Return to Botany: Pictures From The Plant Kingdom

watercolor by Alan Singer
  from the exhibition “The Power of Flowers”
  At Ock Hee’s Gallery, Honeoye Falls, NY

Years ago, before I came to Rochester to teach at R.I.T., I developed an interest in plants and flowers, and then spent time providing design and illustration for books on the subject.  In love with nature, I practiced my watercolor technique that I learned from my father (Arthur Singer) and I often painted from life in the backyard among the flowers that I had selected and planted.  While I was still a graduate student earning my way to an MFA at Cornell University I illustrated a book on house plants that went on to sell thousands of copies.  I found there was a very large audience for this kind of descriptive artwork.

Tulips, May 1, by Pamela Glasscock

After Grad school, I moved back to New York City and not only did I meet many fine artists, but I also met the ones who shared a specialty like mine.  This month, I was able to bring along some of the artists I have met to exhibit their work at Ock Hee’s Gallery on Lehigh Street in Honeoye Falls.  I am honored to be accompanied by artists who really know their stuff – this is world class botanical art.  Over thirty years ago I met Pamela Glasscock, and for this show she sent from California some spectacular large watercolors she has made, not only of tulips, but also native flowers from the west just beginning to bloom.
Here in the east we have a few nice days and the snow drops (Galanthus) are in flower, buds have burst in the trees, and spring is coming.  For those of you who thought that winter was way too long, you can celebrate the colors of spring at the show we call “The Power of Flowers”, open til May 24, 2014.

Variegated Lemon by Carol Woodin

Carol Woodin, an artist who is the director of exhibitions for the ASBA ( The American Society of Botanical Artists) is represented in this show by gorgeous plant portraits on vellum, a preferred material for botanical art.  For years Carol exhibited her work at the Rochester Museum and Science Center during the annual orchid show.  Also on view in this exhibition are Asian styles of painting including several works by Dennis Burns who employs a brush technique that he studied in Japan.
 Dennis has another specialty of creating Japanese Gardens, and he knows his plant materials and what they represent.  It is not just the Lotus flower that has symbolic significance, but also plum blossoms, bamboo, and chrysanthemums.

Joy of LIfe by Dennis Burns
Denise Heischman has painted a tall red Amaryllis for this show, and Dr. Alice Chen has added a delicate portrait of “The Veiled Lady” a mushroom she has studied.  Alice also is teaching Asian brush painting and has several intimate works at Ock Hee’s Gallery.  Years back, botanical artists were few and far between, but now there seems to be a rejuvenation of the field, and some of that can be attributed to the active participation of the ASBA and these gifted artists.
“The Veiled Lady” by Dr. Alice Chen
My contribution to this show included selecting some of the artists, and I am also exhibiting watercolors of a lily with yellow specks, some bright sunflowers, and brilliant red poppies –  a nice mixture to remind you that warmer weather will be coming right around the corner.
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