Sharon Field

What does beauty in botanical art mean? (Part II)


In my last blog, I explored the idea of what the differences might be between good art, and the best of botanical art.  So, how do we get our work to that point?

Setting aside the initial concept for a work, which is an essay in itself, technical skill is our starting point – we need to draw a plant accurately, we need to capture the essential character of the plant.  Then we move into the realm of design, colour and so on.  These elements are probably the most comparable and measurable aspects of our art.

As we look at a drawing or painting we can determine how skilfully it was created simply by comparison with other works in terms of composition, tone, colour, texture, accuracy, the quality of line –  these are the objective measures of a work.

  • However, being technically adept does not necessarily produce a beautiful drawing or painting.

Beauty is, and always will be, in the “eye of the beholder”.   Your personal decision about the beauty or lack of beauty, in a particular work of art is instinctive and natural.   Similarly, what you see as beautiful in your own work will be unique to you.

  • In fact, you won’t consciously make that decision – you will be either captivated by a plant for creating your own artwork or you won’t.
  • If your progress around a gallery is arrested … you are stopped in your tracks by a particular work of art, then something special has happened. You and the artist have made a very special connection.  What has been the nature of that connection?

Perhaps the question should not be about “beauty” per se, but rather “what is it that makes an artwork outstanding?”  What gives a work that elusive “x” factor?  That “wow” factor?

More of my thoughts on this in August!


Coming up – In my diary:

  • 2018: Artist residency with Studio Maelor, Wales, United Kingdom
  • 2017-2019: My painting of a “Lord Howe Island Fig”, was accepted for a Group Exhibition, Out of the Woods, November, New York, United States of America.  This juried exhibition then travels the United States during 2018 and 2019.
  • 2017: My work, “Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness”,  has been accepted by the assessment panel for the prestigious CAPO (Capital Artist’ Patrons Organisation) Auction, to be held in September this year.
  • 2017: Group Exhibition, Four Winds Bermagui Project, Fresh Salt.  This is a creative response by visual artists, poets, musicians and others to eight exquisite estuaries in the far south coast of NSW.  The exhibition will be held in October, at the ANU, Canberra and in December at  the Bega Regional Gallery.
  • 2017: Next Blog What does beauty in botanical art mean? (Part III) (to be posted in August)

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