Saturday 6 September 2014

Amy Wells

Amy Wells -- Botanic artist

Zygochloa paradoxa -- Sandhill canegrass

Why did you become involved in the Project?
Amy's specimen and drawing. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
I saw the project as a way of being introduced to doing botanical art in the field. As well it was a way of going to parts of Australia that I haven't been and a chance to look at that landscape in a different way. It was also an opportunity go away with a group of people with similar interests, being able to spend time with experts, looking at how they do things and learning. This is not just artist skills, but lots of other areas, including Australian history.

I have continued to be involved because it is a way of having a break but still keep mentally engaged. It is very different what I would normally do.

What plant are you painting?

It is a Zygochloa paradoxa, also called sandhill canegrass. It has male and female plants. What attracted me to that one was that I saw lots of straight lines. It is a very architectural plant, a very patterned growing habit. They look like mobiles!

The male and female plants look the same; it's the flowers that are are the identifiers. It is easy to tell the difference. Female flowers have stigmas that are like white, feather boas! The male flora have rusty orange canoes for stamens -- and lots of stamens that contrast against the colour of the plant. Under the microscope the female flowers look like lettuce leaves.

It took lots of microscopic work to try to find the seeds. They are small and it was difficult to know if they were ripe. I found jelly blobs instead of seeds. The botanist said jelly blogs qualify as seeds but the artist didn't agree! I have harvested seeds and will let them ripen some more.

What is your process for painting?
They look like mobiles!

I have done my drawings, done my colour swatches and done my microscopic drawings. My composition will depend on whether I can find some seeds. It will be done in watercolour. There is enough cream and green in the microscopic work to be able to do that in watercolour too.

It had been nice to have plugged in with people up here who give permission to go to different places, such as the pipeline. It is good to know that they trust us. We have explored other areas this trip, and that has been good. I have been out to the Park in the early mornings, which has been a magic experience -- the colour, the smell, the light. It is a great way to start the day and not feel so despondent about spending time indoors. I have seen more fauna -- an echidna, live pigs, kangaroos munching on the side of the road.

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