By Sarah Maxwell, PSBI
The beautiful and precise botanical paintings of the Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators (PSBI) are on display at the Philadelphia Flower Show from Saturday, March 5th through Sunday, March 13th. The artists will be giving live demonstrations of their illustration techniques each day between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm, as well as between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm.
In keeping with the Flower Show’s theme of “Explore America: 100 Years of the National Park Service,” the 2016 theme of the botanical artists is “Our National Treasures: Native Plants of the United States.” All the artwork had to be of plants that are native to our country — like oak trees, red buds, and dogwoods as well as trilliums, sunflowers, and black-eyed Susans. A large poster shows the location of these native plants along the Scenic Trail System of the National Parks.
Both the exhibition and the demonstrations are by the 75 members of PSBI. All the botanical art works are originals. PSBI artists spend many hours, weeks, even months to produce each one. They take great care to make certain that the depiction of the specimen is faithful to nature as well as a thing of beauty, something to be passed down with pride to coming generations.
The PSBI artists have been demonstrating the techniques of botanical art at the Philadelphia Flower Show since 1998, one year after PSBI was formed. Their demonstrations are part of the PSBI mission to educate the public on the intricacies of botanical art. It is an art form that is a tradition particularly in the Philadelphia area: in the 18th Century John and William Bartram founded and illustrated North America’s first botanical garden.