Varoom 41: Flora and Fungi

In this excerpt from Varoom 41 Katie Scott reveals the process behind her project with Kew Gardens

I draw plants, but I am not technically a ‘botanical illustrator’. My illustrations are not totally scientifically accurate; there is a good amount of stylistic interpretation. But even so, before taking the license to manipulate the form of a plant, you really have to understand its structure. I always start an image by spending time studying how a plant is formed; how its leaves separate from its stem, or how its flower is formed. Once you have that in your head, you can draw the plant in any composition, twisting and bending it to fit the space you have in your own design.

Succulents and Cacti, Botanicum, 2016

My collaboration with Kew Gardens (the UK’s largest botanical garden) started when my publisher and I were discussing a botanical sequel to my natural history book Animalium. They introduced me to Kew, and I was extremely excited to hear they wanted to work with me – they had been on my dream list of collaborators since the day I left art college. So far we have created two large-format books together; Botanicum (a guide to plant life) and Fungarium (a guide to fungi).

What is a Fungus, Fungarium, 2019

Even though Kew were on board with the style I developed for Botanicum, I had to step up the accuracy of my drawings. The botanists I worked with were comfortable with some interpretation, but they still wanted flowers to have the correct number of petals, and to make sure that particular details that would distinguish one plant species from another remained intact.

Cup Fungi, Fungarium, 2019
To see more of Flora and Fungi purchase Varoom 41

Katie Scott books published by Big Picture Press and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

6th April 2021

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