Wendy hollender

People that may not “get” certain abstract or modern art pieces might enjoy the mix of visual simplicity and technical skill that botanical art offers. One does not have to be the head of the Society of Botanical Artists to see why this incredibly detailed style of art has remained popular for so long. Art, horticulture and environmental science all come together to vividly represent the living world.

People asking themselves “what is botanical art” may be surprised at the incredible detail that goes into illustrations created by botanical artists. To put it simply, botanical art is the accurate representation of plants in form, color and detail. From the student picking up their first paintbrush to the master painter, fans of this particular style of art are each fascinated as they learn about its rich history and tradition through organizations like the Society of Botanical Artists.

Some people may take this style for granted, because of the fact that it relies on technical accuracy and realistic imagery, rather than abstract representations. Botanical art first arose out of a need for identifying plants and flowers for medicinal purposes. Since information was not yet widely distributed through printing, these detailed images were the only way to educate people about the specific uses and properties of plants. Botanical artwork needed to be as accurate as possible, since its sole purpose was to inform the reader seeking a particular remedy.

As the head of any Society of Botanical Artists could explain, botanical artistry lunged ahead during the Renaissance. Inventions like the microscope gave people a chance to study and examine plants in much greater detail. As time passed, people became more concerned with conveying the beauty of a plant, than showing off any cultural, medicinal or religious meaning that it might have had.

Professional artists as well as those that are just interested in gardening and the outdoors could come to love this timeless form of artistic expression. Exploring the works of classic masters like Mark Catesby and John James Audubon can give people an indication of where botanical art came from. Botanical art exhibitions can still be found across the country, including the American Society of Botanical Artists traveling exhibit, Following the Bartrams Footsteps, that will next appear in Bradenton, Florida this September.