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.
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.
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.
When I first landed eyes on Kelly Leahy Radding’s Pele’s Pincushion (ohi’a leu), a painted plant portrait on dyed black goatskin vellum (below), the black background was a sharp reminder of the power that nature has over itself. The plant can be found as 100ft tall trees in the rainforest or 1,000 year old bonsai trees in the mountain blogs. ”The only stable characteristic of the plant is its pincushion-type flower.” It is sacred to the volcano goddess Pele (who, according to legend, resides in the Kilauea Volcano) . ”This plant not only survives, but thrives on the sulfur-filled air near the volcanic vents.” (Amy Greenwell Garden Ethnobotanical Guide to Native Hawaiian Plants) The black lava spewing out of Kilauea has erupted into our consciousness, our American landscape once again compromised by nature’s force. Plants somehow find there way back into our vision, poking through as a reminder of rebirth.
Radding found the specimen at Limahuli Garden and Preserve on Kauai on the Northwest part of the island, part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. They were heavily damaged by the recent floods. The only road out to that part of the island was swept away. She says, “just another reminder that Mother Nature and Pele are the powers here, not us.
The elegance of this composition and strength of the background juxtaposed to the plant is mesmerizing. Radding’s choice of the black ground is a striking resemblance to the current event and comments on nature’s theatre. An incredible masterwork by one of the finest 20th century living botanical artists working today. Should you be interested in acquiring this work, part of the proceeds will go towards helping those who lost their homes from Kilauea’s fury.
Impressions of Woody Plants: Disjunction, Two Artists and The Arnold Arboretum
Featuring Beverly Duncan watercolor paintings and Bobbi Angell’s copper etchings
May 11-July, 22, 2018, Hunnewell Building, Jamaica Plain, MA.
Spring arrived yesterday with the first natural signs of rebirth throughout the northeast. Karen Klugelin’s Ferrari Bulb and Beverly Duncan’s Spring Purples has inspired this quick note to enjoy this part of the nature’s cycle and offers us a glimpse of the beauty to come.
As we look forward to spring, here is a new work by Elizabeth Enders,
Anemone I, 2018.The spontaneity of drawing and use of negative space within the composition frees us to embrace fully the personality of the plant.