It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A SBAI Weekend: From Hibiscus to DAM

Students presented their projects for the class and received helpful and constructive peer comments

The past weekend was one of those inspiring and hectic weekends for our school: In the classroom twelve students transformed their botanical illustration into a teaching tool in a three-day intense workshop: Science, Art and Communication. Ikumi Kayama guided the enthusiastic group through the process.
We also participated in Denver Art Museum's (DAM) August Untitled Final Friday-event: Cross-pollinate with numerous workshops, demonstrations and talks.
Please see some photos form the weekend by clicking here.
Constance Sayas demonstrating watercolor technique in botanical illustration at the Denver Art Museum

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Kew Book of Botanical Illustration

The Kew Book of Botanical Illustration by Christabel King is finally available!
This 128-page publication with a foreword by prof. Sir Ghillean Prance FRS, VMH explains both scientific botanical illustration and the looser botanical art, it covers materials, collecting and preserving plant specimens, drawing and painting techniques, magnification, using dividers, drawing from life and from pressed specimens, composition, light and shade, transferring drawings and more.
Christable King has a dual training in botany and scientific illustration, she has been working as a botanical illustrator for 40 years and started illustrating for Curtis's Botanical Magazine in 1975. Christable is one of the foremost botanical illustrators at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Congratulations Christabel King! This book is an excellent teaching manual both for beginners and experienced illustrators. Warmly recommended!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Amorphophallus titanum a.k.a. Stinky - a week later

(Sketch by Ikumi Kayama)

Denver Botanic Gardens has had Stinky since 2007. After preparing so many years for the big event on August 17-19, 2015 Stinky's spadix collapsed on August 23, 4:13 p.m. and Stinky started saving energy for the next event to come.
(captured from the NBC 9News' live cam Aug. 23, 4:13:25 p.m.)


The time of blooming was also a hectic period of scientific collection and documentation. The female (pistillate) flowers bloomed first and after that the male (staminate) flowers released the pollen grains.
 Pollen grains were pressed out from the anther's theca in strings. Because the male blooming occurs after the female phase, our Stinky couldn't develop fertilized seeds. Pollen grains were collected and shipped to Chicago Botanical Garden to do the trick for Spike, which is starting to bloom any minute now.

Resting Stinky on August 26, 2015.
To see more images from the past week, please click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Finally in Bloom


(August 18, 9 p.m. and 9 hours later on August 19, sketch by Ikumi Kayama)
Finally last night Stinky's wrapper (spathe) started to release its grip around the spandix and early this morning the deep burgundy red color was revealed. Stinky also made clear that nomen est omen, its odor is as monumental as the plant itself.
Ikumi Kayama sketched the status last night at 9 p.m. and again this morning at 6 a.m.
(Our two Amorphophallus titanum plants at two different stages, behind the blooming plant is the tree-like plant which is actually one single leaf).


Ikumi also has a 2-hour illustration demonstration in our Science Pyramid this morning - perfect timing with the simultaneous excitement in our Amorphophallus titanum-world.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Getting Closer?!

(Sketches for August 14 and 15 by Ikumi Kayama, click to enlarge)

Our Amorohophallus titanum a.k.a. Stinky is slowly preparing for the big moment. On Saturday night the Fox31 news broadcasted from The Gardens, Ikumi Kayama got also interviewed for it. If you have not seen the clip, click here for the link.
Perhaps the spathe opens tonight and we will have a smelly Monday morning  ~

Photo is taken today, Aug. 16th, 2:45 p.m. showing both sides of the plant. The red pigment is now visible even outside the spathe.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Stinky is growing - Can you see the difference?

(sketches for Aug 12 and Aug 13 by Ikumi Kayama)
Since Tuesday morning our Amorohophallus titanum "Stinky"  has grown three inches (she is now 4' 11 3/4"), and we can see more and more of the burgundy color. She will be blooming soon, but will it be happening on Saturday, Sunday or Monday?
  (Aug 13, 6 a.m.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Magnet for The Masses

Ikumi Kayama, our current Artist-in-residence measuring and sketching the corpse flower this morning

Denver Botanic Gardens is expecting its first ever corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) to bloom in five days on August 16th
The first botanist to encounter Amorphophallus titanum, the corpse flower, was the Italian Odoardo Beccari, whose Malaysian and Palm herbaria are included in the botanical collections of Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy (we had the pleasure to visit these collections in connection to our 2015 Arts and Archives tour earlier this year).While travelling in tropical southeast Asia in 1878 Beccari sent seeds back to Florence in Italy and Kew Gradens in England. Eleven years later one of the plants that had germinated from these seeds flowered in Kew. 

The titan arum produces the world’s largest compound flower (up to 3.5 meters tall). As with all members of the Arum family the inflorescence consists of a petal-like spathe and a flower-bearing spandix; the whole structure is borne on a stalk only 25 – 35 cm high. 

You can read more about this flower that emits a rotten odor by clicking here
The current, daily updated Atitanum's growth chart from Denver Botanic Gardens is located here.
Amorphophallus titanum flowered first time in cultivation at Kew Gardens in 1889 and was described and illustrated in the Curtis's Botanical Magazine volume of 1891. The plates were drawn by Matilda Smith.

On the right Ikumi's sketch from August 11th (please click to enlarge)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Demos at Denver Art Museum and Weekend Bookbinding

(set-up for the Botanical illustration 101-workshop)
Denver Art Museum is currently exhibiting In Bloom:Painting Flowers in the Age of Impressionism. It features about 60 paintings exploring the development of French floral still-life painting from the late 1700s to early 1900s.
We are participating in different ways in this exhibit, most visible with demonstrations and workshops during the Final Friday members events, of which the first one, Untitled: Fresh Cut, was this past Friday.
Our workshops, demonstrations and Detour talks at DAM continue on August 28 and September 25.
During the weekend we also did some intense bookbinding and learned the Sewn Board and Drum Leaf Bindings.
See some more images from our weekend activities by clicking here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

More advanced ink

Exercises with quill, and quill and pen by Elizabeth Lokocz, please click to enlarge

We use both technical pen the traditional quill on our second level pen and ink class. The students learn advanced techniques to create masterpieces.
See more work from our class by clicking here.

  (Phalaenopsis by Ted Milner, please click to enlarge)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

J. Gurneys' Gas Station Challenge

Dino Mart in Golden, CO by Randy Raak, black and white gouache

In June Games Gurney posted a call for a painting contest and challenged the the artists to paint  a gas station using black and white gouache. It needed to be a new painting and made on the location, either inside or outside of it. The entry needed to include a photo of the set-up and painting in progress.
The winner of the Grad Prize is our own Randy Raak. This is what James Gurney says about the piece:
"I would have loved this one even without the dinosaur because it captures such a sense of place, with the new retail construction on the hills above the station. The perspective is really good, and the values are carefully observed. Translating bright colors into gray tones is a challenge."
To see the results of the contest, please click here.

Randy's painting is 9" x 11" on 140# rough watercolor paper, completed 100% on location during five, two hour sessions.

CONGRATULATIONS Randy, what an honor!