This is a really rather charming book of the type which doesn’t get published often enough. The danger, I suppose, is that of appearing to fall between two stools, of being neither enough of an instructional course nor of being a work of botanical record. However, if you want a basic introduction to botanical illustration that goes somewhere beyond the flower portrait but doesn’t get bogged down in a lot of technicality, then this is it.
Already I’m hitting the book’s problem head on, because I have to tell you a lot of what it isn’t, rather than what it is. At 96 pages, it’s never going to be exhaustive, for a start, especially for its quite liberal coverage – not just flowers but bark, vegetables, fruit and succulents. You also have the problem that botanical illustration is a very technical discipline, one of which it isn’t really possible just to scratch the surface, so that we’re already falling back into the realm of the flower/plant portrait, an area of a reasonable amount of detail and realism but where artistic considerations are allowed to take the place of the rigid recording of a specific specimen.
The thing is, I like the book. It’s attractive to look at and well presented so that it doesn’t look intimidating to the more general student and, if what you want to do is get into more detailed flower painting, you’re going to feel encouraged as well as instructed by it. It’s more than just drawing because all of the illustrations are in colour and it makes no pretence of being more than it is: a starting point for the artistically and botanically curious.