Sunday, March 31, 2013

How Small A Thing - Botanical Collage Art

Recently I learned about an upcoming art exhibit at the Living Arts and Science Center called: 

How Small a Thing Can Be Pleasing:  
Contemporary Botanicals Art by Kentucky Artists
“Where the Red Fern Grows” by GG Burns

The title intrigued me since gardening and painting are both therapeutic outlets. I have always been inspired by not only the colors and beauty of flowers and leaves, but their metamorphosis from tiny seeds to huge plants or trees. 

So with inspiration and deadline at hand, I decided to collage 3, (12"x12") canvases with vintage dictionary pages. 

A storage container, in my studio full of dried leaves and pressed flowers was my first stop. With 3 subjects in mind, 'ferns, the lunaria plant and a maple leaf' -- I proceed to sketch out thumbnails of what I wanted my collages to look like.

For the first collage, I chose 2 large ferns that I had pressed in an old telephone book, from my back yard. I decided to paint one of them red, and consequently that inspired me to name the finished art, “Where the Red Fern Grows”.

While wondering what the fern's seedlings looked like, with a little tour through Google – I learned that ferns are reproduced from spores that are gathered in clusters called sori, which are usually on the underside of the fronds.  The spores can be yellow, green, brown, or black. 

The sori are sometimes covered with a membrane called an indusium, which will lift up when the spores are ripe. For this Creation titled: “Where the Red Fern Grows”, I have attempted to illustrate both the 3 dimensions of the spores, as well as the fairy-like fern leaves, (fronds) themselves. I used a combination of Golden's Gel Medium, 'molding paste' and Jacquard LUMIERE metallic artist paints, sprinkled with rubber stamping embossing powders. How is that for mixed media?

In many botanical paintings, the name of the plant is often incorporated into the art. So therefore, I decided to hand paint the names of each plant as part of my design, with acrylic black paint. All of this came together in one evening, but it took me over a week to finalize all 3 pieces. I have recently hurt my back and was just beginning to feel like setting up for more than a few minutes at a time, when I created these in early mid-March.

Ferns growing wild in my back yard
The final artwork is sealed in resin, so even if not framed under glass, the textures of the fern leaves will remain the same for years to come. The background vintage dictionary pages explain more details on botanicals and ferns. Ferns grow wild in my backyard. I enjoy preserving their everlasting beauty in various art projects.

A few days ago, I learned that of my 3 collages, the “Where the Red Fern Grows”, was the only one selected for the art exhibit at the Living Arts and Science Center. I therefore decided to frame it in a small black frame.

The director of the LASC said that  over 95 pieces submitted by 36 artists, out of which 28 pieces were chosen. I felt honored to have been among those 36 artist selected.

 See my art and 28 other Botanical works, from:  April 19 – May 25, 2013

The Living Arts and Science Center, 362 N. Martin Luther King Blvd.Lexington, Kentucky 40508


“Lunaria, The Giving Plant”, by GG Burns

For collage number 2, I chose the stages of one of my favorite plants, 'Lunaria annua', a beautiful, hearty biannual. I often share that once you plant Lunaria seeds, they will reseed in your garden forever.  They are wild in that regard, their seeds travel easily by birds and the wind.

About 10 years ago, I purchased a small package of Lunaria seed and planted them in one spot. Now each spring, these purple blooms can be found all over my garden, even growing in the grass. Our yard is mostly hard clay, so I call this plant heat, drought-tolerant and horrible soil resistant. 

Other Common Names for the 'Lunaria annua: Honesty, Money Plant, Moonwort, Silver Dollar Plant and Silver Plate. Plant Lunaria seeds in late Autumn and by early spring, this hardy plant takes off, producing a bounty of beautiful purple blooms by mid April the following year. 

For my art to illustrate the life of the 'Lunaria' seeds, I used real seeds and dried seed pods, that looked as if they were part of the art itself. I exploded the tiny purple flowers into one large illustration.  

These photos show how to apply the resin.

If you leave Lunaria in your garden long enough, the blooms eventually turn to pods that look like green coins. As they dry over the summer, the 'silver dollar' emerges. Consequently, if you leave the plant standing, these dry pods will open and tiny seeds will 'reseed' your garden and your neighbors!  

My mixed media 'Lunaria' collage, displays both dried seeds, as well as a painting of an over-sized purple bloom. All works are sealed in a coat of poly resin trademarked as Envirotex Lite. The resin allows the 3 dimensional shapes of the leaves and seeds to appear as under glass, preserving them for a lifetime of botanical beauty!

Lunaria, truly is the The Giving Plant”!


 “Life of a Red Maple” by GG Burns

For my 3rd collage, I chose the life of a maple Tree. 

Each Autumn, I  photograph these colorful beauties, as they turned various shades of red and have collected their leaves, dried them and used them on many ‘functional art’ creations. 

(Note: definitions of maple, seeds is placed in strategic areas to enhance the design.) 

This piece illustrates the metamorphosis of a maple leaf, from their 'whirlybird' seedlings, to a real dried leaf as it looks in the early spring -- to an illustration of how it appears after if falls to the earth, at the end of the growing season. The red maple is a member of the maple family Aceraceae and is one of the most widely distributed trees in eastern North America.

This exhibit title, at the Living Arts and Science Center is taken from Kentucky poet Wendell Berry’s poem Sabbaths 1999, VII and like the poem, this exhibit will celebrate the pleasure and awe that is often inspired when we look deeply into the natural world.

Those who visit the exhibit, will view flora and fauna as depicted by Kentucky artists who find unique beauty and characteristics in roots, seeds, flowers and foliage, and we will identify the different ways that artists depict the structure and anatomy of plants through the artistry of their photographs, paintings, drawings, and more.

Join us for the spring gallery hop reception on Friday, April 19th from 5:00pm-8:00pm or see the exhibit at another time. 

The Living Arts and Science Center is a non-profit organization working hard to provide educational opportunities in the arts and sciences.

The Living Arts and Science Center
362 N. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Lexington, Kentucky 40508
Click here for a map
Telephone and Fax:
Phone: (859) 252-5222 / 255-2284

For more information, contact the Living Arts and Science Center at 859-252-5222 or visit

A few scenes from the Gallery Hop reception at the Living Arts and Science Center on April 19th. Please drop by and view this diverse exhibit through the end of May.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Easter Bunny Painting with Fashion Hat, Dried Pansies on Collage Dictionary Pages

In the midst of living a hectic life — and often with too much drama and pain for comfort
I need art therapy. I must create, for no purpose other than to relax.

Recently, I have endured some tortuous pain from spine issues, (results from previous accidents). As I began to improve and was recovering from physical therapy and chiropractic care, I decided I need more time in my studio and less time on a heating pad. Art time is definitely more healing than starring at my computer, Blogging about mental health policy and the need to reform state and federal law.

Purchase my Easter Bunny prints at:  -- or view it here: 

Whenever I locked myself in my studio, it is often 'with' purpose. I may have a deadline for a customer's pet portrait or perhaps the need to create a friend's birthday gift. Other times, I may be motivated to create art for upcoming exhibits or to add 'functional art' inventory at local gift shops and galleries.

However, sometimes I have no direction or reason I try to 'just be'. On such an evening, a bunny wearing high fashion millinery made it's way to my sketch pad.

At some point I have illustrated hats on cats, dogs, horses, Derby Divas, even snowmen — so why not an Easter Bunny?

And let's throw in a few Easter Eggs for grins.
Did you know?

The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season.
The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have it's origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. These were made of pastry and sugar. 

The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s.

The arrival of the "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure" next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs. 

The children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests . The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country. 

Then, if that wasn't enough I decided to glue a few of my   dried pansies to the bunny painting. These were still on my desk from another art project I had just completed.

    This unique, one of a kind Easter Bunny art is also sealed in several coats of poly resin trademarked as Envirotex Lite. The resin allows the 3 dimensional shapes such as dried flowers, leaves or seeds to appear as under glass, preserving them for a lifetime of botanical beauty. 
"Wala" it is done, and ready for spring decorating. Bring on the Easter Parade!

Purchase GG's Easter Bunny Stamps here:

Buy other art prints by GG here at imageKind: