My Favourite Botanical Watercolour Books

Today I endeavour to be more succinct! I know I have a habit of writing very loooooong blogs.

I cannot wait to introduce you to my favourite botanical watercolour books.

“But”, you might say, “I’m not interested in Botanical art!”

However, these books teach bucket loads on technique. So even if you are not interested in Botanical Art, you will still find a colossal amount of value in learning the techniques.

So, which are my favourite Botanical Watercolour Books?

Admission time: I love botanical art and I love botanical art books. Even if I didn’t paint, or wasn’t a keen botanical artist, I would still have bought these books. They are artworks by themselves.

I knew, when I first saw some of Anna Mason’s Youtube videos, that I would have to buy her books at some point.  Then I stumbled on Billy Showell! Needless to say, they are not the only botanical artists whose work makes me drool like a Bull Mastiff.

I knew, from reading reviews, that both Billy and Anna’s books contain a lot of information about technique. That is where my interest lays. Their books also contain step-by-step instructions for replicating their own work, and I know that these projects are very popular with a lot of people.

However, I see a greater value in learning techniques. When an art student learns a technique, they are free to apply it any way they see fit, to any artwork. They can also adapt those techniques, because they only learn the technique. They learn to problem-solve when there are issues, and they become inventive with solutions.

I am not such a huge fan of the step-by-step method, simply because I feel that students do not always learn to think for themselves. Even though capable, they often lack confidence to strike out on their own, and continue painting by number, instead of allowing their cognition and creative thinking to kick in.


I guess it would be fair to say that even though Billy Showell and Anna Mason are both brilliant photo-realist botanical artists, they approach their work from very different perspectives.

They even use different brushes!

Anna works wet-on-dry and creates vibrant, intensely coloured blooms. Billy is a big proponent of wet-on-wet painting, and produces an illusion of subtle, translucent delicacy. One is not better than the other. They are simply, completely different.

Both artists give useful advice concerning colour and colour mixing, which is always enlightening. They each use their own favourite colours. No artists can own every colour, but you may wish to add additional colours to your palettes once you have read their books.

What did I learn from each artist?

From Anna’s books, I learn how to make the most of bold colours, and not be intimidated by values. I have always been terrified (without reason!) of making my darkest values too dark.

From Billy’s book, I have absorbed so much about technique, especially how to use wet-on-wet techniques, because I am a dry watercolourist and have always been a little intimidated by the unpredictability of wet-on-wet painting.

The verdict

Will I be applying what I have learnt to my work? ABSOLUTELY!

Over the years, I have learnt to analyse my artwork and decide what needs to be done for the betterment of the painting. I no longer feel apprehensive about using techniques, because I am better informed how to use them, and now apply these to illustration work that is not botanically related.

Just because these books focus on painting plants doesn’t mean that the techniques cannot be used for painting costumes, or animals, etc. They can, because I use them for more than painting cosmos or autumn leaves.

Please join me this time next month when I review a couple of lovely picture books.

Until next time…