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Western Libraries

Botanical Illustration Resources: Technique and How-tos

A Selected Bibliography created for the 1999 Northwest Botanical Illustration Symposium (updated frequently) Compiled by Julene Sodt, of the Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham WA

Technique and How-tos

Arnosky, Jim. Sketching Outdoors in Spring . New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books. New York, 1987.
        Provides drawings of landscapes, plants, animals, and other aspects of nature, accompanied by comments from the artist on how and why he drew them. 48 pages.

Bethke, Emil G. Basic Drawing for Biology Students. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, 1969.
        This book was designed to help college-level biology students acquire the drawing skills necessary for course projects. Includes exercises for the student to do on their own. 86 pages.

Blamey, Marjorie. Marjorie Blamey’s Painting Flowers. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1998.
        Provides basic advice on paints and other materials, tips and techniques, simple exercises to develop skills, and step by step demonstrations. 128 pages.

Burton, Sue. The Encyclopedia of Flower Painting Techniques.  Philadelphia: Running Press, 2003.
        A step-by-step guide to painting realistic flowers with professional advice on how to choose and arrange them, how to analyze flower shape and structure, tips for keeping them fresh, and a gallery of over 30 paintings by contemporary artists. 160 pages.

Burton, Sue.  The Manual of Flower Painting Techniques.  London:  A. & C. Black, 2003

Cole, Rex Vicat. The Artistic Anatomy of Trees, their Structure and Treatment in Painting. New York: Dover publications, 1965.
        One of Britain’s foremost art instructors, Rex Cole shows how to draw trees in many aspects and styles. About 500 illustrations by the author accompany the text along with 48 plates reproducing works by famous painters. 347 pages.

Cook, C. D. K. "A Quick Method for Making Accurate Botanical Illustrations." Taxon, vol. 47, no. 2 (1998) pp. 371-380.
        This article gives botanists who are untrained as artists practical guidance on how to produce their own drawings. Illustrated with examples of the results of this training.

Dalby-Quenet, Gretel.  Illustrating in Black and White.  London:  Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society, 2000.

Easton, David. Watercolour Flowers. London: Batsford, 1993.
        "A richly illustrated introduction to flower painting, covering all aspects of the water colour technique with simple flower projects and helpful text." --Publisher. 126 pages.

Evans, Anne-Marie and Donn Evans. An Approach to Botanical Painting in Watercolour. The Old Manor House, Market Overton, Oakham Rutland, 1993.
        Written by two teachers of the art, this book provides a background history of botanical illustration followed by a practical section covering materials, techniques, and examples of student works. Illustrated with over sixty full color and eighty black and white illustrations. 183 pages.

Fletcher, Adelene.  The Watercolor Flower Painter's A to Z:  An Illustrated Directory of Techniques for Painting 50 Popular Flowers. Cincinnati, Ohio:  North Light Books, 2001.
        Includes:  128 pages with color illustrations.

Guest, Coral G.  Painting Flowers in Watercolour; A Naturalistic Approach.  Portland, Oregon:  Timber Press, 2001.
         Includes:  128 pages with 43 color figures, 6 black and white figures, 43 color figures, 11 line drawings.  

Harden, Elisabeth. The Flower Painter’s Pocket Palette: Instant Visual Reference on Colours and Shapes. London: Batsford, 1996.
        "A practical guide to painting flowers with over 100 examples of vibrant and unusual colour mixes." -- Publisher. Over 200 color illustrations. 228 pages.

Harden, Elisabeth. An Introduction to Painting Flowers: Form, Technique, Color, Light, Composition. Edison, N.J.: Chartwell Books, 2005.

Hollender, Wendy.  Botanical Drawing in Color: A Basic guide to Mastering Realistic Form and Natural Color.  New York: Watson-Guptill, 2010.

Hoblyn, Alison.  Painting Flowers & Gardens in Watercolour and Pastel.  Newton Abbot;  David & Charles, 2003.

Hollender, Wendy. Botanical Drawing in Color: A Basic Guide to Mastering Realistic Form and Natural Color. New York: Watson-Guptill, 2010.

Leonard, Elizabeth. Flower Painting. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1991.
        Leonard approaches flower painting in a wide variety of media, from oil and watercolor to gouache, casein, and paste. Included are the how-to’s of selecting, working with and caring for flowers, exercises to help the reader look at flowers from a botanical artist’s point of view, working with color and color interactions, composition, and the role of flowers in landscapes and gardens. 50 black/white illustrations and 150 color plates. 144 pages.

Leslie, Clare Walker. The Art of Field Sketching; A Naturalist’s Sketchbook . Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1984.
        With simple methods and exercises Leslie teaches how to sketch quickly from nature with a pencil, a pad of paper, and observation skills. 190 pages.

Leslie, Clare Walker. Nature Drawing: A Tool for Learning. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1987.
        The intent of this book is to teach either beginning or advanced artists how to see, as well as how to draw nature. 206 pages.

Martin, Judy. Encyclopedia of Colored Pencil Techniques. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1992.
        This work covers the characteristics of various kinds of pencils and assorted techniques. Over 200 full-color photographs. 191 pages.

Milne, Judith. Flowers in Watercolour. London: Batsford, 1992.
        Milne shows how to capture the beauty and delicacy of petals and the textures and tones of leaves. Techniques include sketching, applying color washes, capturing light and depicting vein patterns. 128 pages.

Milne, Judith. Wild Flowers in Watercolour. London: Batsford, 1997.
        Beginning with the basic choice of materials and advice on color mixing, this book gives help with drawing and painting techniques. Author provides a helpful commentary on her own paintings. This book contains over 100 color and some pencil illustrations. 128 pages.

Naylor, Denis.  Drawing Trees.  Tunbridge Wells:  Search, 2004

Oxley, Valerie. Botanical Illustration. Ramsbury: Browood, 2008.
Provides: "an introduction to basic botany, preparation of plant material for drawing, use of pencil, watercolor, colored pencil and pen and ink, suggested topics for futher study, correcting mistakes and finishing touches." 216 color illustrations.

Pember, Ann.  Painting Close-Focus Flowers in Watercolor.  London:  Batsford, 2001.

Rines, Frank M. Tree Drawing-Design and Construction. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2007. (NC 810.R53 2007)
Note: Originally published: Tree drawing-Design and Construction. Pelham, New YoriP Bridgman Publishers, 1946, which was a revised ed. of Design and Construction in Tree Drawing, published in 1936.

Raynes, Polly.  Drawing and Painting Plants and Flowers.  London:  Collins & Brown, 2003.

Rowntree, Julia. Watercolour Flower Painter's Handbook. Tunbridge Wells: Search, 2005.

Seligman, Patricia. How to Paint Trees, Flowers and Foliage. Cincinnati, Ohio: North Light Books, 1994.
        An illustrated guide to painting landscapes with step-by-step demonstrations and helpful question and answer sections which highlight common problems. 144 pages.

Sherlock, Siriol. Exploring Flowers in Watercolour; Techniques and Images . London: Batsford, 1998.
        Sherlock is a widely exhibited British artist who provides help with basic equipment and materials, hints on choosing what to paint, how to keep plants fresh, setting up and holding the brush as well as key techniques including wet-in-wet, wet-on-dry, softening, mixing colors and using masking fluid. The author also explores various painting styles from quick impressions to detailed botanical studies. 128 pages.

Showell, Billy. Watercolour Flower Portraits. Tunbridge Wells: Search, 2006.

Southan, Mandy.  Painting Flowers on Silk.  Tunbridge Wells: Search, 2000.

Stevens, Margaret.  An introduction to Drawing Flowers;  Form, Technique, Colour, Light, Composition.  Newton Abbot;  David & Charles, 2002.

Swan, Ann. Botanical Painting with Coloured Pencils. London: Collins, 2010

Tait, Wendy.  Wild Flowers in Watercolour.  Tunbridge Wells:  Search, 2003.

Temares, Michelle.  Painting Floral Botanicals.  Cincinnati, Ohio:  North Light Books, 2001.
        The techniques of painting botanicals with acrylic paints.

Wolf, Rachel Rubin, ed. Basic Flower Painting Techniques in Watercolor . (Basic Techniques Series) North Light Books, 1996.
        Includes the work of 24 painters in more than 20 step-by-step demonstrations. "A sophisticated and comprehensive treatment" for advanced beginners and beyond. 128 pages.

West, Keith R. How to Draw Plants: the Techniques of Botanical Illustration . New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1983.
(QK 98.2.W47 1983)
        The author gives detailed advice on accurate observation as well as techniques for working in pencil, pen, scraper board, watercolor, and acrylics. 83 illustrations, 10 in color. 152 pages.

West, Keith. How to Draw and Paint Wild Flowers. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 1993.
        This is a practical step-by-step guide where a selection of 20 subjects (such as honeysuckle and primrose) are shown as example in sequences of illustrations. Detailed information on drawing plant structures is given, together with an analysis of the techniques and equipment required in each medium, pencil, ink, watercolor, and gouache. Recommended for beginners and more advanced artists. 102 color illustrations and numerous black and white illustrations. 128 pages.

West, Keith R. Painting Plant Portraits: A Step-By-Step Guide. Portland, Oregon:  Timber Press, 1997.
        West, an eminent botanical artist, presents 12 favorite garden plants (iris, rose, daffodil . . .) and demonstrates in detail each stage of the watercolor painting process. 172 pages.

Whittle, Janet.  10-Step Flower Painting:  Easy Techniques for Perfect Results.  Newton Abbot;  David & Charles, 2002.

Wunderlich, Eleanor B. Botanical Illustration in Watercolor. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill, 1996.
        Wunderlich divides this book into five sections: Subject Matter, Materials and Tools, Drawing Plants, Watercolor, and Finishing Up. In the last section she covers labeling for accurate identification, matting, framing, and exhibiting. Useful pictorial demonstrations show students what to do. 144 pages.