Who are the Artists?

The members currently comprise eight talented locally based botanical artists and illustrators. Many of them have achieved national and international recognition in the field of botanical art, illustration, and photography by winning medals at the RHS botanical art and photography shows; contributing work to florilegia; teaching and writing books about the subject and having their work held in important botanical art collections around the world. Do explore this website to read biographies of each member and see examples of their wonderful work in the Gallery.

A Brief History of Botanical Illustration

Botanical illustration is not only beautiful to look at, but also serves the purpose of understanding about plants and, along with a written description the original purpose was to aid identification in an accurate way. This was used mainly for handwritten herbals of medicinal and culinary uses.

Originating centuries ago, before the days of printing illustrations, numerous copied illustrations became less accurate representations of the plants they were portraying. When the printing press was invented, it revolutionised the reproduction of books and illustrations which finally made it possible to accurately show the plants alongside a written description.

From the early sixteenth century onwards when plant expeditions took place in many countries, plants were brought back from around the world and in many cases pressed for herbariums. These provided a new source for precise botanical drawings and paintings and artists skills have been much sought after to record the world’s plants ever since. Even since the invention of photography, conventional drawing and painting techniques have been the preferred methods to describe, often with measurements and dissections, aspects of a plant, which scientifically represent the anatomy and botanical features of a species. Nowadays, since the further advancement of photography in the modern, digital age, there is now much wider acceptance that photography can actually play a part in the recording of species with much greater accuracy – sometimes microscopically – than previously. This allows botanical photographers to work alongside and in collaboration with traditionally skilled botanical illustrators who use conventional media such as watercolour for their work, and even for conventional artists to use modern digital photography themselves, to help and inform their work.

How is a botanical illustration achieved?

The members of HSBA all have the common goals of striving to achieve botanical accuracy and aesthetic qualities in their work and continuing the long tradition of botanical art and illustration into the modern age. Their use and range of media is diverse, and includes graphite, watercolour, coloured pencil and photography.

To produce a traditional painted botanical illustration takes many hours of meticulous observational study and drawing to produce initial sketches of the species to make them botanically accurate. Many of the artists produce ‘working drawings’ before composing an illustration which conventionally includes the plant’s growth habit, botanical structures, and seasonal variation. An illustration is then produced using the artist’s chosen medium. Botanical photography involves photographing each element individually before layering them digitally to create a composition. With careful attention to detail and handling of the media, each portrait is brought to life.