Colorful Leaves, A Coloring Book of Artwork from Nature

Funded by the 2015 Anne Ophelia Dowden Award

by Gail Selfridge

The book Colorful Leaves can serve as a tool for introducing botanical art and illustration into a classroom setting or educational outreach program, in addition to personal use. Colorful Leaves combines color inspiration from nature with a selection of reproducible and/or transferable preliminary line drawings. There is also information on how to develop scientifically accurate line drawings from materials found in your own neighborhood, a practice section with step-by-step illustrations matching colors found in nature to colors available in art materials, and a listing of all the colors/materials that were used to create the examples.

Initially, much time was devoted to collecting specimens, creating the line drawings and color examples, writing the text, and preparing the material to be sent to the printer. Once printed, the focus shifted to distribution and promotion. In addition to making the publication available on Amazon, I did an interview with Tania Marien that included extensive information about the development and use of the materials.

Review copies were sent, and to promote the use of Colorful Leaves as part of an educational outreach activity, complimentary copies were made available to ASBA and GNSI members in exchange for giving an educational program and then preparing a short description of the event and photos. Fourteen respondents agreed to participate: 5 in California, 2 in Pennsylvania, 1 each in Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, Nebraska, New York, Toronto Ontario Canada, and Montevideo Uruguay.

There was no curriculum that accompanied the use of the books nor instructions for how workshops should be given. People were free to read the text and decide for themselves how best to present the material for their group. There were fourteen presenters and fourteen different and creative ways for connecting workshop participants with nature and botanical drawing. Some workshops were directed to adults and others to children, and all of the results were amazing. It was very rewarding for me to see the results of the workshops, and the success of the grant was greatly increased by the work of these presenters. Many thanks to each of them for their hard work and efforts.

Presenters and reviewers report that sharing these techniques with others has helped them, promoted the scientifically accurate portrayal of plants and given them an opportunity to promote the American Society of Botanical Artists. All of the accomplishments of the project were made possible through the ASBA grant, and without it none of this could have happened.

Buy the book here

Click here to download a copy of the book or to read about Workshops and Presenters inspired by Colorful Leave

View a Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Article about the Colorful Leaves project https://gnsi.org/journal/art-and-science-colorful-leaves

  • Elaine Bergstrom workshop, Pittsburgh PA (leaf rubbing)
  • Dorothy DePaulo workshop, Lakewood CO
  • Dorothy DePaulo workshop, Lakewood CO