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Wildflowers & Watercolor

Botanical Artist Ellen Duarte expresses her green thumb through painting, in the garden, and in the classroom.

Artwork by Ellen Duarte

Whether it be our desire to connect more deeply with nature or simply an appreciation of beauty, plants surely have an effect on people. Between welcoming the budding trees of spring and bidding adieu to golden toned leaves at the conclusion of autumn, we experience life alongside their continuously flowing, evolutionary process. “People are generally connected to plants and have an emotional response to certain kinds. The goal is to transfer the beauty of plants onto the page and share that,” botanical artist Ellen Duarte reflects. Duarte stumbled upon botanical art during her first trip to the Boston Flower Show in 2007. An artist at heart and an avid gardener, she decided to combine her passions into one focus, conveying the fascinating nature of plants in detailed watercolors. Today, she is flourishing both in her painting and teaching at the Cape Cod Art Center in Barnstable.

Duarte’s creative pursuits date back to her childhood in Central Maine and have guided her into her early professional life. “Even as a child, I did a lot of drawing and pursued art. I went to college and became an art teacher and taught in Maine and on Cape Cod for a period of time. My husband went into business for himself, so I stopped teaching and became his bookkeeper and business partner. As the business grew, he outgrew my accounting skills and I decided I wasn’t pursuing accounting any further,” she laughs. 

With a shift in careers on the horizon for Duarte, it came back to plants. “While teaching and as I raised my family, I did quite a lot of gardening. First it was flower gardening and then later I had a big vegetable garden. I really developed a love for plants,” she notes. 

At that first Boston Flower Show, she found herself in an exhibit created by artists and students in a botanical art program. She recalls, “The minute I walked in there, I knew this is what I have to do. My art had sort of taken a back seat and I had dabbled in different things, but I had never focused on anything in particular. This gained my focus and I have stayed with it ever since.

“It is the beauty of botanical art that resonates with me. Plants are just fascinating; the more you learn about them, the more fascinating they become. I enjoy the realism in botanical illustration. I always liked realistic art and pursued perfection. This is one place where you are always in pursuit of perfection.” Her work, which exudes an impressive air of precision and beauty, has brought  her as near to perfection as one can get. Multiple pieces have been shown in such notable exhibits as the New England Society of Botanical Artists and the Boston Flower Show.

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