"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home" (Twyla Tharp)

Botanical Illustration ....

Botanical Illustration

The Botanical Illustration is a real step up in the intensity in the Society of Botanical Artists DLDC.  The artwork should reflect an accurate representation of the subject - size, shape, form, botanical structures, plant anatomy -  and yet still be aesthetically pleasing in the form of a finished piece.

Colour testing

Testing greens ... a tricky leaf

After transferring the final composition onto watercolour paper, I did quite a few washes and colour testing to get the colour as true as possible.  I used Quinacridone Coral and Permanent Rose on the upper bracts, bringing in a little Transparent Yellow in the warmer tones and Neutral Tint in the shadows.  The leaves were a combination of Cadmium Lemon, Cerulean, French Ultramarine and Neutral Tint.

First washes going on 

A new way of working this time was to bring in the first washes on the leaves well before the flower was completed ... it helped to give a better overall perspective of what was needed.  As I built the layers of colour I also brought in the stem and started to refine the detail ...

Starting graphite dissection illustration
Longitudinal flower head dissection

Working very carefully after ensuring measurements are accurate and finer detail are included.  I really enjoyed this part of the artwork, it was a nice relief to have more control over the pencil work rather than the watercolour washes and detail.  I probably started the graphite work too early as I still had to work over the top of it to complete the painting.

The graphite illustrations

Botanical illustration - watercolour and graphite

Very happy to finish this one ... this is so much more than just a painting to me ... and I look forward to completing more botanical illustrations in the future ...

Protea neriifolia x P. susannae   'Pink Ice'

All images © Vicki Lee Johnston

Thank you for visiting!


  1. It was a pleasure to read your post like always..
    You paint ''magnifiquement bien et je suis très fière de toi''..
    I love your blog because you write like poésie. I am doing a trip when i visit you..

  2. Great to see the process, love the graphite dissections xx

  3. Dear Vicki, I really admire your work botanical
    in which the scientific side is united wonderfully
    to vibrancy of color and talent for composition.
    So you reveal the soul of your subjects!
    Happy Sunday!

  4. This is a lovely post Vicki - nice to see the progression and to hear which colours you have used. You are so good like that. I always forget to note what I am using so can't say at the end when blogging... will have to try harder. I really like seeing the pencil studies close up - very intricate and carefully executed. I hope you get a good mark and the teacher can see how much hard work you have put in. Wonderful.

  5. Hi Vicki, so happy to meet another Perth blogger. Love your work, so good to see the whole process of a botanical painting from beginning to completion. We're so lucky here in Australia to have such diverse and unique flora. Look forward to seeing more of your work.

  6. Another great painting! I liked to read the process of making this painting. It really was a study of the whole flower. It guess that is the point of botanical painting... I never do it myself, but I think I should try it, it sounds fun and interesting.
    Normally I'm more of a pink kind of girl, but in this painting I really like the green leaves. They stand out beautifully. They seem to be moving. I think you did really great with the colors. Looks very natural.

  7. I enjoyed reading how you progressed through this assignment, and the adjustments you are making in your approach as you proceed through the course. Your illustration turned out beautifully and I am sure there are many more high quality works to come. I am glad to be on this journey with you!

  8. I love seeing and hearing about your meticulous process. I think back to the exquisite botanicals that we used to see more often. A good friend has a half dozen - I think they may have been done in the 1920s or 30s - and they are both simple and complex. Very elegant.

    I love the way you've chosen a single bloom to focus on here, and included both the watercolor and the graphite. It makes for a gorgeous composition.

  9. This is lovely Vicki. I admire your patience and process. Your pencil studies are particularly beautiful. :)

  10. Hi Vicki, good to see the prgression of your work on this complicated piece. it is such a lovely subject and handled so well. The pencil dissections are so delicate and I just love the colour of the flower. :)

  11. Thank you Manon, Claire, Rite, Jess, Jennifer, Janene, Hedera, Jarnie, BigLittleWolf and PerthDailyPhoto ...
    I really appreciate the feedback and your comments make it even more worthwhile.
    Thank you xxxx