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.