My grandmother had botanical prints on the walls of her home, and I loved the old-fashioned look of them. My mom told me the prints were a wedding gift to Grandma from her husband. My grandfather died before I was born, but as a girl, I imagined he would give me botanical prints for my wedding present, too, if he were alive. (My grandmother gave me a crocheted afghan when I married, and the botanical prints now hang in my mom's house.)
Today I passed a bookshop, the kind that is small and cozy inside, with an irresistible collection of books. I found the irresistible Botanical Drawing in Color: A Basic Guide to Mastering Realistic Form and Naturalistic Color by Wendy Hollender and snatched it up, even though I told my son when we entered the store that we were there only to browse and to pass the time while we waited for my daughter to finish a class around the corner. He nodded politely while he fingered the wadded up dollar bills in his pocket, calculating how much he had to spend and while I mentally did the same with the money in my wallet.
What I like about Botanical Drawing in Color is that is contemporary. As much as I love the old-fashioned look of botanical drawings and want to infuse that style into my own drawings, I do appreciate a modern voice talking about the traditional illustrations, and it's exciting to me that an artist today is making this artwork.
I also like that the author lives in Manhattan like I do, and draws in places I recognize. You don't need to be living on a country estate to draw beautiful plants. In fact, the artist includes a beautiful drawing she made of a pear tree growing next to a parking lot. I love the idea that botanical beauty isn't "over there somewhere" or "in that perfect spot that isn't here," but right in front of us if we only bother to notice it.
What hooked me on the book was the the author described botanical drawing as "slow drawing." I try to live a simple life and I like the slow approach of Charlotte Mason that we use in our homeschool. I nodded at that description as I held the book in my hand in the bookstore.
I bought the book, my son bought a book, and we both sat on a bench in the park and read until my daughter was finished with her class. Then we all walked home together.
Photo: New book, old bench.