As an avid gardener, I am enthralled by the beauty and diversity of the plant world. Whether it’s the blossoms of ornate lilies and delicate violets or the intriguing forms of sprouting ferns and ripening fruits, the shapes, patterns, and colors of the garden are an endless source of fascination for me.
Likewise, many artists draw great inspiration from gardens and the wider world of nature. Whether capturing a plant’s growth in a photograph or rendering flower buds in sterling silver, these artists do more than simply record what they see—they interpret the natural world through the lens of their own experience. Here are several works of art I particularly love—pieces that explore the details of the botanical world in creative, original ways.
Laura Zindel creates elegant ceramic pieces decorated with intricate drawings. Each image is first drawn with graphite on paper, then transferred onto the surface of her hand-built earthenware pieces through a screenprinting process. I love the way she captures the spiraled form of new fern leaves in a graceful, symmetrical composition.
Lisa A. Frank says of her work, “My intention is to capture my wonderment and love for the mysteries of woodland environments.” Using a flatbed scanner as a camera, Frank creates a fascinating tableaux of wild mushrooms and colorful flowers that is rich with contrast and detail, setting a dramatic mood.
Lilacs are a quintessential spring flower—a sign that warmer weather is here to stay. Every spring, I look forward to the fragrance of lilacs wafting through the warm spring air. Sarah Hood renders delicate lilac buds in sterling silver, transforming something so ephemeral and joyful into tiny works of art to wear.
Dwo Wen Chen depicts diverse plants at various stages of growth in this remarkable hand-painted ceramic piece. Layered imagery and subtle gradations of color create an energetic yet harmonious composition that reflects the verdant growth of a garden in full bloom.
Hummingbird moths are fascinating creatures, and photographer Lori Pond has captured a flock of them enjoying the nectar of a lavender plant. She uses a shallow depth of field to create a beautiful contrast between foreground and background, and a longer shutter speed to capture a sense of movement in the moth’s wings.
Ouida Touchon adds color and depth to this woodcut print using the chine colle technique, carefully layering pages from a children’s fairy tale book to her paper before creating her print. This piece is also a play on words: a “fairytale pumpkin” is a real pumpkin variety, but it is given new meaning when the pumpkin is actually composed of fairy tale images.
I live in the north, and so to me, cacti are exotic houseplants. But to artists from warmer landscapes, like Sooyoung Kim, cacti are a vital and treasured part of the local landscape. I love Kim’s interpretation of a cactus in bloom in this striking pendant accented with gleaming pearls.
Whether they find their inspiration in a desert garden or a mountain forest, artists draw upon the spectacular details of the natural world to create pieces full of beauty and meaning. Seeing these works of art inspires me to look at the world—and my own garden—through fresh eyes.