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

Friday, February 17, 2017

From Entry Level to more complex techniques

H for a Hummingbird (Mixed media by Christine Hubbell) 

Basic illumination techniques explored the symbolism and traditional components of this ancient design form which typically incorporated floral elements along margins and around capital letters. The students designed a personal illumination in this traditional style. By clicking here you can see more examples from this class.

We have also learned to see textures and recreate those using colored pencils on Mylar film which is very different form paper surface. Mylar’s translucence and the new way of working gave a unexpected addition to these students’ toolbox. Please click here to see samples of textures.  Finally some examples from our entry level drawing class, in many cases these well rendered tulips are the artist’s first attempt to draw a botanical subject.  

(Colored Pencil Textures on Mylar by Penelope Yerigan)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Royal Horticulture Society's 2017 Botanical Art Show

Royal Horticulture Society is hosting their annual Botanical Art Show in the Lindley Hall next week, February 24 and 25th with a preview on Thursday, February 23, 6-9 p.m.
The 29 participants from 10 different countries are listed here
This year there are only two exhibitors from the United States.
The trade stands at the Botanical Art show are highlighted here.

Please plan to visit and stop by to say HI!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Closing Reception with a Silent Auction

(Susan Curnutte, watercolor)

Edibles Closing Reception with a Silent Auction on Saturday,
February 11th, 3-5 p.m.


 (please, click the image to enlarge)
If you click here, you can see more examples of what we have included in this auction. The auction proceeds will go to the SBAI Artist in Residency and scholarship funds. Bids will start at $1. The unsold items will go to the Rocky Mountain Land Library

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Illustrated Urban Gardens - Call for Entries

Eileen Richardson, watercolor


In conjunction with the Annual Old Town Lafayette Garden Tour, the School of Botanical Art &Illustration ispartnering with theCity of Lafayette to produce an exhibition of contemporary botanical illustrations highlighting plants that are illustrative of theurban homesteading movement. Possible subjects might include urban vegetable gardens, companion plants, backyard livestock, and bee hives.

June 1 – June 29, 2017
Venue: City of Lafayette, Collective Community Art Center

We welcome artists who have participated in courses at Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration. Artworks of all levels and in any media taught in the school are welcome.

Urban homesteading has become a highly popular alternative to consumer-focused lifestyle. Studies report that every $1 invested in a community garden plot yields approximately $6 worth of vegetables. 800 million people worldwide grow vegetables or fruits or raise animals in cities, producing 15 to 20 percent of the world’s food. Urban gardening can not only be an easy way to support pollinators but can also reduce one’s environmental impact by returning to a home-based, self-sufficient way of life. Around a third of crops we eat depend on bees and other pollinators to thrive. Some plants’ leaves attract pollinators even when they are not flowering—oregano, radish, for example—or plant squash, green beans and apple trees to invite pollinators to the garden. This exhibition will include plants identified as pollinator friendly and illustrations based upon themes of urban homesteading. We welcome all submissions whether traditionally based, contemporary, or “experimental” and we are eager to see a wide variety of thematic representations. 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 up to five 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:
April 1—April 30, 2017

Submission Deadline:
11:59pm, April 30, 2017, Mountain Daylight Time.

TBA. The work will be judged according to the standards of the media (typically composition, technical skills, and botanical accuracy), along with thematic relevance.

Acceptances and regrets will be sent via e-mail by May 9, 2016.

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.
Delivery and Insurance:
Delivery requirements will be detailed with acceptance notices.Artwork is insured by Denver Botanic Gardens during transportation and by the City of Lafayette while on site at the gallery.

Publicity: Images submitted for this exhibition may be used in 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 to

Friday, January 27, 2017

Protect your Copyrights

If you have not yet responded to the Library of Congress survey, please do so now, the deadline is on Tuesday, January 31. You only have three (3) questions to answer. If you are pondering what to answer or if you like to read more, please follow this link.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Darwin in cafe Botanique, February 1st, 6:30-8 p.m.

Travels of a Darwin Groupie
Michon Scott, NSIDC, Boulder

"You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family," Charles Darwin's dad once told him. Darwin failed to become a doctor, but he succeeded in changing how we see life on Earth. Darwin developed the theory central to understanding biology, all the while trying to live down the reputation of his quirky, libertine grandfather. Michon Scott will share her experiences on Galapagos Islands and also talk about evolution, Charles Darwin’s life, and about his grandfather Erasmus Darwin.

Michon Scott is a science writer for and a web designer at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). In her spare time, she maintains a site about the history of paleontology and biology 
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Denver Botanic Gardens – Gates Hall
6:30-8 p.m.

Reserve your seat by clicking here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 Artist in Residence positions with School of Botanical Art and Illustration

Phacelia sp. , pen and ink by Lauren Bassing, our 2016 artist in residence. Lauren was mainly working with  with Phacelia in our research department and produced illustrations for scientific publications. She also taught a 3-day workshop in How to work with herbarium specimens. (Please click the image to enlarge)

This is an exciting avenue for an illustrator/artist to get involved in the daily happenings at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The resident has the opportunity to document the day-to-day progress and changes in the Rocky Mountain plant world, translating the botanic gardens’ purpose as a place of preservation, conservation, education and diversity into images or works which bring others enjoyment and a deeper understanding of an environment some may never visit. The works completed under this residency contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of our collections and the broader environment we care for and offer an opportunity to see our activities through the eyes of the contributing residents.

The summer 2017 residency provides an opportunity for the selected illustrator/artist to get involved in a variety of activities at the Denver Botanic Gardens, from participation in open studios, demonstrations and educational projects in the classroom or the Science Pyramid to developing a blog or other online documentation.

The resident is expected to contribute to the established priorities of Denver Botanic Gardens, negotiated and tailored to the resident’s own personal interests. The residency could involve participation in any of the following:
·         Participation in Open Studios and presenting work in progress
·         Educational workshops
·         Demonstrations for the public
·         Working with illustrations for scientific publications

  • The illustrator/artist is expected to spend five days/week on site, although this can vary from week to week depending on other professional commitments by prior agreement.
  • The residency may involve presence during evenings and weekends.
  • The resident must provide their own supplies, equipment, and logistics for their activities during the residency.

Outdoor studio space, access to the Gardens’ library, herbaria and the classroom.

This call for illustrators offers two residency opportunities, each for a period of six weeks:
1. July 10 – August 15 
2. September 11 – October 16

The residency provides a stipend of $3,000 for the selected illustrator/artist to be used for both housing and materials.

·     If the resident is from one of 62 countries with Tax Treaty benefits and the resident has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), resident needs to complete Form 8233.
·     If the above does not apply, the international resident must complete Form W-8BEN and the Gardens will need to withhold 30% of your payment, which you can apply to get refunded after the tax year.
·     The resident needs to be proficient in English to gain the most from the experience.

At least one completed original work from the selected illustrator/artist will become property of Denver Botanic Gardens.

The resident reserves the copyright of the produced illustrations, but will give written permission to Denver Botanic Gardens to use or print images for publicity, publication, or retail product development. When the resident reproduces artwork created during the residency for their own purposes, publication information will include the language: “This artwork was produced under the Artist-In-Residence Program at Denver Botanic Gardens.”

The residency is open to all illustrators/artists who have completed a certificate of botanical art or illustration (or equivalent). Artists who have completed a certificate program in scientific illustration or nature illustration (or equivalent) are also eligible. The instructors of Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration are not eligible for the residency.

The application form should include:
·         A description of how you will respond to the opportunity and how this opportunity will develop your practice (not more than 500 words in length, typed and double spaced).
·         CV with two references
·         Link to your website and/or blog
·         Five (5) examples of recent work in a low-resolution format (not to exceed 2MB per image)
·         Your preference for the residency time period
Please email your application to with “Illustrator in Residence 2017” in the subject line.

Closing date for submissions: February 28, 2017
Selection completed by March 15, 2017

Three of John Pastoriza-Pinol's 13 plates that he completed during his 6-week Artist in Residence period in 2016. John also taught a  3-day workshop on Intricacies of Fine Detail with watercolor.

John is demonstrating how he gets the aerial perspective right - Asiatic lily in making. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 classes have started...something for everybody

Phalaeonopsis orchid by Joanna Webster, watercolor

After a well deserved Holiday  break the activities in the Hibiscus classroom have resumed. We are working towards the longer days and warmer evenings. If you wish to take a illustration class you can find our 2017 winter/spring catalog here and you can register on-line by clicking here
As for inspiration you can page through some entry level and advanced student work from the end of 2016. 
 Cathleen Harrington, carbon dust

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2017!

I'm re-posting my blog from many years ago as I wish all our readers Happy New Year 2017!

Since 1753 the Gregorian calendar has been in use in Finland and January 1st has been the first day of the year. Traditionally the night proceeding the first day of the year has been the time for magical tricks with the intention to open the door to the future.

Casting of tin is one of the most popular magical tricks in Finland on New Year's Eve. Everyone gets a small piece of tin (Sn) in the shape of a miniature horseshoe, which is a traditional symbol of good luck. The horseshoe is melted and the liquid metal poured quickly into a bucket of cold water, where it quickly solidifies in fantastic shapes.
The shape and shadow of the resulting cast is examined and interpreted to predict the various future events of the coming year. Different shapes have different meaning, promising good luck or health, wealth, happiness, sorrow, sickness etc. If the cast breaks down to pieces, it is a sign of "bad luck".
This tradition originates in ancient Greece. These Magical Tricks were later spread to Central Europe and today probably only used in Finland. Instead of tin also beeswax and lead (Pb) were used.

(my tin casting from the New Year's Eve prior to a BIG numbered birthday: sometimes the shape is obvious without a shadow interpretation)  

Friday, December 30, 2016

Our 2016 Graduates

(Echeveria secunda - graphite by Charlotte Ricker)

In 2016 thirteen students (Mary Barnes, Lisa Bird, Kristi Czajkowski, Mary Dee Francis, Deanna Gammon, Sally Grew, Cathleen Harrington, Anne-Marie T. Nishi, Kirk R. Peffer, Charlotte Ricker, Claire Dellinger Shive, Susan Willis, Annette Woodward) received their Foundational Certificate in Botanical Illustration from the School of Botanical Art and Illustration at Denver Botanic Gardens. 

Each portfolio included five plates: graphite, pen and ink, colored pencil, watercolor and artist choice - they are all presented here (You can also access the page from the right hand column).

(Tragopogon porrifolius - colored pencil by Deanna Gammon)