I wish someone would call a halt to this A-Z thing with flowers. No one seems to do it with other subjects and, if there weren’t things called Zantedeschia or Zinnia, they wouldn’t do it here either. I know that books need some sort of ordering and that this is the simple way, but it’s also becoming lazy, and leading to a template-style approach, too.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a beautiful book and, if the single-stem, detailed way with flower painting is what you want, this is an excellent way into it, being much simpler than other books, which tend to go into a lot more detail and maybe overwhelm.
The approach that Michael Lakin adopts is to complete each demonstration in two spreads. This is a concise way of doing it, and also gives you a consistent set of demonstrations, meaning that, once you have the hang of the layout, it will hold for everything else. It does, though, mean that you will have to fill in quite a lot of the gaps for yourself. The first two pages will show you the main details of the flower in question together with the drawings and the colour palette. Turn the page and you get a set of instructions for the painting, and an illustration of the finished result. There are no step-by-steps and whether you think the book is for you will very much depend on whether you think this is a good or a bad thing. There is a lot of information in the introductory sections and it should be said that these avoid repetition of the basic stuff later on, though, even if they are general rather than subject-specific.
Botanical illustration is a complex and highly technical subject for which it is difficult to write an introduction, so much having to be learnt all at once. Michael, however, makes a good stab at keeping things as simple as possible.