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BOTANICAL ARTIST

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CAROL BOLT, BOTANICAL ARTIST

Carol Bolt, a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), lives and works in New York City. In addition to creating botanical paintings for collectors, she produces works that have appeared in books and on packaging for products by designer Ralph Lauren. Bolt also paints still lifes, landscapes, and portraits.

HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN BOTANICAL ART?

I always wanted to be an artist. I used to draw horses a lot and funny pictures of people. I made my first sale when I was five. I had lessons from the time I was seven, and my mother took me to museums about twice a month. After graduating from the California Institute of the Arts, I painted still lifes, landscapes, and portraits. I began working in botanical art about thirty years ago.

WHAT TRAINING SHOULD A BOTANICAL ARTIST HAVE?

You don't need a degree to be a botanical artist, but you should take at least a two-year course in art school so you have basic art skills. Then you should take specialized courses in botanical art. In New York, the Horticultural Society of New York, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the New York Botanical Garden give classes. There are classes elsewhere in the country as well. They can be found at Chicago's Morton Arboretum; at the Museum of the Desert in Tucson, Arizona; at the Denver Botanic Garden in Colorado; and at the Ringling Art School in Sarasota, Florida, for instance. Many ASBA members around the country also give courses.

WHAT SPECIAL SKILLS DOES A BOTANICAL ARTIST NEED?

Aside from having basic art skills, a botanical artist must have really good observation skills. You need a really good eye for proportion, detail, and color. And you need a lot of patience so you can capture all those many details in your drawing or painting.

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