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Art Gallery Reception – Botanical Art by Susan Sawyer

July 11, 2019 @ 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Join us for an exhibition and celebration of artist and naturalist Susan Sawyer’s wonderful botanical artwork, on display at North Branch Nature Center from July through September.

Gallery Opens at 5:30 pm
Artist Remarks at 6 pm
Refreshments provided.

Artist’s Statement

My work is concerned with the natural world. I like to look at things, especially close up. Looking has made me a naturalist, and made me an artist. I’m fascinated by patterns, colors, structures, and growth. A bud, a twig, a seed, a leaf. Is there anything in the world more worth paying attention to?

So I’ve spent a good part of my life watching and learning about things that live in the water and the woods. I choose to make images of plants and animals that are native in my part of northern Vermont. They are what matters most to me. Sitting with them and taking the time to make images of them lets me see them in the deepest way I know.

In all of these images, in the process of making a picture of a thing, I’m translating three dimensions into two, light into marks, maybe leaving out color altogether, editing, emphasizing, leaving out, clarifying, and most of all, honoring. I hope to communicate something about it that has caught my attention, and worth seeing.

About the Mediums

I work mostly on paper with graphite, silverpoint, or transparent watercolor. Because the subtle details are more important to me than contrast and drama, I usually work with hard pencils in a light value range – it’s like speaking in a soft voice. My sketchbook is as much a daily meditation as a rather strange diary.

There’s no erasing silverpoint –a drawing medium used mainly in the Renaissance (superseded by the graphite pencil in the 17th century). The light silver lines tarnish over time (depending on the sulfur in the air) to a warmer and darker tone. Silverpoint is best seen in person, and is quite hard to reproduce.

Watercolor is the demanding-frustrating-simple-versatile-brilliant medium of the botanical artist. Using tracing paper, the simple outlines of a detailed pencil drawing are transferred to watercolor paper, and the painting is slowly and gradually developed with constant reference to the drawing, the reference photos, and the subject itself. When I paint a leaf, I’m not interested producing a photographically-perfect image (cameras are quite good at that), but in making a painting. The paint is part of the story.

About the Artist

Susan Sawyer is an artist-naturalist from South Woodbury. Susan works as an educator, naturalist, and illustrator for the Four Winds Nature Institute, and as a teacher of art to adults in nonformal settings. She worked as a naturalist and educator for VINS from 1993-2006, mostly at the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier. She was also on the faculty of Union Institute & University’s adult degree program from 1996 until 2011. She’s curious, loves a puzzle, thinks observation and imagination are the beginning of both science and art, and believes in having serious fun while exploring the natural world and making art.


July 11, 2019
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
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North Branch Nature Center
713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602