Q. Why carry a magnifier when visiting botanical art exhibitions?
A. To see the botanical art better
I never used to until I visited the Rory McEwen exhibition in 2013 at Kew Gardens.
That was when I realised I was only really able to appreciate part of the quality of the painting. I just couldn't view the way he painted like a miniaturist on a larger scale unless I could look at the paintings in more detail. Once I used a magnifier I was able to see much more clearly how he had painted different paintings and how his technique started and developed over time.
Yesterday I went back to Kew for the last day of the Nature's Bounty exhibition - with my magnifier. My intention was to take a closer look at a number of paintings.
One of these was the Beetroot by Susannah Blaxill. This is a painting which was purchased by Shirley Sherwood from Spink in 1994. However it has been so popular and so frequently requested for exhibitions around the world that she'has never been able to hang it on her own walls. It's certainly a painting which is much admired and remembered after it has been seen in person by botanical art lovers all over the world.
I'm guessing very many watercolour painters and others would probably think that Susannah has wonderful control over her watercolour glazes. Maybe that she applies a stipple in places using a brush designed for a miniaturist.
However yesterday I discovered that virtually all of this painting was painted using dry brush HATCHING techniques and optical colour mixes. Virtually anywhere I looked at the painting using my magnifier - apart from the leaf storks - I could see lots and lots of tiny hatching marks in different colours. None of this was apparent when viewed normally.
The painting is in effect a huge optical illusion.
As somebody who adores colour, is an inveterate hatcher and applies coloured pencils in exactly the same way I was extremely pleased.
I eulogised about her charcoal work in my review of the exhibition. Now I'll be looking very closely at any and all her work when I see it in future.
There is no doubt that she is one of the great contemporary botanical artists.
News & Resources
About Botanical Art and
For Botanical Artists
Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
© Katherine Tyrrell 2015-17
Unauthorised use or duplication of ANY material on this blog without written permission is strictly prohibited. Please respect copyright of all artists featured here.
Subscribe to BAA News
Get every blog post emailed to you when you Subscribe to Botanical Art & Artists - News by Email
What's your news?
This blog highlights news - in brief - about botanical art exhibitions around the world.
Use the Contact form to tell me about an exhibition and provide a summary of relevant information. If listing your event I will ask you for relevant images.
2016 Workshops, Classes & Courses
Find out about botanical art workshops, classes courses in 2016 offered by various organisations and artists in the UK and USA
BAA News Archives
This page Botanical Art & Artists on my main blog has an archive of blog posts about past exhibitions of the Society of Botanical Art and Artists
News Blog about artists, awards, exhibitions etc.
Please send me .
- news to share
- info. about exhibitions
- any suggestions for what you'd like to see on this website
- Books about Botanical Art History
- History of Botanical Art
- Botanical Art Online
Contact me if you'd like to promote workshops and courses on this site.
This website is free to you but not for me! (See Affiliate Income below)