Friday, January 7, 2022

Botanical Drawing vs. Nature Journaling


12/23/21 Amaryllis bud

A friend gave me an amaryllis but didn’t tell me what color it will be (a nice surprise). As soon as I received it, I knew it would be fun to document its blooming. My most recent botanical drawing workshop with Crystal Shin still on my mind, my first impulse was to make a portrait of the bud as botanically correct as possible (at right). That’s what I did on Dec. 23, the day that it was given to me. My plan was to make similar portraits as it progressed toward blooming.

After several days, though, I started thinking that it would be more interesting as well as better documentation if I used a nature journal format like Nina Khashchina’s rather than botanical portraits. Six days later, the stalk had grown several inches (and I kick myself now that I didn’t measure it the first day! What kind of half-asleep nature journaler am I??), but the bud hadn’t changed much, so I started over in a spread of my large Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook. When I measured it the day I made the full-length sketch, it had already grown an inch since the previous day!

12/29/21 The stalk is 20" tall... an inch taller than the
previous day!

To get my head out of “botanical illustration” mode, I’m using an old-school (for me) urban sketching style: Line drawings with my original beloved Sailor Naginata Fude de Mannen fountain pen (which I have missed using) before coloring. I am hoping that the style will encourage me to be more spontaneous in documenting instead of paying too much attention to botanical accuracy and detail.

My trusty fude is back!


  1. This is the third time I am typing this, so I hope I don't lose it again. I am so glad you are doing this! I am enjoying following the height of the flower. Be prepared that you need to keep turning it so it doesn't bend toward the sun...and make sure you have a tall stick or rod to tie around it when it starts to tip.

    1. Oh, thank you for the tip about giving it support! I have a black thumb, so I'm surprised it has survived this long!


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