Using a Gift of Botanical Art
Chris Sanders, a fourth generation artist and New York costume painter and dyer by trade, began painting scientific illustrations four years ago. “It was a fluke in that the opportunity to learn came up and I took it. I was immediately fascinated by the subject and the people I was meeting - a very diverse and knowledgeable group.
"I was trained by a scenic artist of the traditional Italian school as part of my theatrical education. Forced perspective, big canvases, trompe l'oeil , mural work in other words. I still take commissions for work of this type. When I'm visiting my family in California it isn't unusual for all 3 of my mother's children to work for her on big mural jobs. We're quite the crew. No blank wall is safe."
Sanders's scientific art is classic traditional representative in various media: watercolor, acrylic, color pencil, black and white drawings, sometimes on mylar film which lends a translucent quality. Growing a few orchids at her home, like the terrestrial Cochleanthus discolor, contributes to her subject material. “I have that blooming with a wonderful cedar fragrance."¯
She enjoys traveling to nationwide universities where, as a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, Greater New York Chapter, her work is on exhibit. Experiences surrounding the work, such as spending the day at the San Francisco Zoo watching the hippos, are fun too. “They spotted me and started showing off. One came up to me and started tossing water, then, in tandem, they swam away. They seemed to know what I was doing." That experience led to her painting “Hippo Aggression,"¯ done in colored pencil on mylar film.
Once she completes a painting she moves on to the next. No work of hers adorns her walls. Instead, the art that decorates her home is done by family. “The stuff that I create is work that I haven't chosen to do. Occasionally I pull it out because it's a subject that I'm attracted to and I want to learn more about it. Just by sitting down to draw a subject, you learn much more than its surface. You have to understand it. It's an educational process."
Sanders is helping to save Dutch West Indies' endangered species, such as the “Morning Glory" in her work of the same name. Friends of hers involved in the preservation project live there and she contributes by posting images of her paintings on their website. She became involved “because of our great love for the subject and for each other. Ferns of Ecuador" is a technical piece commissioned by The New York Botanical Garden and is in their permanent collection.
Sanders offers the following as Holiday gifts:
Gift card series
Original art and reproductions
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published December 07, 2004