Carol shares this story behind the painting, “I lived next door to a property that turned into a farm and brewery over the course of several years. The first thing to happen was the planting of hops in an open, sunny meadow. The structure of supports had to be constructed in a labor-intensive process as I watched the struggle to drive tall posts into the rocky ground. The hops were planted next and over the the following few years they grew with increasing vigor. This painting was conceived as part of a project called Journey of Plants in the Netherlands, and it was how plants have traveled around the world. There is no better example that than hops! So I went into their hops field, and from the millions I picked this particular grouping. Hops are very fragrant and the flower cones are a bit sticky because of the pungent oils (lupulin) they contain. Every time I look at this painting I smell the hops!” Carol’s close observation of the leaves, vine and seed cones are explored throughout this cascading composition as hops are a climbing plant. Drink it up!
Arrowood Farms Hops, 2018
watercolor on Kelmscott vellum
10.5 x 9 inches
The artist studio is a workplace where ideas come to life. These botanical artists use the studio as a place for story telling through the medium of graphite and watercolor on paper and vellum. In Beverly Duncan’s Ashfield Composition, The Seasons #3, she describes the place where she collects the specimens, Ashfield, Massachusetts, and the native plant life within it. We journey through this piece from left to right: White Ash fruit, False Solomon Seal fruit, European Cabbage butterfly, Japanese Anemone flower and buds, Snow Drop flower and bulb, American Beech Winter Branch and a Nine-spotted Ladybug Bettle. Duncan uses her studio, a sacred space, where she delicately lays out her collection, composes and paints each part with the care of a living, breathing organism, cherishing her most intimate relationship with the natural world through every brush stroke.
Kelly Leahy Radding’s Bluff Point Rose Hip tells the story of her work as a Piping Plover monitor on Bluff Point Beach in Groton, Connecticut. She walks the beach surveying many species of birds and as the artist states, “seeing the plants is just a wonderful bonus.”
Connie Scanlon’s story began with the decision to paint three peas in a pea pod or “Solace”, evolving from the natural composition of the specimen. Scanlon gravitates towards subjects which include the number three, as this reminds her of her three children. An intimate moment unfolds between the subject and viewer, as if we should knock before looking. There is often a romantic conclusion from her works.
Please visit www.sfnbotanicalart.com to view all the works included in the online exhibition. Wishing you a very happy and healthy holiday season!
A Piece of North Woods, 2013, by Kelly Leahy Radding is a highly accomplished contemporary botanical painting depicting a stumbled upon habitat of the Great North Woods region of New Hampshire. Radding shares her experience here, “It was a beautiful September blue-sky day in the North Woods of New Hampshire, the kind that has you looking up at the clouds much more that you look down at the ground. I was following the quirky flight of a bright yellow Cloudless Sulphur butterfly feeding on late blooming flowers, when my eyes fell upon this tiny, white, spiraling flower growing in a moist, roadside ditch. I looked closer. It was a small colony of Nodding Tresses orchids nestled amongst the mosses. Upon further inspection I saw a whole miniature ecology living out its life in a small space of disturbed earth.
Artists often find artistic inspiration and influence from other artists whose work they admire. One of my influences has been the natural history works of Albrecht Dürer. I had the immense pleasure of seeing my three favorite paintings in person at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria. One of them, Great Piece of Turf, 1503, is an epic visual poem of the teeming plant life in a diminutive patch of earth. As soon as I realized that I was looking at my own “Great Piece of Turf”, I knew I had to paint it as an homage to Dürer. Choosing to paint it on a piece of vellum made me feel even more connected to Dürer as it was a surface he also used.”
Although inspired by the German painter, Radding often infuses her work with romanticism, accentuating a plant’s sensuality. As seen in this piece, her stylistic interpretation, flawless composition and expert painting technique draw the viewer in to this microcosmic habitat one never wants to leave.
Representing Lizzie’s exceptional botanical art since 2003, I recognized the importance of her work and the need for the world to experience it. She blended the historical significance of botanical documentation with a contemporary aesthetic. Sander’s was universally alone in this quest, her works are distinguished for their minimalist approach, every brushstroke has a purpose. She brought the crisp light from her Edinburgh studio into each articulated stroke, producing masterpieces with an expert command of the dry brush technique. The result was always a detailed description of the plant with a nod to science while intentionally rendering a 21st century composition. I would compare her work to Rory McEwen, the Scottish botanical painter, both were drawn to paint the plants at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh with a modernist viewpoint. The results were unforgettable botanical paintings, accurate in their content and transporting fine art. Both artists left us too early and we are forever wanting for more. My hope is the Royal Botanic Garden mounts a similar exhibition to McEwen’s, celebrating Sander’s incredible oeuvre.
In the world of contemporary botanical portraiture, Jean’s in-depth understanding of color and its application mesmerizes the eye and
excites the mind. The artist’s intentional cropping and placement of
the specimen with the negative space below was carefully choreographed for the viewer to feel like they are looking up at the tree with nature hovering overhead.
Watercolor on Kelmscott vellum
14 x 17 inches
Elizabeth Enders has captured a vision of the Milkweed through careful observation of an original specimen and an immediacy of painting style. Her approach to extracting the plant’s form with a few powerfully painted lines, carries the full weight of its parts. Her contemporary vision of a complicated plant, simplifies its very form to pure elegance. As winter draws to a close, we reflect on this change through a stunning dried specimen and within her “winter blues” and greens.
Elizabeth Enders, Milkweed VII, 2018, watercolor on paper, 14.5 x 11 inches. Available for purchase.
Winter is a time for introspection, appreciating the landscape lacking canopies of coverage. Branches extend skyward with greater reach as new growth emerges pointing toward Spring. Recently I visited the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT to see Pressed for Time: Botanical Collecting as Genteel Pastime or Scientific Pursuit? running through March 3. Concerning the hobby and profession of plant collecting at the turn of the 19th century, several collectors collections show the diverse purposes for gathering specimens. Some plants were pressed to show plants for posterity as their owners were stewards preserving current plant-life (scientific), others tended toward the leisurely pursuits of walking through nature, plucking and pressing to enjoy the art of nature (respectable pastime). It was a transporting story of a simpler time with a pure focus on nature.
Please enjoy Beverly Duncan’s Ashfield Compositions focusing on Winter. Her piece depicts specimens found during the season in Ashfield, MA, nestled in the eastern foothills of The Berkshires. Historically an agrarian community, Duncan looks down during long walks, collecting specimens from nature first planted and cultivated in the 18th century.
Winter Browns and Grays, 2015
watercolor on paper
Connie Scanlon’s Blueberries tell a color story of formation of fruit through its pale green stage at first, onto reddish-purple hues during growth and dark purple when ripe. Its wax coating offers a romantic haziness, an aesthetic impression and distinctive characteristic.
Scanlon has painted this fruit numerous times, clearly mastering its form through her dry brush technique and the subtle crescendo of color allows us to gaze and ponder about something we usually consume with haste.
Transitions (blueberries), 2018
watercolor on vellum
7 x 9.5 inches