Sustainable specimen management.

Posted by Michael Best on July 01, 2015 0 Comments

One of the challenges facing botanical artists is management of live specimens located in the "wild". In an ideal world an artist would locate a live specimen, settle down and draw and paint it in situ. But we don't live in an ideal world, certainly not as far as live botanical art specimens go. In situ completion of a botanical art painting is seldom an option (hence the practice of journaling) because of weather, to name just one major consideration.

A picked specimen will often fade and die before the exacting task of capturing it on paper can be completed and working off a photograph is anathema to serious, traditional botanical artists. That leaves just one reasonable option - bring the live specimen somewhat in situ into the studio.  

Many plants can be carefully dug up keeping the ball of soil around bulbs and roots intact and placed in a suitably-sized plant pot. Properly maintained, they can live comfortably this way while the botanical artist conducts his or her slow, exacting craft. Proper maintenance includes keeping the potted plant in conditions as close to its natural conditions as possible. For one thing, putting it outside overnight and, for another, giving it a break in the sun during the day, particularly if it is a plant accustomed to substantial sunlight. And don't forget to water it.

Once the specimen is no longer required it may then be returned to its natural habitat; preferably the exact spot where it was found. If it cannot be the exact spot then finding an alternative where the plant can thrive would be the responsible thing to do. No plant should have to give its life for a painting.


                                                                   Sustainable specimen.

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