Accomplished botanical artist Betsy Rogers-Knox has been drawing and painting nature for most of her life. Hollister House Garden presents watercolor classes taught by the artist.
From a young age, Betsy Rogers-Knox has always drawn and painted—and made little things. Her love for nature and plants was nurtured by her British grandparents and her grandfather’s garden here in the USA. She graduated from Garland Junior College with an Associate’s Degree in Fine Art. She also took art classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Art has always been a huge part of her life. Betsy grew up in Weston and now lives in Litchfield County.
Betsy and her husband ran an Inn with an gallery in Maine where she sold her art. She also illustrated for two greeting card companies. Years later, they moved to Colorado and there she saw an exhibit by the famous botanical artist Anne Ophelia Dowden, which truly inspired her. She joined an art co-op in the area and soon fell in love with the wild flowers of Colorado. Betsy wrote to Anne and asked for her advice on where she should go to learn botanical art. To her surprise, Anne wrote back to her and she suggested that she study at the New York Botanical Garden. She moved back to the east coast to pursue her dream. In 2006, after taking a 2-year program in Botanical Art at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, Betsy received a Certificate of Botanical Art and Illustration.
The traditional style for botanical art is to feature one plant on a white background, a style Betsy is well-versed in, but she prefers to convey the environment the plant thrives in. “I really enjoy drawing habitats, showing a plant in the woods, or in the bog, and telling a story. I like the complexity of it.” She explains that bogs are beautiful environments, water-fed by rain, with no incoming or outgoing water. She enjoys the lovely peat moss in the bogs, and sphagnum moss, and pitcher plants (carnivorous plants) who trap insects.
Her process is long and detail-oriented. She works from the real plant and often takes reference photos because the plant could die or change. She begins with a pencil drawing, an acurate line drawing on tracing paper. Then the drawing is transferred to watercolor paper— hot pressed which is very smooth. She starts building layers of color, wet wash first and works up to dry brush. She is a purist, sticking with watercolor as her medium and even with the same color palette. Her paint dabs dry and remain intact on her artist’s palette, to be used again. She spends 3 to 3 and 1/2 hours a day painting or drawing, and each painting takes about a month or so to complete.
Betsy has exhibited her work at the Royal Horticultural Show in London and received a Silver Gilt Medal for her Milkweed Series in 2015. Over the years her work has been selected and awarded by many organizations including the American Society of Botanical Artists, The Design Center in New York, The State Museum in Albany, and many more. Lately she has been working on a series of bog wildflowers in all the seasons at Berkley Bog in Norfolk and hopes to enter it in the Royal Horticultural Show this year.
America’s Flora is a worldwide botanical art exhibition in which two of Betsy’s paintings are featured. This show is now circulating the country and is currently at the Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C. She also had two pieces selected for a show at the Botanical Garden in New York named Out of the Woods, Celebrating Trees in Public Gardens, where the focus was on trees from either a Public Garden or Arboretum. The exhibit is also circling the country.
This year, on May 25, Hollister House Garden in Washington is offering a half-day class by Betsy Rogers-Knox on color. It is for students of all levels. On June 28 & 29, Betsy will also teach a water color class on Roses. It consists of a step-by-step instruction, layering washes of transparent color. After the 2 days, the students will leave with a finished piece. Classes are held in the beautifully renovated barn on the premises.
Once a week Betsy drives to the Bronx to teach a drawing class at the New York Botanical Garden. The subject of the three-week program is “Composing a Plant’s Natural Habitat.” This month she is teaching a 4-week course on composition at White Memorial as well. She also teaches at her private studio in Bethlehem. On Wednesdays, from 1 to 4 pm, she holds a class on Botanical and Natural Science in her studio, for all levels. It is a drop-in class (or one can email ahead) and students pay weekly. On Thursdays, she holds an Open Studio where the students may work on any subject matter, such as landscapes or still-life. Betsy joins forces with a friend on Tuesday afternoons. Together, Linda Cookson and Betsy teach a general watercolor class covering many subjects. Betsy has also taught at the American Society of Botanical Artists’ conferences in Denver, Miami, and San Francisco, and is an active member of the ASBA.
Betsy has exhibited her work at garden clubs, libraries and other galleries, museums, and organizations. She likes to participate in shows that have meaning, and that can instigate action and awareness for nature and endagered species like Monarch butterflies and habitats that are at risk of disappearing. She turns her love of nature and art into beautiful paintings can be powerful advocates for preservation in the natural world.
If you would like to purchase a painting, Betsy Rogers-Knox sells her work online (see her website: www.rogersknoxart.com) and occasionally accepts a commission. Her work is also sold on Art Auction at the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA). Her notecards are sold at New Morning and the Bellamy-Ferriday House.
To sign up for Betsy’s classes at Hollister House Garden in Washington, go to: www.hollisterhousegarden.org or call: 860-868-2200