Artist’s Statement & Biography

Artist Statement

“Inspiration for my paintings has always been my great love for travel, and everything wild, including plants. Painting all my life, I became interested in botanicals and wildlife art after traveling to wild and beautiful places and keeping nature journals on my travels. Initial sketches done on location became finished paintings in the studio upon returning home. Extensive field studies on my travels include wildflowers in Arizona, landscapes, plants, and animals in Yellowstone, and gardens in Scotland. These experiences are what fuel me to create, to paint, and to honor the spirit of nature.

Sitting among the puffins of Lunga, Treshnish Isles, Scotland

Sitting among the puffins of Lunga, Treshnish Isles, Scotland, May 2013

I paint with watercolor on calfskin vellum. I believe that vellum bequeaths my subject matter with life; creating a living, breathing painting well beyond the sum of it’s parts of vellum, paintbrush and paint. Recently I have discovered the ‘Mische Technique’ — a modern revival of methods used by Dutch Masters and early Renaissance painters. This painting method is based on the principle of applying pigment in alternating layers of oil glazes and white egg tempera which allow light to pass through and reflect off of the white gesso surface of the prepared panel and white egg tempera layers. This effect gives colors a luminosity and transluscence beyond what is obtained from just reflectance off of the painting surface. This tehnique suits my artistic nature as it shares many similarites with painting drybrush on vellum—the layers of transparent pigments, the linear technique of applying egg tempera, the methodical  careful approach—all resulting in luminous, glowing color.”


Soul Searcher

Soul Searcher – painted in the ‘Mische Technique’ – a combination of oil glazes and egg tempera.


Kelly Leahy-Radding received a Certificate of Botanical Art and Illustration from The New York Botanical Garden in June of 2002. She has been a graphic designer/illustrator since 1982. Kelly specializes in painting wildlife, botanicals and natural history, developing her style with field observation on location, then translating her natural experiences to paintings in the studio. She paints with watercolors on calfskin vellum, egg tempera & oil on panel, and gouache. Kelly is a member of the Society of Animal Artists, American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), the New England Society of Botanical Artists, and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden Florilegium. Kelly is an award winning artist who has exhibited her work in solo, regional group, national and international juried shows including Birds in Art, the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, the Horticultural Society of New York, BISCOT Scotland, and numerous juried ASBA exhibits. Kelly had the opportunity to show at Kew Gardens in London with the Brooklyn Botanical Garden Florilegium, and the ASBA  exhibit Losing Paradise, Endangered Plants Here and Around the World which aslo exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History.