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Milly Acharya

milly acharyaTHE PAINTER:
milly acharya has lived in Ithaca for over 20 years. She is inspired by local flora as well as tropical plants of India where she grew up. She has always painted, from earliest childhood, mostly for pleasure, until more recently. She is the author and illustrator of 2 children's books: The Ramayana and Dragon Parade. Her Lathyrus odoratus (Sweetpea) received the award for best painting in the 8th New York annual exhibit of the Horticultural Society and American Society of Botanical Artists; Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium) received the Jury’s Award for Excellence at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in March 2007; Kniphofia uvaria won the Best of Show Award at the 2008 HSNY/ASBA exhibition. Her portfolio is available at Stated below is her approach to the work she loves:

Picture this: a blank sheet of white paper and a robust, living plant beside it. I examine the specimen carefully from all angles, observing the many details and characteristics that give this plant its unique identity. Then I determine which aspect of the portrait will include the most pertinent features of my subject and provide the viewer with significant information.

With a brush dipped in clear water I approach the blank paper and indicate the direction of the plant's growth. Very gradually I introduce the first traces of color, faint at first, building up incrementally to intensities that I observe in the specimen.

I entrust the inherent grace of the botanical subject to communicate its own aesthetic power and its natural design to compose my work. It is in order to preserve the vitality and immediacy of the ever-mutatable living plant, that I start directlly with paint on paper, without preliminary sketches or drawing. While apples and pears may retain their form from one day to the next, poppies, morning glory, hibiscus, datura and other plants are in constant and rapid motion, so any sketch would be obsolete before the task of painting began.

Accurate documentation of the plant specimen is my aim, so the challenge for me is to saturate the image with detail pertinent to every phase of botanical development---buds and seedpods, stems and roots, leaves and bracts---since every feature counts as equally important in the final portrait. Working exclusively with live specimens, allows me to investigate form, structure, texture and distinctive characteristics in order to tell their story. With the aid of magnifying lenses I peek and probe and discover many a hidden secret concealed beneath the surface. I detect worlds within worlds and the journey within is always an adventure---entrancing, delightful, endlessly fascinating.

Where the brush, the hand & the eye meet the plant & honor its brief moment of glory, that is where the painting happens and when my own pleasurecommunicates itself to you, the viewer, then the plant form is truly celebrated!