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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Potions, Poisons and Panaceas


This fall the School of Botanical Art and Illustration joined with the Art Gallery at the Fulginity Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities on the Anschutz Medical Campus (University of Colorado) to produce an exhibition of contemporary botanical illustrations entitled Poisons, Potions and Panaceas, featuring plants with medicinal properties.
You can see the exhibit including the outstanding interpretation on-line by clicking here, you can also find an icon to the exhibit on the right hand column.

This exhibition - Potions, Poisons and Panaceas - highlights both the medical and pharmaceutical properties of certain plants, revives our sense of awe when confronted by the beauty and mystery of nature, as well as it introduces us to an art-form that - though it retains many of its characteristic historical qualities - has evolved and incorporated many aspects and assumptions of modernity.
Simon Zalkind, Curator of Exhibitions
Fulginity Center for Bioethics and Humanities

Historical Ties between Botanical Illustration and Medicine
The origins of botanical illustration and the science of botany progressed alongside the history of medicine, especially pharmacology, in ancient Greece. In the 4th century BCE, Diokles of Carystus compiled the earliest known herbal, a medicinal reference manual for botanical study and plant identification. This work, and so many of its successors, have not survived. Although we do not know about the quality and accuracy of these illustrations, we do know that very early on, the Greek herbalists realized the power of the image.
The period of exploration and discovery in the 18th and 19th centuries is said to be the golden age of botanical and nature illustration. Thousands of plates and sketches were produced by skilled naturalists while exploring unknown parts of the world. Today an estimated 391,000 plant species are known for science of which nearly 21,000 have a documented usage in medicine. The documentation work is ongoing even today, and the search for new species continues.
The botanical illustrations that accompany scholarly works have a clear purpose of species identification with the artist acting as the hand and eye of the researcher. Botanical illustration, like any scientific illustration, requires accuracy, realism and objectivity, as opposed to emotion and sensitivity that is often found in other art fields. The illustrator’s ability to observe and accurately record details has proven to be superior to the detail found in a photograph.

Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Manager of the School of Botanical Art & Illustration
(Image: Susan Curnutte, watercolor and graphite)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Focus on Nature XIV (December 3, 2016 - April 9, 2017)

(click the image to download the exhibit catalog, pdf 8.6 MB)

Focus on Nature is a juried biennial exhibit for natural and cultural history illustrators at the New York State Museum in Jamestown, NY and opens for public tomorrow December 3rd.
This time 65 artists around the world were selected to exhibit, among those are two of our instructors, Randy Raak and Susan Rubin. From our Colorado community also Dorothy DePaulo, Tiffany Miller Russel and Heidi Snyder are represented in the exhibit as well as our 2016 artist-in-resident Lauren Bassing.

On the left Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelio decaocto) by Randy Raak and to the right Mountain Golden Banner, High Altitude Bee (Thermopsis montana, Bombus balteatus) by Susan Rubin

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Teaching in El Charco del Ingenio

Since 2009 we have been teaching in El Charco de Ingenio Botanical Garden in San Miguel, GTO Mexico. This is in collaboration with El Charco and a part of Denver Botanic Gardens'  Center of Global Initiatives. Tomorrow, November 28th, we start again a 5-day course in Botanical Illustration.



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our best wishes to you and yours for a beautiful and happy Thanksgiving

(Lyn Williamson, colored pencil, page #37 in the SBAI 2016 Chronicles)

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) has been admired for centuries as a symbol of health, fertility, and resurrection; Theophrastus and Pliny consider the pomegranate a valuable plant both for beauty and for its medicinal properties. Historically, the pomegranate tree’s bark has been a source for tannin used in curing leather and its rind and flowers used as a textile dye.
It is estimated that pomegranate domestication began in the Neolithic era. Pomegranates are thought to have been domesticated initially in the Transcaucasian-Caspian region and northern Turkey. Evidence for using pomegranates in the Middle East is dated at over 5,000 years ago. Pomegranate artifacts and relics dating to 3000 BCE and on were found in Egypt, Israel Armenia, and Mesopotamia. Spanish sailors brought pomegranates to the New World, and Spanish Jesuit missionaries introduced pomegranates into Mexico and California in the 1700s
The pomegranate is used as a staple fruit in Armenian households worldwide. The Color of a Pomegranate, directed by Parajanov, is one of the gems in Armenian film history, and in Armenian mythology, the pomegranate symbolizes fertility and abundance. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Congratulations to the 2016 Botanical Illustration Graduates!

 (from left: Kathleen Harrington, Mary Barnes, Lisa Bird, Kristi Czajkowski, Anne-Marie Nishi, Mary Francis, Deanna Gammon, Sally Grew, Kirk Pfeffer, Charlotte Ricker, Claire Shieve, Susan Willis. Annette Woodward missing from the picture)

Today thirteen Botanical Illustration Graduates received their Foundational Certificates from the School of Botanical Art and Illustration at Denver Botanic Gardens. 
We are impressed with the graduates’ competence level and Denver Botanic Gardens is thoroughly proud of their accomplishments.
The graduation and award ceremony was followed by the opening reception for the annual juried botanical illustration art show.

Charlotte Ricker had the best overall 2016 portfolio and she also received the 2016 Sydney Parkinson Award (part  of  Mary Francis' portfolio seen in the background)  
Our guest speaker at the event, Peggy Turchette, a former SBAI-graduate gave an inspirational presentation to the graduates. She described how her 20-year career as a botanical illustrator became a bridge to her work in creating historically informed costumes of Anna Pavlova, world famous ballerina. 
 After the graduation ceremonies we had an enjoyable reception for our annual BI-exhibit (photo: A. Brill)

The 2016 Botanical Illustration exhibit is called Edible and is on display until February 12, 2017 (photo: A.Brill)
Lively interpretations of the subject matter - (photo: A.Brill)


A more complete presentation of the graduates work will be on-line shortly.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Winter Spring 2017 Course Catalog is Out


The printable course catalog can be downloaded by following this link. Registration for the 2017 Winter/Spring classes starts on December 13th, 9 a.m.; until then the classes show as if they were sold out. You can register on-line by following this link, calling or in person (Dec. 13th, 9 a.m.).

Friday, November 11, 2016

Color, line and some stipples


(Chris Ruch, watercolor)

 It does not happen every year in Colorado that we can collect hollyhocks from our garden and paint them. We are experiencing an extremely sunny, dry and warm November without any frost nights in the Frontrange area yet.
You can see some examples of the exercises from few recently completed classes  by clicking here.
(Eileen Yelverton, pen and ink)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cafe Botanique, November 2, 6:30-8 p.m.



The Inspired World of Beatrix Potter
Connie Ryle Neumann

This year celebrates the 150th birthday of Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), the famous creator of the British children's classic "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and other little books, penned over 100 years ago. However, there was much more to the shy but observant Victorian lady whose pursuits in botanical illustration and Lakeland farm conservation broadened her literary legacy. Potter documented the natural world of England and Scotland in her journals, her letters, her little "bunny books" and her vast portfolio of fungi, woodland animals, gardens and landscape paintings. Through slides and readings Connie Neumann will introduce the inspired and imaginative world of Beatrix Potter.

Connie Ryle Neumann served as a school teacher and librarian for over 30 years in Texas, Germany and Colorado. She is a member of the international Beatrix Potter Society and has traveled and studied British children's authors and illustrators since the 1980s.

Wednesday, November 2, 6:30-8 p.m. 
Gates Hall

Monday, October 24, 2016

Egg Tempera in Botanical Illustration and Icons

 Phalaenopsis by Laurence Pierson, egg tempera

Egg tempera techniques have been part of our school curriculum for several years with convincing results. Last fall we expanded our offerings by including Byzantine iconography in our program. This is one of the oldest art forms to survive unchanged for the past 2000 years. The technique uses gessoed wood panels with genuine gold leaf and egg tempera made from natural pigments. 

Our core-watercolor teacher Laurence Pierson has over twenty years' experience in icon painting and working in egg tempera. She studied iconography at the Louvre, Paris, under a Lebanese master. Later, she studied with a Greek and a Chilean iconographer, and thus was exposed to different schools and different techniques while refining her own approach. Laurence has taught in France and Ireland, and since 2013, at the School of Botanical Art and Illustration in Denver.

by Laurence Pierson
During November 28-December 2 Laurence has been invited to teach an icon painting class in Saltzburg, Austria. Please see the announcement below or connect to the registration website by clicking here.