What is Botanical Art?
Botanical art is a visual description of a plant that is both scientifically accurate and aesthetically pleasing. The botanical artist must capture the essence of the plant, describing in detail how it looks, feels and grows, in a way that is both compelling and informative to the viewer.
Botanical art covers a wide spectrum of styles, from scientific illustration to floral art, all taking inspiration from the natural world.
Scientific illustration takes an objective approach, with little room for personal interpretation.
Floral art has a subjective approach, evoked by the artist’s emotional response to the natural world.
In this course we will be focusing on botanical art which sits somewhere between the two.
“Nature is the best and the shortest route towards knowledge”
Inscribed on the wall of a temple in Luxor
Throughout history, botanical art has played an important role in documenting and recording the natural world. It has been used to create herbals, illustrate scientific texts, document new discoveries, and render in exquisite detail collections of plants from around the world.
In the twentieth century, interest in botanical art declined, due partly to the emergence of photography and the advent of new tastes in art. However, in the past thirty years, there has been a resurgence of interest, and botanical art is currently undergoing a renaissance.
It still retains a significant role in science, illustrating new and endangered species and documenting the changes occurring in our ecosystems.
It is also evolving as a new art form. Botanical artists are respected for their attention to detail, their technical skills and mastery of their chosen medium. Many are pushing the traditional boundaries with new approaches to composition, materials and subject matter.
Today botanical art is not just about creating a scientific record. We have become more subjective in our approach, using botanical art to express our appreciation for the beautiful colours, shapes and textures found in the natural world.
The first step to becoming a botanical artist is to define what it is about botanical art that you admire.
We all love nature, but if art is a language, what is it that we want to say?
Please write a short paragraph about what inspires you to paint botanical art:
What motivates you, what captures your interest, what do you enjoy about painting?
Where on the spectrum between botanical illustration and floral art do you see yourself?
Which botanical artist or artists (if any) do you admire?
This is my answer-
I like botanical art because it creates an intimate connection with the natural world. I am drawn to meadows and woods, areas that are a little wild and untamed. Even a roadside verge is an area of wonder. I like the plants that people don’t always notice- wildflowers and lichens, the quiet things in nature. Botanical art is a way of showcasing their beauty and importance, elevating their status.
My favourite botanical artist is Ferdinand Bauer (1760-1826). Not only was he a superb draftsman, but he was a master colorist, devising a completely innovative technique of recording colour.