Botanical Art, Helen Baldry

Comments (1) Interviews

If you have a love of nature and would like to learn how to paint and draw images of Australia’s beautiful plants and flowers, there’s an art class that may just be able to help! Local artist Helen Baldry has been honing her artistic skills under the tutelage of Gillian Scott and Margaret Pople and says the course has been invaluable …

Hi Helen. How long have you been a Port Macquarie resident, and what originally brought you to the area?

We came for health and medical visits over a few years and always enjoyed our days here once the official appointments were over. We loved the breeze and walking along the Town Green area. When we wanted to move from a small seaside town to something with more potential, Port Macquarie was the obvious choice. We’ve been here nearly three years and have thoroughly enjoyed the time and feel very settled here.

Where did your art story begin … have you always drawn/painted?

Yes, I have always had a special interest in art from my youngest days, painting and drawing as a hobby along the way. I am mostly self-taught with the help of quite a few reference books.

What subjects do you most enjoy painting/drawing – and why?

It has always been subjects from nature. I’ve been intrigued watching birds and insects, and growing up we always had garden beds and shrubs and I became familiar with flowers and their names.

Previously I painted landscapes, and the foreground was always full of foliage and flowers. I expect it’s the beauty, the light in nature that makes me want to try and represent it in paint.

You’ve attended some botanical art classes over the past year … how did these help hone your skills? What did you enjoy about the classes?

Yes, a friend brought Gillian Scott’s class to my attention and after a few enquiries, I decided to join. Thank goodness I did, as it has been a wonderful experience and given me new skills in observing, drawing and painting.

Our tutors, Gillian, and Margaret Pople, have been very generous sharing their knowledge, and it has been marvellous to meet with other like-minded people. The discussions around “how to paint” particular subjects and seeing everyone’s results is quite inspiring.

I do think I’ve made more progress in the last two years within this class than I did over many years of practicing alone. I would recommend to anyone with an interest to join.

What are some of the favourite artworks you’ve created to date – and what is it about them that you most like?

Past favourites have been bird paintings rendered in acrylic, and currently it’s all things botanical in watercolour and my favourites are paintings of the local flora, ones that artists from the early settler days painted too – I have a historical book of botanical art, and I recognise some of the flowers and shrubs that we can see locally.

I’ve painted the Dusky Coral Pea, which is a wandering flower that appears briefly nearby my home – I watch for it each year. I love the colour and habit of the plant.

Also, one of the Morning Glories, with its bubbly looking leaves. The trumpet shape flower and leaf detail were a challenge.

It’s interesting to see the different painting styles from artist to artist, from century to century and even within our botanical art class, when we paint the same subject.

Where do you create your artworks? Do you have a studio – or do you prefer to paint outdoors in nature?

The nature of our climate and the location of much of our subject matter will mean it’s not possible to paint outdoors often. Usually I bring a specimen indoors and while it’s fresh, make colour notes and drawings and subsequently photographs. From these I can then produce the final drawing and painting. I sit at a small table in the living room to paint – it’s well set up with all I need. A studio is part of a distant dream …

What artistic plans do you have for the future? 

Simply to continue this lovely journey with botanical subjects, hoping to hone my skills to ultimately illustrate with great detail and reality. I would like to submit work in a few competitions eventually.

Where can we see some more of your work?

My portfolio of work is relatively small at present, and much of it is a resource for me to create larger works from. I’d like to give more time to painting this year if possible and have some larger works for next year’s class exhibition in January 2019. Who knows what other opportunities may present themselves in the coming year!

Thanks Helen.

Interview by Jo Robinson.

If you’d like to learn how to paint botanical subjects, Gillian Scott and Margaret Pople’s class details are below: Course starts – Thursday Feb 8th; Time – 11am to 2pm. Where – Rotary Community Hall, Hastings River Drive. Yearly course cost $135/term, payable at beginning of the term.
Contact 6583 8693 or email

One Response to Botanical Art, Helen Baldry

  1. Rod says:

    Beautifull. Congrats! Does anyone know of a good multi-media ‘field diary’ software for keeping graphics, maps, field notes & copies/drafts & art records? Some sort of archiving relational database & editing diary? Birds, eco, geo, botanical mapping gps field & art notes?

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