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Botanical Art Worldwide: America's Flora

Arizona Prince-plume

Stanleya albescens

Working with rare and endangered plants, the creation is not only art, but also education. The discovery process is like a scientific treasure hunt.

The rare Stanleya albescens consumed a great deal of my life. I started with extensive research at the herbariums at the Denver Botanic Gardens and the University of Colorado, Boulder, then measuring and drawing from dried specimens.

Finding Stanleya albescens in the field was especially challenging. I drove 300 miles, spending two days driving on dirt roads near Grand Junction, Colorado. While I had acquired United States Geological Survey maps and verified the location with Colorado State University, I still hadn’t found Stanleya albescens.

Unfortunately, it had been a very dry spring and there were few plants, and to compound the problem, there was a huge road construction area where the plants had previously been found. 

When I finally spotted Stanleya albescens, growing on the Mancos Shale, I experienced that wonderful “There it is!” moment, the exciting culmination of long hours of research.

For me, the treasure hunt is twofold – finding the plant is part of the equation; the second is capturing the plant on the page. I work primarily in watercolor, but for this portrait I chose colored pencil on drafting film. The flexibility of this medium was conducive to the intricate and complicated details of Stanleya albescens. I felt it was very effective for this plant. 

I am grateful to members of the Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists, and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, for contributing to education and the conservation of rare plants.


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Stanleya albescens

Arizona Prince-plume

Colored pencil on drafting film

14 x 11

©2015 Sharon Garrett

2024 ASBA - All rights reserved

All artwork copyrighted by the artist. Copying, saving, reposting, or republishing of artwork prohibited without express permission of the artist.

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