With the Traces show up and running, I was ready for some experimentation, and looking for subject matter, inspiration was easy to find. Springs are gorgeous here in Victoria, and the cherry trees have been flowering for several weeks.

Cherries are members of the genus Prunus, which contains other familiar plants such as plumbs, peaches and apricots. They all are members of the Rose Family, and they do have a certain ‘look’ about them. So what makes a rose a rose?

Rose Pictures

In one sense, the answer is straightforward of course: Roses are members of the genus Rosa, which includes the ‘normal’ garden rose.*  But the part of my mind that deals with botany tends to think in family groupings, which means my mental shorthand goes something like this: “Rose … Rose Family (Rosaceae): woody habit, 5 petals, 5 sepals, hypanthium, many stamens, leaves alternate with stipules.”

If this sounds technical or even intimidating, well, yes and no. Teaching botany can feel a bit like like teaching another language, but once you get used to it, it does make things simpler. The same is true for family groupings. There are far fewer families to keep track of than there are genera (let alone species), and trying to identify an unknown plant, it often helps if you can make an educated guess as to its family.  “This looks like a rose” definitely contains more information than “I know it’s a flowering plant”.

My own mental image of this family is reflected quite nicely in the pictures: it’s all about the anthers. There are usually a lot of them, and they tend to be exuberantly obvious, so I thought they would be fun to draw.

Powdered graphite and pencil, 22" x 33"

It’s another big one (22″ x 33″), and the powdered-graphite background is a bit of a break from my normal comfort zone, which is good. I was not sure about the effect initially, but having looked at it for a while, I like the added drama!



*Poets and philosophers have other answers, I am sure!