Interview with Artist Carrie Megan

About her work in the
15th Annual International
American Society of Botanical Artists at
The Horticultural Society of New York


What is your personal view of the artwork, for instance in terms of media, colors, composition? 

The piece in the exhibition is a northern red oak leaf falling diagonally across the page.  Underneath  horizontally is a stub of a thick branch of grey birch.  These are indigenous to the area in which I live.  I picked them up on a walk in the woods.


Why did you choose to use graphite?

I work in different media but I like the control of graphite – I have gotten it down to a science.  I use very fine leads in mechanical pencils, 0.5 mm, and I sand the point down with a sanding block. I use all densities, soft 2B to a hard 8H.  I also use a regular pencil because not all leads come in mechanical leads – I shave the pencil to the thickness of a needle.  I use a very light touch so that the lead doesn’t break.  I can get into very tiny areas to get details.  I work the graphite like watercolor – building layers to get darkness, but I can get there faster than with watercolor.  I can achieve the feeling of color with tonal value.  There is so much depth to capture with graphite.


Why did you choose this subject to portray?

I found these things on the ground - found objects.  I liked the birch, its paper thin skin starting to unravel off the bark.  It is so interesting, layered, textured, tactile. I wanted to capture that.


What would you hope people would notice or appreciate when viewing this work?

I hope that people will step up close, put their face right up close and look at the detail.  When an artist observes something for you and is able to illustrate it for you, it draws the observer in to look.  You might not necessarily pick up that branch, but the artist does it for you.


How does this work relate to your body of work?

I get joy from botanical art, the live specimen.  It opens my eyes to nature.   When I take a walk, it is never a simple walk – I have to stop, pick up specimens, observe.  I never really looked at trees before I started this work.  It is exciting and has enriched my life.  In the past year I have been working on dried specimens, because I work so slowly and they are stable.  I don’t like to work with photos.

I have started to work on vellum and one of my works on vellum was accepted to the Hunt exhibition in 2013.

I have become very interested in representing plants and trees in their dying stages, after they have bloomed and fallen to the ground.  They are still beautiful.  And they are like a completely different plant.  It is amazing to see what has happened to them, all the twists, curls and turns.


Anything else?

I am passionate about this art and it has enriched my life and opened up my world.  I have met wonderful people through this who share my interest.


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  • (C) Carrie Megan