Thursday, August 09, 2018

Three book reviews about Botanical Art and Illustration

On Monday, three new art instruction books arrived and I've been spending this week reading different perspectives on guidance and instruction for those interested in botanical art, painting and illustration - and then writing three book reviews.



The books are:
  • Botanical Illustration - The Complete Guide by Leigh Ann Gale 
  • Botanical Art with Scientific Illustration by Sarah Jane Humphrey 
  • Botanical Painting by Margaret Stevens (with the SBA)

BELOW you can find the links to the three book reviews and a short summary of each.

Links are embedded in the title of the books reviews.  If you want to know more, read the full review on Botanical Art and Artist News


Botanical Illustration - The Complete Guide 

by Leigh Ann Gale



Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd; Illustrated edition 
Format: Paperback: 208 pages | 391 colour images
Size: 280 x 220 mm (the largest of the three books)
Language: English
UK Publication date: 26th June 2018
ISBN-10: 1785004271 | ISBN-13: 978-1785004278
Ebook available


REVIEW: Botanical Illustration - The Complete Guide by Leigh Ann Gale

RECOMMENDED: Botanical Illustration - the Complete Guide by Leigh Ann Gale is a very thorough and well-structured manual of information about the process for producing botanical illustrations of a high quality.
This is probably the most traditional of the three books insofar as it sets out to provide a complete guide to Botanical Painting.
it's also very traditional in being very thorough and well thought out. Methodical is a word which sprang to my mind - in a positive sense!
A large part of the book focuses on painting - preparing, developing and completing a watercolour painting - but it also includes sections on basic botany, other media and what follows on after a painting is completed - and also guidance on how to continue to develop your skills.
It has LOTS of good quality content and is the biggest of the three books.

This book will suit artists/students who wants
  • to understand the complete process from with worked examples. 
  • more than just a "how to paint step by step" book
  • lots of words as well as lots of helpful images.

Botanical Art with Scientific Illustration 

by Sarah Jane Humphrey


Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd; Illustrated edition
Format: Paperback: 176 pages | 429 colour illustrations
Size: 22.2 x 1.1 x 27.9 cm | 8.8 x 0.4 x 11 inches
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1785004190 | ISBN-13: 978-1785004193
Publication date: 11 Jun. 2018 (Launched at the RHS Botanical Art Show!)
Ebook available

REVIEW: Botanical Art with Scientific Illustration by Sarah Jane Humphrey

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Botanical Art with Scientific Illustration by botanical artist/illustrator and tutor Sarah Jane Humphrey is PACKED full of content relevant to the artist and illustrator who aspires to a professional career in botanical art and illustration - a lot of which is not covered in other books.
Sarah Jane Humphrey won an RHS Gold Medal in July and launched her new book the same day which is a feat I don't think anybody has ever done before!

What I like about this book is it is absolutely PACKED full of content relevant to the artist and illustrator who aspires to a professional career in botanical art and illustration. What's more a lot of this information is simply not covered in other books for aspiring botanical artists.

The 29 page section on professional practice on its own would merit buying this book
This is emphatically NOT a "how to paint" step by step book.
​This is a book which is more suitable for all those who have acquired some skills and competence in drawing and painting - and now need to move up a gear
This book offers great value for money! It is very dense in terms of content - and will definitely reward more than one read. I'd expect aspiring botanical artists to reference it many times.

This book will suit artists/students who like:
  • to know a LOT MORE about what it takes - in terms of professional practice - to become successful after you have mastered the drawing and painting!
  • to have a better perspective on all the aspects of botanical art and scientific illustration relevant to a botanical artist
  • like reading as well as drawing and painting plants

Botanical Painting

by Margaret Stevens (with the SBA)


REVIEW: Botanical Painting by Margaret Stevens & the SBA

Botanical Painting by Margaret Stevens (with the SBA) is a book which is good in parts.
I cannot recommend it over the first book written by Margaret Stevens with the Society of Botanical Artists - called 'The Art of Botanical Painting' (2004). I think the first book is the better book in terms of structure, content and images overall.  This book is not a replacement and instead acts rather like a lengthy appendix to it.

I also identified a number of issues with the book which I'd really rather not reiterate here but which are relevant to those choosing which books to buy. Read the review if you want to know more.

It contains a small number of useful step by steps which are well explained and have good images.

While the book contains various tips, some explanations and some excellent images, this book will particularly suit artists/students who want to understand more about:

  • how student artwork for the Distance Learning Diploma Course run by the Society of Botanical Artists is assessed
  • painting on vellum - there is a very sound eight page section on this topic
  • drawing plants using a metalpoint on a gesso surface


More recommendations

If you want clear recommendations, I suggest you consult my resource The Best Botanical Art & Illustration Instruction Books where you can read more of my book reviews and find out which are the books I recommend.

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