Monday, November 12, 2007

NEW: The Botanical Palette: Colour for the Botanical Painter

Getting the colour right is one of the main challenges for a botanical artist. Consequently it can also be one of the aspects of which causes the most worry to aspiring botanical artists.

Last month a new instruction book was published which focuses solely on the subject of how to achieve the right colour in botanical art. It provides a very authoritative and helpful guide to this topic - and will doubtless be welcomed by all those seeking to develop and improve the quality of their botanical art.

The Botanical Palette, subtitled 'colour for the botanical painter', by the Society of Botanical Artists in association with Margaret Stevens was published on 1st October by Harper Collins - and I now have a copy!

This is a very authoritative book because the author is extremely well qualified to write this book. She is also ably assisted by contributions from and demonstrations by fellow members of the Society of Botanical Artists.

Margaret Stevens is the President of the Society of Botanical Artists - the first botanical art society in the world and has received 13 medals from the Royal Horticultural Society including the Gold and Silver Gilt Lindley medal for work of special educational interest. She is also Director of the SBA's unique Distance Leaning Course and has worked as a tutor in the field of botanical art for over 20 years.

Features of the book include:
  • an overview of the colour issues which crop up time and time again at the beginning and throughout the book. This was informed by a survey of students on the SBA Diploma course - in which they identified problems they had with colour. These include:
    • how to achieve clean strong colour
    • transparency and lightfastness
    • the differences between colours of the same name by different manufacturers. Pigments, binders and fillers may all vary.
    • lighting of subject and artwork
    • mixing greys
    • finding shadow tones for different colours
  • contains chapters on each of the following colours - white, yellow, green, blue, purple, red, brown and black - and the use of watercolour paints and coloured pencils which feature 17 step-by-step demonstrations by members of the Society. For coloured pencil artists, demonstrations are provided by Susan Christopher-Coulson SBA (using Derwent Artists) and Ann Swan SBA and Susan Martin ASBA (both using Faber Castell Polychromos) .
  • eight projects which include: a simplified ink drawing for tracing and a chart of suggested colours to use plus a demonstration of the artist's working method.
  • charts of colour comparisons of artists' quality watercolour paints from Daler Rowney, Schminke, Sennelier, Winsor and Newton. These place colours with very similar names side by side so you can see the differences in colour. Each colour is also described and designated according to whether it is transparent, semi-transparent, opaque or semi-opaque. I feel sure this particular section will be pored over by those keen to understand better how individual brands and colours can contribute to
  • a gallery of botanical art by members of the SBA - including 18 subjects given full colour pages plates at the end of the book.
My initial assessment is that this book is likely to provide lots of helpful advice for the beginning or intermediate artist. Those who are much more experienced are likely to find sections of the book - such as the colour comparisons - extremely interesting.

I've added this book into the books on my Squidoo Lens: Botanical Art - Resources for Artists.

I brought home some gold medal winning cyclamens from the RHS Flower Show on Saturday - so you may be seeing some flowers from me soon now I've got my new electric sharpener and I'm back drawing seriously again!

In the meantime here's a study of a rose which I found flowering in Surrey in September.

Rosa #1
8" x 8", coloured pencils on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell


1 comment:

  1. What a stunning rose. I look forward to seeing more of your flower paintings/drawings now that you are back to serious painting again.


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