I’ve taken two wonderful botanical illustration classes through the remarkable program at the Denver Botanic Gardens. One of those was Color Mixing with Colored Pencil, taught by Susan Rubin, a wonderful teacher and contemporary botanical artist (photos from class below). She posted this Colorado Public Radio essay by Susanna Speier on Facebook recently on why botanical art still matters in the digital age.
One of the things that Susan told us in class was that the beginning of every century seems to see a resurgence in naturalist art and naturalist leanings. The sense of time moving forward and technological progress seems to invigorate — or necessitate – a return to nature. We’ve seen it in the 21st century in everything from an expanding interest in botanical illustration to textile prints and earth art and herbal medicine and small-scale agriculture and gardening.
For artists, whether the precision of formal scientific and botanical illustration appeals to you or not, nature is the first and ultimate source. I love abstraction and I love cities and the built environment, but the fundamental connection to nature grounds everything.