University of Rhode Island

Picture of Library

University of Rhode Island Libraries
HELIN Catalog
Find Articles
User Guides
InfoRhode Tutorials
E-Journal List
My Library Account About the Libraries About the Libraries Give to the Libraries

University of Rhode Island Libraries Web Site Header

Libraries HomeLibrary hoursSite IndexContact Information

University Libraries

Last updated: 11/10/10

What’s New:
Library Exhibit ó November 14 -  December 18, 2010
A Brush With Nature by Frances Topping

In the University Libraries Gallery during November and December is A Brush With Nature by Frances Topping. The artwork includes nature themes and landscapes in watercolor and oil. Sketchbooks will also be on display.


Receptions will be held on Sunday, November 14 from 2 pm to 4 pm and on Wednesday, November 17 from 4 pm to 6 pm.

Family Ties (oil painting)
Family Ties (oil painting)

The Exhibit

The exhibit consists of numerous works featuring plants, animals and landscapes primarily in watercolor and oil. Graphite and pen are also used. Also included will be a display of the artistís sketchbooks.

Plants are so varied and fascinating; their structures, colors, forms and interactions with other creatures provide endless subject matter. Capturing their essence is a challenge. When used for illustration drawings are often better at providing the detail required for identification, as salient features can be emphasized and arranged where they are seen, whereas a photograph often has portions obscured by shadow or other vegetation.

The wider view one takes in painting landscapes, as opposed to a particular plant or animal, is triggered by a play of light, a sense of place, and extraordinary  view or mix of colors. The urge to capture this is great. A painting, as opposed to a photo, can often focus better on this aspect and paint gives a different feel to the scene. For the painter there is the absolute involvement in observing the scene and translating it onto paper or canvas.

Beartooth Highway Lake (watercolor)

Artistís Statement

Take a closer look at a variety of natureís offerings rendered primarily in watercolor. Included are botanicals, landscapes, birds, and fungi. By taking a close-up view the artist hopes you will be encouraged to look more closely at the world  around you; take time to observe, explore the endlessly fascinating way the  natural world is created.

The artistís passion for rendering these subjects in paint leads to a variety of styles from very realistic to more loosely rendered as the subject seems to require.

A Closer Look
Whether itís the intricacies of the prey-catching mechanisms of carnivorous plants or pollination methods of lady slipper orchids, the sheen on a petal or the attitude of a bird, looking closely at the natural world opens up vistas of wonders not normally  observed in the hustle and bustle of daily life. The artist hopes that the work inspires the viewer to take time to see, enjoy and appreciate these things and later to take a closer look at the world.

About the Artist

Frances Topping responds to the challenge of capturing not only the beautiful but also the less noticed  parts of the natural world. A watercolorist primarily she also uses graphite, pen and ink, oil, and acrylic media. A B.S. in geography with botany and zoology; a B.F.A. in graphic design with illustration and photography; and a certificate in natural science illustration from Rhode  Island School of Design have melded her interests in depicting the natural  world on paper for scientific and general audiences. She hopes that viewers will be encouraged to look closer at the natural world around them, appreciate it and help preserve it.

She is a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, The American Society of Botanical  Artists, and the National Association for Interpretation. Her work has been shown with these societies, venues in Ohio and Rhode Island and has been  commissioned to do murals and interpretive brochures for several nature  organizations including The Nature Conservancy, Cleveland Museum of Natural  History, Cleveland Metroparks, Ohio Audubon, Cleveland Botanical Garden and  South Kingstownís Tri-Pond Park Nature Center.

Calla Lilies (watercolor)
Calla Lilies (watercolor)

The University Libraries Gallery is located on the main floor of the Robert L. Carothers Library & Learning Commons, 15 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881. Library hours are:

Monday-Thursday 8:00 am - 11:30 pm
Friday  8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sunday 1:00 pm - 11:30 pm

For more information, please call (401) 874-2672.

University of Rhode Island Libraries

URI Logo

Copyright © 1994-2005 University of Rhode Island. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.  For comments about this page, please email