Botanical Art- How Much Detail?

magnifcationI was recently asked in my Drawing the Beauty of Plants class….”How much detail should I include in my drawings of botanical subjects…. especially leaves?” There are so many different ways to handle this question and I always start by answering…… it depends!

The number one thing to think about is ….. Who is this drawing for?  A botanist, girl scout troop, a botanical art competition?

If it is a botanist…. The botanist will tell you. They are usually trying to highlight a specific feature and that is what should be the focus of the drawing. If you draw all the capillaries in and they are only looking for the primary and secondary veins…… you have done way too much work…… On the other hand if the botanist wanted it all and you only did the primary and secondary veins and not the capillaries…….. In both scenarios you will have to do both drawings over again….. Get my point? If they don’t tell you up front ask before you do anything!

If it is a girl scout troop…….. It probably is for some kind of a field guid and should NOT have too much detail but be recognizable so they can learn basic plant identification.

If it is a Botanical Art Competition…….. Find out who the jurors are….see what has been done by others before and work towards that standard. This one is probably the hardest one to figure out!

If you are doing it for yourself…. enjoy and see what works for you and what you are trying to convey.

In the meantime…. here is a sample of doing both in the same drawing….. Here I did a generic drawing with the basics and then did a magnification of the detail. Putting a circle around the detail and having it go outside the perimeter of the leaf lets the viewer know it is a magnification.

How do you decide how much information to put in or leave out of your drawings?