Dick Rauh's Story Behind the Art

12 Pine Cones
When I checked the Bartram’s list at first, I was overwhelmed. Many of the plants were ones I had painted, but I wanted to do something new, and since I was at the moment focused on conifers I decided to try painting the cones of all the pines listed. There turned out to be twelve, eleven on the early list and the later addition of Pinus sylvestris
Since I was familiar with the pine grove at the New York Botanical Garden  I knew I had a good source for many of the species. 
The first cone in my collection came from Florida where I was visiting my son in Lutz, a suburb of Tampa. A trip to the Botanic Garden of the University provided my first, and as it turned out my largest specimen, the long leaf pine, P. palustris, which I managed to secret in my large suitcase, wrapped in tissue and flew it safely home. 
The next group, P. strobes, P. rigida, P.sylvestris and P. pugens  I was able to scrounge up  in my walks around the pinetum at NYBG. I was amazed to find that two of the pines on the list were not natives.  Both P. pinea  and P. pinaster were European in origin and I can only assume these were trees that the Bartrams must have included in their nursery business since they could hardly have uncovered them on their travels.  
Now came my need to contact friends that might help to supply the missing material. Emails went out, and Paul Harwood at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden came up with beautiful samples from their herbarium and I added P. taeda and the Italian Stone Pine, P. pinea  to my collection. Carole Ely up in Wellesley, tapped the Arboretum at Hunnewell Estate curated by David Dusenbury and they generously provided P. resinosa, P. echnata and P virginiana. I now had ten out of the twelve, but didn’t want to start any preliminary drawings until I had the lot, since I wasn’t certain how I wanted to proceed, except that I wanted to draw all the cones one-to-one to show their comparative sizes. 
Linda Vinson, down in Charleston was my hope for P. serotina, which is the southern cousin to the Northern pitch pine, and the Mediterranean pine P.pinaster which if it had naturalized was most likely to be growing in her vicinity. She took up the assignment with zeal, but after approaching local sources was only able to come up with the pond pine, P. serotina and stories of sightings of the French Maritime pine on the outer islands, but no cones. I turned to my mentor at NYBG, and he suggested I might contact Tom Zanoni  the scientist at NYBG specializing in gymnosperms and  thankfully he was able to produce a handsome specimen from the herbarium of my final species, and I was suddenly aware that I might very well have found all my 12 pinecones at this one source.
Now that I had all twelve, I drew careful drawings of each on tracing paper actual size, from the very small P. virginiana to the large cones of the long-leaf pine and P.pinea . I had four sheets of calf vellum 7”x10” that matched reasonably well, and chose to design the cones in four groups, not sure how I would assemble the whole, stacked side by side or in a line.  I fussed with the cut out tracings of each cone until I was satisfied, traced them in turn to the vellum and started painting in watercolor. In the end I felt the single line worked best, and will mount and matte all four paintings in one frame.
  • (C) Dick Rauh