Thursday, November 05, 2015

Fiona Strickland wins The Hort's "Best in Show" Award at 18th Annual International

Last night, at the Awards ceremony for the 18th Annual International Exhibition of the American Society of Botanical Artists and The Horticultural Society of New York, Fiona Strickland was presented with the The Hort’s Best in Show Award.

The award was for her wonderful watercolour painting of Rhododendron 'Horizon Monarch'.

Rhododendron 'Horizon Monarch' by Fiona Strickland
Watercolour 77 x 91 cm
© Fiona Strickland
You can read the story behind the painting on the ASBA website.

I do very much appreciate the trouble that both artists and the ASBA go to, to provide both illustrations and the 'backstory' explanations of the artwork in the show - especially for all those of us who will not be able to see it in person.

Here's a short extract from what Fiona had to say which explains why very many botanical artists will be very keen to see this painting.
I was fascinated by the thought of using the technique of negative painting to paint the ‘white’ hairs on the bud scales (painting the background between the hairs leaving the white paper to describe the hairs). I had painted hairs on other paintings but had used body paint for this and wanted to improve my range of application techniques and experiment with a new approach. The challenge in this instance was to communicate this surface to the viewer whilst conveying the form convincingly, taking account of the changing underlying colour of the bud scales, and the effect of the light on them and on the very fine hairs.
The remainder of this post includes short extracts from just a few of the backstories to illustrate how much information is shared in terms of techniques and different approaches to creating botanical art

Below you can read about:

  • who won the awards
  • the details of the exhibition
  • the selected artists, the plants they portrayed and follow links to their websites if so inclined.


The is the complete list of awards

  • The Hort’s Best in Show Award: Rhododendron ‘Horizon Monarch’ by Fiona Strickland
  • ASBA Eleanor Wunderlich Award: Dragon Arum Dragon Arum Dracunculus vulgaris by Betsy Rogers-Knox 
  • Helen Gray Garber Award: Turnips. Brassica rapa by Asuka Hishiki 
Turnips. Brassica rapa
© Asuka Hishiki
The back story reveals how Asuka was able to paint from observation and complete her painting!
In the three turnip painting, I ended up using three different turnips to complete just the one on the left, so it is a fusion or mash-up of three different turnips. I started to paint the rainbow leaf, and while finishing it, the rest went bad. So I took a second turnip to finish the turnip root and base stems coming out of it. A third turnip covered the rest. How do I work? I have a kind of photoshop program in my head. I cannot create a new part of a turnip from scratch, but by referring to existing subjects, it is easy for me to merge and blend the parts in my head
  • Cheap Joe’s Award: Pincushion Protea Leucospermum cordifolium by  Estelle deRidder
  • Susan Frei Nathan Fine Works on Paper, LLC Award: Collections: Abelmoschus, Platanus, Rhexia, Physalis, Hibiscus, Ipomoea, Clematis, Scabiosa, Vitis, Rosa, Hemerocallis, Mimosa, Iris, Smilax, Allium, Aquilegia by Lara Call Gastinger
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden Award for Print or DrawingIris germanica by Melissa Toberer 
Iris germanica
© Melissa Toberer
  • Honorable Mentions


Image: © 2005 Alexander Viazmensky | Cortinarius sp. (Mushrooms)
This exhibition is a highly prestigious showcase of contemporary botanical art by leading artists from around the world.

This year it is being held at the 1stdibs gallery on the 10th floor New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY.

The exhibition opened on  November 4th and continues until December 20th 2015.

The Selected Artists

Artworks were selected from 234 submissions by jurors Susan Fraser, David Horak, and Catherine Watters.

The forty-four works are by artists from the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, and the UK.
Some of the artwork in ASBA's 18th International exhibitio
Some of the artwork in ASBA's 18th International exhibition

The artists whose work was selected for exhibition are as follows. The link in their name is to their website where you can see more of their work.

If you go to the selected artists page on the ASBA website you can find the link to their page on the ASBA website - and see their work in the show and the story behind their work.
  • Milly Acharya - Crocosmia 'Lucifer' and Trillium cuneatum, T. erectum, T. grandiflorum, T. luteum, T. ovatum
  • Rosalind Allchin (award winner) - Elecampane Inula helenium - a close inspection of a plant which grows 10 feet high
  • Margaret Best - Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea
  • Melanie Campbell-Carter - Shaving Brush Tree Pseudobombax ellipticum - You can see a great image of this work on the home page of her website - I recommend taking a look. This work was done in watercolour with coloured pencil.
  • Estelle DeRidder (awardwinner) - Pincushion Protea Leucospermum cordifolium - this one mixes the media and includes Watercolor, Colored Pencil, Graphite on Paper. 
  • Monika deVries Gohlke - January’s Bouquet Asclepias tuberosa, Rosa cv. - It's always a pleasure to see a botanical artist who is also a fine art printmaker!  This has used the Etching, Aquatint and Chine CollĂ© processes
  • Carrie Di Costanzo - Red Pine Pinus resinosa - this looks really impressive online. Carrie works in gouache.
I mapped out the needles on tracing paper first, and then transferred only the section I was currently painting, as not to confuse myself with too many lines on the watercolor paper.
  • Jean Emmons - Mouse Plant Arisarum proboscideum - I've been a big lover of Jean Emmons's art work ever since I met her at the RHS Botanical Art Show in 2011 when she won Best Botanical Painting as well as another Gold Medal. She works with meticulous accuracy and great colour with watercolour on calfskin vellum.
  • Akiko Enokido - Goldfish Camellia Camellia japonica ‘Kingyo-tsubaki’ - Akiko paints in watercolour on calfskin vellum
  • Margaret Farr - Baby Cyclamen Cyclamen hederifolium - Margaret is a member of the Brooklyn Garden Florilegium and exhibited at BISCOT 2015 this year (see a photo of her with her work in BISCOT continues at RGBE until 18th June)
  • Beverly Fink - Purple Trumpet Flower Iochroma cyaneum - a very colourful flower!
  • Ingrid Finnan - Panicled Hydrangea II Hydrangea paniculata - Ingrid is one of a few botanical artists who paint in oil on paper.
  • Kathleen Folino - Rose Library Page Rosa multiflora, Rosa ‘Crimson Shower, R. ‘Rainbow’, R. ‘White Max Graf’ - I do like it when an artist paints roses like this. I've seen a few examples in my time and they are always attractive.
  • Lara Call Gastinger (awardwinner) - Collections Abelmoschus, Platanus, Rhexia, Physalis, Hibiscus, Ipomoea, Clematis, Scabiosa, Vitus, Rosa, Hemerocallis, Mimosa, Iris, Smilax, Allium, Aquilegia - Another American Artist who I've met at an RHS Botanical Art Show. I've been a huge fan of her work ever since.  It's refreshing to see somebody using watercolour as a monochrome medium and painting in sepia. This image focuses on the design and 'architecture' of seeds and seed pods. You can see a larger version in her Autumn Newsletter
  • Asuka Hishiki (awardwinner) Turnips (Ayame yuki) Brassica rapa and Watermelon Radish Raphanus sativus - Two very impressive watercolour paintings of root vegetables. I love the bit where the leaf is changing colour on the turnips. You can see more of her root vegetable paintings on her website.
  • Leah Kaizer - Mathiasella II Mathiasella bupleuroides - this is one of two aompanion pieces painted on vellum
  • Joan Keesey - Dutchman’s Pipe with Pipevine Swallowtails Aristolochia californica, Battus philenor hirsuta - I love the combination of plants and butterflies and the design of this painting!
  • Ku-mie Kim - Southern Magnolia Magnolia grandiflora
  • Karen Kluglein - Pink Hollyhock Alcea rosea- it's very pink!  Plus it's 23" x 15" on vellum!
  • Mindy Lighthipe - Biriba Fruit with Hairstreak Butterfly Annona mucosa, Atlides polybe - another painting with a butterfly. I've never ever heard of the fruit before - it's a new one on me!
  • Katy Lyness - Brussels Sprouts Brassica oleracea - I love the languid brussel sprouts stem. Such an emphatic structure!  This work is in coloured pencils.
  • Robert McNeill - The other half of 'the pair from Scotland'. His botanical art is also very impressive
  • Carrie Megan - Witch Alder and Blue Wild Indigo Fothergilla gardenii, Baptisia australis - click the title and see the image on her website
  • Mali Moir - Ovuliferous Scale Bunya Pine Araucaria bidwillii - I was intrigued to see the work which rated an Honourable Mention
The mantra to myself while painting the cone scales was “more, more intense, more”. Each time I thought I had made the darks dark enough and rich colors rich enough, I would keep going until they were ‘intense’. This was a tightrope of balance, as I desperately needed to retain the silken refractions of light, whispers of color which only work if perfectly placed, no mess allowed! I used a 000 pure Kolinsky sable brush and engaged a ‘dry brush’ technique. In order to maintain tiny areas of pure color and light I refrained from applying any washes. My observations to paint this were to purely follow the patterns of color, trying not to ‘understand’ but to use an ‘empirical’ approach to seeing.
  • Tomoko Ogawa - Absalon Tulip Tulipa ‘Absalon’ 
  • Sharron O'Neil - Sunflower Seedpod Helianthus annuus - one of the founding members of the Filoli Florilegium
  • John Pastoriza-Pinol - Magnolia Magnolia ‘Vulcan’ 
  • Kelly Radding - A Piece of the North Woods - Nodding Ladies Tresses Orchid, Schreber’s Big Red Stem Moss, Running Club Moss, Hair Moss Spiranthes cernua, Pleurozium schreberi, Lycopodium clavatum, Polytrichum commune - This is a lovely painting on vellum - click the link in the title to see a large version on her website
  • Lesley Randall - Olulu Brighamia insignis - I'd never heard of the plant and then read on and realised it's a Hawaiian species. Executed in pen and ink on paper.
  • Betsy Rogers-Knox (awardwinner) - The Bog Sarracenia purpurea, Drosera rotundifolia, Iris prismatica and Dragon Arum Dracunculus vulgaris. There's a great back story attached to the plant which won her the prize.
  • Susan Sapanara - Gladiolus Gladiolus hortulanus 
  • Connie Scanlon - Raspberries Past Prime Rubus idaeus - I'm a fan of those who paint plants and flowers when they're not at their peak of perfection
  • Liz Shippam - Opal Plums Prunus domestica ‘Opal’ - Liz lives is a UK Botanical artist and lives in West Sussex. I'm very attracted to the finish Liz has achieved on these plums
  • Fiona Strickland - her back story includes the story of how she and Robert live and work together as artists
  • Keiko Nibu Tarver - Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum
  • Melissa Toberer (award winner) - Iris Iris germanica - I loved looking at the graphite drawings on Melissa's website
One of the most noticeable characteristics of irises is their bursts of vivid color. Choosing to illustrate the flower in graphite ignores that but instead focuses on the structure of the flower. Eliminating color allows the viewer to appreciate in detail the form and linear aspects of this botanical subject.
  • Jeannetta van Raalte - Sunflower Arising Helianthus annuus 
  • Alexander Viazmensky Cortinarius Cortinarius sp. - you can see this on the image on the catalogue cover for the exhibition. Alexander paints lots of mushrooms and you can see them on his website.
  • Denise Walser-Kolar - Bamberwood Apple Malus cv. 
  • Esmee Winkel - American Persimmon Diospyros virginiana - Esmee is a Dutch artist who I was delighted to meet at RHS in 2013. She works as a working as a graduated scientific illustrator and botanical artist for the Herbarium at Naturalis Biodiversity Center.
  • Carol Woodin (award winner) - Trillium in a Whirlwind Trillium sessile, Acer rubrum - Carol paints on vellum and is the Exhibition Director

Previous blog posts

Botanical art in North America

You can find out more about botanical art in the USA and Canada on my website Botanical Art & Artists which organises relevant information by continents and countries:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this comprehensive report of the Hort's 18th Annual International Exhibit in New York, Kathryn. It is an honor to be included in your blog.
    My congratulations to Fiona Strickland, Betsy Rogers Knox, Asuka Hishiki, Lara Call Gastinger, Melissa Toberer, Mali Moir, Rosalind Allchin and Carol Woodin; all of whom do such challenging and inspiring work.

    I would like to mention that I am a proud graduate of the SBA Distance Learning Diploma Course (Dist.) 2012. Without that experience I would not have been prepared to enter a show of this magnitude.


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