The best fashion, art and science books

Christina Brodie Author Of Drawing and Painting Plants
By Christina Brodie

Who am I?

I am a somewhat eclectic personality, who has studied both arts (fashion, illustration) and sciences (geology, chemistry) alike. I hope that in the book choices I have made - using my love of words, appreciation of fine books, and natural discernment - the reader will find a degree of excellence; as well as surprise and delight, at the discovery of titles they may not even have thought of! 

I wrote...

Drawing and Painting Plants

By Christina Brodie,

Book cover of Drawing and Painting Plants

What is my book about?

Drawing and Painting Plants is a botanically based (as opposed to free-form drawing) manual on how to paint a vast range of plants in watercolour and other media. Various techniques are explained in clear steps, which enables the reader to draw and paint flowers, fruit, leaves, trees, grasses, and more.

The books I picked & why

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Jewelry: Concepts and Technology

By Oppi Untracht,

Book cover of Jewelry: Concepts and Technology

Why this book?

This is a book I have in my library because of its sheer virtuosity, and because it is such a mine of information about its subject. From what I gather, it took the author around a decade to write, and is applicable to the beginning jeweller, as well as to the seasoned diamond-cutter, or goldsmith. 

I like to have this book around, and reasonably close to me at all times, because it reminds me of what I ought to be. I sit my laptop on it, because the thickness of it (hardback, at over 800 pages) offers a comfortable height for my typing experience. Maybe one day - when I have the time, and the space - I will read it, from cover to cover, and digest it in all of its breathtaking detail. If, like me, you are a curious mix of art/chemistry/geology nerd, then this book is for you. You will also enjoy the study of different cultures.

Collecting Fluorescent Minerals

By Stuart Schneider,

Book cover of Collecting Fluorescent Minerals

Why this book?

This book has been criticized for not including enough different locations of fluorescent minerals (which, here, are centred mainly around North America and Greenland), but personally, I think it is enough to make a start - it all depends where we are on, in our journey! 

Myself, I’m most stunned by the amazing photographs, which occupy a large portion of the book - showing various minerals under UV light (which, incidentally, is not the “UV light” that we know from parties) in a completely different context. This world is all around us, and yet most of us make no attempt to even know it. Has anyone done tours of underground caves under these lighting conditions, yet? And, if not, why not?

Natural Art Forms

By Karl Blossfeldt,

Book cover of Natural Art Forms

Why this book?

If Ernst Haeckel was the go-to microscopic illustrator of his time, then Karl Blossfeldt led the way, in early photomicrography. His beautiful, natural, black-and-white photographs are magnified only but a few times, but yet capture, in the sharpest of detail, that which we would not normally see. 

On researching this man a little more, I was interested to note that he (like myself) was also invested in inspiring artists to greater work; and that he believed that there was some benefit to be had, in appreciating the beauty of botanical life-forms. I would say, he had a point; it certainly didn’t do me, any harm, on my trek through the long journey that is art!

Common Families of Flowering Plants

By Michael Hickey, Clive King,

Book cover of Common Families of Flowering Plants

Why this book?

I had the great pleasure of meeting Michael Hickey at one of the RHS shows in London, at which I was exhibiting some of my botanical art; a thoroughly nice man, who sadly died soon after. I also met the personable and talented Coral Guest, the creator of the most exquisite botanical paintings, at the same show!

This is an excellent introduction to plant families for the beginner in botanical painting, focusing on 25 core plant families. It leaves out some of the technical botanical detail which would probably be included on an undergraduate botany course, but which would be confusing for the botanical painter who simply wanted to illustrate. It is clearly laid out, written, and illustrated; a must for plant artists, would-be botanists, and even medical herbalists - everywhere!

Erté Graphics

By Erté,

Book cover of Erté Graphics

Why this book?

Dover (one of my favourite publishers) has the knack of knowing good art when they see it. This is one of my favourite books, slimline though it happens to be - showing the genius imagination, and fashion illustration, of “RT (his real initials)” at its most luscious. 

We’re treated to: the alphabet; numbers; playing cards; gems; and The Seasons - albeit, not in the forms you might think - but in the glorious, arresting, Art-Nouveau style that was Erte’s trademark. A feast for the eyes, and above all - just the sort of fun we need, to motivate us, in this day and age!

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