Too Much Detail?

One of the things I am asked when I teach a botanical art class is…. "How much detail should I put in the leaves?" This is a hard question to answer. My first response it, "It depends".  If you are looking to show a fair amount of detail so that the leaf looks realistic the basic rule is, whatever you see from about 12 to 18 inches away. I usually do a rubbing of the leaf to see how much detail I can get and then look at whether it looks like too much or not enough. I have also taken leaves to the xerox machine and made a photocopy to see what the scanner picks up. Both techniques are worthwhile since they give me a record of the structure of the leaf that I can refer to when the leaf is past its prime. Another consideration is to decide what I am trying to portray? If I were working for a botanist the first thing I would want to know is…… what does the botanist want to illustrate. Is it the basic venation, the capillary structure or something in between? There is no sense doing a botanical plate to find out that the botanist wanted a simple line silhouette of the leaf and I did a drawing under the microscope. It never hurts to ask!

In my drawing for today I went back to working in silverpoint and did a leaf from a passion vine. When I did my rubbing the most amazing structure was unveiled. The shape of the leaf is unusual and it was even more intriguing to see what was not visible 12 inches away. When I did this drawing it looked more like a lace pattern to me than a leaf. Luckily for me I was doing it for myself and no one else. Today I just did what felt right.

This leaf can be purchased in my my Etsy shop: BugsBeastsBotanicals