Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Lesson in Botanical Photography

Jackie's Studio Loft in Sperryville.
The Gardening Group of the Newcomers Club of Greater Charlottesville took a trip to Sperryville, Virginia to hear a presentation given by Botanical Photographer, Jackie Bailey Labovitz.  Not only were we all thoroughly blown away by Jackie and her description of botanical escapades but the Studio where her artwork is housed is nearly as exciting.

 River District Arts Building.
The River District Arts (RDA) building within Rappahannock Central was once the home of a 1930's Apple Processing Plant.  RDA is now a converted Artisan Loft.  The building compound contains several interesting businesses; Artisan Studios, a Distillery, and huge Antique Store.  I was so impressed with the conversion of the Apple Plant to a beautiful open sunlit space.  This gem is a block off the main drag and is not to be missed if you are planning a drive to the Shenandoah National Forest.  Sperryville is a small town at the scenic mountain foothills convenient to Charlottesville and Washington, DC. 

Mary B. Allen - Studio work in progress.
We enjoyed perusing various works of art (coincidentally all by women) of approximately a dozen different artists, each having their own little "art stall" in which to work and display their creations.  We had prepaid for a catered lunch which was delicious and held in a beautiful space where a restaurant once operated (the owner is looking for a new restaurant to come on board).  We also were treated to coffee and snacks prior to Jackie's presentation.

Jackie describing her beloved Trout Lily Photo.
On first examination of Jackie, she appears to be a small framed conservative woman that could not possibly hike in the woods alone carrying all the heavy camera equipment necessary to produce art worthy of gallery space in the National Museum of Natural History in the Smithsonian Institution.  We soon learn that this little dynamo has figured out exactly how to capture that perfect shot with a philosophy of less is better and practice makes perfect.  Housing all her equipment in a light weight small backpack prepared to hike as far and as long as required, she produces magic on canvas.

Highlighted in her presentation was her methodology of using simple and lightweight items and that photography is more about understanding the medium and being blessed with the tenacity to see a project through no matter what the challenge.  Given she has a degree in Fine Arts, her eye for detail and perfection is an obvious part of her work.  Her process is meticulously handcrafted, starting from the shooting and down to printing on canvas at home, all of which gives her work an ethereal hand painted feel.  Earlier in her career, Jackie published a nature book on Wildlife that is glorious and her photography style has been carried over into her recent botanical art series, Understory.

Jackie's description of searching for the elusive Pink Lady's Slipper and thirteen of Thomas Jefferson's favorite Wildflowers gave listeners insight as to how much time she has devoted to her art.  Hunting down teeny pinkie sized flower buds (or no buds at all for that matter), hiking in and around forests over and over, and combating extremes in weather proved to be a challenge that I would say most people would not see through no matter what the reward.

Stoneware Toad House by Michele M. Soderman.
There is nothing I love more than a good story about flowers and photography.  It didn't hurt that a strong woman over 50 (with a good man at home for a lot of support) was the hero.  It was inspiring to hear that success has no age limits.

Jackie's work can be purchased and viewed at her studio in Sperryville and will be shown next year at the US Botanic Garden in DC and at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...