Friday, September 23, 2016

Botanical Illustration III - Scratchboard

I completed the third and final class of introductory botanical illustration last evening.  The eight students attempted scratchboard, something I had never tried before.  There's no erasing; no correcting errors.  My results appears at the head of the post.  The instructor and I agreed that I had probably done my best work in the red section of the largest leaf.

I now know that I am sufficiently capable of drawing to tackle other projects, but I'll probably have to wait until I retire to take this up again.  I don't think I'll attempt scratchboard, though; it was frustrating and unforgiving.


robin andrea said...

I think this looks really great. I would love to create something that looks as good as this does. Well done!

Mark P said...

There's something about a hand-drawn illustration that can capture the essence of the subject, sometimes better than a photograph. I suppose it's partly the ability of the artist to extract only the desired details. In any case, I like it.

Scratchboarding reminds me of an artist who used to contribute to at least one of the major automotive magazines. His drawings had multiple, abandoned lines, as if he sketched a first draft and then completed it. A friend was working at a print shop when the artist came in to get some copies made. They told him they could eliminate all the "mistakes" but he insisted that he wanted those early, abandoned lines to remain in the finished drawing.

Scott said...

Thank you, Robin Andrea. I was actually hoping that we'd just create a black-and-white scratchboard, but the instructor brought in the (rather garish?) multicolored scratchboard paper.

Scott said...

Mark: My wife and I are casual birders. She loves the Audubon Society's bird identification book that features color photographs. I swear by Peterson's guide with colored illustrations--for exactly the reason that you mentioned. The photograph can only represent the one bird whose image appears, whereas the drawing (or painting) can capture the gestalt. You and I think alike.

Our instructor had a coy term for the "mistakes" we made on the scratchboard exercise, but for the life of me I can't bring it to mind; I wish I could. I'm surprised that the instructor wanted to tackle scratchboard with a relatively inexperienced group of illustrators but, looking over the students' work (including my own) demonstrated that there was sufficient talent in the room that the results were acceptable.

Jain said...

I'm catching up on your posts and think your drawings are terrific!

If I could start over, I'd be a botanical illustrator. I did some pencil sketches (I'm afraid of color!) years ago that I was surprisingly pleased with. I need to pick up my pencil again. An added bonus is that I found drawing to be really meditative -- I got completely lost in the leaf or sapling or landscape that I was working on.

I recommend the book "Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain" (1st edition). I learned that you don't learn to draw, you learn to SEE, which enhances the whole outdoor experience.

Hope to see more of your work!

Scott said...

Thanks, Jain. I really enjoyed the classes, but felt rushed and hurried when I had to complete the drawings outside class. I'm just going to have to wait until I retire and have some time before I can consider taking this up as a hobby. I would not, however, take up botanical illustration as a profession; I don't think there's enough call for it. I've herd of "Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain" but haven't looked at it; I will now. I also saw "The Great Courses" advertised in Atlantic magazine, with a 20-lecture recorded drawing course for $140--maybe if I get serious.