Meet Botanical Illustrator Susan Rubin

comments (10) March 6th, 2016

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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Botanical illustrator Susan Rubin likes to tell a light-hearted story with her work. Her peppermint plant illustration is part of a series of pieces about spices, their uses, and a map indicating their origins.
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Botanical illustrator Susan Rubin likes to tell a light-hearted story with her work. Her peppermint plant illustration is part of a series of pieces about spices, their uses, and a map indicating their origins.

 

Photo: Susan Rubin

"Botanical illustration is the lovely marriage of science and art, so accuracy and detail are always the driving force in my work," says Susan Rubin. "I'm driven by the urge to connect people with plants."

Susan is a full-time artist, an instructor in the School of Botanical Art and Illustration at the Denver Botanic gardens, and an illustrator for Botanical Interests seed company. Not only is she a talented artist, she's an avid vegetable gardener, too.

In her small urban garden she grows the plants she wants to eat, as well as draw. "They're not always the same thing," she adds.

She says her garden always includes tomatoes, beans, peas, eggplant, peppers, squash and greens. She also plants corn for the squirrels to enjoy, and artichokes and horseradish "mostly for the leaves to draw."

Her kitchen garden is filled with herbs like fresh chives, basil, oregano, savory, thyme, chervil, parsley, cilantro, mint and more.

Susan's interest in botanical illustration dates to Colorado College in the 1970s. "A favorite professor and renowned botanist, Jack Carter, encouraged me to illustrate a project for a course called The Flowering Plant."

Apparently he liked her work because a few of her illustrations appeared in his book called Trees and Shrubs of Colorado.

She eventually rediscovered botanical illustration at the Denver Botanic Gardens and graduated from the program there in 1990. She's been drawing plants and teaching the skills to others since 1998. Her website features many examples of her beautifully detailed artwork.

Susan teaches a beginning colored pencil class on Craftsy, where she encourages students to try their hand by offering half-price tuition. 

"Every illustration begins with research and observation," she says. "It emerges as a rough sketch and gradually comes into focus with added detail. It's a slow, meditative process that is really satisfying."


posted in: herbs, Botanical Interests

Comments (10)

ShakolGopter writes: Best of the Best, really well said

Posted: 4:27 am on October 13th
Riffithenson writes: You're genius Susan!!
Posted: 2:27 am on August 31st
Summers_Fellice writes: Wow .... this is great :0
Posted: 6:41 am on April 26th
evanlynn writes: Wow nice creativity ...
Posted: 5:29 am on April 12th
lazypeacock944 writes: Wow, they are mesmerizing. I think I would gladly frame them and have them hanging on the walls in the kitchen. Can we buy them anywhere?
Posted: 11:48 am on March 23rd
blackbird314 writes: I love Susan Robin's content! She has incredibly huge knowledge and love for what she's doing!
Posted: 7:36 am on March 13th
stewardMblake writes: Splendid art. Thank you for sharing it with us, Jodi!
Posted: 4:18 am on March 10th
HDaniels99 writes: Wow! She's an amazing artist! Her arts are awesome :)
Posted: 10:30 am on March 9th
WesternGardener writes: Thanks for adding your nice comments! I'll be sure to pass them along to Susan.

Regards,
Jodi
Posted: 12:46 pm on March 8th
blueelephant199 writes: I was so lucky that I met Susan Rubin one time. She is a great woman, who knows who to do in her life and help others! And by the way, great article!
Posted: 10:36 am on March 8th
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