Botanical Paintings for All • Painting Flowers Wonderfully
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 9:21AM
Jennifer Carrasco in Botanical Paintings, Botanical watercolors, CandP coffee house, Classes, Painting flowers, West Seattle, Wwatercolor, how to paint with watercolors, watercolor class, watercolor lessons

     Garden Frenzy                                              Gouache on paper                   ©Jennifer Carrasco

One of my prerequisites for teaching a class is that I have to learn something as well.  I've always been interested in looking at botanical illustrations and reading about the derring-do of botanists (mostly British) who braved tigers and rock slides to bring home a rare lily or a precious lichen back to the Kew Gardens or the conservatories of the aristocracy. 

I've done quite a few commercial projects for clients who want images of flowers, and I'm a crazy mad gardner.  I just wish I had an assistant gardner following me around to dig where I point!  Here's a project I worked on for a client–step one where I did the tissue drawing with my reference scrap. (The lady gave me a list of flowers to include in her bouquet).

.....through 8 steps to the finished product.


So, this 6 unit class was a brief exploration of botanical illustration; both the scientific approach and the loose, glorious celebration of flowers in general. However, as a teacher, I must confess that I prefer the large wide open a la Dufy approach where students could appreciate the glories of paint as well as  flowers.

"Practice sheet" by Rosie Martin.   From the "Botanical Illustration Course, with the Eden Project"

Scientific illustrations entail a discipline involving years of work and application, and while this class has given us an appreciation of the field, all of us appreciated that good botanical paintings would entail years of technique and knowledge to become proficient.  Here is an example of the painstaking work involved to paint an orchid. This Rosie Martin "practice" sheet of colors, values and shapes is taken from a wonderful book, "Botanical Illustration Course, with the Eden Project" by Rosie Martin and Meriel Thurstan. 

With the CandP watercolor class,we started with a basic approach to drawing and value with a actual daffodil as our model. We explored the concepts of format and the use of negative space.



Cameron's practice with format.


I used Marilyn Scott's example  from her excellent book, the Watercolor Artist's Bible, of mixing your own greens.  ( I can't express how much the livid greens straight out of the tube make me shudder)

And how to develop modeling of a flower with watercolor and colored pencil on hot press and cold press paper.


And the third class we let'er rip with big drawing paper, sloshes of paint and colored pencil.  The class brought the flowers and we set up an arrangement.  This was a celebration! Each student picked their path  to paint flowers in the path they preferred–scientific or loose–for  the next three classes. 

  Aliza beginning.

Lia's great start!

How about that chartruese, Carol!

Rita's swaths of color.

Yeah, some green right there, Susie! Note the necessary Teacher's Beverage.

Later, Teri took her glorious bouquet to tape up in her friend's hospital room.  There's a rumour that the friend showed remarkable improvement.

Jan gets tropical.

Wendy's fiery bouquet.

Will's wide reach.

Kim giving a meditative look.

It amused me to note, that although they enjoyed the loose exercise more, for the most part, the students chose the scientific project for their last project.  Smaller felt safer(and cheaper), I guess. Large formats can be heartstopping without a cheer leader urging one on! (Previous class photos courtesy of Daisy Gilman.)


Gary and our honorable Avery baristo par excellence, celebrated the last class with their favorite hats and a drink. (photo courtesy of Kim Sharp)



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