A Q&A with Botanical Illustrator and Tutor Elaine Searle

On leaving graphic design behind to rediscover the joys of pencils, paints and paper.


  • Learning

We talk to Elaine Searle, one of the world’s most respected botanical painters.

Tell us about your work as an illustrator.

I consider myself to be a portrait painter of plants. What fascinates me is depicting their many different characters, from shy delicate meadow flowers to the thumping bullies of the herbaceous border.

What got you started illustrating plants and flowers?

I switched from a successful Graphic Design career to rediscover the joy of drawing and painting by hand using traditional media.

What are some of the most satisfying projects you have worked on?

Travelling to places such as rural Transylvania in central Romania to document the abundant wild flowers.

How does your practice affect your teaching?

As a visual storyteller I seek to enable learners to look rather than merely glance. I’m a people person: discussion, exchanging ideas and experience all help to build a community.