Botanical Art - A Productive Meditation
I stand under a huge pine tree holding a pine cone in my hand, I’m listening to the wind through the canopy above. I look at the pine cone and see an amazing natural mechanism of storing and releasing seeds. Everything about this pine cone has a purpose, nothing is wasted. Nature has embedded a deep form of patterning into everything. The Fibonacci spiral pattern can be seen wrapping around the outside of a closed pine cone. This is just one aspect I need to notice to enable myself to render this subject properly.
To quote the British artist David Hockney - “Nature has a way of refreshing you - there is a hint of the infinite there”. I really like this quote because the more we study nature, the more we understand about ourselves, our surroundings and our place in the world.
Art has always been a part of my life, and although I didn’t know it at the time, as a child I was developing an art practice that would continue into the present day. I am a botanical and natural history artist and teacher by choice and I consider myself lucky to be doing something that I love.
This slow art form is a productive meditation for me. It is mostly a solitary practice, spending hours alone getting the drawing correct, choosing a composition and matching colours to the specimen. Painting in isolation is, and always has been, a major part of any serious art practice.
Time alone with your subject can, and should be, balanced with coming together with other artists or students in a creative and supportive space.
With close to 20 years in this genre, I have noticed there are not many male botanical artists participating in the natural history and botanical art form. Is this because men are more focussed on career choices and don’t look for a creative outlet until later in life? With technology like Zoom and the many online learning platforms available now, the opportunity to join an art class has never been easier. Hopefully more men will take up the opportunity to enjoy an artistic creative pursuit and their numbers will increase.
The physical and mental health benefits of being closer to, and observing nature, cannot be underestimated. Slowing down to observe nature is beneficial to us all. Painting from nature gives us a glimpse into the infinite.
Written by David Reynolds