More Senna painting

A couple of posts ago I showed you the plant that I am going to paint from my time in Menindee. It is Senna artemisioides subspecies filifolia. While I haven’t begun to paint it yet, I thought I would show you a little more of the preparation process, and some of the information I needed to collect before I came home.

This is the specimen I am painting


and this is the finished drawing, done on tracing paper.

Drawing on tracing paper (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2106)

A close up of the drawing. (Yes, I am also wondering how I am going to paint it!)

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

As we collect specimens for the Herbarium we have to have very detailed notes about the environment of the plant. That information is recorded on a label that accompanies the plant to the Herbarium. You can see that precise information is needed. Beckler’s original collecting notes were often quite vague, with locality being something general like Lake Pamamaroo. Smart phones and GPS means that we can pin point our position.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

This senna has the most wonderful seed pods. The mature ones are rich mahogany and twist and curl as they open to spill their seeds. I am going to add a row of them below the plant.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)


A key aspect of the plant is, of course, colour. It was important that I worked out the right colour (and recorded the mix!) before the colours of the plant faded.  Sometime I am confident that I have nailed the colour only to find when I start painting that it isn’t right. These look pretty good now, so fingers crossed.

So, I have all the information I need to start the painting. All I have to do is clear off my very messy table and finish off a few other works in progress………

The very messy work table! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)


11 Comments Add yours

  1. katechiconi says:

    I love seeing how art and science cooperate, not only in collecting and recording, but in technical colour mixing and matching aspect. This drawing is certainly a technical challenge, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how you accomplish the finished result.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne54 says:

      There is a surprising amount of science in art, and especially botanical art. It has been defined as making science visible. Quite apt when you think of drawing at a molecular level.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am in such awe of your skills. Botanical illustration is something I would have loved to have got the hang of, but sadly my artistic talents lie elsewhere… a long way elsewhere!


    1. anne54 says:

      Thank you for the compliment, but really it is detailed copying. You draw what you see. If you put something before me I can create a work on paper; however, if I try to draw flowers from my imagination they all end up looking like very basic daisies! So abstract art is something beyond my understanding. Fortunately I have found a genre that suits me!


      1. You are too modest – you have a wonderful skill. Plant ecologists like me are indebted to botanical artists – without your creations learning to identify plants would be so much harder.


  3. acflory says:

    I love all the various stages but I think the part that fascinates me the most is the colour sampling. Do you choose the colours according to time of day – i.e. quality of light – or do you use artificial light to ensure you get a uniform colour match?


    1. anne54 says:

      What a perceptive question….. When you set up a specimen in a studio you do try to mimic day light by using a day light globe. An ordinary globe is too stark. However, my colour mixing borders on the “that’s close enough” side, so I am not the best person to ask. I know other artists who do very detailed and complicated colour charts to make sure they not only have the right colour, but also have the right tones and hues.


      1. acflory says:

        Sorry, what’s a daylight globe? Is it the one labelled ‘warm white’? And my fascination with light or light-ing comes from the differences between what I see on my computer screen and what comes out via the printer. RGB vs CMYK.


  4. KerryCan says:

    This really is so interesting–I have never given a moment’s thought to the process behind botanical painting and your overview has been an eye-opener!


    1. anne54 says:

      I am pleased that you have found it interesting. As I said above, I tend to be more slapdash than other artists. The sketchbook squirrel’s art is far more precise.


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