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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Drawing traditional and on Tradition

Sorbus sp.; colored pencil II, Joanna Webster

In our series Drawing on Tradition we recently studied the style and application techniques of Dugald Stermer (1936-2011), who created a vast collection of drawings, book illustrations and educational work combining expressive drawings with descriptive calligraphy.
Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum, mixed media by Karey Swan

To see more images from our recently completed classes, please click here

Sunday, October 9, 2016

September Selection

Typha latifolia by Lyn Bruskivage, pen and ink

You can find out more about our regular activities in September by following this link.

Since her first visit in 2004 Ann Swan has been returning to Denver Botanic Gardens every second year to teach colored pencil techniques and her new tricks in our school. This time she had two 3-day workshops focusing much in composition and color mixing.  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Symbolism and Legends of Chinese Culture in Cafe Botanique, Oct. 12

Story Hats
Leslie Molen

Colorado textile artist Leslie Molen shares the story of the unique hats she has designed while interpreting Chinese folk art. These textile creations are filled with the symbolism and legends of ancient Chinese culture.
Leslie Molen has been an internationally known textile artist for the last 25 years. She is a member of the National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA). 

Wednesday, October 12, 6:30-8 p.m.
Gates Hall
Click here to reserve your seat 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Painting on Location - Three awesome days at The Gardens with James Gurney!

(sketched during J. Gurney's CB-presentation on September 14th by R. Raak)

Last week's Cafe Botanique with James Gurney reached a record attendance of almost 180 people. The talk was a very well received educational recap of Color and Light, the important tools for a realistic painter. 
During the two following days students learned about painting on location with limited palette using gouache and/or casein. To see more pictures from the workshop with James Gurney by clicking here.

View of the water garden by Meredith Feniak

Friday, September 9, 2016

James Gurney in Cafe Botanique!

Wednesday, September 14, 6:30-8 p.m.
Mitchell Hall 
Color and Light in the Landscape
James Gurney

The subject of color often seems like an abstract science, but it really comes to life when it is related to light and atmosphere, the central tools of any realist painter. I’ll cover most of the standard geography of color: hue, value, and chroma; as well as limited palettes, warm and cool color, with many new insights about visual perception from the modern science of neurobiology.  I’ll share clear examples of familiar problems faced by every outdoor painter, including  reflections, rainbows, clouds, dappled light, sunbeams, and subsurface scattering.

James Gurney is the author and illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Dinotopia book series. He designed the World of Dinosaurs stamps for the U.S. Postal Service and has worked on over a dozen assignments for National Geographic magazine, painting reconstructions of Moche, Kushite, and Etruscan civilizations. He has won the Hugo, Chesley, Spectrum, and World Fantasy Awards. Solo exhibitions of his artwork have been presented at the Smithsonian Institution, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the Norton Museum of Art. He has recently been named a “Grand Master” by Spectrum Fantastic Arts and a "Living Master” by the Art Renewal Center. His book, Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painte was Amazon’s #1 bestselling book on painting for over 150 weeks and is based on his daily blog.

Space is limited, reserve your seat!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Potions, Poisons, and Panaceas - soon on display!

Medicinal and Pharmacological Botanical Illustrations
(Helleborus orientalis 'Ivory Prince', Susan Curnutte - watercolor and graphite)

Opening Reception: September 8, 2016, 3-6 p.m.
Fulginity Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus,
13080 East 19th Avenue, Aurora, Colorado 80045
(please click to enlarge)

Friday, August 26, 2016

August Activities

(Five Pyrus communis cultivars, watercolor by Susan Willis)

You can get a little glimpse of what has happened in our classroom during August by clicking here.

 From the Gardens succulent selection, graphite by Charlotte Ricker (in progress)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

7th Annual Arts and Archives Tour, April 18 - May 1, 2017

Quercus petraea, sessile oakPlate #2667 from Flora Danica, published between 1761 and 1883. It was aimed for popular education in the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, and the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Read more about it here

This time we are exploring the arts, design and archives of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Berlin (Germany) with surroundings. The detailed daily program and special, for this group designed tours are under final development, however you can expect the following be included:
1. April 18-24 Copenhagen (Accommodation at Hotel Vesterbro, a superior first class hotel)
- Glyptoteque and Tracking the Colour Project
- Fredriksberg's Castle, the largest Renaissance Castle in Scandinavia. It also since 1878 has housed the Museum of Natural History
- National Museum of Natural History of Denmark (The Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum & Library, and the Zoological Museum)
- National Gallery of Denmark and Cotterfer Codex, the conservator and the Royal Collection (one of the oldest collections of its kind)
- We'll visit Odense where Hand Christian Andersen's Museum is and Roskilde, Denmarks first capital
We spend one day in Sweden visiting University of Lund Archives  and Swedish Agricultural University in Alnarp

A patent of nobility from 1629, granted by Charles I of England to the brothers Jacob and Patrik Forbus. From the De la Gardie collection, University Library, University of Lund.


 From the Örtengren Collection which is a collection of books, mainly in the field of pomology, fruit growing, and related subjects, once owned by the business man Sven Helmer Örtengren (1852-1922).
- we'll see also the Wooden Library, xylothek 

Train Transport to Berlin (First class, express)

2. April 24 - May 1 Berlin (Accomodation in Maritim Hotel, a superior first class hotel)
- Natural History Museum and Collections (Botanical and geological departments with libraries)
- Brothers Grimm
- Botanic Gardens Herbarium and Collections
- Humbolt University and  Brothers Grimm
- Checkpoint Charlie
- We'll visit Potsdam and Fredrick the Great's Palaces
(From Flora Danica)

The Price: $2830* (double occupancy)
The above package includes breakfast, internet access, tax and service fee in hotels; first class rail ticket, local transportation to destinations; entry fees, tour fees and basic no-trip cost travel insurance (upgraded policies available for an additional cost).  

The trip is limited to 12 people only and it is sold out. If you are interested please let me know and I'll add your name to the waiting list. In 2018 we travel to Southern Spain (Grenada, Seville etc.) and Morocco - you can already put your name on the list if you plan to come with!

The Royal Palace, Potsdam

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Edible: Botanical Art & Illustration

(Aubergine, Constance Sayas, watercolor)


You are cordially invited to submit work to the jurying process for the annual botanical illustration exhibition, this year featuring edible plants. Your dedication to mastering the skills of this art form and illustration makes us extremely proud, and we would like to showcase your success in a public venue.

November 20, 2016—February 12, 2017
Venue: Denver Botanic Gardens, Gates Garden Court Gallery
Reception: November 20, 2–3 p.m. 
We welcome artists who have participated in courses at Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration between June 2014 and July 2016 or are an active participant in the Botanical Illustration community. Artworks of all levels and in any media taught in the school are welcome.

As the title suggests, illustrations will feature plants that are edible. This may include plants used directly for consumption – vegetables, fruits, seeds, mushrooms, etc. – as well plants used as components of foods, including spices, plants used for flavorings or food colors, and infusions. Less conventionally edible plants, for example plants traditionally considered weeds, or those that are not commonly known to be edible, are also welcome. Plants that are consumed for non-food purposes, such as plants used as poisons or for their psychoactive properties, will not be considered for this exhibition. Please note that this call extends to plants that can specifically be eaten by humans – plants for animal consumption are not included in the scope of this exhibition. 
We welcome all submissions whether traditionally based or contemporary, and we are eager to see edible plants that have been eaten in a variety of cultures. Please refer all questions to Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski.

All media taught in the Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration are accepted. All artwork must be original. No photography or digitally generated work will be accepted. No giclée prints or offset lithographs considered.

If scale is included on the plate, only metric units are allowed.

Submission Method and format:
Each artist may submit three two-dimensional entries for juror consideration. Digital files only. Entries must be submitted digitally via™, also known as CaFÉ™. CaFÉ™ is a web-based service that has detailed on-line submission instructions and a team of professionals available to address your tech support needs. A complete submission includes a completed entry form and digital image for each entry. Images must be submitted as JPG files only, minimum of 1920 pixels on the longest side and 5.0 MB maximum with artist’s last name and title of artwork as the file name (e.g., Smith_Planta communis).

Submissions accepted:
August 22nd — September 5th, 2016

Submission Deadline:
11:59pm, September 5th, 2016, Mountain Daylight Time.

The jury will consist of Denver Botanic Gardens’ curatorial staff. The work will be judged according to the standards of the media (typically composition, technical skills, and botanical accuracy), along with thematic relevance.

Presentation, Size and Format:           
Upon acceptance to the exhibition, artists will submit matted artwork only; no frame. Mats must be 4- or 8-ply white rag (no cream or off-white mats), fitting exactly into a 16” x 20” frame (interior measurement). Pieces must be matted with both a backing board and a face mat and must be appropriately and securely attached within the matting—hinging and photo corners are both acceptable. Please do not submit matting with any loose elements, i.e. backing board or face mat not attached or piece not secured inside the matting.

Any housing submitted with artwork must have your name clearly written on it—we cannot guarantee the return of housing without a label. Artists juried into the exhibition will receive detailed information and requirements upon notification.

Delivery and Insurance:
Delivery requirements will be detailed with acceptance notices. While on site, artwork is insured by Denver Botanic Gardens. For insurance purposes, a valuation of your piece MUST be on file. Please complete this portion of the entry form accurately upon submission.

Publicity and Catalog:
Images submitted for this exhibition may be used in a catalog or publicity in print or electronic form for the exhibition and may be used for promoting the exhibition before, during and after its run without further permission being sought.

Contact with questions.
Please direct all technical questions about submitting your work to

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Amorphophallus titanum at Denver Botanic Gardens

Amorphophallus titanum on August 5th, at 10:20 p.m. after starting to slowly open earlier in the afternoon (5:20 p.m.)

If you are in the Denver area during this weekend (August 6-7) stop by Denver Botanic Gardens and see the blooming corpse flower - Amorphophallus titanum. Peek in Marnie's Pavilion and you can see and smell it. Last night at 10:20 p.m. the smell was already very strong.
Earlier (1 p.m.) on August 5th we did the daily measurements: the spadix had only grown 1/2" since yesterday, the total height was now almost 64" (click to enlarge)

The spathe was truly beautiful and had started to loosen slightly (1 p.m., Aug 5)

What about our Stinky, Amorphophallus titanum that bloomed last year? It has rested one year and now entering the leaf state. The leaflets are starting to separate. It is tall, strong and monumental.
(Please click to enlarge)