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Painting Plants and Flowers through the Eyes of a Botanical Artist

Isobel Bartholomew Published: 01 June 2024

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Woman sketching flowers on white paper
Francesca Cowie illustrating.

After an absence of six years, Iceni Botanical Artists are pleased to be back in Wymondham at Becket’s Chapel from the 9th-21st July with their Annual Exhibition entitled “IBA in Bloom”.

The paintings are represented in each artist’s individual style, ranging from loose and free techniques, landscapes and plant portraits which display scientifically accepted attention to detail and accuracy, all captured in oils, acrylic, coloured pencil, watercolour and graphite.

Francesca Cowie, an IBA member who lives in Wymondham, describes below her journey in becoming a Botanical Illustrator and what inspires her.

“The seed of my artistic pursuits was planted by my determination as an infant to feel a sense of connection with my non-verbal autistic brother. He spent the majority of his time drawing, engrossed in his mind, in a world I was eager to be a part of. By simply sitting with him with my own pen and paper I discovered a way we could play together harmoniously. This was the true beginning to my journey as a Botanical Artist.

Despite enjoying art classes the most, as I approached higher education I prioritised my other passion, science. I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Science degree however, I felt a career in science wasn't going to truly fulfil me and instead tantalised the idea of becoming a scientific illustrator to combine both passions.

Hand drawn green silver milkmaid leaf
Francesca’s holly leaf in graphite and watercolour.

This pursuit began when I started Botanical Illustration classes. My ability to draw and paint plants was raw and unrefined yet my teacher (a fellow ICENI member) could see my potential and taught me how to observe, draw and paint botanical subjects in watercolour.

In 2020 I graduated with a diploma in Botanical Illustration with the Society of Botanical Artists.

I became a fellow member of the IBA shortly after meeting them at their annual exhibition in Bury St. Edmunds in 2022. I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of such a lovely group and tap into a wealth of inspiration through their talent.

I particularly enjoy illustrating plants with imperfections as I feel these are the most inspiring subjects, imperfect yet beautiful and scientifically accurate to represent the true nature of life.

I value how meditative Botanical Illustration is and I wish to share the beauty of the natural world through my illustrations and to inspire others to take time for themselves to escape into the world of art.”

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