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Watercolor is a great hobby that everyone can learn and pursue, when they get the needed tools and knowledge to do so. This post reviews Rachel Eskandari‘s textbook entitled Watercolor Botanical Garden. Read what I think about her book from my perspective of being an eductor for more than 28 years, and as an “amateur” artist.


  1. Can I Finally Learn to Paint with Watercolor?
  2. The Content of the Book Is Exactly What I Was Looking for
  3. Reading the Chapter on Warm-up Techniques Was Eye-opening
  4. Chapter Three Provides 26 Exercises
  5. The Fourth Chapter Covers How to Create a Watercolor Botanical Garden Painting
  6. Watercolor Botanical Garden Is Worth Its Price
  7. Watercolor Botanical Garden in a Nutshell
  8. Who Is Rachel Eskandari?
  9. Other Reviews of Rocky Nook Books


Disclosure: Ad. The book is a sample of my choice from Rocky Nook. The post is not endorsed by them. I wrote it entirely myself and it represents my own 100% honest opinion.  Note that the copyright to the design of the watercolor flower painted by me belongs to the original artist.


Can I Finally Learn to Paint with Watercolor?

When you are a regular reader, you know that I love painting because of its relaxing ability. My favorite medium has always been oil because of the bold strikes and colors. Nevertheless, I have always adored watercolor paintings. Sure I tried it several times, but somehow never managed to get anywhere near it. I even took privates from an artist, but just watching an artist doesn’t get you anywhere. See the photo below, and you can see where I took over, and why I was frustrated. However, when I heard about Rachel Eskandari‘s book entitled the Watercolor Botanical Garden I wanted to revisit trying to learn water coloring. Full disclosure, its subtitle A Modern Approach to Painting Bold Flowers, Plants, and Cacti hooked me.



The Content of the Book Is Exactly What I Was Looking for

When I came home from a walk with my new cat stroller, my husband greeted me saying “I always wanted to suggest that you give water coloring another chance. This book is perfect for you!” He had opened the package and taken a look at its contents already. “Why would you say this?” I asked, and sat down to take a look myself.

Just doing a first scanning thru the book revealed that Rachel sets everyone up for success right from the beginning. She explains what material you need to start. A discussion of the various techniques like wet-on-wet vs. wet-on-dry follows with explained example photos. Bleeding and lifting of color, and the differences of immediate lifting vs. lifting after drying are discussed, and when and for what effects to apply which techniques. Rachel teaches you step-by-step the principles of painting petals, stems, and leaves, as well as how to create three-dimensional effects.


water color painting with wrong depth
This photo shows the watercolor painting from my lesson as a teenager. It shows a location in the lower left Rhineland where I grew up. This view should show a landscape that is flat like a pancake. However, when I took over, I used too much pigments and too few water. Consequently, the fields in the foreground look like they are on a slight plateau, and the background would be in a valley. The artist yelled at me. However, he never told me what I did wrong, nor explained the importance of the water-to-color ratio, nor did he teach skills to correct mistake. On the contrary, Rachel Eskandari explains all these very important skill in the “warm-up” chapter. You get all the knowledge for much less than taking privates!



Reading the Chapter on Warm-up Techniques Was Eye-opening

The artist never explained to me what I was doing wrong. Reading Rachel’s chapter on Warm-up Techniques gave the answer to my question right away. Back then, I had applied the techniques of oil painting to watercolor!

In her chapter on the techniques, Rachel explains the concept of diluting and enhancing pigments by increasing and decreasing the amount of water, respectively. It’s key to creating light and shadow and hence depth in water coloring. She also explains what to do when you made a mistake!

Can you imagine how happy I am to finally know what I did wrong, as well as what to learn, and practice for watercolor painting?


I started out playing around applying her “warm-up” techniques. Since it doesn’t matter what kind of leaves, stems, or petals you practice on, I choose to exercise on poppies. Note in Alaska, poppies are much smaller than in mid-latitudes, and they are not red, but yellow or orange. The photo below shows the outcome of my practicing.


watercolor painting showing Alaska poppies
My first tries water coloring flowers practicing the techniques Rachel Eskandari described in her book entitled Watercolor Botanical Garden. It looks so much better with respect to creating depth, light and shadow than my landscape trial. I am very satisfied with my progress.



Chapter Three Provides 26 Exercises

Of course, knowing the theoretical principles is not enough. Every new skill has to be practiced. Rachel provides 26 examples of florals and cacti with step-by-step guidance how to paint them. This material permits everyone to develop their water coloring skills at their own pace. See the collage below which gives an example of the kind of instructions.

Sure, since I have Water Color Botanical Garden for less than a week, I so far have not gone thru one of the exercises. However, I read randomly various of them. Each one has the same amount of details, and tips. Consequently, it’s just a matter of your time, and working thru them to obtain the water coloring skills to paint wow-worthy florals and cacti.


anemonia water color painting by Rachel Eskandari
Anemone watercolor painting by Rachel Eskandari. At the beginning of each exercise, Rachel shows how the “end product” should look like.


pages of water color botanical garden showing steps 1 and 2
Look into Rachel Eskandari‘s book. These two pages show what to achieve in steps 1 (left) and 2 (right), and have detailed explanations how to get there.


pages of watercolor botanical garden featuring how to draw the petals, leaves and stem of an anemonia
Steps 3 (left) and 4 (right) featuring and explaining how to draw the petals, leaves and stems of the flower.



The Fourth Chapter Covers How to Create a Watercolor Botanical Garden Painting

While well painted florals and cacti are neat on their own, going to the next level is putting everything together in a painting. Rachel well explains what it takes to do so. In other words, the student cannot only learn the elements, but also the composition of a watercolor flower garden painting.


Watercolor Botanical Garden Is Worth Its Price

Rachel’s instructions are effective, and easy to understand. The book is perfect for everyone who wants to learn water coloring, but at their own pace. The book is also excellent for everyone who wants to try out or learn water coloring without the pressure of classmates. Watercolor Botanical Garden can be a great additional resource to those taking free online beginners water coloring classes. It’s also a perfect gift for everyone who loves painting pictures.

After my first exercise, all my former frustrations were blown away. My tryouts based on her book gave me the feeling, she gave me the needed tools, knowledge and exercises, so I can get there. Therefore, I can recommend Rachel Eskandari‘s book Watercolor Botanical Garden to all the above mentioned groups. You can buy it online at Rocky Nook.

The print and eBook Bundle costs $34.99. You can also buy just the print book or eBook for $24.95
and $19.99, respectively. If I had spent the money on the book, I would not regret it. Watercolor Botanical Garden is worth its price.


Watercolor Botanical Garden in a Nutshell

In Watercolor Botanical Garden, Rachel Eskandari takes a modern approach to teaching her readers how to paint flowers as well as cacti, and combine them in a full painting. The concepts are well explained with reasons why they have to be applied as laid out. Rachel leads the student step-by-step thru all exercises thereby empowering students to learn watercolor painting successfully with her book.

Learn watercolor painting successfully with Watercolor Botanical Garden by Rachel Eskandari. #bookreview #watercolor Click To Tweet


Who Is Rachel Eskandari?

Rachel Eskandari earned a bachelor in Fine Arts from Arizona State University. She has an art business, and teaches art both face-to-face and via digital media.


Other Reviews of Rocky Nook Books

When you are interested in other paint objects or fear the mess of wet watercolor when landscape water coloring, you should take a look at my review of Watercolor with Markers.

You may also be interested in my reviews of other books from Rocky Nook. You may like to read about The iPhone Photography Book when you take a lot of photos with your phone. When you are also interested in drawing my thoughts on The Art and Science of Drawing might be a good read.


Photos related to watercolor: N. Mölders

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