Vintage Woman

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Art Book Recommendation

Botanical Portraits in Colored Pencil by Ann Swan. Easily the best book on scientific illustration I’ve seen. I keep checking this book out at the library until my limit is up.

The botanical artist, Ms. Swan instructs, accurately record how a plant grows, what color it is, and what its structure is like. Even if the work is not for any scientific purpose, it must be accurate. Any looser interpretation, she suggests, is merely a flower painting.

There’s fantastic information on colored pencil selection. Ms. Swan likes Faber Castell Polychromos pencils because they hold their point well, which is a must for detail work, especially as compared to the softer Prismacolors, and because they have a decent selection of natural greens and greys (which are used to deepen the tones of colors without changing their hue. (Didn’t know that!) She recommends 22 of the 120 available Polychromos colors as a good starter set. As for Prismacolor, which most of us who work in colored pencil are familiar with already, Ms. Swan finds their strength in that they mix well with the oil-based Polychromos pencils even though they are wax-based. Also, she finds they have a good selection of colors useful for drawing berries, such as dark purples, violets & reds. But she finds their softness annoying for detailed work. Prismacolor points (not talking Verithins) are prone to snap easily; I’ve learned this myself! Also included are other colored pencil recommendations, but it’s clear that the Polychromos line is her baby. This is very useful information. I myself have never used, nor can I easily find at the two major art stores in town, a selection of Faber Castell colored pencils so I may investigate them further.

Ms. Swan helps you get your studio together as well by compiling a basic start-up kit, most of which those of us who draw regularly already have. She tells you which other tools you may find useful for botanical work.

Ms. Swan advises even on which side of hot-pressed paper works best for colored pencil work, where to set up your work environment, how to protect your work while in progress and after completion.

As to the botanical artist’s subject - plants - Ms. Swan’s work is exquisite. She is very generous with her instruction, and I’ve even used some of her advice toward my oil pastel work. I have a deeper understanding of color, as well as a new understanding of how to break down complex subject matter.

This is a book that I’m going to eventually add to my collection, and I believe it will be invaluable to anyone who loves plants and doesn’t know where to begin when it comes to drawing them.

Filed under botanical Illustration books drawing colored pencil colored pencils plants art artist

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I’ve never done it, but I understand that with fashion illustrations the emphasis has to be more on the clothes than on the model. I still want to draw more realistic-looking people wearing those clothes rather than long-legged, skinny stick figures!

I’ve never done it, but I understand that with fashion illustrations the emphasis has to be more on the clothes than on the model. I still want to draw more realistic-looking people wearing those clothes rather than long-legged, skinny stick figures!

Filed under fashion illustration drawing art artist