Art Beat: Botanical Art

Dec 19, 2019

An illustration of redwig dogwood
Credit Kristina Spitzner

Kristina Spitzner loves a nature walk. But it’s not enough for her to take it all in as she passes by. With a background in advertising and graphic design, Spitzner now devotes her time to working as a botanical artist and natural science illustrator.


“Botanical art goes back to the 13th century,” Spitzner says. “With time it became drawing plants for identification, maybe for medicinal purposes…or for explorers as they traveled. It became not only a fine art form but also the science illustration to identify species and share information for educational purposes.”

While taking a photograph of a plant is quick and easy, creating an illustration can give a much more detailed and multi-faceted perspective, Spitzner says.

Kristina Spitzner

“A traditional botanical illustration will show you more views than the typical photograph,” she says. “Generally, the background is white. That helps to clarify what you’re looking at. Sometimes it also includes different phases of the plant through the seasons, like maybe a seed pod, (and) its growth and change.”

Spitzner uses watercolors as her medium to create her illustrations.

“I think it’s the most beautiful because it’s a transparent medium,” she says. “I don’t think anyone masters it but learns to control it better. Sometimes letting it flow is why it’s beautiful.”

Spitzner devotes most of her art to botanical watercolor studies for publications as well as for graphics, textile patterns, and surface designs. Her work has appeared in local and national gallery exhibits, fine art fairs, and artist markets. Spitzner also teaches botanical art techniques to others. She sells her work at many local art fairs and events, and through her Red Briar Studio in Plainwell.

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