posted: 6. January 2017 by Lizzie Harper

One of the more exciting recent natural history illustration commissions I’ve had is to complete a Sciart watercolour of a newly discovered species of damselfly.

The insect in question is the Sarep sprite, Pseudoagrion sarepi .  As with all damselflies, it lives in and near fresh water  and was named after the SAREP expedition to Eastern Angola.  Although similar to a few other species it is indeed a distinct new species, one of 60 new Odonata discovered recently in Africa (for more on this amazing set of new species please read the report from Odonatologica ).

There was…

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Botanical Illustrations of Moss: Bryophyte reference and pencil roughs

Story posted: 21. October 2016 by Lizzie Harper

Sometimes a botanical illustration commission appears that calls for something totally new – in all my days of natural history illustration, I’d never been asked to do a whole lot of mosses before.

The closest I’ve been was illustrating two mosses for the FSC Churchyard Plants leaflet



Moss: Grimmia pulvinata and Tortula muralis

The commission came from the Field Studies Council’s publications department who I’ve worked with before (see my blogs on Churchyard plants and edible plants ).

When confronted with a list of 15 bryophyte species, the…

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Natural History Illustration: A Landscape view of a wildlife garden

Story posted: 23. September 2016 by Lizzie Harper

A recent natural history illustration job for the North Yorkshire Dales National Park involved painting two large landscapes for use on a desk at Malham Cove visitor centre .  The first landscape was of Malham Cove , the second was of birds commonly seen in the garden at the visitor centre.

As always, the first step is to get a pencil rough drawn up and sent off to the client for feedback.



Malham Visitor centre annotated pancil rough

I needed to add a few flowers to the turf, and then we were good to get going on the painting.

As with the Malham Cove…

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Natural History Illustration: Landscapes, a map, and an otter

Story posted: 9. September 2016 by Lizzie Harper

Recently my natural history illustrations and botanical illustrations have been used for an interpretation board for the Combe Mill visitor centre and nature reserve in Oxfordshire.

It was a pleasure to work with the excellent graphic and museum designer Linda Francis (who'se also a friend); this means I don't have to worry about laying out my illustrations, but can conentrate on doing the illustrations themselves.

There were a wide range of illustratioms required for this job, so I began by focussing on the straightforward natural history ones - namely a treecreeper …

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Natural History Landscape Illustration: Malham Cove

Story posted: 8. July 2016 by Lizzie Harper

A natural history illustration job I've been working on recently is two large landscapes for the North Yorkshire Dales National Park. These are to go on a desk in their visitor centre in Malham .  Each landscape focuses on bird species found in two different habitats; one of the landscapes is a view from the desk, into their wildlife garden.  The other is a view of Malham Cove.

Although I am able to paint landscapes it's not something I ever feel confident or complacent about, and illustrating the dramatic cliffs at Malham were no exception.

The first step was to get a…

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Colouring in for Mindfulness: Winter time Illustrations for Harper Collins

Story posted: 22. April 2016 by Lizzie Harper

Natural history and botanical illustrators get asked to do various illustration jobs which aren’t directly related to sciart and natural science illustration.  These are often varied, different, and fun as they call for a very different set of skills than my regular wildlife and plant illustration commissions.

A recent job to fall into this category was to illustrate  “Art for Mindfullness: Winter Wonderland” an adult colouring in book for HarperCollins.  There were to be sixty illustrations on a wintery theme.



Cover of "Art for Mindfulness: Winter Wonderland" by…

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Botanical Illustrations for Foraging for Edible Plants Chart: Working with Field Studies Council

Story posted: 8. April 2016 by Lizzie Harper

I've recently been working on natural history illustrations for The Field Studies Councils publications department, in this case for a fold out chart of edible British plants which has only just come out.  I'm delighted with the result, they've used my illustrations beautifully and the way the information is included is innovative and clear.



Despite it being November when I began the job, and January when it was completed; I was able to get my hands on lots of the plants needing to be drawn because of the mild winter.  Infact, the BSBI Plant HUnt 2016 results show…

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Natural History Garden Illustrations for National Geographic books

Story posted: 22. January 2016 by Lizzie Harper

I was recently excited to get a commission in from National Geographic Books in the US.  They needed a series of full-colour garden plans; showing plants, and possible planting schemes for wildlife gardens.  They will be used in a book promoting wildlife gardening, “Birds, Bees, & Butterflies”.

One plan would show a garden designed to encourage birds, one designed to tempt bees, and the third aimed to be a haven for butterflies.  Not only did each garden have about 8 plants to include, but each one needed to include some symbol or prop to show what animals were being lured…

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Botanical illustration of the Exploding Cucumber, Sketchbook style

Story posted: 27. November 2015 by Lizzie Harper

As a freelance natural history illustrator, I love the random nature of my commissions, and a recent request for some botanical sketchbook-style illustrations of the exploding cucumber Cyclanthera explodens was no exception.

The request comes from a client working in the world of botanical cocktail research, so I was intrigued before I’d lifted a pencil.

I had never heard of this plant before, and as I researched it online I became more and more intrigued.  Just have a look at this youtube clip of the seed dehiscence to see why!

First up was to gather botanical…

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When Natural History Illustration gets painful: A Botanical Illustrator tests Nettle sting

Story posted: 31. October 2015 by Lizzie Harper

The other week, I went on a foraging expedition with Adele Nozedar who wrote The Hedgerow Handbook and The Garden Forager (both of which I did the botanical sketches for).  She mentioned that plantain is better for treating nettle stings than the traditional favourite, dock.



Ribwort plantain Plantago lanceolata

This led to a lively discussion on Twitter where other possible "cures" for nettle stings were offered.

The traditional cure, familiar to young and old, is to rub dock on the sting.



Broad leaved Dock Rumex obtusifolius (Pencil…

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Natural History Illustration: The Glanwye Fishery

Story posted: 25. September 2015 by Lizzie Harper

I've recently completed a lovely natural history illustration job; doing a series of scientific illustrations and botanical illustrations to accompnay a map of the fishing sites on a stretch of the river Wye.

This private commission focused on a stretch of the Wye called The Glanwye Fishery where keen anglers have caught numerous Atlantic salmon and other fish.  It's run by a group of fishermen who support (and some of whom are members of) the Wye and Usk Foundation , and was a wonderful job to work on.

Initially I was shown the existing map of the fishing sites on the…

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Natural History Illustration: A series of Greetings cards

Story posted: 28. August 2015 by Lizzie Harper

Recently I was comissioned to do a series of natural history illustrations, and botanical illustrations to be used on greetings cards for Gallery One , a company based in Dubai.  After some discussion, seven animals and plants found in the United Arab Emirates were agreed on, and I got to work.

Since the species were based so far from my home in the UK, I had to rely heavily on photo reference, which is always tricky as you need to ensure accuracy of all your sources, and be absolutely certain you're not just copying someone else's photographs (which is copyright infringment…

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Natural History Illustration: Staging an Exhibition of Botanical Illustrations

Story posted: 8. May 2015 by Lizzie Harper

With mine and Sarah Putt’s shared exhibition launching tomorrow, I thought today’s blog could be a check list of what’s involved when you put on a show.

Almost all the work I'm showing is from " The Garden Forager " by Adele Nozedar; Sarah's work includes oils of masked portraits and glowing flowers.



Geraniums Botanical Plate by Lizzie Harper

Venue

Decide where you want to hang your exhibition.  I’ve chosen a busy shop in my home-town; The Old Electric .   It sells antiques and industrial furniture, classy welsh woollens, and vintage clothes.  It also…

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Botanical Illustration: Churchyard plants and natural history: Higher plants

Story posted: 13. February 2015 by Lizzie Harper

I've recently been working on natural history illustrations for The Field Studies Councils publications department, in this case for a fold out chart of plants commonly found in British graveyards.  Last week I took a look at some of the  lower plants we can expect to find in our local churchyard ; this week it's the turn of the higher plants.

There are tons of these, and lots are incredibly b eautiful and gaudy.  Amongst these is the Meadow Cranesbill, one of my favourite British flowers, because of its violent purple colour.



Meadow Cranesbill Geranium pratense…

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