Friday 28 March 2014

Anne Lawson

Anne Lawson ~ botanic artist

Cullen discolor

What drew you participate in the Beckler's Botanical Bounty Project?

From the outset I was drawn to the sense of history involved in the project. I loved the idea of continuing, even in a small way, the tradition of botanic art as part of history. Artists had often been included in expeditions, and this seems to follow on -- although I am in awe of artists like Ludwig Becker the artist on the Burke and Wills Expedition, Ferdinand Bauer who travelled with Flinders, and Sydney Parkinson, the artist on the Endeavour.

2013 was my third year and I keep coming back because, like many of the other artists, I have fallen in love with this arid country. As you drive along it looks like scrubby saltbush. But you only have to walk a little way off the road to see an amazing diversity of plants growing in a very difficult environment.
And to see the spectacular sunrises and sunsets is just magic.

Just go off the road a little way...... (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2012)

Tell us about the plant you are painting.

The plant belongs to a genus called Cullen. There are four Cullens on Beckler's List. I have found and identified three of them, and I hope to track down the fourth this September.

Cullen discolor, with the distinctive, trifoliate leaf (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2012)
I am currently working on Cullen discolor. It is a prostrate plant and its long runners twine through other low growing plants. All the Cullens have a particular leaf, with three leaflets.

Leaf and pods of C. discolor (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

As they are members of the pea family they have the distinctive pea flower. However, I wasn't able to find a flower on any C. discolor plants. Help from our botanist, Andrew, and further reading told me that it can be cleistogamus, where the flowers remain closed. I wasn't seeing a flower because they were tucked inside the pod.

As my friends and family can tell you, I have become a little obsessed with Cullens! I have loved getting a more detailed understanding of them, and my knowledge of botany has increased in leaps and bounds!

How are you going about your painting?

I am always very conscious about the limited time we have in Menindee, so I try to collect as much visual information as I can about the plant. Photographs are one aid, but I also make detailed drawings that I can use as references. These may include drawings of the buds, how the leaves are attached to the stem or a drawing of how it grows along the ground. I also make a colour chart for reference back at home.

My painting is of one stem of C. discolor arching across the paper. Below that I am adding a habit drawing in pencil, to show how it grows.
Part of my work in progress (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)


  1. Nice interview, Ann. I'm fascinating reading about your process. You are such a talent.

  2. Thanks for the comment, and the support! It is a really interesting project, and I am delighted to be involved with so many talented artists.


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