New Art: A Dash of Color for Smoky, Salty Tastes

by Tusha Yakovleva

cherokee_purple_tomato_1We’ve continued our tradition of commissioning artwork for the covers of our unique seed packs again this year. Last March, close to 300 creative artists applied to be Pack Artists. It's taken 8 months to choose the artists, give them time to create their pieces, and turn their works into seed packs. Now, 24 beautiful new art packs have been added to our growing collection and our traveling exhibition of original art (Art of the Heirloom) has begun its journey around the country.

You can browse our entire art pack collection by clicking here, and get to know the new artists below:

A Dash of Color for Smoky, Salty Tastes

unnamed(1)Erin Enouen, our Trials Garden Manager, grew many varieties of black tomatoes last season, and after numerous seed squad taste tests, Cherokee Purple earned its rightful place in our 2013 catalog, for its salty, smoky, rich tomato flavor. We aren’t the only ones who fell in love with it: it’s one of the better known heirloom tomatoes and isn’t hard to find at farmers’ markets. In fact, its popularity is what drew botanical illustrator, printmaker, and gardener Bobbi Angell to this variety. “A friend with a commercial nursery had told me that Cherokee Purple was his favorite tomato so I was inspired to draw something that I knew I would want to grow,” Bobbi explains.

bobbi copper plate“I started with my own sketches and photos of tomatoes that I have on file to come up with a design and then searched nurseries just as they were putting out their tomato seedlings to find a plant that had enough leaves to use to fill out my drawing. I worked through several stages of etching to get the right depth of tone to my print and then when I was satisfied with the print I hand colored it with watercolor, relying on photos of Cherokee Purple tomatoes that I found on-line.” The result? An earthy-hued rendition perfectly capturing Cherokee Purple’s distinct dark burgundy tones and greenish shoulders.

For Bobbi, the relationship between art from plants and gardening is inseparable. “In my life they are all one. I grow plants to eat. I grow plants to draw. I grow plants just to surround me with beauty and intrigue. Drawing plants gives me life, but it also gives me a livelihood as a botanical artist. At times it is a difficult balance because the extensive 'agriculture'  that we do on our home property during the growing season has to get priority which takes away from drawing time, but maybe that is why I live in Vermont, where winter gives me a break from my obsessive gardening.”

Angell black beansbobbi angell at microscope (and Betty)Bobbi's richly detailed pen and ink illustrations appear in a wide variety of scholarly and commercial publications and her copper etchings are often featured in exhibits. Primarily a scientific illustrator for botanists at The New York Botanical Garden and other academic institutions, she has reached a popular audience through 12 years of illustrating The New York Times garden column and its compilation books, and the popular North Hill Garden memoirs Our Life in Gardens and To Eat. Living deep in the hills of southern Vermont, Bobbi relies on her extensive rambling gardens for subject matter and inspiration. Her artwork is held in collections including The New York Botanical Garden, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Shirley Sherwood Collection, and Brooklyn Botanical Garden Florilegium. You can view more of Bobbi’s work on her website.