Painting realistic botanical and floral illustrations was one of the main challenges for me until mid 2019 to be precise. I always used to get mesmerized with the works of many wonderful artists. Looking at their beautiful paintings, I used to wonder how on earth these people bring so much life to their paintings. And one day I just bought a few supplies(better than what I was using at that time) and started playing with them. Slowly with some patience, errors and even frustrations, I got to a point where I could say that my work stand somewhere in the realistic world. However, there is a still a lot more to achieve, but I am happy with the slow process I have followed and not rushed into instant success trap.
You will always see people saying that they bought high quality and expensive supplies and all of a sudden, they saw an instant improvement in their work. Well, to a certain point this is true but let me tell you, splurging on expensive material is just not the only step to improve your art. In fact, buying expensive materials just when you are learning something will never help you. The high cost of those art supplies will always intimidate you and you will not use them as much you should do which can lead to frustration. There are so many factors that play and important role in improving our art and we will talk about them in my upcoming post very soon. But for now let's focus on the supplies that I have used personally and will like to recommend them to anyone who wants to get into the world of botanical illustration with watercolors.
Disclaimer: All the supplies that I am going to mention in this post have been used by me personally and still use them. Every artist and their style is different so your tase may be different from mine.
So below I am listing all the materials I have been using since last one year to paint my realistic botanical illustrations. I will also share what I like and don't like in them. So you can get some idea about the materials you can buy if you are looking for some good materials and tools for yourself. So let's get started :)
PAPER: Paper is one of the most important and crucial tools when it comes to botanical art. If you are a beginner, I will recommend to use some decent quality not so expensive papers for your practice. I have used Canson XL and I know hearing this may sound silly as Canson XL is a student grade paper and is not what any botanical artist would prefer. But to be honest, after doing many hit and trials on this paper, I became more confident with my techniques and strokes. And there came a point when I myself felt that it is the time to upgrade to a better paper. And then I bought Arches Hot Pressed and Fabriano Artistico Hot pressed. It has been more than 2 years, I have never looked for any other paper other than Fabriano Artistico HP. Arches is a choice for many artists but somehow I don't like it. So my recommendation is Fabriano Artistico HP (300 GSM or 640GSM is even better). I buy a pack of large sheets from BLICK and cut them into smaller size as per my needs.
BRUSHES: Brush is one thing that I am still on a lookout. I have a few good brushes which I love but haven't found the one which I would say "Ohh this is it". Nah! not yet. But I will suggest some good brushes for you which I use. Silver Black Velvet Round 6 is one of the best brushes I have used. One downside of this brush is that it is not a 100% vegan brush. And I am looking for a good replacement. But for now it is what I use the most. For details, I use Rosemary's Anna Mason brushes. They are available on Rosemary' website and luckily I found someone in my area who sells them. They are decent quality synthetic brushes. But so far I am not very much pleased as I am still looking for my love. Will update you guys when I find the one :)
PAINTS: I have a very limited set of tubes from a very limited set of brands- in fact 2 brands only. I use Winsor and Newton Professional paints and Sennelier paints. There only one more brand I am planning to buy some shades from and that is M Graham's. I bought their Pyrrol red a while ago from Jerry's Artarama and I just love it. I have heard a lot of good things about M Graham's paints and would love to try more shades from them. The shades that I use the most for my botanicals are Permanent Rose, Olive Green., Winsor Yellow, Winsor Blue, Chinese Orange, Payne's Gray, Lemon Yellow, Sennelier Brush Red, Sap Green, Burnt Umber and some times White gouache.
PALETTE: For mixing and storing paints, you'll always need a palette. You can use a ceramic plate or dish. Or my choice in plastic palettes is Mijello Fusion palette. I love the quality of this platte. It comes with 18 wells for storing paints and a lot of mixing space and an extra tray.
PENCIL: For sketching I always use an H or a 2H pencil to get light marks on the paper so it is easy to remove them without getting any dark marks on the paper.
ERASER: Faber Castell kneadable eraser is what I will always recommend to any artist. This eraser has made my life so much easier. It leaves absolutely no dust and picks up the graphite so easily.And it will last for years.
MASKING TAPE: I generally don't use a tale to stick my paper on the surface because I tend to move my paper and turn it around to paint easily. But if you are a very organized artist, you can stretch your paper with a masking tape.
WATER JAR: Of course water is needed and many artists use 2 jars of water for their watercolor painting. But with experience I have learnt that if you are a detailed artist, you will just need a small amount of water as with detailed paintings, we tend to use just 1 or 2 shades at a time and the water doesn't get muddy easily. I even use the same water for days(can you imagine). Save water guys.
COTTON RAG: I use old cotton rags instead of paper or kitchen towel for blotting and cleaning my brushes. Environment friendly , right ? :)
So thats all what I use for my realistic botanical paintings. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me Here.
I will be coming up with more useful tips, techniques on this blog and my Youtube Channel.