Penny Leech (1947 – 2018) began painting natural history and botanical subjects since 1984. As
one of the founding members of the Botanical Artists Group (BAG) in Western Australia, Penny
had a keen interest in not only recording visually the native plants of WA but also their
preservation and conservation.
Penny was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England and moved to Western Australia in 1974,
settling in Denmark in 2005. Although trained in music and dramatic arts, Penny had been
drawing and painting since childhood. She became one of Western Australia's foremost botanical
artists producing detailed watercolour paintings of the south west flora as well as ‘found objects’
in the bush and on the seashore. Her work is represented in private collections in Australia, the
UK and Europe, including the Janet Holmes á Court collection.
Working in watercolours, Penny had a unique style, painting straight onto the paper with no initial
pencil preparation, and layering the paint in a dry brush technique. Having this confidence and
the capacity to visualise the design on the page was an extraordinary gift.
Her process was a mix of routine and discipline combined with creative and spiritual elements. An
old drawing board propped against a box provided the support for her paper and she worked with
the specimen alongside her, often holding it in her left hand so she could turn it around and look
at it from all sides. In this manner, she learnt to paint fast, before specimens wilted and died.
When painting a plant, she would try to find the key features that seem to best represent what
she wanted to show in terms of accuracy and design. She’d mix her paints in a small ceramic dish
and used a dry brush technique, gradually layering and building up the colour.
Summarised from ‘brush with GONDWANA’ J. Gooding 2008
52 x 44cm
52 x 44cm
Wildflowers of the Denmark Region
49 x 54cm
54 x 42cm