Annie Dornan Smith - behind the scenes blog posts

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The Botanical Blooms Collection is Live!

It’s here! The Botanical Blooms collection is LIVE! 

Botanical Blooms - Shop the New Autumn Collection Now


Created from original Gouache illustrations in warm, autumn tones and inky black washes, the Botanical Blooms collection is a modern, autumnal update to that classic, vintage, floral feel.


Inspired by beautiful vintage oil paintings on deep, dark backdrops; chintzy’s 70s floral fabrics reminiscent of Nana’s old sofas, and victorian botanical illustrations, wrapped up with my own illustrated, contemporary twist. Comprising of a selection of gorgeous A3 prints and greetings cards, this time I pared back the selection to let the illustrations do the talking. 

A side cabinet decorated with moody-hued floral prints and wicker and rattan storage boxes

When I first started creating this collection, it was really my first proper foray into painting something floral. I’m a lover of flowers and plants - you only have to check out my instagram to know that - but I was always a bit afraid of painting flowers. It always seemed like something really daunting, that only “proper painters” could get right - people who painted like real life. But excitement for this deep, dark, vintagey collection wouldn’t leave me alone, so I knew it was time to knuckle down, put in the sketchbook time and conquer the floral-fear. 

Early Experiments for the Botanical Blooms Collection

Early Experiments for the Botanical Blooms Collection 

I have really enjoyed playing with painted backgrounds for this collection. It’s something I used to do a lot back when I was still at uni. It definitely gives the background some dimension that isn’t there when you add a background digitally. I have found myself looking back at my old ways of working recently - back when I would create a design from start-to-finish pretty much on one piece of paper, rather than painted bits here and there, which are then compiled to create a finished image. Both have their merits, but I do find that the former forces you to consider the composition of a finished piece, which certainly doesn’t hurt!

Annie's experiments painting florals directly onto black paper

experiments painting florals directly onto black paper

I initially began working only on black (there’s that oil painting reference coming in) and so i experimented with working directly onto black paper. This was much easier, but I found that I really loved the painted backgrounds that pulled through the new layers of paint to give my petals a lovely dimensional feel, so that’s what the final collection ended up featuring. 


Eventually, I added in new colours as I experimented with new background washes, and I found myself with a lovely, autumnal colour palette emerging. It was a little warmer than I’d originally intended, but it does give it that rich, cosy feeling I’d hoped for - a little more suited to home decor, i think - and a perfect touch of warmth to for the cards, too!

Original floral paintings laid out on the studio floor!

Original floral paintings laid out on the studio floor!

Like I said before, I’m taking my time with this collection. The Super Love collection was so huge (it’s certainly not hard to think of lots of products to create with lovely, colourful slogans) but I after that, I was craving spending more time honing my craft, immersing myself more in the actual illustration side of things. I wanted to create something that was truly beautiful, precious and really considered, and I hope that the lovely paper stocks I chose for my prints, the touches of gold foil I added to the cards, and the 8-or-so months I spent working on this collection show that. 


"Thanks a Bunch" Floral Thank You Card - Annie Dornan Smith

"Thanks a Bunch" Floral Thank You Card - Annie Dornan Smith 

The collection comprises of 6 gorgeous floral greetings cards - all created from my original illustrations, with simple (but still very charming) gold foil messages that give the florals all the attention. I also picked out some details in in the flowers and leaves with gold to give them a lovely, luxe feeling - something that will wow your recipient when they tear open the envelope, and make your message stand out from the rest of the cards on the mantelpiece. They're also printed on sustainably sourced card in the UK. 

Floral Giclee Art Prints of the Botanical Blooms Collection

For most of this year I’ve been trying to step up the quality of all my products even further, and I am particularly proud of the way the new prints look. They’re printed on really lovely, Diamond White, 350gsm cardstock. It has a little bit of texture that gives it a really nice feel in your hands, and a little bit more depth than the coated, reprographics-y feel of some cheaper prints.

I’ve also switched up my stickers a little - stepping away *gasp!* from the gold stickers and instead switching to some really lovely translucent ones. They are perfect because they still say “hello! I made this!” without obscuring any of the design, and I’ll never have to worry about whether the gold will clash with the colours in the design again. As usual, they all come with a very sturdy backing board (keeps it safe in transit, and perfect to pop in a frame behind your print for added sturdiness!), and are proudly painted, designed, sourced, printed and packed here in the UK. 


detail shot of paperstock - giclee prints
Giclee Prints Paper Texture

I’m also now offering Giclee versions of these prints, too, if you are looking for something extra-long-lasting and colour accurate. Giclee prints are created using acid free papers and archival inks, which can last 100 years and beyond if they’re looked after correctly. This is perfect if you are looking for a forever piece, and they make a really beautiful gift, too. 

working on a painting for the botanical blooms collection
working on a painting for the Botanical Blooms collection

I don’t feel quite finished with this theme yet - I’m still playing with florals, and painted backgrounds, and trying to paint and experiment more regularly, so perhaps over the next year I’ll keep exploring this avenue. I know for sure there’s 100 ideas swimming in my head of things that would look just perfect with a moody, floral pattern on them, so no doubt there will be more to come over the next few months - make sure you’re on the mailing list so you don’t miss them!

For now though, I am so delighted to share this new collection with you, It’s been a long time coming. You can shop the entire collection here, or come and let me know what you think of the collection over on Instagram!

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