While spring blossoms and summer flowers are often celebrated (and sometimes mourned) for their fleeting beauty, for local botanical artist Jill Cardell, flowers represent steadfastness and familiarity.
“When we’d move to a new house, my mother would dig up her flowers and bring them along,” said Cardell, who grew up in a military family that relocated frequently. “As I got older, I realized the flowers were one thing that always stayed the same, wherever we lived.”
Even so, she — perhaps more than most people — understands the mutable nature of petals and leaves. As a botanical artist who must do her utmost to capture the true colors, the exact shape, the precise detail of each flower, Cardell can testify to how much a blossom can change, even over the course of a few hours.
“The face of a flower, whether it is very complex or very simple, is a reflection of the sunshine it absorbed as it grows toward the light,” Cardell said. “As I complete each new painting, I feel my conviction to capture (the flower’s) essence, or ‘light,’ grow even stronger.”
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Cardell’s work, as well as that of artisan jeweler Elizabeth Hay, landscape painter Kathleen Chovit and ceramic artist Cheri Anderton-Yarnell, is featured in “The Nature of Art,” an exhibit on display through May 31 at the State College Framing Company.
Hay, a master gardener of 18 years, draws inspiration from the abundant gardens that accent her Victorian Bellefonte home, as well as the plants and flowers tucked away in her memory, from seasons long past. In Hay’s imagination (and in her workshop), delicate blossoms and tiny leaves become earrings and pendants of fine silver. Precious stones tell stories in her pieces, artfully representing a lily pad pond, a field of heather or a cluster of sunflowers.
“Nature provides endless inspiration for my jewelry,” Hay said, “from the linear shapes of branches and shadow to the lush fullness of blossoms and buds to the twining shape of vines.”
Chovit’s dog has learned to recognize when his owner is inspired by nature. Frequently, the pair will be hiking — perhaps along a Centre County mountain ridge or past a field of wild flowers — and she’ll gasp, suddenly struck by the loveliness of a scene. The dog sits patiently, understanding they’ll be there for a while.
“I strive to move beyond typical representation,” said Chovit, whose work is textured with thick swathes of oil paint, characteristic of her use of a painting knife. “I provide only enough detail to invite the viewer into a painting, allowing abstract strokes and imagination to do the rest.”
While Chovit is captivated by a lemony sunbeam or a billowing cloud, Anderton-Yarnell is more likely to be inspired by the sounds of nature rather than the sights.
“In the spring and summer, I listen to frogs nightly,” Anderton-Yarnell said. “Their song has moved me to weave their images into clay work in much the same way the humpback whale moved me 20 years ago.”
Formerly a member of the group of potters working out of Potters Mills, Anderton-Yarnell now resides in rural northwest Pennsylvania, where she and her husband “care for elderlies and an assortment of critters.” Motivated by the plight of endangered species, she’s crafted a body of work infused with the sometimes playful, sometimes stoic spirits of whales, frogs and other animals. Graceful whales glide across the belly of a ceramic vase, while tiny frogs peer over the edge of a serving dish.
“From the playful to the more profound, I intend each vessel to evoke a sense of the beauty and peril of our world,” she said.