I visited the botanical garden this week. Thanks to Carol, I met up a young botany researcher. He told me that accuracy and background knowledge are basic requirements in botanical illustration, which I don't have. I wonder where I got the guts to do the botanical drawings in the herbarium last year.
This weekend the Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at NTU offered a workshop on botanical illustrations, inviting the renowned Thai botanist and artist Dr. Sasivimon Swangpol to be the guest speaker. In the general introduction, Dr. Swangpol mentioned the purpose of scientific illustrations is to explain, so it's a must to draw everything true to life. Upon hearing that rulers are needed to measure the dimensions and that all the details have to be paid attention to, my head started to ache.
In the workshop, we started with the tomato. I somehow refused to use a ruler, and when Dr. Swangpol walked by, the first thing she said to me was, "You didn't use a ruler?" Well, I couldn't even hide any trace of my rebellion. Thus I began to draw another tomato. One professor sitting at the same desk had a hard time too. He often paused, looking quite lost and murmuring something before resuming. He asked Dr. Swangpol if every drawing takes long. She replied, "This is meditation." I found her take on botanical illustrations very Buddhist.
I'd been to two workshops this weekend, and I knew I wasn't in a very good shape when it came to drawing. I could draw, but I didn't get to totally enjoy the act. After my wrestle with the tomato, things looked up when I drew the pitcher plant. Gradually, I got to feel self-satisfaction without caring about what others think, if the proportion is correct or why time passes by so slowly. I have to admit that much as I love drawing, I do not get carried away all the time.
When Dr. Swangpol walked by, the professor couldn't help announcing: It takes talent. She replied, "Endurance." This was not the first time I heard or experienced the answer, but today Dr. Swangpol really showed me the Buddhist perspective on drawing.
Whether hard or easy, this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. And now it has become a ritual for me to say thank-you to Thai people I've run into in Thai!