Many of you are gardeners and are probably familiar with Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon. In his book, Capon turns a lot of the concepts and terminology from botany into easily digestible bits of information. What Capon did for gardeners, Sarah Simblet has done for artists. Botany for the Artist is a wonderful blend of general botany, botanical art history, and Art 101.
Imagine opening a book and immediately going back to the 5th century, a time when text was valued more than illustrations and when it was common for artists to work without ever looking at live plant specimens. Then journey ahead to the 14th century to learn when artists began to draw from nature. Continue on to learn about over-zealous plant collectors, personal drawing books, plant exploration, and the use of plants as a visual metaphor for life.
Now imagine entering a conversation with Sarah herself, a respected author and instructor at the National Gallery in London and the Ruskin School of Drawing at the University of Oxford. Simblet transitions readers from merely reading about botanical art to doing botanical art in her section about drawing plants. Here Simblet presents a range of materials artists may want to keep in their field bag and provides information about watercolor paper, pencils, erasers, dip pens, ink, paint, and brushes. She then demonstrates how to make lines and marks and how to mix colors using red, yellow, and blue paint. Simblet’s comments about how she creates preparatory drawings and finished drawings provides great insight into what readers will discover beyond this section — a lavishly illustrated introduction to botany. Elegant and graceful, Simblet’s illustrations depict movement, energy, and life. So much so, they really can’t be called “plant portraits.” Simblet’s plants are living and breathing and so full of form, they should make crunching sounds when the book is closed.
In her illustrated guide to plants, Simblet discusses plant diversity and the morphology and function of roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, cones, and seeds. Dispersed among text about how roots work, leaf structure, pollination, and seed dispersal, are lessons in art history and botanical illustration.
Simblet’s Masterclass feature is like touring a museum with your own personal tour guide. In each section, Simblet selects one painting and provides information about the feature artist and their work. Featured artists include: Nikolaus Von Jacquin, Albrech Durer, Girolamo Pini, Kano Yukinobu, John Miller, Leonardo da Vinci, John Ruskin, Ferdinand Bauer, Arthur Harry Church, Mali Moir, Giovanna Garzoni, Mark Catesby, and Maria Sibylla Merian.
In her Drawing Class and Study sections, Simblet teaches artists how to observe and capture the morphological features of plants and how to relate each feature to each other. There are sixteen Drawing Class sections in the book and these sections address too many topics to list here.
Would you like to experience a little bit of what there is to learn in this wonderful new book? If so, read about the special event below.
Ask The Artist Goes Live!
On Thursday May 27, 2010 at 12:00 p.m. PST, ArtPlantae will host a one-hour webinar with the very gracious Sarah Simblet. Sarah is preparing a special presentation for you and will answer your questions live from the UK. All participants will receive a copy of Botany for the Artist upon registering. The cost of this special author event is $40 (the cost of the book), plus shipping.
Registration closes Monday May 24, 2010.
Other Titles by Sarah Simblet
- Sketchbook for the Artist
- Anatomy for the Artist