Botanical Drawing & Botany 2016

August 24th, 2016
By Allen,Sarah E

In late July and early August, 2016, I attended the Botany Conference, which was held in Savannah, GA.  On the Sunday before the main sessions started, I participated in a workshop on Botanical Drawing.  It was taught by Alice Tangerini, the staff illustrator in the Botany Department at the Smithsonian.  You can see some of her work here.  We drew Gordonia lasianthus (common name: loblolly bay), a woody evergreen species in the Theaceae or tea family native to the southeast.  We had many photos of Gordonia lasianthus along with pressed (and photocopied) fresh material.  We used both the photocopies and the photos to trace all aspects of the plant onto matte acetate using pencil.  We cut out the matte acetate tracings and arranged them on a plate of Bristol board.  As matte acetate contains lignin and is not archival, we retraced our drawings using ink onto the polypropylene surface Dendril.  I had my first extensive experience dipping a pen into ink to complete the final drawing.  We had both fine and course nibs for different line weights.


Here is some pressed fresh material.  Scale bar = 5 cm.

image_5_web image_1-(2)_web

Left: My arranged draft plate in pencil on matte acetate.  Right: My archival plate with ink on Dendril.


We traced the fresh material directly to produce some of the images in actual life size.  Many of the other elements on the plate were drawn larger than life size from photographs.  Overall, it was an enjoyable class and I was impressed with how well the final drawings turned out!

The oral conference presentations started on Monday and continued through Wednesday.  You can read my abstract hereI outlined my findings on the fossil wood from Blue Rim. 


There were paleobotany sessions throughout the meeting along with talks in all sub-disciplines of botany.  This conference provides a great opportunity to interact with other students and researchers in my specific field in addition to those who study other aspects of botany.  If you are curious about the research interests of other paleobotanists, links to a few of their labs are listed below.  At least one researcher from each of these labs presented at Botany 2016.

Looy Lab; UC Berkeley

Smith Lab; University of Michigan

Strömberg Lab; University of Washington

Tomescu Lab; Humboldt State University

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