Category: Uncategorized

Preparing to teach fellow artists

Being asked to teach botanical art outside of my home environment is always exciting …  I agree with delight, and then I start to think.  What can I say to fellow botanical artists to stimulate and help them with their artwork?  

A successful short lecture takes a great deal of analysis and research.  I love being totally submersed in the subject: questioning the rules, looking at other artists’ works, analyzing how it was achieved from a technical basis and recognizing the sort of emotional response I get as a viewer.  

There are so many types of botanical artworks: careful scientific studies, grand displays of  plants in vivid glorious colour, gentle little observations of plants most people would overlook, and all sorts of things in between.  Once I have found a theme that interests me, I tag all sorts of images and gradually sort them into categories, discarding some along the way until I have about twenty slides which demonstrate my analysis best.  When the time comes to speak alongside the slide show, I find it easier to ad lib straight from the heart, but can only do so because of the deep interest I have in looking at the world of plants through my own and other artists’ eyes.

The joy of all this preparation is that I learn so much myself, and have a visual feast along the way. 

My next teaching session is in a couple of weeks in the UK, so I hope I can bring something worthwhile to the artists.  Wish me luck and clear thinking!

Recording for the FutureĀ 

So much information has been lost because it was not recorded. Think of the centuries of medical knowledge carried verbally through the San Bushmen that may be lost due to the breakdown of their societies as people are urbanised.  

One of the most thrilling aspects of recording plants by drawing and painting them on archival paper with good pigments, is the possibility that they may survive for a very long time indeed, giving future viewers a glimpse of the current natural world.

The exhibition at UCTs Irma Stern Museum “Flora Old & New” shows botanical art from plants collected by explorers of centuries ago, alongside contemporary works, featuring SA indigenous plants.  Artworks on acid free paper survives if it is looked after.  Who knows if the digital scans of today will be too primitive to read in the future? Or perhaps too advanced?