The mystery project revealed!


Hello, all! I finally get to share my large project! I am terrible at keeping my own secrets, as you know, so this is nothing short of phenomenal that I have made it this far with only small dribbles, and not a flood.

You’ve all been following along in my attempts to learn botanical art. I managed to take just enough classes at the Minnesota School of Botanical Art to be really arrogant about what I think I can do, but not enough to keep from getting into serious trouble when attempting to do it. However, one can’t afford to keep taking classes that are located four hours away forever without having a breakdown, so there you have it. Before ending my final class there, I asked for advice as to how to keep proceeding, and was told I was at the point where I just needed to paint a lot for a while, and let what I had managed to learn settle in. This seemed quite reasonable, except for one small detail.

I am unbelievably lazy.

Without any set deadlines or any accountability, I will sit and read my book and accomplish nothing whatever. So “painting a lot” was a little bit not going to happen if left to my own self.

Fortunately, I know how I work very well, and am in long habit of trapping myself into things I want to get done. The Arts Partnership runs a project they call “Community Supported Art“, or the CSA. They sell shares each year, and in exchange for a share members get a party with food, performances, and visual art to take home. Each year, they accept applications for artists for all categories. I thought, “what a perfect way to force me to paint. I’ll do little mini botanicals, and learn so much!” So I applied.

I was accepted.

And that is where I reinforced the fact that most of my ideas are equal parts completely brilliant and totally asinine. I rarely bother with the middle ground.

Fact: Traditional botanical illustration is very time consuming, even if you know what you are doing (which I don’t). It is not a fast painting style.

Fact: Small paintings/subjects are not necessarily easier than larger ones, and may, in fact, be much trickier.

Fact: Creating 46 tiny botanical paintings takes FOREVER.

Fact: Selling tiny botanical paintings–framed–for thirty dollars is basically paying people to take them.

From a business and time management standpoint this was one of the dumbest projects I have ever attempted.

From a learning standpoint? M’dears, I am a freaking GENIUS.

I have learned just absolute loads (even if, in some cases, I have learned just which spots I have absolutely no idea what I am doing).

I did 46 total paintings, each one unique and individual. All pieces are to scale (the painting is the same size as the specimen used), and no more than three of any subject was used. Each is roughly 2″x2″-ish in size, on a 5″x5″ ground. Individually, some came out better than others. Together, I am so impressed with myself I can’t even say. Just think what it will be like when I actually know what I am doing?

In some cases, I used them as an excuse to try different techniques. For example, I did three paintings of cherries, all with slightly different techniques, and I think you can really see the differences in the end results:


In other cases, I just fell in love with a specimen. This habanero, for example? I spent a half hour in the Asian Market going through the habanero box, until I found this one habanero that spoke to me. And I loved it so much, I did three paintings of it from different angles.

I can’t tell you why that one, and not any of the others, was ideal for painting. But there you go. Isn’t she beautiful? I loved both her shape and her color.

Of course, then I decided if I was already going completely insane on this project, I may as well go even more completely insane on the project, and really make it a completely blow-your-mind show stopper….so I decided to package them all up in style. Because why would you stop when you are already ahead? So I took all of this:

And turned them into these:

Aren’t they so pretty?

So, as I said, quite pleased.

I am scheduling this to post while I am at the CSA party handing them out, so hopefully my next post will report that they were well received. And I will share a few more images with you. But for now, this post has gotten really long, and I have a lot more paintings to share, so I will just add these three. I got excited about radishes, because I love their twisty little tail/roots. Also, I think these three show how different things can be. The first two radishes came from the same batch, and were similar in color. The third came from a different batch, and is very different in color. Techniques were different to suit the specimen, but isn’t it amazing how much variation there is? Talk about a visual.

I’ll show more later. Good bye for now!

7 Responses

  1. I am always so amazed by your talent, they are so real like, and each one so unique!

    Great job! I absolutely love the ones you pictured here, I have no doubt the recipients will also love them!

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