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At the VIRTU Art Festival in Westerly, Rhode Island, last week, my little 4 x 4 landscape was the first to go so I felt emboldened to try my hand at an 8 x 8. The real botanicals in this piece are all in the immediate foreground. I used feathergrass against the white of the reflection in the water, added just the tip of a ginkgo leaf on the lower right, and a few individual sections of a Japanese maple leaf just for some added drama and color. As it turns out, feathergrass tends to lift a little on the first application of resin making it hard to reach a glass-like finish in less than three coats, so I had to wait a full 4 days to see the finished product. I think it was worth it though. Next in line for the resin bath is a farm scene in which I use only my ferns at the edges of a field.

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Yesterday was a perfect spring day in southern New England, so my husband and I paid a visit to our favorite garden center – The Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingston, Rhode Island. This collection of spiky papyrus, ruffled coleus, scented geranium and abutilon will spend the summer in a great planter on my deck and supply me with terrific foliage for my pressed botanicals. Meanwhile, in the garden, my ferns, miniature ivy, yellow archangel, and fringed bleeding heart have all come to life and are ready for a judicious harvest.

Meanwhile, work continues on my new project – pressed botanicals on acrylic backgrounds. For these I use wood panels as supports, and encase the finished work in two or three coats of two-part resin. This one features a single feathery Japanese maple leaf and awaits its second coat of resin. Out with the gas mask…

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Having a great time with my new project but there’s a lot to protect. Note the latex gloves, and the waxed paper to protect my counter. Then there is the issue of my lungs. Need to upgrade to a full-on gas mask even though there are hardly any noticable fumes from the Envirotex two-part resin system I use. Better safe than sorry and I’m so happy with the process and results that I plan to gear up for a full series. This little guys are just 4″ x 4″. The abstract features azalea leaves and carnation petals, while the little landscape sticks to tried-and-true ferns. My next piece will be a boat at sea. Haven’t settled on what plant to use to represent land flora and sails. Last season, raspberry leaves made great sails, but, alas, my raspberry bush is not yet prepared to supply me with more.

I’ll be showing these at Lippett Park in Providence on May 17th, weather permitting, and at the big VIRTU art festival in Wilcox Park in Westerly, Rhode Island on Memorial Day weekend. Meanwhile they’ll be in my Etsy shop.

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Resin is a wonderful way to preserve and enhance real botanicals, so I decided to try a few pieces on wood panel in order to provide the best possible surface for the ice-smooth resin coating. First, I painted my background on a 5″x 5″ panel. Then, I chose a plain mustard yellow for the 7/8″ sides of the cradle, and mounted my two sweet ivy leaves. Before coating the work with resin, I couldn’t resist adding a tiny ‘droplet’ of water on one of the leaves using more acrylic and a tiny signature brush.

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This is the second time I have added a touch of acrylic paint to my printed graphic in order to add depth and contour. Just the sky is left untouched. To bring it to life I added just the top of a pressed ginkgo leaf and a carnation petal as foreground and to lend perspective, I also added some fern ‘trees’ in graduated sizes.

With the start of the show season just weeks away (my first show will be Craftopia at Hope Artistes Village in Pawtucket, Rhode Island on Sunday, April 27) Meanwhile, this one is the latest addition to my Etsy shop.

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My daughter, Emma and her boyfriend, Nick recently brought me some lovely flowers including some brightly colored carnations. I thought they were perfect for a trial run with my new microwave flower press — a gift from my other daughter, Shelley. The press yielded great results right out of the gate and will allow me to use more flowers in my work. ! I’m sure I will find inspiration for many designs with these pretty petals but this one was irresistible.

This piece is also a departure in that it combines computer graphics with acrylic painting for the background. I used a deep brownish yellow printed foreground to support painted grasses. The plants other than carnations are fern and ginkgo. As always, I varied the size of the fronds to create depth of field.

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I’ve recently made a few pieces that include water drops in the background including this little composition using real ferns so it’s not that big a leap to work directly on a leaf. This dramatic sweet potato leaf made the perfect canvas for this experiment.

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Just over a month away from the beginning of the 2014 show season has me excited to move forward. This year it will be in three directions. While I am continuing enthusiastically with my graphic-based botanicals, I am equally excited to be working simultaneously on leaf painting in acrylic and on real pressed botanicals mounted on original watercolor and acrylic painted backgrounds. This is my latest example of the last group. Come and see it in April at Craftopia or grab it first on Etsy.

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While I plan to continue designing lots of fun graphic images for my pressed botanicals in 2014, I am also enjoying working with watercolors. This simple background of water drops on a pink and coral wash provides the support for one of my favorite plants for pressing – Mexican feathergrass. I have a second one in the wings and some thoughts of painting insects to hover above the a feathergrass meadow. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, I popped this one into my Etsy shop this morning. Happy New Year to all my friends and followers.

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Until now I’ve created backgrounds for my real pressed botanicals on computer. To compliment that body of work, I recently began adding a series of acrylic paintings with similar subjects.

My last two pieces combine both disciplines. Instead of computer graphics, I have created bacgrounds on original watercolors. So far, I’m having fun with the process. I popped these two into my Etsy shop tonight and will show them next week in Stonington at the Velvet Mill.

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