Making scientifically accurate pictures of plants in their natural habitat requires long training in botanical illustration.
For more beautiful botanical illustrations and photos of the artist please see the original article.
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Art meets science: Botanical illustration is a field poised to carve out a new niche in this digital age by Yanapon Musiket
While many art galleries in town focus on modern art, Serindia Gallery stays true to its mission - finding rare gems on the Asian art scene - by introducing a rare field, botanical illustrations, created by Indian illustrator Hemlata Pradhan.
Artist studying the subjects from the location in nature.
Marked as a rare showcase where artists and scientists get to mingle, Hemlata's debut exhibition in Thailand, "Watercolor Painting of Exquisite Orchids and Other Plants of the Himalayas", is set to bring viewers to the exotic Himalayan mountains, home to extraordinary plants and their habitat. With her expertise in a field that has somehow been underestimated, Hemlata has immortalised beautiful flowers onto blank papers and delivered a more passionate side of an image of flower that you can hardly find from a digital photograph.
Before presenting an art that celebrates the beauty of nature, Hemlata talks about her exhibition and her future
- Tell us about your path to becoming a botanical illustrator?
My inspiration came when I was just 11 years old, when I first saw my father, an orchidologist, sketching for his books on Indian orchids. In the beginning it was more of a hobby but that slowly changed into a serious passion and now a career
Although I did my bachelor's degree in printmaking from Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan, West Bengal, which is quite different from what I do today, but I carried on - drawing and painting plants hoping that one day I would be able to find a college which would be able to offer me a course in botanical illustrations.
After graduating in 1998 my dream finally came true when I was accepted for a three-month diploma course in botanical illustrations at Kew Gardens, England, under a grant courtesy of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. I was also the first Asian recipient of this scholarship.
In 2000, I received a DFID scholarship from the Association of Commonwealth Universities in London to pursue a master's degree in Natural History Illustration and Ecological Studies at the Royal College of Art, London.
After having completed my course I went back to India in 2002 and embarked on a series of paintings inspired by my long time association with orchids and other plants of the Indian Himalayas and my passion for conservation of these wonderful natural heritages.
Since the dawn of digital technology, botanical illustrations seem to be of interest to particular peers only. How is the recognition of this art filed nowadays?
It is very unheard of, yes. But, if you go to Western countries, especially in Europe and America, there are many botanical illustrators who work closely with botanists. However, only a few are recognised as specialists at the moment.
Does it require of botanical illustrators to have strong knowledge of plant anatomy and related scientific background.
Definitely, you need to know at least basic things. The kind of work I do are not only paintings but scientific illustrations. And if the botanists see my work, they could be very critical, so I have to do my homework.
- How long does it take to create one painting?
There is one painting that took me four years to complete. It is a picture of a snow orchid, which will be on show tomorrow. For the painting part alone, it took me one year, but I had to do my research for three years to complete every little detail of the picture. There are not only the orchids alone, but I had to learn other habitats seen in the picture. So, for every single plant you see in this picture, I had done my background studies before I painted them.
There's this funny story. One time I was painting a lot of green spots in one picture, and later that day I could hardly eat vegetables, since I'd been overwhelmed by green colour.
- What do you have in store for the audiences at your debut exhibition in Thailand?
For the works within this exhibition, I took a step further from what I usually do. I'll try to incorporate more of other habitats, instead of painting a single flower or plant.
I belong to the Indian subcontinent's Regional Orchid Specialist Group (IUCN/SSC), so my intention is to highlight the conservation of orchids and the habitats. With my works, I'm trying get the attention of the world for these endangered plants.
- What is your upcoming project?
As I mentioned earlier, we don't have anything such as classes in Natural History Illustrations. There is a Natural History Museum in Mumbai which has some old illustrations, but they are all in the archives. When people don't see them, they don't know much about this field.
Therefore, besides painting I also began to set up a little art school in Kalimpong near Darjeeling in West Bengal state. I would one day like to see Natural History Illustration recognised as a course in fine art in India. Directly or indirectly, I would want to bring about awareness of our dwindling natural heritage and aid in conservation of the environment and all things natural. The institution will be the first of its kind in the subcontinent offering courses in Natural History Illustration and Ecological Studies.
Hemlata Pradhan's 'Watercolour painting of Exquisite Orchids and Other Plants of the Himalayas' will premiere tomorrow at Serindia Gallery and run until May 1. For more information, visit http://www.serindiagallery.com
(Source: Bangkok Post, Art meets science, Botanical illustration is a field poised to carve out a new niche in this digital age, 16/03/2011, Yanapon Musiket, link)
botany - plant science, plant biology, the study of plant life "including structure, growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, diseases, chemical properties, and evolutionary relationships among taxonomic groups. Botany began with early human efforts to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, making it one of the oldest sciences. Today botanists study over 550,000 species of living organisms" (See Wikipedia) พฤกษศาสตร์
botanical - relating to plants or to the scientific study of plants เกี่ยวกับพฤกษศาสตร์
botanist - a person who studies and does research in the field of botany
plant anatomy - the study of the internal and external structure of plants (See Wikipedia and Google Images)
illustration - a picture that explains something, showing its parts and how they work (See Wikipedia) ภาพประกอบ
botanical illustration - a scientifically accurate picture of a plant and how it works (See Wikipedia and Google Videos and Google Images)
botanical illustrator - an artist skilled in making botanical illustrations (See Wikipedia which includes a long list of famous botanical illustrators)
scientific illustrations - pictures that explain science, also called "scientific visualizations " (See Wikipedia)
orchids - a variety of plant with many different species, perhaps as many as 25,000 (See Wikipedia)
snow orchid - a species of orchid that is entirely white (See Wikipedia)
orchidologist - a person who studies orchids
habitat - the type of place that a particular animal usually lives in or a particular plant usually grows in, for example a desert, forest, or lake ถิ่นที่อยู่ของพืชหรือสัตว์
field - a type or work or area of study and research (examples: the field of medicine, the field of botany)
natural history - the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study (See Wikipedia)
ecology (noun) - 1. the relationship between the plants, animals, and the environment in a particular area, 2. the study of the environment and the way that plants, animals, and humans live together and affect each other (See Wikipedia)
conservation - the protection of plants, animals and the places they live and grow (habitats) as well as interesting and important structures and buildings from the damaging effects of human activity อนุรักษ์, การอนุรักษ์ธรรมชาติ, การป้องกันความสูญเสีย, การสงวนไว้
conservation - the preservation and careful management of the environment and of natural resources, "the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction" (See Wikipedia)
endangered - at risk or in danger of being harmed, damaged or destroyed (or ceasing to exist entirely as a species) เป็นอันตราย
endangered plants - species of plants that might disappear completely
species - a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring, the basic unit of biological classification, humans belong to the species Homo Sapiens (See Wikipedia)
nature - things that were not made by humans, that came before humans including the physical world including all living things as well as the land and the seas ธรรมชาติ
natural - found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
heritage - features belonging to the culture of a particular society, such as traditions, languages or buildings, which still exist from the past and which have a historical importance มรดก ประเพณีที่ตกทอด
natural heritage - the natural things (herbs, trees, birds, animals) that a society has, that have existed since a time distant in the past
background - the facts and knowledge you need to understand a subject or series of events
scientific background - the scientific facts and knowledge related to a subject or topic of study
Himalayas - the mountain range with the world's highest mountains, north of India (See Wikipedia and Google Images)
environment - the natural world of land, sea, plants, and animals
subcontinent - a large mass of land like India, that is part of a larger continent (See Wikipedia)
galleries - buildings where you can view paintings or other works of art
debut - the first of something
exhibition - a public show where art or other interesting things are put so that people can go and look at them นิทรรศการ, งานแสดง
watercolor painting - painting with the color or pigment suspended in water (See Wikipedia)
exquisite - beautiful and delicate, elegant สวยงาม, วิจิตร, งดงาม, อ่อนช้อย,
image - any picture, especially one formed by a mirror or a lens ภาพ
inspiration - someone or something that gives you new ideas or enthusiasm to do something แรงบันดาลใจ
passion - a strong enthusiasm or interest ความชื่นชม หลงใหล
career - the series of related jobs that you spend your work life doing (See Wikipedia and glossary)
printmaking - the art of making prints on paper from woodcuts or silkscreens, the transfer of ink or paint from a plate or block or through a screen mesh to paper (See Wikipedia)
Royal College of Art - the world’s only wholly postgraduate university of art and design, offering the degrees of Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) founded in 1837 (See Wikipedia)
fine art - paintings and sculpture to be looked at and appreciated, goal in creating is merely to create something of beauty, without the practical purpose of handicrafts (See Wikipedia)
poised - about to do or achieve something ได้มาซึ่ง
niche - a small specialized area
carve out a new niche - create a new specialized area (of art, business, science, etc)
age - grow older
focus - the main thing it is concerned with ให้ความสำคัญ
mission - an important job, especially a military one, that someone is sent somewhere to do งาน
stays true to its mission - continues working to achieve the goals it set in the past, continues according to plan
art scene - the artist community in a city or area, all the artists and their exhibitions, activities, meetings in an area
rare - not often seen or found หาได้ยาก
rare gems - uncommon, unusual things, not found often ซึ่งหายาก
marked as... - considered by people as...
showcase - to show the best qualities or parts of something แสดงจุดเด่นของสิ่งของหรือคน
mingle - to move around in a group of people, especially at a social event and talk to people
extraordinary - very different and special เป็นพิเศษ
expertise - special detailed knowledge of a subject ความชำนาญเฉพาะทาง special skills, know-how and knowledge from study or practical experience ความถนัด, ทักษะความรู้, ความคิดเห็นของผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
underestimate - to think or guess that something is smaller or less important than it really is (you throught it was unimportant but it is)
immortal (adjective) - living forever, never dieing
immortalise (verb) - make something immortal, make it last forever (for example, through making a painting of it)
talks - negotiations, formal discussions of problems between different sides in a conflict in order to solve the problem
grant - to officially give something ให้
courtesy of - given as a gift or favour by
recipient - the person who receives something
scholarship - paying money to help children to go to school
Commonwealth - Commonwealth of Nations, British Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries, former British colonies, the group helps these countries cooperate politically, economically and culturally, for example through sports and the Commonwealth Games (See Wikipedia)
pursue - to try to achieve something ดำเนินตาม, พยายามเพื่อให้ได้มาซึ่ง to work at something or carry it out ทำให้ลุล่วง
embarked - started on some journey or project
series - several things happening one after another in a row
X inspired by Y - Y helped the person create X, by giving them an idea or stimulating their imagination
association with - going together with, or working with
passion - something you love to do
Since the dawn of.... - from the beginning of
peers - people who are the same age or have the same social position or the same abilities as other people in a group เพื่อนpeople with the same age, job, or status as you เพื่อนร่ีวมสาขาอาชีพ
recognition - be known for something, acknowledging and accepting the value and skill of something
unheard of - never or very rarely happens
recognised as - accepted by the public and experts as being Y (as having the knowledge and skills necessary to be and act as Y)
recognised as specialists - accepted by the public and experts as specialists
moment - a very short period of time; a particular time or occasionชั่วขณะ, โอกาสสำคัญ
at the moment - now
critical - looking and checking very carefully, especially for errors (so must be extra careful that everything is correct)
have to do my homework - have to study relevant things (before and while doing a project)
overwhelmed - have such great amounts of something, that you cannot deal with or handle it (example: the secretary was overwhelmed with work on Friday before the weekend)
What do you have in store... ? - what special thing do you have for ....
incorporate - to add or include something as part of something else
intention - a plan in your mind to do something ความตั้งใจ เจตนา แผนการ
highlight (verb) - to make the most important part of an event จุดสำคัญ เรียกทับศัพท์ว่า ไฮไลท์
upcoming - will happen soon ที่กำลังจะมาถึง
directly - achieve goal by working directly for goal
indirectly - achieve goal by first working for another goal, which will help achieve the desried goal
awareness - the state of knowing about something การรับรู้, การทราบ
dwindling - decreasing in amount
aid - help ช่วย
institution - an important tradition or system upon which society is based สถาบัน
premiere - the first public performance of a play or any other type of entertainment แสดงรอบปฐมทัศน์
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