Book Project: Native Plants of the Mid Atlantic


Our first project involved publishing our book: the American Botanical Paintings: Native Plants of the Mid Atlantic. Work on this project started in 2011 and completed with the publication of the book in February 2014. The following provides the instructions and guidelines about how we designed the book, selected art for the book, and information for the artists about plants to select for painting, which other organizations may find useful in planning similar projects. BAEE welcomes inquiries.

Project Details

Countess Clarissa Bonde, one of our Board Members and Honorary Chairman of Fund Raising, arranged with the U.S. Botanic Garden to exhibit our paintings for the book in the Conservatory East Gallery beginning February 15, 2014 through 15 June 2014. Artist tours were held at the Conservatory one Sunday for each month of the exhibition.

We were fortunate to have the support and guidance of Anne-Marie Evans of England. Known internationally as a master teacher of botanical art, she originated and directed the Diploma Course in Botanical Art at the Chelsea Physic Garden in the UK. She initiated the Highgrove Florilegium project, a visual record of plant life at the Gloucestershire family home of The Prince of Wales. Since 2007 Anne-Marie has taught an annual class in botanical art in Falls Church, Virginia.

Copy of a proposed sample page layout
Butterfly and moth photos courtesy of William B. Folsom.

The sample pair of pages above show the book's initial design, which included a reproduction of an original painting of a Mid-Atlantic native plant, photographs, and information about habitat and uses. The text also described how the plant was used by Native Americans and early settlers.

The final layout of the book is shown below.

Page layout
Final page layout.


Participants must be members of the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) or other botanical art organization.

Also, participation is limited to those living or working in the Mid-Atlantic States, which are defined for this project as including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia.


Painting of red raspberry with 5 ripe raspberries and leaves
Rubus idaeus (raspberry) © Mary Page Hickey

The submission date for all artwork is June 1, 2013. Please note that we have extended the due date to allow artists a little more time.

Scanning Requirements

We prefer that artists do not sign their paintings or include plant names on the actual painting before making scans. In any case, artists' names will be whited out for judging, and when we print the paintings in the book, artists' names and plant names/titles will be printed below the picture and/or in the text. After scanning, artists may, if they wish, sign and title their paintings according to their usual practice. If you have already signed your painting and/or included the plant name, don't worry; we will take care of obscuring these for judging and printing in the book.

Digital files only: 360 dpi, 8" high, and TIFF files only. CDs should be labeled (using a marker—no paper labels) with the artist's name and the botanical names of plants painted. CDs will not be returned. A fee of $25 will be charged for submission of up to 5 paintings. No more than 3 paintings from any one artist will appear in the book or exhibition.

Note: Artists may use their own scans or scans from whatever source they normally use with the understanding that if their work is accepted, another scan may be necessary. Please note that scans should be 360 dpi, 8" high, and TIFF files only.

Submission Entry Form

Use the Book Project Submission form (.pdf) to submit your entries. Download the PDF file and follow the instructions on the form. We prefer to receive them during the months of April and May, up through June 1, 2013. You may, however, mail them earlier if that is more convenient for you. Please send us an email hidden; JavaScript is required when you mail your scans, so that we can acknowledge receipt. All scans must be on a CD; no electronic submissions can be accepted.

We will make every effort to let artists know the results of judging no later than July 15, 2013. For paintings that are accepted, we will provide all necessary information regarding matting and framing requirements, and delivery to the USBG and subsequent pickup well in advance. We are meeting with the USBG soon and hope to have an approximate date for the opening of our exhibition and the date of the opening reception. Our best estimate is early May 2014. All updates will be posted on the NEWS section of the web site.

Please Contact Us with any questions.

Specifications for Pictures

  • Accepted media include watercolor, graphite, pen and ink, gouache, egg tempera and colored pencil artwork. No oil or pastel paintings.
  • A juried selection process will determine paintings to be included in the book and exhibit. Paintings will be judged first on botanical accuracy and then on artistic merit.  

    Dick Rauh, our lead judge, defines botanical accuracy to mean that

    "the subject shown has proper proportions, shows the reproductive parts accurately, if they are visible in the shown view, and indicates their origins properly. Number of parts shown should be typical of the species. Dissections and details are not required, but if illustrated should be meaningful and clear. Make sure that your blossoms are aligned on their axis and the color representative."

  • Portrait orientation is probably best, but some landscape views may be used in a double-page layout.
  • Paper should be white or off white.
  • Paintings should be created 100% life size. Very small plants may be enlarged, if a scale is provided.
  • Although there is no limit on size, artists should include ample white space for matting. For the book, we hope to reduce paintings by no more than 50%; smaller and/or more detailed paintings may not be reduced at all or to only 2/3 original size. Exhibition space at USBG is large with very high ceilings and lots of natural daylight.
  • We hope to use some photographs of the plants being painted to give a more educational slant to the book. Photos of particularly unusual features such as seedpods, roots, or a close up of a single bloom would be nice. Take a photo if possible; this is not mandatory, because we will have access to photos of plants and insects by William Folsom, a professional photographer. Do not send photos with scan for judging; we will request them only for selected paintings.
  • If line art (graphite or ink) is submitted and accepted for the book, artists will be notified about scanning requirements. Sizes are the same as for paintings.
  • Note: For white plants, be sure to have a definite edge – more so than for a painting to hang on the wall. (Suggestion from Doreen Bolnick.)
  • Paintings selected for the book and exhibition should not be matted or framed by the artists. At the suggestion of USBG for consistency, matting and framing will be done by the same framer and arranged by BAEE. Artists will be responsible for matting and framing costs.

Features of the Book

  • Book size will be 8.5" wide x 11" high.
  • Reproductions of artwork will be in full color unless they are created in graphite or pen and ink. Most will be in portrait orientation.
  • Front matter will be about 6 pages and will comprise a preface/foreword by Holly Shimizu, Executive Director of the USBG; a section on the importance of using native plants (Keith Tomlinson or Bill McLaughlin from the USBG); and an introduction describing how the book came to be.
  • The book will contain 40 to 60 reproductions.
  • Text for each plant will summarize important facts about each plant portrayed, its uses now and by Native American Indians, and suggestions for homeowners about using the plant.
  • Back matter will be about 6 pages and will include brief bios of artists, disclaimer regarding any folk remedies mentioned; bibliography; credits for paintings, photos.


Artists will donate use of their paintings for the book but retain originals and copyrights. All profits from book sales go to charities supporting native plants, their conservation, and education of the public about their importance.

Although artwork will not be for sale at the exhibition, there will be cards next to the artwork providing artists' contact information.

Choosing Your Plants

Watercolor painting of trilliums: white, pale pink, and rose pink
Trillium (Trillium) © Judy Brown

To help you choose plants to paint, we provide two lists supplied by Bill McLaughlin, Plant Curator at the USBG; and Keith Tomlinson, Park Manager at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. On his list, Keith has highlighted plants particularly desirable for inclusion in the book.

You are not required to select from one of these lists. Bill and Keith provided them to be helpful because there are so many native plants from which to choose. Because our book will have only 50 or so paintings of plants, it can in no way be considered comprehensive. By all means, if you have a plant that is not on the list, feel free to select it, if it is native to the Mid Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina).

Regarding duplicates, that is, selecting a plant that someone else is already painting: when we began the project, we did not prohibit duplicates as many painters chose the same plant at the same time. However, the book will contain only one painting of a particular plant because we want as wide a range of plants as possible.

Therefore, beginning August 1, 2012, we will not accept any more duplicates. Please refer to the List of Plants Being Painted.

Whatever you have already signed up for is unchanged.

There are many, many native plants from which to select. Please consult our lists and other sources to select plants to paint for the project.

Helpful Sources

Following is a list of sources that might be helpful in selecting and/or identifying plants. The order in which they are listed is not significant, except for the first one, which is an excellent source for almost everything you might need to know about your plant.

In addition, most if not all states have web sites related to their particular native plants. If you just Google the name of your plant, you will often find many sources for information about your plant and where to obtain it.

American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA)


Botanical Artists of the National Capital Region (BASNCR), a Chapter of the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA)

Flora of North America

Forestry Images

International Plant Names Index (IPNI)

Maryland Plants and Wildlife/

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Mid Atlantic Native Plants – Wholesale Native Plant Nursery: Native Plants of the Northeast and Chesapeake Bay Watershed Region

U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG)

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

USDA ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)

USDA ARS National Plant Germplasm System (NGPS)

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Natural Heritage

Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS)

Lists of Suggested Plants

Bill's List

Keith's List

List of Plants Being Painted

Last modified: February 4, 2018
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