After reading up on botany this spring I feel the need to go in closer to my subject, something that I struggle to do when flowers are blowing about in the meadow.
I’ve resisted the urge to reach for my pen but I still want a sharp line so I use an abrasive pad to keep a point on my HB pencil. I need to do this four or five times during the course of the drawing.
The Art of Botanical Drawing by Agathe Ravet-Haevermans has given me some gentle encouragement. There are meticulous examples of her work as a scientific illustrator at the Museum of Natural History in Paris but also a few sketches from her field trips in Madagascar and South Africa. Step by step drawings and swatches of the watercolours used in each example show how she depicts the flowers, fruits and foliage of familiar garden flowers and exotic blooms.
My favourites amongst them are the different kinds of bark, the cherry tomatoes on a vine, the fungi and the bunch of carrots.
Encouragingly for the rest of us she concludes with a selection of her mistakes; ‘But is it such a disaster? It’s just time and a sheet of paper. The most important thing is to be able to learn from it.’
I’ll keep that in mind as I try to get into botanical mode.