“Niki Simpson is an artist who has been awarded many medals from the Royal Horticultural Society (four for photography and four for watercolor). In 2003, she developed a technique to create composite botanical illustrations. Simpson’s digital composite images challenge the current thinking about botanical painting’s superiority over photography. Her objective is to present ‘new possibilities for the future of botanical illustration’ (Simpson & Barnes, 2008).”
This is how I introduced Niki Simpson as the Feature Artist in July 2011. Since then Niki has continued to develop her digital botanical illustration technique and has successfully made significant contributions to the future of botanical illustration. You can read about her progress and how she creates digital illustrations on her new website Visual Botany.
Supporting Botanical Science
I felt that the possibilities of digital plant illustration for scientific work needed to be explored if botanical illustration was going to support botanical science in the future. And so, my digitally created composite botanical images are very much based on my watercolour paintings and my botanical pencil and watercolour studies.
— Niki Simpson
Launched in December 2014, Visual Botany is an exciting place to visit and a resource you will want to bookmark whether you are a botanical artist, a teacher or a dedicated gardener.
When first arriving at Visual Botany, you will discover a slideshow of images introducing you to Niki’s educational illustrations. Explore a little deeper and you will learn how Niki’s digital botanical illustrations are based on her traditional (and award-winning) botanical art. You will learn how to read the digital illustrations in her gallery and learn how Niki has used technology to introduce new audiences to plants. In the online gallery, you will find botanical plates similar in appearance to traditional botanical plates. You will also find an exciting habitat illustration of Lathraea clandestina (Purple toothwort). This single image demonstrates the palpable connection between plants, Earth and people Niki’s digital illustration technique is capable of creating.
I encourage you to visit Visual Botany and to share it with students and colleagues.
Simpson, Niki and Peter G. Barnes. 2008. Photography and contemporary botanical illustration. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. 25(3): 258-280.
(View or buy online)