Early in her life, Austrian-born, Arden, N.C.-based artist and sculptor Ernestine Bucking realized how precious nature was and that in the most secluded places, an incredible scene can be found. Nature, birds, wildflowers and wildlife have always been her passion and inspiration for her work. She has surrounded herself with a garden of fruits and vegetables, a yard full of flowers and a pond of koi, and she often goes on hikes and bike rides at the Arboretum and the surrounding mountains of Western North Carolina. In her latest exhibit, Romantic Realism, Ernestine gently captures images of the diverse wonders of the natural world by featuring birds, wildlife, butterflies and landscapes in oil, acrylic and watercolor. She has hosted more than 100 one-woman shows across the nation and has received numerous awards over the past four decades.

Check out the interview below to learn more about Ernestine’s past, her inspirations and what she hopes to achieve with her exhibit at the Arboretum.

1.) What inspired you to become an artist?

Coming from a creative family, I always needed to create something with whatever material was available, whether it was clay, wood, stone, etc., and shape or paint it something beautiful (including walls in our home when I was left alone!). My creative passion has never left me but has evolved over time to where I am today.

2.) Why do you like to focus on the natural world in your work?

For as long as I can remember, nature – as part of our creation – has been my passion and inspiration. My work as an artist, sculptor and carver has been centered around focusing on what I see and feel in the beauty and abundance of that creation, and bringing it into my house and studio, as well as the houses of people who now have my artwork.

3.) What is your favorite medium and why?

I use different mediums (sometimes more than one) in my paintings to express the mood, feelings and effects that I want to express. For example, I often like to start with a loose and free water-based color medium using brushes and sponges. This technique is particularly helpful when I am painting on location as the outdoor lighting changes very quickly. That gives me the color scheme I want for my painting. Then, I proceed with a more detailed version with acrylics or oils that allows me to get stronger and bolder. I then like to concentrate on light, contrast and perspective to develop the focal point of the painting. After that, I paint the surroundings to complement the focal point. During this process, I may add many glazes and layers to gradually do the shading to reach the values I want to achieve. The final stage is protecting the painting.

4.) You are originally from Austria. What brought you to Western North Carolina?

Western North Carolina reminded me of my birthplace in Austria with its soft rolling hills and its beautiful landscapes. I found my home, a paradise for artists.

5.) What are you most excited about for your exhibit?

I am very excited and honored to show my work at the Arboretum. This exhibit is a testament to the Arboretum’s wild azalea gardens, meandering creeks and streams, beautiful landscapes of wildflowers, bonsai exhibit, and its rich and diversified indigenous plants that are geared towards butterflies, birds and wildlife – all of which can be observed and enjoyed on its many hiking and biking trails.

Ernestine Bucking’s Romantic Realism art exhibit opens this Saturday, October 7, 2017, in the upstairs gallery of the Arboretum’s Education Center. The exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January 7, 2018 and all pieces are available for purchase. For more information, please click here.