Sketchbook painting of Kom Ombo Temple, Egypt with a scorpions tail and hieroglyphics of the Crocodile God Sobek, by artist Shevaun Doherty (Doodlewash)My name is Shevaun Doherty and I’m a botanical artist from Dublin, Ireland (Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and my blog!) I have always loved painting and nature, but as so often happens, life took me on a different path. Deep in my heart, I knew that I was destined to paint. It wasn’t until I moved from Dublin to Egypt in 2005, that I finally had the chance to paint full time. I had always painted in oils and pastels before, but with the dazzling light, I decided to teach myself watercolours.

I was really inspired by artists like Cathy Johnson, whose wonderful watercolour journals are about enjoying the process and capturing the moment. Her observations on nature are beautiful, and she is incredibly generous in her sharing of knowledge online. For a beginner like me, the ability to hide in my work in the cover of a sketchbook became the ultimate freedom. Even today, I start all of my work with the idea that it is a study. If it works out, great. If not, it’s only a study!

Sketchbook pages of watercolour studies of olives and an olive tree with colour charts by Shevaun Doherty (Doodlewash)

A scarab beetle inspects his watercolour portrait by artist Shevaun Doherty (Doodlewash)Egypt has the most wonderful flora and fauna, and a history that is closely bound in the natural world. My young daughters would bring me ‘treasures’ that they found in the garden, and we would try to find out the story behind each one.

For example, in late September each year, the gardens would fill with butterflies, hundreds of them suddenly appearing. My daughter found one floating in the pool and brought it home for me to paint. Reading up, we learned that these were Painted Lady butterflies, and they fly over 2000km from Europe to North Africa for their annual migration.

Watercolour painting of an orange and brown butterfly, Painted Lady Butterfly , on vellum by artist Shevaun Doherty (Doodlewash)How they did it was a puzzle for scientists, but they recently discovered that these butterflies ascend to a height of 500 metres (1640 feet) and “windsurf” all the way down to North Africa at speeds of over 45km an hour (27/mph)!! It’s not just a one-way migration either, because many of the butterflies make the return journey too. How cool is that?

A scattering of fresh red and black dates painted in watercolour and real (Doodlewash)It was this fascination with nature that led me to botanical art. On a trip to London, I went to the recently opened Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew Gardens. I remember staring spellbound at the precision and the skill of botanical art, and knew that this was something I wanted to do.

I signed up for a Distance Learning Course with the Society of Botanical Artists, which was great because it meant that I could do my assignments whilst living in Egypt. The course was one of the best things that I have ever done. It opened the doors of discovery to me and has enriched my life in so many ways.

Revolutionary Carrots, a watercolour painting of three purple carrots by Shevaun Doherty (Doodlewash)I was living in Cairo when the Revolution happened in 2011. It was such a strange experience. There was no telephone service and no internet. State TV showed peaceful scenes, whilst satellite stations showed mayhem. There were reports of mass looting and the jails being opened. I filled my fridge, locked my doors, and painted purple carrots, listening to the constant drone of helicopters in the sky above. It was very surreal.

Selection of berries and fresh fruit painted in watercolour by Shevaun Doherty (Doodlewash)Now I’m back living in Dublin once more, and art has gone from being a dream, to being something that I do every day. I exhibit internationally, and give workshops and demos. However, I have never lost that wonder and respect that I have for the natural world, and I hope I never will. Art really helps you to see it. You can read some of my art stories on my blog, or follow me on Facebook!

Shevaun Doherty

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

37 replies on “GUEST DOODLEWASH: Flora & Fauna

      1. yes, I thought she was exceptionally very good! with many similar thought processes, even thought the style is different. I like her work better, than most of the botanical artists I’ve seen. and I DO, really like botanical work.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Love botanical illustrations, and yours are gorgeous! Your journey was a delight to read, that you were painting purple carrots while a revolution was going on around you is amazing, and a bit funny…talk about artful adventure tales. Thank you so much for sharing the story and your brilliant art, both inspiring and a joy to see. And thank you Charlie for sharing this treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shevaun, Botanical art and those who can ‘do’ it are my heroes. You are a fantastic talent. I shall be bookmarking your blog, so that I can get a dose of inspiration each time I visit. Shame you weren’t able to move to other more quiet areas of Egypt…it has so much to offer; I had wanted to be an archaeologist, with Egypt as my focus. Your sketchbook page just made my heart skip! I also love how you show the colour swatches you used in your sketches, much more useful. Cheeri-pip.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful. I’m a certified botanical illustrator too, although I often paint much looser. I do enjoy getting technical and finding all the interesting parts! Thanks Charlie for introducing such wonderful talent!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! This is eye candy, so delicious and detailed! What a wonderful story/adventure Shevaun! Thank you for sharing and Charlie thank you for introducing Shevaun to us! I will be following!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brilliant story – to find yourself in a completely different landscape and inspired to follow your dream. Shevaun’s work is amazing – the photo of the flower, leaf and buds really grabbed my attention and made me want to reach out and touch the flower – realism with soul. Thanks so much for the links to her work and the link to the Botanical Society!

    Liked by 1 person

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