STORY BEHIND THE ART OF Betsy Rogers-Knox

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

 

Renewal – Eastern Hemlock 

Tsuga canadensis
Mary Flagler Cary Arboretum, Millbrook, New York
 

Tsuga canadensis, commonly called Canadian hemlock or eastern hemlock, is a dense, pyramidal conifer of the pine family that is native to moist woods, wooded ravines and stream valleys. It grows from eastern Canada south to Maine and Wisconsin and further south in the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia and Alabama.

Walking in the heavily wooded Mary Flagler Arboretum at the Cary Institute in Millbrook, NY, my husband and I spotted this uprooted Eastern Hemlock tree. The sculptural qualities of the upended, exposed and decaying root formation, along with the abundant plant growth surrounding it provided more than enough motivation to capture a moment of this ongoing botanical story in an illustration.

Working from photographs taken during several visits, the winter was spent painting the driftwood-like roots, layering washes of light muted colors. The trilliums, ground litter and seedlings were added in the spring. Achieving the sense of the hemlock forest behind without competing with the busy foreground was quite a challenge!

The large 19” x 26” format attempts to present a more dramatic glimpse of nature’s decay and renewal. 

 

Goldenrain Tree 

Koelreuteria paniculata
New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York
 

Blooming in June and July the Golden Rain Tree is aptly named for its showers of showy, yellow flowers. Tolerant of pollution and challenging soils, this species is a common street tree in the southern U.S. and is found as far north as Connecticut and Massachusetts. A member of the tropical family (Sapindaceae), this tree originates from Korea and China.

This illustration was inspired by a specimen tree located at the NYBG. A unique feature of the tree is displayed in a fascinating pattern of color changes by the papery, geometrically lantern-shaped pods, from green to orange-red and on to a honey gold hue. The dried pods then split open to reveal the plum- colored seeds within.

After painting the pod cycle the ghosting of the branch behind to show the leaves was included to provide the viewer with a bit more information about the tree. The ghosting effect was achieved using pale wet washes of neutral tint. 

 
 
 
Read more about this artist’s work: 20th Annual International
 
  • © 2017 Betsy Rogers-Knox
    Renewal – Eastern Hemlock
    Tsuga canadensis
    Watercolor on paper
    19" x 26-1/2"
  • © 2017 Betsy Rogers-Knox
    Goldenrain Tree
    Koelreuteria paniculata
    Watercolor on paper
    13" x 16"