Botanical Illustration

David Lewry

After achieving A levels in Art and Art History at school, David was accepted at St Martins School of Art in London. As a mature student he completed a First Class Honours degree in Art and Humanities with the Open University and subsequently received a Diploma in Botanical Illustration under the tutelage of renowned Botanical Artist Rosie Martin at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

David started his talk by explaining the diference between flower painting and botannical illustration. The former are primarily focussed on the aesthetics rather than accuracy. In botanical illustration , scientific accuracy is the prime requirement, with sufficient detail presented in order to differentiate between different species of the same plant family. It is possible with botanical illustrations to provide more detail than may be possible by photography. For example outlines of specific parts may be enhanced to distinguish adjacent elements which are difficult to see in a photograph; also the composition of the study can be changed to display features together which do not occurr at the same time in nature.

David gave a most interesting talk about some of the most famous botanical illustrators and showed projected slides of some of their work.

Because of their detailed nature, botanical illstrations can be extrememly time consuming to produce: 50 - 100 hours to produce a single page drawing being not uncommon mainly due to the multiple layering techniques used. Traditionally botanical illustrations have used watercolours but nowadays coloured pencils are becoming more widely used. This is because of the availablity of new pencils in wider ranges of colours and with more stable performance so that 25 year life or achiving quality is attainable. The results obtained with coloured pencils can be indistinguishable from traditional water colour.

Some of David's colour pencils used for the demonstration

For the demonstration David used a video camera mounted vertically above his work which was projected onto a screen behind him

A close up of David at work - note the handy pencil sharpener!

Close up of a single leaf - this used five different green pencils

One of David's illustrations from his web site

You can see more of David's work in the portfolio section of his website.