Foreshortening for Botanical Artists

Great Videos Explain Foundation Drawing of Flowers

The single most important thing that a botanical artist must do to make a successful illustration is get the proportions and morphology of the plant correct. The foundation of this is in the drawing. Drawing is so important that if something is drawn poorly the plant will not come to life. In my teaching I stress this. For most botanical artists drawing is challenging and time consumming and most would rather skip the drawing and get to the painting. I find that I spend more time on drawing and composition than I do with my brush in my hand. I start out by drawing multiple angles of the flower/plant. I do a front, top, side, 3/4 view and any other view I can think of to get an idea what the parts of the flower/plant I want to depict in my painting. I usually have more than one flower of the same variety so I can pull it apart and see how it grows. My non-artist friends think I am nuts when they see me dismembering a flower but for me it is the only way that I can see how it is put together. I keep a sketch book and draw as much as I can of each subject I want to paint. I make written observation notes and mix color swatches before the flowers wilts and dies. I was on Facebook reading through the Botanical Art Forum and one of the members found a YouTube video by John Muir. I quickly went to the YouTube channel and found that he had a series of videos on drawing plants. Here is the video,

This is one of the best visual explanations/videos of how to draw a cone shape/tubular flower I have seen. He does it with simplicity and clarity. Foreshortening can be very challenging and this video really explains the proper way to "see" what is really happening. I invite you to go to his website and his YouTube channel and subscribe to his videos, I did!

In closing I want to remind you of the structure he provides, follow the rules but also do it with grace, movement and details that make your painting come alive.