Tulipa 'Green Wave'
Detail of Bloom
Watercolour on paper
Coral G Guest
If you have so far not read the previous post, please do so before reading this response, as it will place the following in perspective.
The following positive agenda is here to offer you my individual opinion, which I emphasis is personal and not prescriptive.
I would like to see Botanical and Scientific Illustration, Observational Flower Painting, and Digital Botanical Illustration all maintained, accepted and focused, as individual approaches within the one genre of Botanical Art as a unified body that is a direct response to the natural world.
The phrase - A Direct Response to the Natural World - is key in this specific opinion.
Observational painting and drawing of botanical subjects is a direct response to nature through traditional artistic skills. Digital Botanical Illustration is a direct response to nature through photography.
The leaning towards accuracy in both observational painting and drawing and pure digital botanical illustration, are similar in intent. I'm suggesting that film making is also a direct response to nature, and that this might also one day find its way into the botanical art genre as part of a new contemporary approach.
In my humble opinion, the pictures that are painted from photographs, or from photographic images projected onto a canvas or paper, and all botanical illustrations that have the drawing aspects traced from photography over which there is observational painting, have a similar characteristic, which is this:
When a botanical artwork moves from the plant specimen, to the photograph, and then onto a final painting or drawing that is made from that photograph, this creates another layer within that artwork that removes it from the auspices of direct observation. A painting from a photograph of a plant is not a painting from observation. A painting from a photograph of a plant is only that, a painting from a photograph of a plant.
Because I view that there is a specific need in Botanical Art to maintain consistency and the quest for observational accuracy, I am suggesting that the paintings and illustrations that are painted and drawn from photographs belong not in the Botanical Art genre but in the bigger picture of the Art World and also the commercial need of applied illustration and graphic design.
There is a place for everything, and this suggestion is based on a need to give clarity and intent to the Botanical Art genre and to maintain a level of integrity. My personal integrity is based on a direct response to nature through observational painting and drawing. This is an ongoing quest, based on experience and the need to keep aiming to improve, in spite of the flaws in my talent and my skill.
Emphatically, a painting from a photograph is a painting from a photograph, it is not a painting from life. It is my hope that all botanical artists working by direct copying photographs will feel confident enough to make it known that this is their approach to making artworks, and to explain what they are doing and to honour and champion it. This may then open a whole new playing field for future exploration into realism in botanical painting and all that it invokes.
Foot Note: 8th March 2018
Thank you to the 45 emails that I awoke to this morning, which have come in response to the previous post of yesterday.
I recognise and appreciate that many associated with the Botanical Art genre do not agree with me. If it happens that I continue to receive hate mail for my opinions and suggestions, and thus consider the stress too much to bear, I shall remove both this and the previous post. I like discussions to be open and above board, and would like to see the observational integrity of Botanical Art maintained.
Once again, the views expressed in this post and the previous post from yesterday, are politically neutral, and simply one simple view that is not aimed at being an agent provocateur.
This post is definitely also not aimed at exposing any of the ways in which some artists work that is entirely private to them, nor is it intended to make anyone feel guilty for using photographic references for painting and drawing. Rather it is aimed at freeing any artist from any such burden of angst. This dialectic does not intend to disrespect the works of artists from previous generations who championed the use of photographic reference rather than direct painting from observation.
The aim of this, and the previous post, is simply to lay everything on the table and to support the idea of making sense of the issues that we face through Botanical Art in the contemporary world as well as from our history, so that it can move forward successfully, should it need to move forward. As far as I am aware, I am the only botanical painter prepared to stand up publicly, through this blog, for what I believe in. Perhaps it is easier for me because I am established and have nothing to prove, and therefore can champion the cause for others who are afraid to speak out on this issue.