Through her watercolor paintings, Judy Brown said she wants to “help people see details they might not notice” in the natural world, especially those found in a garden.
As a painter of subjects including mushrooms, snails, birds, flowers and butterflies, she said her works are “an integration of science and art.”
“These are the things I think are important and quite beautiful,” said Brown of Silver Spring.
Brown, a botanical artist and scientific illustrator, studied botany at the University of Maryland and taught high school biology for about 30 years.
Even after she retired, “I don’t think I ever stopped thinking about the natural world,” she said.
Brown began painting during an introduction to botanical arts class at Brookside Gardens in 2003.
Since then she has used her talents to teach botanical art at places including the University of Alaska Fairbanks and in Saissac, France.
Brown said she gathers information about the subjects of her paintings from resources such as books, photos, museums and real life. Some of the plants she paints come right from one of her gardens. She also draws and paints the subjects in a sketchbook before she puts them in the final work.
For a watercolor piece of a flying cardinal, “I really studied the underlying skeleton,” Brown said.
As she painted another piece of an eggplant, she saw “underlying” layers of color — the turquoise, blues and pinks among others — that collectively portrayed the right shade, she said.
When she needs to look at something closely, Brown also has a microscope that helps her examine the details.
Thirty of her paintings are now on display in an exhibit titled “Small Things That Matter” at the Brookside Gardens Visitor Center in Wheaton, including a piece of one of her favorite subjects — a green Luna moth.
“These are the things that inspire me to paint,” she said.