The botanical art of joyce peters

The newest member of the Florilegium Program’s Steering Committee is a Master Gardener, a professional tailor, a citizen scientist, and a botanical artist with a passion for pollinators. Phoenix artist Joyce Peters has wide-ranging interests and the energy to match, and she is certain to make a dynamic contribution to the Florilegium Program.

Originally from St. Louis, Joyce has lived in Arizona since 1980. She was one of the lucky few artists to have completed a Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration from Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) before the program was discontinued. Joyce is active in the Southwest Society of Botanical Artists (SWSBA) and is a juried member of the Arizona Art Alliance. In addition to her professional tailoring business, she is also a designer and fabricator for custom projects using a variety of fabrics and other materials.

Joyce has organized two juried exhibitions of botanical art in the Phoenix area: Indigenous Botanicals of Arizona, an exhibit at the Tempe Public Library in 2012, and Portraits of Nature: Blending Science and Art, an exhibit at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus Library in 2013. Along with artists Marsha Bennett and Elaine Hultgren, she has worked to establish a permanent exhibit of botanical art at the North Mountain Visitor Center at the Phoenix Mountain Preserve that was installed in 2014.

The forthcoming Legumes of Arizona, an Illustrated Flora and Reference will contain some of Joyce’s pen and ink illustrations. Along with several other SWSBA artists, Joyce provided illustrations to the Audubon Society for making flash cards to help children identify native plants of Arizona. And if all this isn’t enough to fill her time, Joyce is active in collecting and documenting plants for the DBG and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Joyce has a strong affinity for including pollinators in her botanical works. Her watercolor portrait of the Centris pallida bee on ironwood tree blossoms is being used for the signage at the North Mountain Visitors Center exhibit. Tohono Chul’s 2012 exhibit, Pollinators: The Art of Interdependence, included Joyce’s “Marine Blue butterflies on host plant, Calliandra eriophylla.” A number of her pollinator-inspired works will be on exhibit at the North Mountain Visitor Center in 2015.

Besides using traditional mediums of watercolor, pen and ink, and colored pencil, Joyce has also developed a process for creating and working with mesquite paint. Her work “Mesquite Complete” was included in Tohono Chul’s 2012 exhibit, Mesquite. This inventive piece is a combination of handmade mesquite paint on paper made from mesquite seed pods, thin stems, and leaves. “For the making of paint, I collect sap from the tree in the spring, and in late fall I gather gooey, shiny bark, which supplies the resin,” explains Peters. “It requires boiling, straining, and boiling a second time. The paint is not an easy medium to use because of its granulation. The paper ingredients include leaves, thin stems and seed pods.”

Joyce’s works can be seen in the February and August 2014 issues of The Desert Breeze.   -- CLH

This appeared in the November 2014 issue of The Desert Breeze, the monthly newsletter of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society.