At first glance Colorful Leaves looks like any other coloring book. But the moment you begin to read the introduction, you discover it is not your average coloring book. It is instead a coloring book and a how-to book rolled into one nice package.
Written by writer and illustrator Gail Selfridge, Colorful Leaves is a 45-page lesson in observing leaves, transferring images and capturing Nature’s colors. Selfridge, a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators and the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), was awarded the ASBA’s Anne Ophelia Dowden education grant in 2015. The award enabled her to write Colorful Leaves so she could introduce new audiences to the world of plants through the peaceful and revealing process of leaf rubbing.
The line illustrations in Selfridge’s new book should not be viewed simply as shapes to be colored. They should be viewed as the author intended, as templates to use while exploring color media and botanical art techniques. Selfridge helps new and experienced artists with their experimentation by offering recommendations for pencils, colored pencils, markers, paint and paper. Selfridge explains:
Botanical art is an art form that can be learned and enjoyed by both children and adults, and it is a pleasurable activity that can be pursued for a lifetime. Establishing a preliminary image is often the most challenging and difficult step in this learning process. By starting with these line images, fussing over measurements and details is avoided thus allowing one to get on with learning, not only about the specimen, but also about using various art materials and techniques. These preliminary images can be repeatedly transferred and used to explore many different techniques, both traditional and digital.
Colorful Leaves can be used for personal enjoyment or it can be used by community arts programs, botanical gardens, arboretums, public schools, 4H groups, garden clubs, etc. as an educational outreach activity that provides an enjoyable experience, encourages observation of plants, and provides tools for the accurate portrayal of plants.
Included in Colorful Leaves are line illustrations for 23 trees and four shrubs. Tree genera represented are: Quercus, Platanus, Acer, Cercis, Ulmus, Populus, Fraxinus, Gingko, Aesculus, Liquidambar, Prunus, Diospyros, Morus, Carya, Pyrus, and Malus. Shrub genera represented are Euonymus, Rhus and Rubus.
This week we have the opportunity to learn from Gail Selfridge. You are invited to join the conversation. Post your questions or comments below.
Special Opportunity for Educators from Gail Selfridge
The American Society of Botanical Artists funded Colorful Leaves, and my objective never was to make money selling it. I want to put the publication in the hands of persons who would make use of it. To that end I will send six complimentary copies (including shipping) to anyone who agrees to use them as part of an educational program in exchange for photos of the event and a short (no longer than one page) description of what they did, and the results/success of the program.
Request your complimentary copies of Colorful Leaves.
[Note: Offer no longer available]
Update February 2017
Colorful Leaves is now available for free on the ASBA website. Visit the page about Gail’s project to download a copy of the book and to read how teachers have used Colorful Leaves in their classrooms.
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