Posted tagged ‘botanical art’

New Botanical Drawing and Painting Books and Sketchbooks

May 31, 2017

Botanical Drawing using Graphite and Coloured Pencils by Sue Vize which has a lovely mix of graphite and coloured pencil, one of my favourite approaches to botanicals.

The other one uses support boards for painting which is not something I’m interested in but he has some useful information on glazing and mixing with gouache. Botanical Painting with Gouache: a step-by-step guide by Simon Williams.


I am still having trouble with my shoulder which makes it painful to draw but I am following a vegan eating plan and hoping that will promote healing. To dispel discouragement because I haven’t been able to work in my large Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook for the pretend trip to Chile, I ordered two smaller Stillman & Birn sketchbooks with the same heavier weight of paper for everyday sketching.

I got the wire bound 7 x 7-inch Beta paper which is slightly rougher than the Zeta paper but not as rough apparently as cold-press watercolour. Then I decided to try a softcover Zeta sketchbook in a smaller 8 x 10-inch size than the hardcover I have.


I really like these heavier weights of paper that Stillman & Birn offer. Curry’s in Canada has discontinued carrying these sketchbooks and local shops won’t carry them because of the price, but I mail ordered mine from Aboveground Art in Toronto, who have been very good to buy Faber-Castell supplies from, which I also find hard to hunt up.

Here’s to healing and feeling better!




If Only They Designed Fountain Pens Like This

April 5, 2015

Since I was much younger I’ve fancied a fountain pen with floral designs. I thought for sure that with all the Chinese manufacturers of these pens selling wares in North America, that there would be some nice florals like chrysanthemums for sale but it wasn’t the case.

Perhaps chintz florals are horribly out of style? Maybe so, but botanical and scientific illustrations are not. I could only find two examples online and one of them was out of stock and the other one was too expensive.

So I did some mock-ups in Photoshop.


And then I thought some scientific illustrations on the caps might be nice, all colour-coordinated with a pattern on the barrel.


It wouldn’t take much to design something more masculine with different patterns and schematics or architectural drawings on the caps instead of florals.

I don’t imagine printing these on the barrels and caps of fountain pens would be any more expensive that printing a marble pattern for example.

I would like to see designs like this in pens that do not cost $300. There were some beautiful Maki-e designs for sale and they were hand painted and thus expensive, but what’s the matter with printing nice designs like this on a regular, every day pen that costs $20 to $30?

Patterns like this NEVER go out of style. I’m quite sure men would enjoy a bit of zip in a pen as well. Marble patterns, gold nibs or highlights, and special editions of rainbow and metallic colours are unimaginative. We need colour and pattern and science and art!!

Three of the patterns I used on barrels were created in Gliftex, the most wonderful computer software, and one I’ve used extensively for 15 years. (Second from left on top image; second from left and last pen on bottom image.) Pen companies could use that program to make beautiful designs for embellishment.

I guess it’s easier to print a lime green or metallic orange pen and call it “special edition.” How many rainbow-coloured pens by the same manufacturer can one person buy? Look at the whole world of creativity and pattern that pen manufacturers can’t be bothered with. Too expensive?

Nope, I’m not buying it.

The next day I decided to do up a couple more, this time with maps and more modern floral pops.


All the patterns on the barrels of these pens were created in Gliftex. These patterns are sharp, sharp, sharp. I’ve never understood why professional graphics people don’t use that program. There is a professional version.

Yummy, I like the last one this way…



Botanical Ceramics Lead to Books of Course!

February 13, 2014

While browsing for photos to use as digital jigsaws I came across the fantastic art of Laura Zindel on ceramics and textiles. She draws insects, birds, and botanical art in black and white and transfers them to ceramics and dinnerware. I LOVE things like this.

Here are a couple of screen shots of a few items from her Moths and Botanical galleries.



One of my sisters has collected Portmeirion in the Botanic Garden pattern for years.


I find it a bit busy for my taste but I do have a Portmeirion dinner plate from their Pomona series that depicts a lovely peach. I have this on my kitchen wall and it’s one of my favourite things.


Nothing says “Joy!” like ceramics with botanical art on them. However, Laura Zindel’s work is really my style, as I love black and white art. She lives and works in Vermont, but I assume you can buy her ceramics in Canada in specialty shops so I’ll keep an eye out for something small.

I see this stuff and I want to draw black and white insects and flowers. It’s a dream of mine, and I don’t know why I keep deferring it. I get a little antsy with too much detail, as well as having problems with pain, but perhaps if I drew something over a period of weeks rather than days, the detail would be easier to manage?

After a browse at, three books decided to further my experience in life and ship to my house.

I have had Flowers by Margaret Eggleton on my wish list for some time. The thing with books is that you don’t get anywhere unless you actually draw yourself. On days when I have trouble with pain I love to sit and read books like this though. I don’t know if it’s a skewy perception or not but the British seem to have a greater appreciation of black and white artwork, and this artist is British.


I have one of the previous books by the people with the Eden Project called Botanical Illustration with the Eden Project and it is very good. It’s one of my favourite book covers for doing digital jigsaws, and isn’t that a recommendation?

I noticed that they have another book in the series called Natural History Painting with the Eden Project so I bought that. The last time I tried to draw a skull of a bullfrog I got a bit bogged down with colour choice and this has some information on drawing and colouring bones, as well as rocks, feathers, whatever bits and pieces you might find. It seems to be scarce so will probably hold up my free shipping for the other books I bought.


Lastly, I bought Botanical Drawing in Color by Wendy Hollender who does nice work and apparently is a good teacher. One review I read of this says she has quite a bit of information on graphite, so it really isn’t just colour.


A couple of books I bought a year or two ago on botanical drawing used solvents with coloured pencil. Yuck, if there is anything I dislike more than burnishing, it’s using solvents with coloured pencil. The resulting work often looks like velvet paintings. I don’t see the point of using coloured pencil if you’re going to use solvents to melt the wax and make it blend like watercolour. I often use watercolour paint with coloured pencils and I like that look, but solvents…I don’t like the look of it.

These books have a different approach, which is more classic, and thus more interesting to me. So we’ll see how it goes. I’d like to do a bit of botanical and natural history drawing in my Chilean journal.



Switcharoo Book Meets Canon van der Paele

November 17, 2013

Ah yes, the glory of cancelling purchases at Amazon: The book I had pre-ordered on drawing insects seems to be nowhere, even at the publisher’s site, so I cancelled it. I was reading reviews of another book by that publisher and looking at the artist’s own web site, and I decided it was not going to be good for me; I’m very picky about art books.

I then ordered two music CDs for the spouse for Christmas and while doing that I decided on another art book. This one is most definitely up to standards of excellence and I own another book by the author Sarah Simblet which is breathtaking in text and images, plus the examples of pages from this book Botany for the Artist convinced me to buy it.


I am doing several digital jigsaws of paintings from the art history course I am viewing on DVD, and I have found all kinds of small details I missed looking at the paintings. This one is Madonna of the Canon van der Paele by the always mysterious Jan van Eyck, a rip-roaring journey through subtle symbolism. (Click to enlarge)


I have one commitment left to buy some doll shoes from a lady in the States. She was kind enough to wait until I had the money near the end of November, so that’s my Christmas money spent.

Books reverberate with continual learning and pleasure. Doll shoes may not, but they’re red, the Madonna understands the rich glory of red in life.


Santa Wrestles with the Allure of Cards

September 12, 2012

I have been waiting for some cards published by the always excellent Dorling Kindersley on snakes. The Boy Scouts of America have a few card decks through DK Publishing with things like first aid, knots, trees, stars, the sort of thing you might use while camping or exploring the back yard.

In June of this year they came out with Boy Scouts of America’s Deck of Snakes. I bought the snake one today. It is wicked of me to spend $9 but how can anyone resist the “Bonus: Snake War Game!” enticement?

The upcoming deck is Spiders & Other Creepy Crawlers. If the snake one is good Santa might want me to have the spidey deck at a later date. Santa likes animals and the natural world. There is apparently a war game attached to this one too. I assume they mean the card game War and not an actual war with commando Orb Weaving Spiders dashing about in yellow coats infiltrating the enemy camp of Fishing Spiders and their minion army of Scutigera coleoptrata.

Santa is also very fond of botanical prints and wall charts. There is a new book out called The Art of Instruction:

NO, Santa doesn’t want the bloody book, Santa wants the set of 100 postcards that Chronicle Books is publishing in October.

Look at these beauties and tell me you wouldn’t want a postcard featuring a vintage educational wall chart about herrings:

Or this one about the Swiss Moss Fern:

You cannot go wrong placing a pre-order for this.

I always do what Santa does; thus am I on the cutting edge of card collection.

Antique Engravings Necklace

May 26, 2009

This is the necklace and earrings set I made when I was inspired by the Antique Engravings Playing Cards I made in the Quick Cards software a few weeks ago, as described in this post


The handmade beads have botanical engravings on them mixed with black crystal bicones, snowflake obsidian, Picasso stone, matte black glass beads and some funky looking lampwork beads. The handmade beads take me about 24 hours to make as I use paint and four coats of varnish on them for hardness and UV light protection.

This feels wonderfully elegant on, nice and summery for wearing with a white blouse or t-shirt or wearing with a sundress. Mmmm, if this is what I get from playing cards, I want some more.