Two summers ago, Wendy Hollender picked strawberries near the home of a fellow botanical artist. She immediately fell in love with farming and everything associated with connecting with the land and growing fruit and vegetables. Back home in Manhattan, Wendy kept having visions of a country farm where she could work the land, teach botanical art classes, and open a store with a botanical theme.
The following summer, Wendy looked for winterized homes. Realtors kept showing her weekend houses, but what Wendy really wanted was a farm where she could grow fruits, vegetables and teach classes. After eight months of searching, Wendy found her 4-acre homestead and 1860 farmhouse near the strawberry farm that first inspired her. Hollengold Farm is located in Accord, NY in a valley of farms with the Catskill Mountains on one side and the Shawangunk Mountains on the other.
Both of Wendy’s adult children studied permaculture, so they designed the 3,000 square foot vegetable garden established in the farm’s first year. About to enter its second growing season, the vegetable garden has been redesigned and is now one acre. Only hand crops will be grown and this means machinery will not be used to harvest the crops.
Managing a large garden is no easy task. Volunteers, family and friends helped to get the farm started and volunteers and interns keep the farm running. Requiring special attention and planning is the management of the farm’s water use. Last year drip hoses and sprinklers were used. Now that the garden has grown to over 10 times its original size, managing and assessing how water is harvested and used on site is a never-ending task. Recently, a new roof catchment system was established. A new roof was placed on the barn and this roof directs water runoff into special catchment buckets. This water is then used to irrigate growing crops.
Before Wendy purchased Hollengold Farm, the four-acre property was a horse farm. In fact, the barn used to be a horse stable. The former stable is currently being renovated to become the center of activity at the farm. The renovated barn will serve as the location for plant propagation, studio space, gallery space, a farm stand, a commercial kitchen, and a shop for botanical-themed items. Wendy’s daughter is a chef and she will soon be preparing tasty fresh entrees. A masonry oven is being built to make wood-fired pizza. She will also can fruits and vegetables to sell at the new store. Plans are in motion to create a “seed to grain” learning experience for children from nearby school districts. This program will be based on the children’s story The Little Red Hen and show students how seeds become wheat, how wheat becomes flour, and how flour becomes bread.
The planned studio and gallery space are where Wendy will teach her botanical art classes and showcase her work and the work of her students. Wendy is currently teaching one-day workshops at the farm. A popular teacher in-person and here at ArtPlantae Today (Wendy’s Ask The Artist Q&A is the most read article of all time), her popularity is sure to increase when her second book is released later this summer. When Wendy sat down to talk about the farm, she also talked about Botanical Drawing in Color: A Basic Guide to Mastering Realistic Form and Naturalistic Color. Here is what she had to say…
ArtPlantae: How did the idea for a new book materialize?
Wendy Hollender: I just finished the first book. I contacted Faber-Castell to tell them I recommended their pencils in my workbook. They invited me to do a demonstration at a trade convention. At the convention, many publishers were present and they expressed an interest in my workbook. Random House asked for a proposal and asked for a completed book within four months of accepting my proposal.
AP: Will the new book be similar in design to your first book? Will there be many steps broken down with descriptive illustrations?
WH: Yes. The steps will be broken down and will be very descriptive. Each step will be broken down to minute detail. Watching artists use the first book, I realized what I left out. Random House had a 25,000 word requirement, so this book has more text than the first book. I loved writing the book. I wrote in the morning. At first I began writing about my personal experiences with botanical art. I wasn’t sure if this was acceptable, so I told them what I had been doing. I was told to write the book the way I wanted to write it. In the end, all of the content and concepts I created stayed in the book. Only a few minor changes were made.
AP: What topics do you discuss in the new book?
WH: Perspective, plant structure, composition, color, drawing in the field, working with a microscope and how to draw white flowers on a white background.
AP: What would you like people to know about your new book?
WH: What is exciting about my book, and why Random House wanted to publish it, is that it focuses on botanical drawing in color. Colored pencil isn’t just a medium to use, it is also a learning tool. It allows you to teach drawing skills and teach about color at the same time.
Wendy also mentioned her new book took six months to write and six months to edit. With this book, Wendy hopes to take the struggle out of creating botanical art for artists of all levels. If you own a copy of Botanical Drawing: A Beginner’s Guide you already know how well Wendy can teach without even being in the same room with you. Join us as we anticipate the July 2010 release of Botanical Drawing in Color.