Botany for the Artist by Sarah Simblet



Botany for the Artist
by Sarah Simblet

A few weeks ago I shared The Artist’s Sketchbook by Sarah Simblet, and now I want to share her tour de force on botanical art.

Personally, I love meticulous and detailed art, the more subtle nuance to zero in on and observe, the better!!! So when a friend introduced me to this book, I immediately asked to borrow her copy, and when I returned it to her, I bought my own.

I remember the first year I owned this book, it was always on my nightstand and I would often read through it during my morning cup of tea in bed… oh, those were the days when I could slowly wake up and contemplate art in a slow and relaxed manner. Now I have to schedule time to read, often when Naomi is in preschool, or in waiting rooms and such… I am forever toting an extra bag full of art books around for those stolen moments.

But never mind all that, this is a GREAT book, and now for the details that make it so wonderful!


Sarah Simblet provides good advice on how to work with plants.  How to adapt to the shifting and growing of plants while you draw them.  I found this advice helpful for my floral still-life paintings as well, because when working  from life and not photographs, plants do not stay static but continue to chase the light and grow.  She also has advice on how to cope with the little critters that sometimes come along for the ride into your studio.  There is nothing more distracting than a bunch of ants skittering all over your subject and onto your working surface…


This book is also really helpful in teaching the more scientific aspects of botany.  I admit, I skimmed these parts…  the drawings on these pages are still wonderful.


Her is an example of one of the drawing lessons in the book.


The break down of parts, identifying the anatomy of each plant is so full of detail and so beautifully illustrated.  Another aspect I love about this book is how beautifully each page is composed, the images and text are thoughtfully organized.








And here is a close up of one of her drawings, you can click on each image to enlarge it to study it more.



This book is very well organized and covers the gamut, I love how it breaks down the subject and also how each chapter has at least one lesson on how to draw such meticulous drawings.

Botany for the Artist: An Inspirational Guide to Drawing Plants


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Life Lately: In and Around the Studio

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These four paintings have been delivered to the Principle Gallery for the December Small Works Exhibition… more information on each painting to come…

And here are some snippets from my studio… I have come to the realization that I am a collector, a magpie of sorts, anything of textural interest may find its way home and nestled among to the objects already gathered.
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Chardin by Pierre Rosenberg


Chardin by Pierre Rosenberg

In the summer of 1998 I picked up an interesting book while traveling, “How Proust Can Change Your Life”. At the time, I was in the middle of getting a Master’s in Architecture degree and had no idea that in a little over ten years I would chuck that career away to focus solely on creating fine art.

However in all that time, I never forgot the chapter “How to Open Your Eyes” in this book about Proust. In this chapter Alain de Botton identifies an essay started by Proust where Proust uses the art of Chardin as a foil that shakes his protagonist out of despondency with his life by opening his eyes and encouraging him to take a second look, thus finding beauty and a level of happiness in his life.

At the time (1998) I had minimal understanding of the art of still life. Though since taking my first oil painting class in 2006, I have embraced the art of the still life and how it enhances my perception of the world.

So I think it is only natural to share this monograph of Chardin as a “favorite art book”. It really is a piece de resistance, when it comes to sharing all that is special and great about the simple middle-class scenes Chardin depicted in the 18th Century.


There is an interesting essay at the beginning of the book that shows some photos of the still-life objects depicted in Chardin’s paintings.  I especially love seeing this because I am always interested in how other artists depict and maybe simplify decorative pieces.


The color plates are good in size and clear.



Most every painting has a nice long description.






Really, this is a great book to keep in your library if you are interested in still life and the art of enhancing the beauty found in simple things.



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Feather and Pewter Cup, 10 x 8 inches

Feather and Pewter Cup

Feather and Pewter Cup

This painting is a dramatic example of taking two simple objects, a feather and a new pewter cup, and making them sparkle. By enhancing their characteristics with dramatic lighting and deep, rich colors, I was able to speak more about their potential.

One of the qualities I love about being an artist is that I can sometimes embrace a more dramatic expression, taking a step away from my norm {painting in natural light} and celebrate light, color, and form with the help of an incandescent light bulb.

Framed Painting: $500
{10″ x 8″ – oil on canvas panel}
Click here to purchase

20140928-055 feather and pewter cup - framed

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Still Life with Creamer and Grapes, 10 x 8 inches

Still Life with Creamer and Grapes

Still Life with Creamer and Grapes

It was a few years ago when I realized what vision of life I try to share when I paint still lifes. At that time, I was trying to find the one unifying feature that defined what I was doing with my art, and use this information to better inform myself so I could improve my process.

What I learned from this mental exercise is that I am drawn to the subtle nuances of beauty, and that I enjoy how when I slow down to admire a simple object, I feel more complete and at peace with my present. So for me when I paint a still life, I am trying to share this same feeling and sense of calm.

And nothing is more rewarding to me than being able to take a common object, such as this earthenware creamer, and make it sparkle in its own distinct way.

Framed Painting: $500
{10″ x 8″ – oil on canvas panel}
Click here to purchase

20140927-054 creamer and grapes - framed

Leave a comment Filed under Artwork, available paintings, still life