Jeanne Reiner was awarded a full scholarship to the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in NYC where she received her BFA. She followed this with a post-graduate program in Brissago, Switzerland and then studied European design while based in the Netherlands. She began her career as a graphic designer at Estee Lauder. After three years at Estee Lauder, she launched her own design studio, working with at least ten mostly beauty, fashion, and performing arts companies over the next 13 years. She is currently teaching at the NY Botanical Garden and working with the Greenwich Land Trust as well as continuing her professional career as a botanical artist on her own.
Jeanne’s pictures at the exhibit were close-up, but not large, images of flowers. In a description of her art posted with the exhibit, she says: “In choosing subjects for my artworks, which I think of as portraits, I look for characteristics that make a species unique, quirky or spectacular. I try to explore new ways to appreciate the beauty and complexity of botanicals by highlighting details that are imperceptible to the unaided eye…. My goal is not just to create pristine specimen images. I will show petals on which insects have dined, withered leaves or a drooping seed head. These aren’t flaws but poetic details that connect us in an oh so human way.”
In her talk, Jeanne elaborated: “I want to educate my audience, so they look at my drawing with fresh eyes.” She then started to educate us in person, talking first about her hibiscus “portrait.” She noted that while the hibiscus was once rare, “it is now everywhere… The problem with being ubiquitous is that we no longer really see them.” She proceeded to talk about the structure of the hibiscus and the function of its parts in detail, as if one can only appreciate the art if you see how it conveys the essence of the plant and how the plant survives and thrives. She also talked about the Fritillaria Imperialis (shown in the picture of her below), which is a little homely, totally gross, wonderfully useful or absolutely spectacular, depending on your perception of its various qualities, which include an off-putting odor that repels while the bloom attracts and can protect a garden by keeping destructive rodents away.
Jeanne ended by saying: “I like the intersection of the art and the science of working with botanicals. It is part left brain and part right brain….. I work in a variety of mediums, including watercolor, pastel, carbon dust and colored pencil…. I use calpers to measure precisely each part and then blow the measurements up to create a larger work of art.” Clearly her artwork is crafted with love and care and with attention to every detail, whether blemish or beauty.