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Botanical art: Why drawing plants and flowers is back in fashion

A lady's hand draws a flower on paper.
Drawing and documenting plants has become a popular artform.

ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe

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The art of documenting plants and flowers is having a resurgence, with more and more people wanting to draw what they see rather than take photos.

Illustrations of native Australian plants and flowers have come into fashion, especially with young adults keen to learn the artform.

The pineapple artwork was created in water colours.
A pineapple painted in water colours by Anne Hayes shows the detail of the plant and the fruit.

Supplied: Anne Hayes

Botanical art involves documenting plant life, not only for art, but also for science and environmental research.

"We're having an issue as all our workshops are full, right across Queensland," Dr Nita Lester, president the Botanical Artists' Society of Queensland, said.

"People now see it across the world as an important artform.

"It's been wonderful to work one on one and to show anyone how to create the work and see the flowers unfold on the paper."

Drawings better than photos

Although photos are often taken to document plant life, Dr Lester said drawings were more important.

"A photograph is great as you get an instant record, but a botanical artist records the whole life cycle of the plant, so in one composition it can have the buds, dying flowers, right through to the fruit and seeds," she said.

She said before artists put paintbrush to paper, many botanical artists undertook months of research.

"Sometimes they choose a species first as it could be endangered; in other cases they have been commissioned for the work to be placed in records," Dr Lester said.

A changing artform

As the artform evolves, Dr Lester said insects and animals were being added to the images, which was not done traditionally.

Dr Nita Lester holds framed art work of a plant and butterfly.
Dr Nita Lester is proud of the botanical art being created by new artists.

ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe

"Many of the botanical pieces now also include the pollinators like the bees, ants or birds, whereas in the past it was just strictly the plants," she said.

Most artists use watercolours, pen and ink, scraper boards and acrylic to record the plants.

"There is such an array of works which botanists create, colourful works, green works and black and white ... it's so varied," Dr Lester said.

Drawing of sweet peas, flowers and seed pods.
The watercolour shows Minjung Oh's delicate work which details the seed, flowers and vine.

Supplied: Minjung Oh

"When you look at the pieces, everyone sees the same thing in a different way.

"You could have an exhibition just on violets, and that's what makes it special as well."

Award-winning botanical artists

Dr Lester said the botanical artists' community was a very passionate one, especially Queenslanders.

Banskia seedpod painted by Anne Hayes.
The watercolour by Anne Hayes shows how intricate the banksia seedpod is.

Supplied: Anne Hayes

"We're at the top of the game," she said.

"They are kind, gentle and caring and have a good understanding of the whole environment."

The Botanical Artists' Society of Queensland exhibition Floressence runs till November 20 at Mt Coot-tha Auditorium, Brisbane.