From the Studio: Botanical Illustration
An initial study in colored pencil of the Black-Eyed Susan illustration, bound for the Justice Card
Each card in The Garden Journey features an original painting of the flower or plant that represents the card in the Major Arcana with which it is linked.
The practice of botanical illustration dates back centuries - with early collections of plant drawings dating to 1450 BC being discovered in Egyptian temples at Karnak. More than simple ornament, botanical illustration serves to beautifully enrich people's understanding of the structure and character of plants.
Botanical illustration served to enrich the books known as herbals, in which scholars laid out the medicinal qualities of wild and cultivated plants around them. Images of plants also served as decoration in works like the Mira calligraphiae monumenta, a book created to illustrate technical virtuosity in calligraphy.
Elizabeth Blackwell, "Iris", 1751
Joris Hoefnagel, "Love-in-a-Mist, Sweet Cherry, and Spanish Chestnut", 1591-1596
Mary Delany's exquisite cut-paper collages were created when the artist was 72 years old and gained such renown that friends and botanists began to send specimens from around the world for her to depict. French artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté gained the sobriquet “the Raphael of flowers” for his compendiums of flower paintings, including roses and lilies, which thrilled the French nobility.
Mary Delany, "Rhododendron Maximum", 1778
Pierre-Joseph Redouté, "African Lily" and "Jacobean Lily", 1802-1816
For The Garden Journey, Joanne painted 22 of these botanical illustrations in watercolor, choosing each flower as a subject for each card based on the language of flowers. Botanical illustration is often experienced as a decorative artform framed on walls or in tomes too big to hold in your hands. In The Garden Journey, however, the precise detail and expressive color of each flower and plant provides an experience as transportive to the cardholder as a solitary stroll through a garden.
Botanical illustration relies on close and careful observation of the subject - whether a flower or a lichen. Traditionally executed in watercolor, the precise matching of colors, textures, forms, and growing habits are critical for capturing the character of the subject.
Mixing watercolor pigments to obtain the specific hues needed to depict a botanical specimen - greens are especially important!
A study of a fall gourd's shape and texture
For a painting like the Black-Eyed Susan which is featured on the Justice card, Joanne acquired a plant specimen so she could observe and draw from life, then carefully rendered and painted the four flowers and their leaves.
The subject of the Justice card: Black-Eyed Susan
One flower, work in progress
The final Black-Eyed Susan painting
Along with marbling, the botanical illustrations of The Garden Journey represent the practice of centuries-old traditions for a modern audience seeking moments of delight, inspiration and clarity.