- Silver Leaf Sunflower A digital illustration by Lachlan Herrick.
Philadelphia native Lachlan Herrick can't remember a time before she started making art. "I was very lucky to have been born to two artists," she says. "I have no idea when I first picked it up, I just always had some type of art utensil in my hand. And it was absolutely my choice; I've always thrived on it."
The self-described "visual storyteller with a penchant for mythology and all things mysterious" graduated just last year from Savannah College of Art and Design and had just returned to her home city when she got the news that she'd been commissioned to participate in the Hudson Valley Seed Company's 2020 Art Pack program.
HVSC got its start in 2004 as an heirloom seed exchange program organized by Gardiner librarian Ken Greene that proved enormously popular and quickly became the center of a discourse around local food, community health, culture and history. In 2008, Greene and his partner Doug Muller took the seed library into cyberspace and the response was phenomenal, leading them to found the company in 2009 and invite 14 artists, all friends of theirs, to illustrate 14 seed packs. The company is now firmly established on a five-acre organic farm in Accord, and the Art Pack program puts out an open call each year inviting artists to tell the story of a seed variety.
Herrick, always intrigued by the plant kingdom, was a wannabe gardener when she'd first discovered the Hudson Valley Seed Company at a Philly garden expo." I immediately gravitated to those seed packs, that merging of art and gardening," she says. "As an illustrator, I was moved by the whole concept. I immediately knew I wanted to get involved. The first one I did was 'Clear Dawn Onion' for an heirloom show. I mean, even the names are so evocative. Clear Dawn Onion. Dragon Carrot. Little Gem Lettuce. You want to tell those stories. They're just too cute, they demand to be illustrated."
It wasn't the first time she'd been drawn to draw plants. In summer 2015, as a volunteer farmhand and English teacher in Ibaraki, Japan, she discovered a growing affinity. "That was really my first time living with a garden, and I felt compelled to draw all the plants," she says. "There were things we don't have back home. I was enamored with all of it. Drawing plants is so methodical and focused, so up close and personal."
Silver Leaf Sunflower, with its complementary tones evoking precious-metal colors in a living, organic context, gave Herrick the opportunity to play with light in a way she loves to do. "The guidance they offered was perfect," she says. "They said 'We see that you work with light as an aspect of emotion. We'd like to see the light on the leaves and flowers.' It was my choice to do it from behind—I love the bluish-purplish shadows. It's almost that golden-hour quality of light. When we see things at that peak beauty, we see what they really are."