Guest Author - Susan Taylor
One of the interesting things about the orchid hobby is the variety of different areas that people become interested in. Some collect orchid stamps, some orchid decorative items, some beautiful pots to display their orchids, and some collect orchid art. Since orchids have been so mysterious and coveted artists and botanists have been making pictures of them for years – from the ancient Chinese to the modern day. It is possible to collect any period or any type of art, but today’s artists are among some of the best there have ever been. With modern techniques, you can collect and display at a reasonable price.
One of the oldest forms of orchid art is that of botanical illustration. Those early explorers who found and named plants documented their information by drawing and painting pictures of the finds. A very interesting history of this art is found in A New Flowering documenting 1,000 years of botanical illustration and A Very Victorian Passion which documents the watercolors of John Day, a 19th century orchid grower and artist.
Botanical art is still popular today and among the premier current artists is Angela Mirro an artist who is a member of the Greater New York Orchid society. She has based many of her works on flowers from the New York Orchid Shows and did one of the posters for the World Orchid Conference in Miami this past January. Her work is amazing and she sells many of her paintings as postcards and notecards. Eleanora Freeman’s work as a botanical watercolorist is outstanding. Many of her paintings are available as greeting cards on her website. A personal favorite of mine is Cynthia Padilla who paints and conducts classes in botanical illustration around the country. She is a wonderful teacher and illustrator and has designed a special workshop on orchid painting for non-artists.
In the area of pure art Susan Brownlea-Wade has some absolutely breathtaking oils for the most discriminating collector. Janis Stevens has some lovely oils and prints on giclee. Most of her paintings are gallery-wrapped canvas so that they do not need to be framed. Patricia Laspino has generously agreed to donate part of the proceeds of her sales to the American Orchid Society.
The New York Botanical Garden (type "orchid" in the search box and click on the search button to see the items associated with orchids) has a wonderful selection of books on botanical and orchid art as well as a number of items based on the work of 19th century artist Walter Hood Fitch.