Oregon Art Beat


Claire Burbridge, botanical-inspired illustration | K-12

Ashland artist Claire Burbridge creates huge, meticulous illustrations that reveal the “strange, fascinating and abstract forms” of the natural world. She spends hours each day gathering leaves, seeds and fungus from forests near her home. She discusses color selection, design, and her creative process, plus we take a field trip to gather natural elements for inspiration.

AIRED: June 01, 2021 | 0:06:37

(uplifting music)

- All the work I do, is definitely

an evolution, a kind of awakening.

It takes so long to do each piece

that it contains many, many messages and stories.

It comes together as a sort of

complete world or complete universe when it's finished.

All my work begins with going into nature,

spending time there.

Nature is the starting points

and it's the end points.


I wonder what kind they are

I'm just in the middle

as an appreciator of everything that I come across.

I've had firsthand experience of the kind of invisible

intelligent matrix that links everything.

And that's is something that I bring back

to my studio and pour out in my drawings.

Once I've gathered the objects I love to arrange them,

so light falls on them.

They create an atmosphere.

It's putting certain colors together,

certain shapes together, and all of that is feeding me.

Oh yeah, look at that. Wow.

I love to use a magnifying glass and really get in there

and really study it with my eyes.

And it's really like entering a different world

a different dimension.

The fungi that I'm drawing right now started to

develop these really beautiful dots of mold

that are turning into colonies.

And this is going really well with my idea

of the spiral galaxy, because they're like the

little constellations that are appearing on the fungi forms.

These are definitely not purely botanical drawings

The work contains lots of minute observations.

It also contains things that I've made up.

So really it's a kind of collaboration

of my imagination and beautiful found objects.

(uplifting music)

(pencil sharpening)

(pencils clattering)

The way I choose the colors is completely instinctual.

I tend to look at the drawing in the morning,

sharpen up a load of pencils and work with those.

But then in the afternoon, I might put all those aside

and work with a whole different set of pencils.

I grew up in the British Isles,

and anywhere where there's a nuclear submarine base.

My father was a submariner.

My mother would be pretty much left on her own,

to look after these rambunctious twins.

She knew that if she gave me pencils and paper

that it would keep me out of trouble.

And I would be perfectly happy for a long time.

Art was really my sanctuary.

It was my private place that I used to go to.

It was the place where I felt secure and happy.

It's still exactly that.

It's a place that I love to be most of all

practicing the art.

I mean, sometimes I think about my practice

and it seems more like a monk

or a nun rather than what somebody might perceive

as an artist, the daily routine of it.

It's slow and even and peaceful.

(uplifting music)

I hope when people look the work

that they get drawn into that flow

and it takes them away from their conceptual mind,

their thinking mind.

Maybe bringing people more to their own kind

of authentic self just through, just through looking.

I think things can have that effect when you ponder them

or spend time with them.

(uplifting music)


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