A PASSION for plants has driven the art career of Julia Loken, a watercolour artist based in Eynsham outside Oxford.
Without any formal training, Julia worked for 20 years as a freelance botanical illustrator, preparing pen and ink drawings for botanical textbooks. Then, in 1980, she began to paint seriously, when her love of plants naturally led her to choose them as her favourite subjects.
Living with her husband in a 220-year-old cottage with beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, she also enjoys painting a variety of country landscapes, both at home and abroad.
This weekend she is one of hundreds of local artists featured in the annual May festival organised by Oxfordshire Artweeks, where artists across Oxfordshire throw open their doors to the public.
Julia’s exhibition of around 40 watercolour paintings is spread across four well-ventilated adjoining rooms in her house.
A fellow of the Society of Botanical Artists, Julia participates regularly in their annual exhibitions in London and, having lived in Eynsham for over 50 years, has hosted Artweeks exhibitions since 1985.
“I am very fortunate in having a large garden, where I can indulge my passion for plant collecting, and cultivate many of the plants that I wish to paint,” she says. “I also enjoy painting local landscapes.”
For more than 35 years Julia has volunteered to spend one morning each week teaching plant drawing to young children at her local village school. She has also tried to instil in them a sense of wonder at the beauty of the natural world in our increasingly technological age.
“I am endlessly fascinated by the beauty and diversity of plant forms,” she says. Her exhibition runs from 11am-6pm on May 7 until May 9.