Scanlon consistently paints blueberries in all stages of its evolution. She masterfully captures the various hues from, as the artist describes, “its early green berries with hints of rose, to slowly growing berries of magenta and violet, eventually showing its ripe blues and indigo. Heirloom blueberries are cultivars who have been in continuous production for over 50 years, and include many first and second generation crosses made by the original horticulturalists (Elizabeth White, Frederick Coville and Arlen Draper). The names of some of early heirloom high bush blueberry plants include: Stanley, Rubel, Jersey and Elizabeth. Heirloom blueberries are seeds that regrow and pass on from one generation to the next.”
Scanlon continues, “Over a hundred years ago, the USDA botanist Frederick Coville wrote “Taming the Wild Blueberry” and began a collaborative effort with cranberry grower, Elizabeth White, in cultivating blueberries from the wild. Their first commercial blueberry crop was harvested in 1916. Coville named one of the earliest heirloom cultivars for his eldest son, Stanley. It is considered one of the sweetest blueberries ever to be produced.”
Stylistically, this work continues her love affair with the plant. She captures a romantic essence through her technique, harking to the 19th century European master botanical painters. Her choice of a vellum as the substrate further evokes the golden age of botanical art.
As this and her Heirloom Blueberry Branch #2 (visit www.sfnbotanicalart.com) show, the blueberry bush is a favorite of Scanlon’s to paint and has propelled her to the upper echelon of contemporary botanical painters. These paintings are love letters to art collectors.
The New England Society of Botanical Artists (NESBA) is featuring Beverly Duncan on their Beyond the Brush lecture series, Wednesday, January 24th at 11AM. We are posting her Winter Branches in conjunction with this talk to further share and celebrate her passion for studying and documenting her natural world.
Kelly Leahy Radding
Of Winged Things, 2023
Mallard Duck, Blue Jay and American Kestrel feathers with a black maple samara
Watercolor on calfskin vellum
7 x 5 inches
Lizzie Sanders (1944-2020) was a master contemporary botanical artist whose talent is world renowned. She carefully chose specimens that conveyed beauty through form and composed her subjects with the utmost care to show their fragility or regality, no matter its popularity. Three works to consider for acquisition from a private collection. All information is included here, to purchase please e-mail email@example.com.
Passiflora tripartita, 2001
watercolor on paper
18 x 20 inches
Iris foetidissima, 2004
watercolor on paper
19 x 17 inches
Robinia pseudoacacia (Locust Beans), 2006
watercolor on paper
19 x 17 inches
The foundation of master botanical drawing lies in the artist’s passion for the subject. Botanical artists mostly begin with outlining the plant’s anatomy while infusing the line with the indescribable quotient of inspiration. Their honed technique brings the plant to life on paper or vellum. The artist is conversing with the viewer through the line, a complex discussion of the plant’s structure and beauty, weaving in and out with a master’s attention to efficiency. The line breathes life into the plant, the use of shading amplifies value and as the artist marries both, fireworks! DaVinci said, “The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies everything placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.” ”Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”
Meet us in September at www.sfnbotanicalart.com for an intimate look at Denise Walser-Kolar’s exquisite fruit drawings.
Here, the artist focuses on part of the plant normally hidden under the petal of the rose. As we explore the painting, we come across a tiny worm munching on leaves, juxtaposing life with its expiration. This awakens us to the story of this plant’s evolution. Walser-Kolar composes the withering plant’s stages of life through gestural movements within the stems. She adds drama with the variegated vellum, an intentional choice to marry the subject to the substrate. Her masterful ability to capture the leafs structure, building color through a dry brush technique, inventively pulling the vellum through the worm holes, contributes to the painting’s overall mood. One relishes the opportunity to see part of the plant world unintended by nature. From beginning to end, a love story of plant and person.
My Dad’s Garden (Morden’s Blush rose hips), 2020
watercolor on vellum
10 x 9.5 inches
Susan Frei Nathan Fine Works on Paper is excited to welcome and represent Susan Rubin. The artist uses maps as her substrate combined with a mylar overlay depicting the specific botanical species to its origin. This botanical work is inspired and informed by its history. Rubin recounts,”It was revealed accidentally, in the process of Kosher certification for Coke, that one of the primary ingredients in the ‘secret’ flavor of the soft drink was Nutmeg. The history of Nutmeg from the Banda Islands, also known as the Spice Islands, begins at least 3500 years ago, expands to the world via the Spice Road, and includes centuries of battles waged by the Dutch and British to control the cultivation of the prized spice.”
“From the series of work entitled “Spice”, this botanical drawing with the iconic Coke bottle is a reminder that plant comes with a place and a past, while universally enjoyed.” Rubin’s particular brand of story telling begins with an intriguing subject, identifying its source and combining the the two elements for further exploration. Whimsically enriching our understanding of a familiar, everyday object. What goes well with Coke’s Coca Cola in New York City? The answer can be found in another of Rubin’s drawings to be featured this week on www.sfnbotanicalart.com, stay tuned!
Nutmeg, Myristica fragrans: Banda Islands, Eastern Indonesia, 2008
Colored pencil on Mylar over map, 9 x 8 inches
The idea of an artist beginning a work and reworking the image over time is particularly challenging with botanical art. Since many of the artists in this exhibition initially are inspired to paint live plants, often captured during their short lifecycle, it is essential to sketch in situ in the landscape or with the specimen in the studio. However, when an artist decides to shelve the work, they need to recall the information through notes, sketches and color keys to be true to the original knowledge the plant shared with she/he. Time can be on the artist’s side, a moment of contemplation can solve a compositional dilemma, bringing a good work to that next level as well as creating a more nuanced and magical experience for both the artist and collector.
Karen Kluglein’s Tamora Rose, 2021, watercolor on illustration board
Ranunculus II, 2014
colored pencil, pencil on paper
14 x 11 inches
Check out www.sfnbotanicalart.com this Spring for SFN’s first Flat File exhibition. Artists often begin a work of art then put it aside, storing it in their flat file cabinet, designed to store works on paper, hence “flat” file. I am interested in why the artist leaves the work rather than completing it. I have requested artists revisit paintings started then shelved. Stay tuned for past/present pieces from Carol Woodin, Victoria Braithwaite and Elizabeth Enders amongst many others. Together we will explore the artist’s mind and witness the evolution from ideas to finished works.
Elizabeth Enders spontaneously captured the simplicity of the Rhododendron’s upright leaf structure pointing to the warmth of the air still lingering late into the Fall season of 2020. She notes the leathery leaf texture with watercolor and includes the bud, a welcome note in its bright green stage of development. A work full of hope and anticipation for the bloom, a welcome sign of nature’s life cycle.
watercolor on paper
14.5 x 11 inches