Flower Art Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Plants Sketchbook Pages

Multitasking with Fuchsias & Botanical Sketching in the 1500s

Fuschias, Ink & watercolor, 5x7" in Moleskine
Fuchsias, Ink & watercolor, 5x7" in Moleskine

The weather has been so glorious the past few days it’s hard to be indoors, especially when cold April showers are predicted for the rest of the week. I decided to combine a walk with doing errands and calling my mom, so I tossed my sketching kit in my bag, grabbed my iPhone and headed out the door.

Three blocks from home I spotted these fuchsias. I remembered how my sister and I used to pretend these flowers were little ballerinas and dance them around our San Diego backyard. But I couldn’t remember what they were called. Since I had my mom on the phone, I asked her, “What are those little pink flowers called that look like ballet dancers?”

My mother is 86 years old and we’d just been having a fruitless conversation about Digital TV vs HD TV and LCD vs LED (and this with someone whose VCR has been blinking 12:00 for years). She said she had no idea what flower I was talking about but began describing random flowers that might qualify.

Meanwhile, I’d finished my ink drawing, set up my watercolors on the ground, and started painting. As I was writing a note in my sketchbook I remembered they were called fuchsias, like the color.

I changed the subject, packed up, and started walking again.  We continued our conversation until I reached the market and it was time for her to watch General Hospital.

Botanical Sketching in the 1500s

Fuchsias were named for Leonhart Fuchs, born in 1501,  a doctor who studied plants for their medicinal uses and wrote De Historia Stirpium comentarii insignes (or Notable Commentaries on the History of Plants) (because all medicine was herbal back then). The original book,  in excellent condition, is in the University of Missouri library and available for viewing. There are digital images of the book and its illustrations on their website or clicking the image below.

Fuchs illustration of pumpkin in De Historia Stirpium
Fuchs illustration in De Historia Stirpium