If you look carefully the next time you walk past the blue star-shaped flowers of borage, a cluster of pastel-toned snapdragons, or a stance of tall blue iris, you may find a nature illustrator with a sketchbook somewhere in the grass. Nature illustrators savor the fine details of plants and flowers that only they take time to observe.
Born with a penchant for researching nature or with a background in botany or science, the nature illustrator turns over every leaf to find the structure underneath what’s easily seen.
Materials of the nature photographer include ink, pencil, watercolor, gouache, and oil paint. Programs such as Illustrator and Photoshop can be the canvas upon which
the nature illustrator draws flower and fauna, or a visual representation of photosynthesis.
During the Renaissance, Leonard da Vinci, painter, architect, inventor, and student of all things scientific, added nature illustrator to his long list of talents. His studies of plants reveal–in elaborate detail–the colorful and elegant structures of his subjects.
One of the most prolific nature illustrators was biologist and naturalist, Ernst Haeckel, who discovered, described, named, and drew thousands of new species depicting minute aspects of flower and fauna.
Found on museum displays, in seed catalogues, natural history textbooks, nature guides, scientific magazines, zoos and aquariums, images created by the nature illustrator may be life-sized or miniature. They often illustrate scale, and sometimes show the habitat of a plant, reverse sides of leaves, details of flowers, buds, seeds and root system.
The next time you’re dancing through the daisies, salute the nature illustrator who may be drawing flora furiously somewhere under the noon day sun.