Nature’s Voice: Seasonal Changes through Botanical Art, Part II: Spring-Summer

Our upcoming show captures nature in its most exciting months of the year. Artists soak their paper and vellum with vibrant colors and spectacular compositions celebrating our favorite seasons. Please visit us from April 25-August 25 as we showcase these works; the artists mindful choices of subjects and quality of drawing satiate us with everlasting appreciation. We hope you consider building an interior garden of botanical art, walls full of treasured plants that evoke meaning and beauty year round.

Thanks to Denise Walser-Kolar’s image below, a magical voyage of fluttering into Spring.  See you soon!

Hofnagel-Inspired #4, 2014 watercolor and gouache on vellum 6 x 4 inches

Hofnagel-Inspired #4, 2014
watercolor and gouache on vellum
6 x 4 inches

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Carol Woodin’s Hazelnut

Carol Woodin’s Hazelnut watercolor, 7 x10 inches,  is the newest acquisition to my inventory.  Painted on McEwen’s vellum, a prized material reintroduced by Rory McEwen, a treasured Scottish botanical artist who revived painting on vellum (animal skin). A prepared gessoed surface applied on top of the skin acts as a diving board for the art to jump off the sheet. The gesso electrifies the paint, adding a depth to the dry-brush watercolor technique.  Woodin has produced some of the most exquisite examples of 21st century botanical portraiture on this substrate, a shared experience with a master who would have celebrated this renaissance of painting on vellum and appreciated Woodin’s stylized compositions.

Woodin Hazelnut





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We welcome you to our first online exhibition showing master botanical artists who captured the Fall-Winter seasons, showing nature’s strengths and vulnerability. These works share the great beauty of nature through dormancy.

Lara Call Gastinger's "End of Fall Sunflower"

Lara Call Gastinger’s “End of Fall Sunflower”

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The American Society of Botanical Artists honored Denise Walser-Kolar with the Diane Bouchier Artist Award for Excellence in Botanical Art at their October 2015 Meeting & Conference in Miami, FL. Lara Call Gastinger received an honorable mention for her “Unfurling Ferns” in the Small Works exhibition at the Conference. BRAVO! Please visit to view botanical paintings by these two highly accomplished master botanical painters.

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Please visit SFNBOTANICALART.COM for our first online gallery exhibition, in November, featuring many of the master botanical artists represented by Susan Frei Nathan. This curated show will discuss the seasonal changes captured through these dry brush watercolor botanical paintings on paper and vellum. All works are for sale.

We hope you visit us and sign our guest book.  Your thoughts are always appreciated.


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The Knotty Details

Currently on view at The Hort (The Horticultural Society of New York), as part of their Project Space program, is a mesmerizing exhibition of Anna Plesset’s twigs, entitled “Observe, Notice, Understand”. As the handout reads, “Plesset set a goal to collect a twig every day for six months. When she could not find a twig or forgot to collect one, she created her own tromp l’oeil facsimiles from clay and gouache.” The handmade twigs are identifiable upon close inspection if you have the time to compare and contrast art versus nature. Accompanying the visual display is a handout charting the date and location of each twig. The twigs are hand numbered in white gouache, those numbers circled are handmade (for those spare NY minutes).

Upon further thought I referred immediately to Beverly Duncan’s “Winter Branches, 2011″, a watercolor on vellum measuring 5 x 8 inches currently in my inventory. I reflected on the  details in her branches, the knotty moments where your eye bounces up and down as if on a seesaw, moving over the inconsistent surface with amazement and wonder of nature’s ability to capture beauty in the most surprising places.

Winter Branches, 2011, watercolor on vellum, 5 x 8 inches

Here, Beverly’s collection of branches points to her surroundings in Western Massachusetts. As she walks toward the post office or hardware store in her mile-length town, she looks down at the incredible offerings from the trees in the coldest of seasons. Her compositions are composed through these magical steps, welcoming us to the season with  an unexpected thoughtfulness towards something most would break under foot.

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Rory McEwen at Kew Gardens

Rory McEwen (Scotland, March, 1932-October, 1982) one of the most important 20th century botanical artists is featured in a current exhibit at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens, London, England entitled Rory McEwen, The Colours of Reality.  Born in Scotland, he had no formal art training, however, through Wilfrid Blunt, a painter and historian at Eton and author of “The Art of Botanical Illustration”, the most comprehensive book on the subject to date, learned the skills of observation and applied his modernist approach to botanical illustration.  McEwen’s modern eye within this field has influenced many contemporary artists such as Lizzie Sanders from Scotland and Brit Martin Allen.  Allen is featured in a video documentary on Kew’s website discussing McEwen’s talent:

Rory McEwen – The Colours Of Reality at Kew Gardens – YouTube

Looking at Allen’s work, one can appreciate McEwen’s influence, however, Allen’s “out of focus” technique is a unique contribution to 21st century botanical art.  I strive to find artists to represent who find botanical information to record in new ways within their distinct stylistic interpretations.  Martin Allen’s work is certainly one to compare as seen in his Azalea:

MAAzalea web

Lizzie Sander’s approach is also complimentary to McEwen from a modernist perspective.  Technically and compositionally Sanders’s is a perfectionist as McEwen was, her art crosses from what we know and appreciate of classical botanical portraiture, representational, to abstract painting which poses never-ending questions while we succumb to its  beauty.  As seen in her latest masterpiece of the Myrtle Bark painting:


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This was my first year participating in the revamped Garden Fair at The New York Botanical Garden.  The Fair organizers set out to include contemporary works of art with a variety of mediums represented.  I was thrilled to be included in such a prestigious show with the best of nature inspired art and antiques.  Included in my booth were exquisite paintings from all the artists I currently represent:  Martin Allen, Beverly Duncan, Jean Emmons, Elizabeth Enders, Lara Call Gastinger, Gertrude Hamilton, Martha Kemp, Esther Klahne, Karen Kluglein, Kate Nessler, Rose Pellicano, Kelly Leahy Radding, Lizzie Sanders, Denise Walser-Kolar and Carol Woodin.  My interior garden of pictures truly mesmerized the visitors with their exceptional quality, glorious compositions while emphasizing the fragility and exquisite beauty of nature.

The Fair was reviewed in the May 10th issue of Antiques and the Arts Weekly, here’s the link to read all about it:

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Drawing Nature

Beverly Duncan and Lara Call Gastinger are passionate botanical artists who document nature in all seasons using the sketchbook as their canvas. Based in the Northeastern portion of America these artists capture the ever changing plant life throughout the year. As plants and trees bloom and hibernate, their pencil follows the changing outline.

Duncan and Gastinger are commissioned by clients to follow plantings on their properties, documenting the growth from month to month as seen below:

Stamped Dated Page from Lara Call Gastinger's Sketchbook

A florilegium in sketchbook format is a personal record of a family’s plant-life, a bit larger than pocket-size, one can appreciate the book format to enjoy on the lap, display in a case near the front door of the home, changing pages ever so often, or in the living room for conversation. It enables the client to enjoy their plantings year round.

Beverly Duncan's Autumn Sketchbook Page

Stylistic interpretations of the plants create different aesthetic outcomes for these two sketchbook artists. Both are documentary, explanatory text surrounds the images explaining its growth cycle and dynamic performance. Whether in graphite drawings or watercolor, the results are jewel-like treasures.

Lara Call Gastinger, Week 14, Depending on the client's location, sketching can take place weekly, once a month or at the high point of each season.

Sketchbooks like these celebrate the beauty and immediacy of nature in a specific time. As our environment changes over time and plant survival is compromised, this holds as a record of plants for posterity.

Beverly Duncan's Summer Page


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Music, Stance, Drinks and Painting

Last week I dined with eight of the botanical artists I represent at the ASBA Annual Conference in Chicago, IL.  During our dinner I learned what they listen to, drink and how they sit while painting.   They were very excited to share their preferences.  Regarding music,  Americana including Billy Bragg, Hank Williams, African inspired AM Roots, Sting, Diane Reeves, a variety of classical choices and Glen Gould Goldberg Variations.   They drink Green, Black, Chamomile and Mint teas, Coke,  Diet Snapple Lemon Tea, Cafe con Leche and the tried and true, a good ole cup of black coffee.  Finally, they paint on exercise balls, kneeling, standing up and sitting on a drafting chair.  I’m listening to the Goldberg Variations right now while writing this and enjoyed AM ROOTs very much.




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