Anne Blackwell Thompson’s captivating botanicals.
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Anne Blackwell Thompson.
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“I don’t want my pieces to be your grandmother’s botanicals,” says Richmond-based artist Anne Blackwell Thompson who, for the past four years, has elevated the craft of flower pressing to high art.
“My work is a snapshot of the natural world, a gorgeous blossom or composition of leaves that’s frozen in time,” Thompson explains. For instance, seaweed, she says, is “fabulously graphic, and it also has an abstract quality .… the finished pieces have an almost ethereal quality about them.”
Trained by botanical artist Stuart Thornton at his studio in Turin, Italy, in 2009, Thompson developed a style that makes flora appear to be watercolor abstractions. Her pieces range in price from $200 to $1,800, depending on their size and complexity.
Since botanicals are regional, sense of place plays a role in Thompson’s art. “I grew up loving the outdoors—whether it was the countryside or the ocean or finding a beautiful slice of nature in the city. I’m a transplanted Texan but have lived in Virginia for nearly half my life,” says the 50-year-old Thompson. “That sense of pride of place is something that’s bred in the bone of Virginians, a quality I think Texans share as well.”
Thompson has a keen interest in chronicling botany in a historical context, and this spring plans to trace the plants along certain parts of the John Smith Trail, mapped by the famous sea captain in the 1600s, in order to create a new series of pressed botanicals.