Polly o'Leary lives on the border of the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales.
"The discipline of Botanical Illustration and Botanical Painting requires a high degree of scientific observation and accuracy, along with technical ability, and a good eye for composition. This blending of science and art perfectly expresses my fascination with nature, which I have drawn and painted since I could hold a pencil. I have furthered my studies to include the Plants and the materials I use; the substrates, both watercolour paper and vellum, the paints and their pigments.
I tell the story of each plant through composition, form, structure and detail. Working mainly from life, I enjoy the quiet meditative process of studying, recording and painting plants and natural subjects. I work mainly in watercolour, graphite and silverpoint, and aim to establish an intimacy between the viewer and the subject of my paintings"
- Polly o'Leary
Polly is an SBA Fellow and a member of the Association of Botanical Artists
Polly graduated from the SBA Distance Learning Diploma Course with Distinction in 2014 and was elected as a Fellow Member in 2016. A regular exhibitor with the SBA, she was awarded Highly Commended for the Joyce Cuming Award in 2015 and a Certificate of Botanical Merit in 2016.
In 2017, while demonstrating botanical techniques with the SBA at the Royal Horticultural Society Botanical Art Exhibition, she was encouraged to start teaching. As well as tutoring more widely, she also tutors for London Art College and since 2021 she has been a tutor with the SBA.
A lifelong interest in plants and growing things combines with her interest in colour and how light affects surfaces, and inspires her objective of telling the story of plants through composition, form, structure and detail. She also studies pigments and watercolour paper and blogs about the results, publishing the results of her watercolour light-fastness testing in 2018
In 2018 Polly was one of the 40 artists from the UK chosen to take part in the Worldwide Botanical Art Exhibition — In Ruskin’s Footsteps at Lancaster University, and also took part in the SBA exhibition Tulipa-Tulipae in Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid. In October 2020 was a guest exhibitor at The Makers, Crickhowell
She has illustrated for The English Garden Magazine, the cover of the De Jager Bulb Catalogue and the Orchid Society GB Journal.
She is currently working on the exhibition of a body of work with the Royal Horticultural Society.
Polly is available for Commissions, Demonstrations, Workshops and Tuition.