Mission Statement

The Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists is an open and diverse group of artists, collectors and admirers who share a love for the practice and perpetuation of botanical art and illustration with a fond focus on plants in the Rocky Mountain Region.
We encourage and participate in educational outreach, juried and non-juried exhibits, lectures, workshops and regular chapter meetings. The RMSBA is proud to be the very first chapter affiliation of the international organization, the American Society of Botanical Artists.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fighting words?

Recently I read a review of botanical art online. The author stated that traditional botanical art, or more accurately flower painting, was a rich genre. Then lamented that botanical art in the contemporary scene was really just illustration, and contained no aesthetic. The last comments offered did concede that there were a few botanical "artists" out there with obvious artistic sensibilities, but the genre simply relied too much on the needs of science.

Mesmerize, White Giant Allium, Allium giganteum, 18x18", colored pencil on film, Susan Rubin

My first reaction was to prepare to do battle for my own beloved genre. Then, I realized that the reason I was prepared to do battle is that there is a kernel of truth in the author's statements. Sometimes it seems that historical "plant on a page" needs of science drive the composition, media and methods of contemporary botanical art. Is that a bad thing? Isn't it a fact that contemporary botanical art springs from this approach and is the genesis of what we do? However, botanical art is not limited by its origins. In fact, the art used to illustrate science isn't even limited by its origins. The complaining  author obviously hasn't seen enough botanical art!

Then, what is that annoyng kernel of truth? To me, it's knowing that not enough viewers get to see botanical art, and that not enough of us market our art appropriately. So, how did a discussion of botanical art segue to marketing? It followed the money! Let's look to the pros. Those artists who succeed in growing the genre sell their art. And they sell it as "art" with terrific accurate botanicals, not "botanical art." The difference in the words broadens the acceptance and interest in our work.

Brassica,  watercolor on paper, Estelle DeRidder

So yes, let's fight! Let's fight to find more appreciators of botanical art. Let's start thinking about our work as art first. Stunning and useful and necessary illustration is embraced by that concept. Let's think of ourselves as artists who swim in the large pool of art in general. Let's grow our genre to embrace people who love flowers, who love mystery, who love innovative use of media, who love seeing an artist's point of view about any subject.

It's where we belong to insure that our work is seen broadly and informs contemporary art trends. It's where our art belongs to serve our goals of educating the world about the importance of plants, their beauty, their utility, their service to humans, their essential fit in ecology.

Penstemon, cinquefoil, and fairy trumpet, watercolor and colored pencil, Jan Boyd Haring

To this end, find ways to expand how you see your own art via general art education. Find a great course on linear and atmospheric perspective. Try plein aire work - especially since the weather is fine in the mornings now. Study color in the media of your choice. Pursue composition as avidly as you do the right color or scientific accuracy. And use this venue to display what you discover. That's why the blog is here.

New School Hopper Juan, Fly, mixed media, Julie Sprinkle

Check the blogspot today. New links in Ephemera take you to some amazing art with botanical subjects in oil, pastel, watercolor, graphite and mixed media. There are a few precious spots left in the two workshops listed, Drawing Basics in Denver,  and A Watercolorist's Best Kept Secrets in Crested Butte. Both classes promise growth and exploration. When you have picked the plant you want to portray for RareII, go to Contacts and submit your choice to the email there to register your plant(s). If you haven't registered for the ASBA conference, there's still time to beat the August 15 deadline for savings in registration fees.

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