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Ann Wood

Blooms Beyond Borders: Ann Wood’s Paper Botanical Mastery – An Exclusive Interview

“Paper has lots of different textures, it’s very malleable for me and easily accessible.” – Ann Wood

Ann Wood, a working artist, established a visual partnership and studio with Dean Lucker in 1987 after graduating from the College of Art and Design in Minneapolis. Their dynamic collaboration seamlessly intertwines their art practices, resulting in stunning paper and wood-based artworks.

Ann, a self-proclaimed botanical illustrator and primarily a paper artist, crafts an extensive body of work using various paper types, including her impressive botanical wall showcased below. Intrigued by Ann’s artistic prowess, we wanted to delve into her art practice, discovering the inspirations behind her captivating paper-based masterpieces.

Can You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself?

With over 30 years in our collaborative business, Woodlucker, my husband and I started with mechanical toys and moving art, selling at shows nationwide. After earning a BFA in Sculpture and Fine Art, a shift occurred eight years ago when my parents faced health challenges. This led me to transition from personal work to nature-themed creations, allowing me to connect with a broader audience.

What Originally Drew You To Creating Art With Paper?

Joining Instagram, I observed artists creating paper flowers. With a surplus of paper remnants from past projects, I experimented with crafting my own flowers, drawing from my background as a wood sculptor. Sharing the results on Instagram, the project gained unexpected popularity.

Can You Tell Us About Your Creative Process, What Are Your Biggest Artistic Influences?

My creative process is deeply influenced by my father’s appreciation for the beauty of nature, particularly a poignant moment with a vibrant Sumac Plant during his final days. Growing up on a farm and being a devoted gardener, this connection to nature shapes my identity as a botanical illustrator.

Influenced by publications by Martha Stewart, I draw inspiration from photography in works like Better Homes and Gardens, where I’ve been featured. At 62, being part of these publications feels like coming full circle from my childhood. In addition to printed influences, my artistic journey has been enriched by WPA paintings and the art of Frida Kahlo, marking a lifelong dedication to art.

What Is The Best Thing About Working With Paper?

Paper has lots of different textures, it’s very malleable for me and easily accessible. It offers a range of transformations, from matte to shiny, folding, and even crumpling. Unlike wood, it’s easier to work with and doesn’t produce dust; a huge relief for me!

I particularly enjoy the tactile act of cutting paper with scissors—it aligns seamlessly with my creative flow.

Do You Have A Preferred Type Of Paper That You Like To Work With?

I use various papers, around 15 types, from thin to heavy-duty. People ask me about it 10-15 times a day. I start with white paper and paint it while holding the leaf, trying to match the plant colours I want.

What Is Your Favourite Subject Matter To Work On And Create Artwork Around And Why?

Flowers and nature; it’s all about the magical connection with nature for me. I’m fascinated by how flowers carry meaning for people and how my art sparks stories and connections with specific flowers.

Recently, I’ve delved into mushrooms, which are relatively new to me. Last fall, I created a few, and now I’ve picked them up again. They hold a unique magic for many, especially the classic white and red ones with specks on top.

What Is Your Favourite Piece That You Have Made So Far And Why?

My favourite thing is typically what I’m currently working on—it’s what captures my interest and drives me to finish it. Right now, I’m particularly enamoured with my mushrooms, enjoying my Geraniums and Paperwhites. It’s always the most recent project that stands out for me.

How Did You Get Started With Your Art Practice?

I was fortunate as a child because my parents encouraged my creativity. Growing up in a small, rural town with just 18 people in my graduating class, I had the freedom to paint creatures on my bedroom walls at 11–12 years old, thanks to my supportive mom. My dad went a step further and bought me a sewing machine around the same age. With his mother teaching me the basics, I could sew like an adult, adding a 3D perspective to my creative thinking at a young age. This creative, 3D mindset was something I excelled at early on. My parents’ uncommon support and encouragement was such a gift.

Do You Have Any Advice For Anyone Looking To Give Paper-Based Art A Try?

Sure, get some paper and give it a go. Many resources, like Instagram, offer learning opportunities. Find your own creative language, explore colour and shapes, and let your hand guide you. While I would suggest following step by step initially, it’s crucial to invest time and figure out what you want to express with the material.

What Would Be Your Ultimate Dream Paper Project?

Succulents are next on my list, and I’m currently obsessed with Amaryllis, anticipating that Moms will be the next big thing. Exploring the natural world offers endless possibilities.

During the pandemic, a museum in the Netherlands offered a unique opportunity for my botanical wall to replace real flowers in a royal blue exhibit. Despite COVID disrupting my travel plans, we hung the show over Zoom, creating a dramatic virtual experience. Now, I’m actively pursuing similar opportunities to showcase my extensive collection of paper-based botanical works in my studio. My ultimate dream is to see a crowd gathered around my botanical wall, observing their reactions and expressions.

Feeling inspired? Head over to Love Paper Creations where you can put your hand to some paper-based arts and crafts.

If you found this Q&A interesting and would like to find out more information about Ann and her work, you can follow them on Instagram and other social media platforms @woodlucker or head over to her website: https://www.woodlucker.com/

Not only is paper a natural source for creativity and experimentation, but you can rest assured it’s a sustainable way to be creative. If your paper-based artwork doesn’t go to plan, don’t worry, recycle it, and try again. In Europe, including the UK, 71% of paper is recycled into new products, boasting one of the highest recycling rates globally!