Artists Handbook of Botany, by Lizabeth Leech

The Artist’s Handbook of Botany by Lizabeth Leech

Crowood Press 2023

ISBN 978-0-07198-4181-1

Review: “Lizabeth Leech is well-placed, as a botanist and botanical artist, to be writing this very useful and informative book on how to observe and understand the main features of flowers and plants in preparation for an observational drawing… 

The book will be a useful guide for those who have taken up botanical drawing as well as for the more experienced botanical artists and gardeners.  Chapters include the Angiosperms, half flower diagrams, floral formulae and floral diagrams followed by how to look and observe inflorescences, fruits, twigs and leaves etc.  There is a useful chapter on grasses and another on the Gymnosperms.

Particularly helpful for artists are the chapters on the often-neglected subjects, the illustration of mosses and liverworts, seaweeds and the larger fungi, not only how to observe the main features but also the detail.  It is a book one can pick up and dip into, reminding the artist of the importance of careful observation before embarking on a drawing.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Liz herself along with members of the Hampton Court Palace Florilegium Society, these images give the reader a good insight into how an informative botanical illustration should be set out to create a good design, as well as at the same time conveying detailed botanical information.  The book also contains a large number of photographs and sketches all of which help the artist to understand the information conveyed in the text.  This book compliments the well-received ‘Botany for Artists’ also written by Lizabeth Leech and published in 2011.

There is always something new to learn, in this book Liz helps us to look with understanding and then look again from a different angle to delve deeper into the story of the plant. Lizabeth Leech is the current Chair of the Hampton Court Palace Florilegium Society.”

Valerie Oxley
President, The Institute for Analytical Plant Illustration
Chair, The Florilegium Society at Sheffield Botanical Gardens.

Botany for Artists

“Botany for Artists” by Lizabeth Leech

This essential book is aimed at giving botanical artists a better understanding of their subject plants and flowers, and to help them enhance their observational skills with the use of photocopyable, step by step, detailed worksheets which are designed to help the artist record all the necessary features of each plant before painting…

The intricacies of Flowering plants, Cone bearing plants, Mosses and Liverworts, Ferns, Fungi and Lichens and Carnivorous Plants are covered; also Naming Plants, Classification, Handy hints and more.

Liberally illustrated with photos and botanical artworks by members of the Hampton Court Palace Florilegium Society, this book is unique in that it makes no attempt to cover painting techniques but rather aims to botanically  inform in an accessible, easy to read style.

Recommended  by Chelsea School of Botanical Art and English Gardening School.
It is sold worldwide; available online on Amazon and American Society of Botanical Artists, and at shops at e.g. at Wisley and Kew.

Botanical illustration

“Botanical Illustration – the complete guide” by Leigh Ann Gale

Crowood Press, ISBN 978-1-78500-427-8

Botanical Illustration – the complete guide explains the processes and methods behind this beautiful art genre. It highlights the importance of the requisite skills of close observation, accurate drawing and attention to detail…

Leigh Ann Gale is a leading botanical artist and tutor, and she generously demonstrates her approach in this book. Her worked example of Fuchsia magellanica illustrates the varied stages of an illustration. Along with step-by-step instructions to a range of subjects, this book is beautifully illustrated with over 350 images, diagrams and paintings of her and her students’ work. This book is a source of inspiration as well as a definitive guide.

  • Introduction to botany and a comprehensive botanical glossary
  • A case study demonstrates each stage of a worked example, including the selection and preparation of a subject, observational drawings, composition skills and painting processes
  • Step-by-step instructions cover many subjects, from creating shine on leaves and berries, to painting white flowers and depicting hairs on leaves and stems.
  • Guide to colour theory and how to mix colours accurately to match your specimens and make the most of your watercolour palette
  • Ideas on how to continue, and develop your own style of botanical illustration

“Colour for Botanical Artists and Illustrators” by Leigh Ann Gale

Crowood Press, ISBN 978-1-78500-939-6

This beautiful book explores the world of colour in the plant kingdom and introduces the artist to effective practical methods of using colour in botanical painting. It focusses on the relevance of making accurate observations of colour in botanical specimens and recognizing the value and importance of using colour theory to achieve successful results….

With over 500 images, this elaborately-illustrated guide uses the author’s finished artwork, diagrams, and step-by-step tutorials to explain the important role of colour in this compelling genre of art. This book is a must for all aspiring botanical artists, illustrators, and students.

  • Comprehensive guide to colour in the plant kingdom, colour theory, and the attributes of the artist’s colour wheel and colour harmonization
  • Analysis of watercolours and their properties, pigments, and the selection and matching process to botanical specimens
  • Colour-mixing exercises and guidance for creating colour charts, as well as practical step-by-step tutorials through the colour spectrum
  • Guide to using colour effectively in botanical painting and suggestions for appropriate watercolour techniques