Early in 2019, I was contacted by Flutter & Wow Museum Projects about creating some original wildflower illustrations as part of a newly redesigned pioneer family exhibit at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm. The Taylor-Van Hoosen family, who lived on this farm for several generations, is the focus of the exhibit and, in particular, their two daughters, Alice and Bertha. Both women were encouraged by their progressive father, Joshua Van Hoosen, to pursue higher education and were among the first women to graduate from the University of Michigan in the late 1800s. (Taylor-Van Hoosen-Jones Family History.)
The book, The Petticoat Surgeon, written in 1947 by Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen, tells the story of her amazing life. In this memoir, Dr. Van Hoosen discusses her childhood home and grounds and how they influenced her. Among the descriptions are mentions of various local wildflowers/plants/trees. Flutter & Wow proposed having original, botanical illustrations created by a local illustrator to be included as part of an interactive exhibit panel. They searched online for a local botanical illustrator and my name popped up!
I was absolutely thrilled to be part of this project and happy that we could work out the details of my contribution. With the Flutter & Wow staff, I gathered information on twelve different botanical subjects and created 5.5″ X 5.5″ original drawings of each. Pencil drafts were approved by Flutter & Wow and then I rendered them in both pen and ink and colored pencil on Fabriano hot press watercolor paper.
Plants included in the list were marsh marigold, maize, bloodroot, elderberry, Michigan lily, tamarack (tree), black walnut (tree), wild grape, hepatica, lady slipper orchid, teaberry and wood sorrel .
Here are all twelve drawings, all together!
As projects go, there are always adjustments and lessons learned along the way. When the drawings were finished, Flutter & Wow was still in the process of finalizing the look of the whole exhibit. We tried several adjustments to my scans, but ultimately, they decided that they needed a different look to the final drawings.
Fear not! Fortunately, I had scanned in the pen drawings before adding color and so with minimal clean-up, I was able to provide them with my line drawings so that their in-house designer could add digital color to match the rest of the exhibit. Whew!
The final exhibit will not be fabricated and installed until later this year (and that may be pushed back due to COVID-19.) However, I am so pleased to have had an opportunity to contribute a small part to this exhibit about the lives of this extraordinary family.
UPDATE (Dec. 2021): Earlier this fall, the final exhibit was installed at Van Hoosen Farm! I love how it turned out. I do wish my original color versions could have been the final, but completely understand that design coherence takes precedence. I am thrilled to have been able to contribute to this lasting exhibit.