This creative herbarium and painting in response to the herbarium are the third assessment item from the Creativity and Ageing course I undertook through University of Tasmania.
For the third project within this unit I chose Creative Herbarium for two reasons: I have always loved the beauty of plants, particularly flowers, but have never looked at their scientific side, and I wanted to experiment with acrylic paints for the creative response component.
In the warmest part of Boxing Day afternoon, 2016, I wandered through my backyard to see which flowers caught my attention, and which of those would press well. There was a slight breeze blowing through the garden, picking up petals on its current, and this sparked an idea as I selected California Poppy and Lavender stems for my herbarium samples.
Process and outcomes
Once they had pressed for two weeks I mounted the two floral samples on manila card in a similar method to that used by the National Herbarium of New South Wales. I researched the horticultural information necessary for the final entries via Wikipedia. Some of the lavender flower buds started to loosen, which added to the idea I’d been formulating relating to the floating petals.
Skill and creativity development
I tried to bring the elements mentioned above – movement, petals and the heat of a summer’s afternoon – together in my creative response. Using Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night as inspiration I created a painting with acrylic paint and paper silhouettes on canvas.
I had not used acrylic paints on canvas before this project and wanted to experiment with layering paint, patterns and paper. I was pleased with the end result, even though the background could use more depth and better colour cover, but feel this lavender piece depicts a sultry afternoon well.
References: Museum of Modern Art. Sourced: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/vincent-van-gogh-the-starry-night-1889; Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Sourced: https://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/RoyalBotanicGarden/media/RBG/Science/Herbarium/PDFs/How-to-collect-plants.pdf; Wikipedia. Sourced: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavandula and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschscholzia_californica