illustration is a balance between the realistic rendering
of a plant,
and the stylistic interpretation of the artist.
wildlife illustrator, writer and conservationist, my artistic
style is a balance of realistic to stylistic interpretation.
Nature subjects are rendered using pre-20th century illustration
techniques of form, translucency and depth. Within the matrix,
negative space allows the viewer to journey and discover my
depiction of natural interactions. Surprise and learning
revealed through narrative of the ecosystem or micro-habitat
culminate in an understanding of each unique association.
Classic two dimension illustration is depicted on vellum (sheep
skin) or drafting film using pen & ink or watercolor. The
substrates and mediums I choose are Italian handmade paper for
control of glaze absorption in watercolor, drafting film to
obtain detail of burnished color pencil drawings and low VOC
latex for ecologically green wall murals. Many workshops
complete my graphic design abilities. I use camera and various
graphic applications to achieve compilation for print design.
to publish my research and illustration is still forming.
Through the learning process my corporation has formed
collaborations and lifelong bonds with numerous people and
organizations. The hats I wear of Illustrator, Promotion
Company, Event Coordinator, Curator or Juror supply the highest
reward, to foster the growth and understanding of conservation.
Debra utilizes pre-20th
century techniques of form and translucency to capture her
subjects. The art begins with research. Personal sketches
capture the morphology, photographs and historical references
emerge giving life to her art.
Botanical illustration uses the sfumato technique in all
media. This is what causes an object with a great amount of
negative space to appear three dimensional. Sfumato is an artist
technique of allowing tones and colors to shade so gradually
that there is no perceptible transition. Developed by painters
that applied thin, translucent layers of color to create
perceptions of depth, volume and form. Sfumato translates from
Italian meaning “vanished” and is derived from the Italian word
fumo meaning “smoke” describing the subtleness in tonal
change. Two of the best examples in history come from Leonardo
da Vinci. His famous hand drawing shows anatomical
knowledge yet the pencil technique abounds with depth, volume
and form. Leonardo’s Mona Lisa is painted using tiny dots
in up to 40 layers resulting in highlight, mid-light, lowlight,
shadow and cast shadow that emerge from small spaces for
complete manifestation. The pencil stroke is a figure “8”
movement with varying pressure to achieve form. Layering hue’s
of color pencil create soft or burnished volume. The two brush
method in watercolor with the addition of thin glaze layers
create depth perception.
Perspective is the second pre-20th century technique used in
botanical illustration to show visual perception. This technique
includes the way objects are spatially placed and the tonal
value given to the foreground, mid-ground, background and
far-ground. Perspective translates from Latin perspicere
meaning "to see clearly" referring to how the eye perceives the
image on a flat surface. Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446)
invented the first known perspective picture. The painted the
Baptistry in Florence from the gate of the cathedral. It was
a painted panel with a hole at the vanishing point. Reflecting
the image in a mirror while looking through the hole the viewer
observed linear perspective.
The renaissance technique Chiaroscuro (ke-ära-skooro) takes the
result of the sfumato technique and perspective technique creating
form with a balanced light and dark contrast.
Many ground natural pigments early colorist’s used are in
today’s clean paints. Debra has studied each paint manufacturer
she selects to obtain translucent glazes. Watercolor paint and
paper are selected to produce lightfast hues and acid free
qualities. Debra uses low VOC (volitile organic compounds) faux
finishing products to produce translucent wall murals. These
tools allow each piece to transcend the subject from any surface
while maintaining scientific clarity.
Through evolutionary time plants and animals have adapted to a
changing climate and environment. Scientific explorers that
discover these adaptations reveal amazing passive as well as
active interactions. Debra searches like others, to show
Darwin’s “abominable mystery” of the co-evolution of
pollination. She hopes that she may contribute in a small way,
to the conservation of the subject’s microhabitat, through her
art and prose.