Botanical Guild Meeting

Journal Pages, Nature, Watercolor | January 21, 2006 | By

I just got back from a meeting of the So. Calif. Guild of Botanical Artists, which is held every three months in and around the southland area. What an incredibly nice (and talented) group of people! I am still evaluating whether or not I have room in my life for another membership or commitment, but if I do this would be high on my list. During this period of exploring and experimenting as I return to art after my long hiatus, I am looking at many different forms and expressions. Botanical illustration is among the most rigorous as every detail must be technically accurate as well as beautiful. Some artists draw their subjects many times, defining and refining it on tracing paper until they get the details perfect. At that point, they will transfer it to paper (watercolor paper or bristol board or another type, depending upon the medium used.) Then begins the detailed application of paint or pencil. I’m not sure that I will have the patience for that kind of exacting work, but as some of the members mentioned, some people do accurate paintings in a much looser style. On the other hand, I love flowers and gardening so much … AND … I love watercolor and other media so it makes a lot of sense that I’d be attracted to botanicals – it would unite two of my passions. So, we shall see. I don’t have any tightly rendered botanicals to share today, although I think I may try to render something small in the next few days, just to see what it “feels” like. In the meantime, here’s a field study of some tree roots, painted last year in the Angeles Forest.


  1. Lin
    January 21, 2006

    BEAUTIFUL, Karen!

  2. Linda
    January 21, 2006

    I have a feeling that botanical art will be easier there in California this time of year than here in Tennessee, where if it is warm, it is raining. 😀 (Of course, there’s always apples…)
    Can’t wait to see one of your studies!

  3. Linda
    January 21, 2006

    Oh, and the tree roots are awesome — The variety of color makes it feel very alive.

  4. Jennafer
    January 22, 2006

    Karen, I have taken several classes at the Denver Botanic Gardens. They are one of the four (I think) official gardens in the U.S. that you can
    obtain a certificate in botanical illustration. I loved the classes and the staff was amazing. I had taken various art classes over the years prior
    to the botanical Illustration classes, but these were different. Talk about slowing down! The illustrations can meticulously take days to do!
    My theory on taking the classes was… if I can learn to draw and see something scientifically, then I could pull back and draw things in a
    looser style and be sure to capture its essense. I.e. if I can draw a scientifically rendered tulip, then I could draw a bunch of tulips on a table
    that would really look like tulips. I think it was successful for me in that way. It would definitely not be a waste of you time (not that you were
    thinking it would be). Email me if you have any questions. I’d love to be able to give YOU some tips! : )

  5. Susan Reynolds
    January 29, 2006

    I have to join this chorus – the field study of the roots and color use is wonderful. The groups would be lucky to have you among their members. I too am nutty over botanicals and envy you your location. Whenever I have the opportunity to visit southern California I become instantly obsessed with the trees, bushes, etc. the variety, the bark, the shapes – I am entranced.
    In short, Karen, I admit that I’m not certain that I’d be able to stay indoors much if I were in your place. I wonder if there’s a 10 step group for botanical fanatics.

  6. Karen
    January 29, 2006

    Susan, it’s true that So. Calif. is the ideal place for botany and gardening addicts (of which I am one.) This is the worst time of year for being outside and it was pretty warm. Of course, I also long for real “seasons” so I guess we always want what we don’t have.

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