Have you ever marveled at botanical illustrations and dreamed of someday adorning your gardening journal with your own illustrations? Back in 1991 I had such a thought. Several of the books in my collection are there merely because of their detailed watercolor or pen and ink illustrations. How artists capture the essence and fine details of the myriad of plants in the natural world amazes me. So when Botanical Illustration in Watercolor (Practical Art Books) showed up as a book club selection I grabbed it.
Eleanore B. Wunderlich is a marvelous illustrator and does a fine job of leading you through the steps in creating a botanical illustration. From preliminary sketches to outline shapes to color selection, washes and how to add highlights and detail she gives you step by step instruction with tips and hints. You will learn how to capture the shine on cherries and strawberries. How to draw bulbs and fruits. How to handle the various petal details and technical aspects like how to transfer your drawing to watercolor paper.
Since the book first came out, much has changed in the world of illustration. My pencils and watercolors have been replaced by a Wacom and Photoshop. The book, however, remains relevant. It is less the technique that you strive to learn, but more the style. And developing one’s own style is where you hope you wind up. Plus even if you never put pencil to paper, the book is still lovely. Page after page of illustrations beautiful enough to frame. Also, learning to draw flowers really makes you see them better. And seeing them better helps greatly when it comes to identification.
If, however, you wish to only marvel at the botanical illustrations of others you may want to check out Botanicus, a web-based encyclopedia of digitized historic botanical literature from the Missouri Botanical Garden Library. The library has been digitizing its collection of beautifully illustrated rare books since 1995 and all images are available for download and free to use under a Creative Commons license. Just think of all the crafty home decor projects that can lead to.
Who should you gift this book to? Those who are artistic in nature or have an appreciation of botanical illustration.