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Vertical Plant Portraits // Randy Burns // Visitors Center Gallery

About The Show: 

 “The structure of plants, every crease, bump, and  crevice in a stem, leaf, or bloom: these are the things that interest me in the world of plants. Highlighted on a lightly shadowed background, these plant portraits are more than just studies in botany. These images give the plants a presence—a center stage presence.  All plants display a world of their own upon closer  inspection. While generally most people are not in a position to appreciate such detail in nature, they can easily stroll through these plant ‘portraits’ and  appreciate the glimpse into what is often missed.  My landscapes are small sanctuaries, which evolve  totally from my imagination. They are small worlds of beauty. Both serene and contemplative, theses places are universal to us all.” 


Artist Interview:

MBG: Can you explain why you consider yourself self-taught after having formal training in art? Do you purposely try to throw away the knowledge about art materials and design that you learned through schooling to make work as innocently as possible? 

Randy Burns: My innate knowledge of painting and drawing has been and continues being my strongest asset in creating. Personally, my natural instinct for color, composition and awareness of how I respond to a blank, white canvas is always from my own thought process when creating a piece of art. A university setting only hints at any of this and most often there is little time for a professor to help a student and I find that self-taught is the best teacher. Yes, there is more of an honesty and an innocence in the process and THAT is much more intriguing.

MBG: The thing you talk about most is that you paint from your imagination. You use the quote, ‘Make visible, what without you, might never have been seen.’ by Robert Bresson. It's a very motivational idea that each of us has a unique interpretation of the world to share! This exhibit, Vertical Plant Portraits, focuses on real plants sometimes set in imaginary landscapes.  I wonder if you have stories in mind when painting them? 

Randy Burns: Yes, I mainly paint from imagination. My work comes to me at once and complete, instead of pieces of thought. This is true of all my landscapes. My botanical pieces, i.e., the vertical plant pieces ARE a combination of imaginary and botanical study. In order to have accurateness in any plant related painting I do need to study and portray the bloom, leaf, stem or any of the plant's anatomy with the subject directly in front of me. After that, I create shadow and form and placement from intuition. Seeing the canvas blank and watching something literally come out of it by using my paint brush: there is almost nothing better for me. Once I feel like I am 'in the painting' I know it is working.

MBG: You paint your vertical plant portraits from your imagination yet they are not being represented incorrectly, they are very true to life. Do you garden or spend a lot of time with plants, or looking at them in books to have such an intimate idea of the parts, shapes and colors of plants?

Randy Burns: I am an avid gardener, horticulturalist and botanist.Yes, I do pick plants from my garden, from the wild—often on trips down old country roads, especially when painting native plants. Though I do not have a degree in those subjects, I am self taught, have worked in the field for years and at one point owned a specialty plant nursery. It has always been a passion working with plants and studying their beauty. Botanical illustration is something I have always loved and pursued via my painting. I will add that I have been painting since the age of 5 and began painting desert scenes. In fact cacti were some of my first plant 'portraits'. 

About the Artist:

Randy Burns is a full time artist living near Jackson, TN. His life has always gone between working with plants and art. Now, he devotes himself completely to painting and pursuing art. Randy considers himself to be a self-taught artist. His work has been shown widely in the Midsouth and Puebla, Mexico where he lived briefly.

Open to the public. Call 636-4100 for information. A portion of proceeds benefits Memphis Botanic Garden's art, education and horticultural programs.

Posted by Stephanie Cosby at 10:13 AM


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