"If you can paint one leaf you can paint the World"
John Ruskin (1819-1900)
“Two concepts are essentials in botanical scientific illustration: meticulousness and accuracy
in the knowledge and representation of the plant kingdom.
Both of them are essential pillars when composing a scientific design and they live in a kind of reunion where traditional and modern meet to outline the scientific and artistic essence of plants.
Illustrating is learning to see.“
A biologist by training, a botanical illustrator by profession and absolutely convinced of the power that illustration should wield in science as a vehicle to deliver the scientific knowledge of their language barriers.
In 1991 I began to collaborate with the Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid, first as a botanist and later as a scientific illustrator in the Flora Iberica project, thanks to the kind invitation of Professor Santiago Castroviejo. There, I was trained in the European tradition of scientific botanical illustration. Protected plants, both from Spain as well as from the rest of the world have always aroused in me a special scientific interest and artistic attraction.
Along my career I have fundamentally illustrated scientific texts, many of them in collaboration with researchers at the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid.
My work has been published in more than sixty scientific papers, twenty books (fifteen of them as solo illustrator), fifteen PhD thesis, four catalogues, three field guides and two artist books.
In 2009, my illustrations of the genus Geranium were published in volume eleven of the Flora of China Illustrations by the Missouri Botanical Garden. This was the first time any Westerener publish his illustrations on the Flora of China.
As a scientific Illustrator, I have taken part in the next Projects: Flora Ibérica, Flora Liquenologica Ibérica, Flora Mycologica Ibérica (Myxomycetes), Flora Phycologica Ibérica (Laminariales), Flora of China Illustrations (Geranium), Flora de Cuba (Loganiaceae, Najadaceae, Salicaceae), Flora of the Guianas (Drosearceae), Plan CUSSTA and in two taxonomic projects illustrating the genus Geranium (Geraniaceae), with more than 300 plates and Acalypha (Euphorbiaceae) with more than 100 plates. I have also worked with African vascular plants in the Project Flora de Guinea Ecuatorial (Asplenium, Daniellia, Discoclaoxylon, Duparquetia, Gilbertiodendron, Grossera and Neostenanthera) and with vascular plants of the flora of Colombia (Acalypha, Aragoa, Cordia, Geranium, Matisia, Salvia) and Brazil (Spigelia). Also with Iberian mosses (Calliergon, Hamatocaulis, Sanionia, Scorpidium and Straminergon).
My interest is currently focused on South and Central America orchids and on vascular plant endemisms of the Canary Islands. I have been working with endangered orchids in Venezuela and recently in Panama (La Amistad and Coiba National Parks).
I have participated, as a scientific illustrator, in four expeditions to Venezuela and Panama studying and illustrating the flora of the tepuyes Auyan and Roraima (Venezuela), orchids in the red list of Venezuela and orchids in La Amistad and Coiba National Parks, (Panama).
Throughout my career as a scientific illustrator I have worked with several mediums such as Chinese ink, watercolour or gouache, although over the last fifteen years I have specialized in digital illustration.
I have been a member of The Society of Botanical Artists in London and The American Society of Botanical Artists in New York and received several international awards, including a Gold medal and a Silver-gilt one by the Royal Horticultural Society of London in 2000 and 2001, the prestigious “Jill Smithies award for excellence in scientific botanical drawing” in 2001 by the Linnean Society of London, a second prize at the “Margaret Flockton award for excellence in scientific botanical drawing” in 2007 by the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust of Sydney and an Honourable Mention in the “Visualization Challenge” by the National Science Foundation and Popular Science, in 2015.
My work has been exhibited and acquired both nationally and internationally, being part of private and institutional collections.
"Science is always philosophy at the beginning and art at the end"
Roger Guillemin. Nobel Prize of Medicine 1977
© 2015 - 2017. Juan Luis Castillo