Sharon Field

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


A beautiful piece of botanical art is powerful, not just because it is aesthetically pleasing as a work of art,  or for the talent needed for its creation, but because it can elicit emotion, make a statement, or perhaps even challenge preconceived ideas.   It should be more than a snapshot of the plant.  To have real impact then, it helps if the work has an inherent meaning .

What do I mean by this?  I find the accuracy of botanical art pleasing and fascinating, but for me there has to be more – and that is a “truth” in rendering the subject which has to go beyond the clinical.

For me, beauty in a work of art is the coming together of a number of qualities – initially it is expertise in and mastery of those technical skills necessary to produce a fine work, and a real understanding of your tools and your medium – these are the fundamental building blocks.

Then the “x” factor must come into play – this is a combination of the artist’s spirit, a passion, and a search for truth and meaning that goes beyond just painting a picture.  It is how you tell the story of the plant that counts.  This plant has also lived a full life – it has probably reproduced, it has been attacked, it has been admired, it has been stressed, it has been young, it has aged.

Rory McEwen’s art, for example, is said to combine botanical accuracy, artistic elegance and superb technique in the same painting.  He also had a “lightness of spirit” and a “rare delicacy” in his work.  In elegant simplicity he captured the essence of the plants he painted.  His work never fails to take my breath away.

In the same way, we also need to distil a “truth” that only we can find in the subjects we choose to paint.

If we can combine superb technique with botanical accuracy and that elusive spirit of the essence of the plant then I think we become closer to achieving an outstanding work of art.

 Sign in again in September when I explore the concept of “creativity”

Coming up – in my diary…

  • You can now follow me on Instagram – Sharon Field_artist. Log on and see what I have posted there!
  • 2017 – September: 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 – October: 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.
  • 2017-2019: 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 for two years in 2018 and 2019.


  • 2018: Watch this space! I’m starting a work on a very special project in the Monaro region with Greening Australia and the Upper Snowy Landcare Network.  More information soon.
  • 2018 – July/August: Artist residency with Studio Maelor, Wales, United Kingdom.

Next Blog How creative can you be in botanical art? (to be posted in September)

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