Mary Jane Zander
A Passion for Nature
On my travels to many regions of the world or in the serenity of my own backyard, I can’t help but marvel at the works of nature. Beauty is all around us but often goes unnoticed by people too much in a hurry to take a closer look. I am drawn to movement, texture, form, and color in nature and want my art to speak to those qualities. I spent several years immersed in botanical illustration and concentrated on the fine details of plants and flowers. While it honed my drawing skills and my ability to render, it left me feeling constrained by rules that weren’t my own. I wanted to do more than just represent nature. I want to interpret it. What I loved about botanical art was observing how a petal glows in the backlight of the sun or how pattern and texture in an inflorescence demands attention and interest.
I usually work in a series so I can explore a subject or concept. The initial idea is often a natural object or locale that has caught my attention. Once inspired, I spend a great deal of time researching the subject matter, planning the composition, and preparing to paint. I make a number of sketches on location and create several quick drawings just to plan out the values and movement of the final work.
Watercolor is said to be one of the most difficult mediums with which to paint. My early interest in botanical art taught me a lot about precision drawing and watercolor techniques. My current work is more about emotional response and abstraction so I use a variety of techniques. Many years of experience have taught me the characteristics of different papers and paints. That experience allows me to match the effect I want to achieve with the materials required to make it work.