Project Reflection-Botanical Lines

This project actually started last semester with a series of portraits I illustrated that included botanical drawings of the subjects favorite plants and flowers. I continued with both the portraits and botanical illustration over Winter break and have continued to work on this project throughout this semester. I enjoyed being able to mentally dissect a plant to figure out how to draw it and accentuate the important parts after researching them. The biggest challenge of this project has been making sure I had the correct binomial name for each plant rather than any technical issues.

My process usually begins with looking up many different pictures of the flower I am working on, and illustrating them in detail with either Micron pens or more recently a crow quill and India ink. I usually do a pencil drawing either in non-photo blue or with a mechanical pencil and then ink over it. I then scan in the image and figure out the binomial and put the text in with the image in a PSD, PDF and JPEG file. I think the more illustrations I do the better I am able to show the best details.

Line work and texture play key roles in my work. When I do color a piece I use digital coloring with flat colors so as not to distract from the detailed line work.

Process Journal

Project Reflection- New Zealand Travel Poster

For the poster I did an extensive amount of research into the Maori culture which was fascinating. I learned that a fern is given to guests from other tribes when they visit. The fern is an extremely important cultural item of New Zealand in Maori culture and is one of their iconic symbols along with the Kiwi bird. I delved into research about their creative endeavors which included the Maori tattooing traditions, traditional Maori dress, and wood carvings. The most challenging thing about this project was the time I spent making careful details with a crow quill and ink. My process for everything usually starts with a fair amount of research as I treat every illustration as a portfolio piece. I think research allows my designs to have a deeper meaning and a stronger message to the viewer. It also allows for more ideas to be fleshed out more ideas. I made a large number of plant studies that did not make it into the final design but that have built up my portfolio even more. Creating these studies helped me to understand the culture and environment more.

I would say that I am both a thinker and maker. I have been continuously producing work since last semester even when I have been in a lull with my other work. Elements of my research play a key role in my work as well as hand drawn, intricate detail. I use a lot of mark making to create texture and and contrast and then I digitally color with flat rich tones which come from my research. I use symbols associated with the subject I am trying to depict to make my designs stronger.  

I used wood carvings as references for most of the New Zealand poster design elements. The top corners are carved boat oars and under them in two long strips are the carvings used on the threshold of sacred meeting houses. The sides are carvings from the interior of the buildings. The boat that is the outline for “Maori Culture” is a design from the fishing boats of the Maori.

This process of carefully detailed illustration backed by research is how I approach every illustration. Sometimes I will get lazy with a design and will change it even more times because of that, so I try not to have a lazy mindset while designing something. For this project I got lazy on the “Maori Culture” box and changed it 4 or 5 times before I got it right.    

Process Journal:

Additional Plant Studies

Gallery Show Reflections

  1. Show Reflection

I see progress and perseverance in my own body of work. It has been a very difficult semester but despite that I still managed to create and that means the world to me. Usually in difficult times I feel too emotionally drained but this time the illustrations got me through it. This marks a huge change in my relationship with my work and I hope that it continues this way. Seeing all of my work arranged together was gratifying and wonderful. I was able to see my style carried through all 14 pieces plus the portfolio of portraits on the ipad. The work I chose for the show represents my time here at FSU and the progress I have made here as an artist. I can see how my professors have influenced my work and how they have taught me to self critique. For me personally it represents my ability to turn the pain I feel every day and my mental illness into something beautiful instead of something dark. I am reminded of a quote from Doctor Who, “Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before.” This was said about Vincent van Gogh and how he turned his torment of mental illness into beautiful, colorful life. I think having this ability is special and I am very thankful for it. I have come very far from when I first started here, but know I will always be learning and experimenting with my artwork.  

Putting together a gallery show was very daunting for me because I have a hard time working in groups. I enjoyed arranging my own work into a layout which I think worked well. I was especially lucky to have my mum’s help in setting up as I was very sick at the time. I also enjoyed incorporating real flowers and the ipad into the show. I think this experience helped me to look at different aspects of my artwork and compare them. I had never placed my botanical drawing next to my travel or hat poster. Being able to see them side by side I was able to track my progress and see my personal style emerge.

This process has made me more confident in my work and has inspired me to apply for different gallery opportunities as well as specific projects.

  1. I am applying to the Spring Art Festival through the Art and Frame Emporium this year.
  2. I will be applying to the many galleries in Northampton this Summer. Aside from getting my work out there I would really like to learn more about gallery layout and design.
  3. I will be making a book out of my botanical illustrations and a deck of cards for transportable plant identification.
  4. I plan on looking into grant programs for botanical illustration when the semester ends.

2.)  Descriptions of my individual projects


  1. The Hat Manufacturer’s Convention

Hat Poster colored.jpg

Giving the atmosphere of a tea stained Victorian advertisement I have used tones of brown and deep reds. Sweeping like wild vines the lines twists and grow framing each section. A woman looks serenely over Saint Basil’s Cathedral, painfully recreated in immense detail. She wears a traditional Russian headdress made from soft green moss like velvet.

  1. Maori Culture- The Ferns of New Zealand

A Maori woman stands in an iconic pose her back to us and her face turned just enough to look up dreamily. She wears detailed, beaded traditional dress with reds offsetting the black and white. She holds an unfurling fern in her hand, seemingly offering it. Two giant ferns sweep upwards and curl in towards the woman framing her in deep forest green. Below her a Maori boat frames “Maori Culture” with detailed carvings. The tops corners depict different boat oar carvings in detail splayed in a fan like gesture. Carvings from Maori temples frame the title.  

  1. Botanical Lines

There are 10 flowers depicted. The botanical illustrations define the detail in the delicate petals, giving new life to the natural textures. I used black and white to further emphasize the details.The lines curve around the forms just as ridges in petals do. In the originals the lines can be felt, slightly carved into the paper by quill nibs. I attempted to create a sense of a scientific display by using 9×9 inch squares with the flowers centered and used the botanical binomial scientific name for each plant.    

  1. Luna Moths

Intricately detailed lines create a scientific atmosphere for viewing the insects. The moths are colored with soft fuzzy greens and pale red giving them an ephemeral air. The float in their squares silently. Their colors offset the black and white of the botanical illustrations that they sit next to in the display allowing the viewers eyes to circle back to the other colored items displayed.    

  1. Faces Among the Flowers

Carefully illustrated portraits of important women in my life surrounded by their favorite plants and flowers. Each piece is drawn from a picture of the subject in which they felt beautiful. Having these reference pictures were a very important part of the work, I needed the subjects to not be fully aware that they were being photographed so they would be themselves truly and without the context of other people’s thoughts.
3.) Images of my work Online Portfolio

My Gallery Layout