A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
Mar 31, 2010
With the sudden—and very welcome—arrival of spring, perhaps a walk through the Arboretum is in order? That’s always a sure-fire way to appreciate the current state of the natural world. While you’re there, stop in the Steinhauer Trust Gallery for additional inspiration.
You’ll find Native Wisconsin, an exhibition of twenty watercolor drawings by Wisconsin artist Lynne Railsback.
Each intricately detailed work features flowers, leaves, branches or weeds poetically arranged on a white backdrop. Railsback focuses on a wide variety of plants—goldenrod, box elder, ragweed, aster, milkweed, coneflower and more—but all are native to Wisconsin.
The lyrical quality of the compositions gives the drawings a quietly dynamic quality, while the fact that some plants are shown wilting, dried or tangled hints at sadness.
In her artist statement, Railsback describes working with the pigments of viridian, permanent rose, burnt umber, aureolin and French ultramarine to create thin lines. And she’s honed an approach for creating such meticulous images.
“Perhaps I should consider myself a botanical designer rather than artist because of the way I develop a painting,” she says. “I begin without doing preliminary studies, drawing pencil lines on the paper or relying on photographs. Instead my inspiration is the physical plant ‘close up and personal.’”
And while Railsback’s watercolor drawings look perfect to the onlooker, she’s more casual than you might expect about the creative process: “I don’t worry about ‘mistakes’ as I can always add leaves, seeds, whatever until the composition feels right.”
Native Wisconsin runs through April 29 in the Steinhauer Trust Gallery, located inside the UW Arboretum Visitor Center, 1207 Seminole Hwy. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit uwarboretum.org.
Photos courtesy of the UW Arboretum.