Artist’s Statement

Because of the demands of being a graphic designer I have always had to squeeze in my fine art. But, since 2009, botanical illustration has become my passion, so now I squeeze in the graphic design to fill the passion. Love of this art form gives me a never-ending number of subjects that I can’t wait to illustrate. My studio is filled with pods and branches. Live specimens constantly take up space in my refrigerator, and I always have a watchful eye out for new material. Foraging in my garden, along roadsides, in botanical gardens and through woodlands has become my resource library.

I choose my subjects often on inspiration. My objective is to bring out the personality of the plant ...the shape of its leaves, its flower petals, its color, the little nuances we often overlook. Planning is the key to success. I start by viewing my specimen from various perspectives to understand how it grows - is the subject upright and regal, or fluid and dance-like, how do the leaves come off the stem, how are the petals attached?  The first step is a pencil line drawing on tissue working from the live specimen, possibly sketching from various of angles. I might disassemble a flower, or take a plant out of its dirt to understand its root system. I use a magnifying glass or printer’s loop to reveal all the intricate details. Drawing on several layers of tracing paper I work out the composition. Once the composition is established, the final tracing paper drawing is transferred to hot press watercolor paper. Before rendering, I do a series of color studies in order to match the color of the live specimen. I take reference photographs (especially if a subject has a very short life), so I have a record of scientific lighting when rendering. Finally, the fun begins bringing the illustration to life. I work with watercolor, watercolor pencils and/or colored pencils on Fabriano Artistico paper.

Meeting with and taking classes from other botanical artists to learn how they work is something I continue to enjoy. There is much to learn from others. Teaching botanical illustration at the NYBG gives me the opportunity to share my enthusiasm with my students.