Mid-season ASBA Artist and Education Grant Project Updates


Marsha Bennett of Phoenix AZ received the Julius I. Brown award for $3000. The project will fund a five minute video highlighting the Citizen Scientist project and members of the Southwest Society of Botanical Artists in the scientific identification and documentation of the flora of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. Marsha's update: First, let me thank the ASBA for awarding me this grant to develop a five minute video for our permanent botanical art exhibit at the North Mountain Visitor Center in Phoenix, AZ. Our exhibit is the result of many groups and individuals coming together to promote awareness and preservation of the flora of the North Mountain area of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. The North Mountain Plant Inventory Project is developing a floristic inventory of the area, a large urban park in the center of the city. The project has been running for two years. Lay volunteers, called citizen scientists, were trained by botanists from the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix to identify, collect and preserve plant specimens of the area. To date, 140 specimens have been collected. Members of the Southwest Society of Botanical Artists are illustrating those plants. We formally opened the exhibit March29 with 27 framed and matted illustrations (pen and ink, water color and colored pencil). We felt the need to enhance the exhibit by offering a short running video that would explain the North Mountain Plant Inventory Project and the citizen scientists’ efforts. We also wanted to educate the public about botanical art and illustration and its role in scientific research today. This rationale was the basis of my grant request. We secured the services of a young, talented film maker in Phoenix, Jae Staats of Ballboy Productions, who recently won Best Director and Best Overall Film at the Phoenix Film Festival, April, 2014. Jae has a great appreciation of the desert and of our efforts to educate the public. He has worked closely with us, providing good insight in how to convey our message in an interesting manner. As of March 28, we completed filming and Jae is beginning the editing process. Once he has completed the first edit, he will send us a copy for review. Once we settle on the final version, I will forward it to a classical guitarist, Mark Godwin in Nashville, who will perform the musical background for the film. We anticipate completion in midsummer.

Lisa Coddington of Santa Fe, NM received a grant for $1000. The project was to teach two botanical art workshops. One workshop for elementary grade students and one for adults, on the island of Grenada with a support partnership involving the Peak Institute. Lisa's update: Here's botanical art news fresh off the island of Grenada. Thanks to the ASBA for making it possible for me to teach a unique botanical art class on the island at Peak Institute. This was a nice change from my regular college art instruction during my Spring break. During the five day workshop students received first time drawing instruction from live plants and basic watercolor techniques. The final project included creating large colorful panels which are currently displayed for the public to enjoy in a busy business district. Students and teachers alike appreciated the art sessions, and it instilled a sense of pride in their work. More details to come at the Denver ASBA Conference. Estelle DeRidder of Torrance, CA was awarded $1000 grant. The project is to assist with the creation of multiple sets of reusable plant identification cards featuring illustrations of plant life cycle phases and focused on the top 35 native plant species of the Madrona Marsh Preserve in Torrance Ca. Estelle's update: With 6 months left to meet the grant deadline, I am happy and confident to report that the agreed-upon plates will be ready for production as flashcards to be used in the Educational Program of the Madrona Marsh. Some of the flowering plants bloom for a short period during the season, and the ones I missed last year due to a delayed starting date have now been recorded. It has been a very fulfilling as well as a big learning experience for me and I thank the ASBA and all the staff who have worked to make this possible.

Estelle DeRidder's 2012 Grant timeframe was extended to two years to be presented in Denver 2014.
Grant project: Estelle De Ridder of Torrance CA. was awarded a $1000 grant to assist with the creation of multiple sets of reusable plant identification cards featuring illustrations of plant life cycle phases and focused on the top 35 native plant species of the Madrona Marsh preserve in Torrence, CA to be used for ongoing education and awareness for visitors of the Marsh with a coordinating Art Exhibit.
Estelle’s Update: Fieldwork is still in full swing to catch the different phases of the flora of the Madrona Marsh Nature Preserve. Preliminary sketches and studies are being done in the field, at the Preserve headquarters laboratory and at my studio in La Crescenta.

Jody Williams of Creve Coeur, MO received a grant of $1000. Her project will extend the reach of ASBA’s Following in the Bartram’s Footsteps exhibition to the St. Francois Mountains of Southeastern Missouri. "The Bartrams in My Backyard" project will include drawing, painting and lecturing about the plants listed by the Bartrams and growing in the region. Jody's update: When ASBA announced its plan to curate an exhibition focusing on the plants discovered and cultivated by John & William Bartram, I admit that I had never heard of them. As ASBA’s Public Relations Committee Chair, I thought I’d better do some research. I read a number of books about the Bartrams including William’s own Travels, The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wolf and The Art & Science of William Bartram by Judith Magee. I’m not usually drawn to the study of history but enjoyed what I read and wanted to know more. I downloaded the list of plants from which artists were to select subjects to submit for the exhibition and saw many with which I was familiar. We have a country home in the St. Francois Mountains of Southeastern Missouri that is predominantly oak and hickory forest and igneous glades. It is a unique region of exposed Pre-Cambrian age rock which is the oldest exposed rock in North America – older than the Smoky Mountains and a great variety of plants. As the deadline approached, rather than painting an entry for the exhibition, I created a database of the Bartram plants and began sorting through my personal photo archive of plant pictures I’d taken over the past ten years since we bought the property. This is when the idea for this project to extend my personal exploration of the Bartram’s legacy in “my own backyard” was first conceived. I have extended the notion of my backyard to include both the property in country and our neighborhood in suburban St. Louis. I have since identified some 140 herbaceous and woody plants from the Bartram list. I committed to completing 6 watercolor paintings and giving 4 lectures for my grant project. I have been building a PowerPoint presentation as I gather information and record my experiences to use for my lectures. I selected 3 photographs of each plant from my archives, one that illustrated the plant’s identifying features, one of it in its habitat and one with a compelling visual composition, the latter being the potential basis for a watercolor painting of that plant. Although ideally, I would paint from a live specimen, with only a year to complete the project, I felt I had to get underway early and during the winter, this process allowed me to really get to know the plants, think about appealing compositions and narrow down the selection. In addition to sharing the Bartram’s story and promoting contemporary botanical art to the public through artwork and lectures, another dimension of the grant project was to develop myself further as an artist. I am very much at the “aspiring” stage now. I started by doing pencil contour drawings of each of the 140 plants and some pen & ink line drawings on film. Narrowing down the field of candidate plants for my watercolor works is next. So many “favorites” are tugging at me to paint them first. I think the Tulip Poplar has won me over. I look forward to sharing it and my paintings of the other yet-to-be selected Bartram beauties at the Annual Conference in Denver during my grant project presentation and the portfolio sharing session. Hope to see you then!

  • Line drawing of Dogwood Pen and Ink © Jody Williams 2014
  • Lecture Flyer for "The Bartrams in My Backyard" © Jody Williams 2014
  • Astragalus trichopodus -Rattlepod Watercolor © Estelle DeRidder 2014
  • Sambucus nigra - Mexican Blue Elderberry Watercolor © Estelle DeRidder 2014
  • Encelia califrnica - California bush sunflower Watercolor © Estelle DeRidder 2014
  • Quercus agrifolia-Coastal Live Oak Watercolor © Estelle DeRidder 2014
  • Filmmaker Jae Staats in the Desert Botanical Garden Herbarium, filming close up of voucher © Marsha Bennett 2014
  • Jae Staats and Cindy Hoffman our narrator, completing filming in the field © Marsha Bennett 2014
  • Student labeling flower parts on her painting © Lisa Coddington 2014
  • Students drawing leaves in class © Lisa Coddington 2014