STORY BEHIND THE ART OF Alexandra Negoita Vulcu

Out of the Woods: Celebrating Trees in Public Gardens
The Third New York Botanical Garden Triennial

Bigleaf Magnolia 

Magnolia macrophylla
Hortus Conclusus, Stone Ridge, New York

The theme of this show caught me in the right place at an odd time of the year. Hortus Conclusus, an accredited arboretum, is only seven miles away from my studio located in the Hudson Valley, NY. It is a gem of a garden that I discovered in early March of this year, 2017. I was very skeptical that anything exciting could be experienced at a garden when snow was still falling and the ground still frozen. Upon meeting Scott Serrano and Allyson Levy, ”two obsessed gardeners,” at their Hortus Conclusus, my opinion was changed. My acquaintance with the Hortus garden was amazingly rich and inspiring. Scott explained the uniqueness of every tree, shrub, and plant in the garden with such reverence that I could see, taste, and smell the bloom and fruits to be.


Walking through the garden, the remnants of the last lush season were decomposing on the ground. I picked up many of these oddments, but the spectacular Bigleaf magnolia leaves and pods were the most exciting find. Originally from the southeastern US and parts of Mexico, this tree is famous for having the largest leaves (36" long!) of any native tree in North America. The beauty of the leaf I found reminds me of delicate Renaissance embroidery, providing an intricate challenge I was excited to take up. The pod is in perfect contrast with the leaf, with its tone-on-tone dark colors, shape, and volume. The two elements support and emphasize each other in my simple composition.


The original leaf specimen I collected is 25 1/2" long. In my drawing, I reduced it by 30%.  For this artwork, I used watercolors, colored pencils, and acrylic inks. This combination of different media and techniques allowed me to achieve the desired textures.


I hope this work will excite and inspire the viewer as much as I was by offering a glimpse into the life of a tree during one of the most overlooked moments of its cycle.

Read more about this artist’s work: 20th Annual International
  • © 2017 Alexandra Negoita Vulcu
    Bigleaf Magnolia
    Magnolia macrophylla
    Watercolor and acrylic ink on paper
    17-1/2" x 11-1/2"