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

Monday, January 22, 2018

Explore the William and Beatrice Thurston Orchid Collection with Karen May

 (Encyclia asperula added to the Denver Botanic Gardens' collection in 1977 with an accession # 772068*1, photo: M. Hjelmroos-Koski)

Exploring the William and Beatrice Thurston Orchid Collection with Karen May 

Sunday, January 28, 1-2:30 p.m.  
Gates Hall

In connection with the Orchid Showcase, join Karen May as she shares her research on Denver Botanic Gardens’ William and Beatrice Thurston Orchid Collection. Through field notes, photographs, specimens and botanical illustrations, learn more about this unique collection and the Thurstons’ passion for orchids.

Karen May received the Foundational Certificate in Botanical Illustration from Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art & Illustration in 2012. This presentation is part of her work towards a diploma in Botanical Illustration.

Café Botanique is a program within the School of Botanical Art and Illustration and is open to everyone. The 30-40 minute talk starts at 1 p.m. and is followed by a discussion. Café Botanique generally meets on select Wednesdays, each time with a different topic relating to Denver Botanic Gardens’ Botanical Illustration curriculum. Registration is mandatory.

Reserve your seat by following this link.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Welcome the Spring - Create a Garden Flag

(Libby Kyer, colored pencil)

Nothing welcomes spring and adds early color to your garden like a floral flag fluttering in the breeze. Banners and garden flags are a great way to display your personality as well as add color to your yard, porch or garden. They add that extra flair to your home.

Join Libby for a weekend of exploration and creativity that will energize your art. Create your own unique flag, working in colored pencil on paper or Pastel Board. Learn to create an image that sings spring. Then, using your own art, you’ll design your flag. Once digitized, your design will be printed on fabric.
Register here for the remaining seats.
(Libby Kyer, colored pencil)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2018 Artist in Residence positions with School of Botanical Art and Illustration!

Pleurothallis sp., a new orchid species from Colombia (done for an article by Prof. Mark Wilson, Colorado) that Işık Güner, Turkey rendered during her residency in 2017 at Denver Botanic Gardens, watercolor (please click to enlarge).

This is an exciting opportunity for up to three illustrators/artists to get involved in the daily happenings at Denver Botanic Gardens. Residents will document the day-to-day progress and changes in the Rocky Mountain plant world, interpreting 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 the environment some may never visit. The works completed under this residency contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of our gardens, and offer an opportunity to see our activities through the eyes of the contributing residents.
Thesummer 2018 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 (including 3-day illustration course for botanical illustration students)
· 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.
Ratibida columnifera,  watercolor by Işık Güner, completed during Işık's residency in 2017 (Please click to enlarge)

Outdoor/Indoor studio space, access to the Gardens’ library, herbaria, classroom and Science Pyramid.

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 $3,250 for each 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.
One completed original work from each selected illustrator/artist will become property of Denver Botanic Gardens.

The resident holds the copyright and maintains intellectual property 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 with proper artist credit. When the resident reproduces artwork 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 residencies are open to all illustrators/artists who have completed a certificate program in scientific illustration, botanical art and illustration, nature illustration or equivalent. Artists working in all media, including three dimensional applications, will be considered. The instructors of Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration are not eligible for the residency.

Line drawing of Pleurothallis sp., Işık Günerink  (done for an article by Prof. Mark Wilson, Colorado) - please click to enlarge
The application 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
·         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 Residency 2018 in the subject line.

Closing date for submissions: February 28, 2018
Selection completed by March 15, 2018

Graphite sketch of Yucca glauca, Işık Güner during her residency in 2017 at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Joris Hoefnagel and Drawing on Tradition

2018 - New Year's theme, Susan Pinkney-Todd, ink

In our series Drawing in Tradition we concentrated in the style of Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1601) and the students created a composition with their own special treasures combining with calligraphic elements.
Joris Hoefnagel was a self-taught artist and was considered one of the first still life artists. He was a true Renaissance man, born in Belgium to wealthy merchant parents and was able to travel a lot when he was young. Hoefnagel traveled also with cartographer Abraham Ortelius recording his experiences in topographical drawings. Later he was hired as a court artist by Albrecht V, duke of Bavaria. In 1591 Hoefnagel was appointed court artist to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to illuminate calligraphic texts. Hoefnagel was celebrated for his accurate studies of flora and fauna.

To see some of the works from this class, please click here.

by Yvonne Slifka, ink

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Genetic Diversity and Cannabis sativa - January 10, 6:30 p.m.

Cannabis sativa: What genetics tell us about the “devil’s lettuce”
Anna Schabe, M.S., UNC, Greely

Cannabis sativa is a multi-billion dollar crop, and yet, relatively little is understood about genetic relationships among varietals and the wide phenotypic diversity within the species. Decades of prohibition have severely delayed Cannabis research, and, as such, there are large gaps in our scientific understanding of this incredibly important plant. Multiple genetic studies show variation within strains, which is problematic for consumers expecting specific effects.

Anna Schwabe, M.S. is a doctoral candidate at the University of Northern Colorado. Anna has strong connections with Denver Botanic Gardens as she is not only a graduate of the School of Botanical Art & Illustration, but she is also the former manager of the Research and Conservation genetics lab. Although she wears many hats, she considers herself an evolutionary biologist. Her current research uses a multifaceted approach to determine relationships in Cannabis sativa. Ultimately, she aims to answer questions surrounding variation observed within strains of plants that are largely propagated through cloning.
Wednesday, January 10, 6:30-8 p.m.
Gates Hall
Follow this link to reserve your seat 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018!

The preview of our 2016 SBAI Chronicles pages is almost over, we have only one page left to present after this posting.  In the coming months we are launching the Chronicles II Kickstarter project to facilitate the publication of this amazing collection of art. Our (stretch) goal will fund our Artist-in-Residency program for the coming years:

Zinnia by Lesley MacGregor, colored pencil; Plate #75 in SBAI 2016 Chronicles

Zinnias are native mainly to Mexico; however the wild zinnias grow from southwestern Colorado in the north to Guatemala in the south. The wild Zinnia species are much more modest than the varieties and cultivars that we grow in our gardens today. Pre-Colombian cultures used zinnia leaves and flowers as medicinal and ritual herbs. The Aztecs living in Mexico City grew zinnias in their gardens at the time of the Spanish occupation.  Many of the southwestern tribes used zinnias for dyes and paints.
It is not clear when Zinnia for the first time was introduced to Europe but it is confirmed that the plant was brought from Peru to France in the early 1700s.  The Zinnia seeds spread quickly throughout Europe. Linnaeus published the genus in his Systema Naturae (1759)and attributed the genus to the German anatomist and botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn, who at the time was director of the Botanic garden of the University of Göttingen.
Several other wild Zinnia species were introduced to France during 1800s and by 1856 the French had developed the first double forms of the flower.  In 1876 the German seed company Haage and Schmidt introduced several Zinnia hybrids that they called Zinnia darwini, this cross was originally developed in France in 1864.
In 1798, when the first zinnia seeds were offered for sale to the public in the United States the Americans were not interested.  In 1876 the Henry A. Dreer seed house of Philadelphia started selling several varieties of Zinnia seeds and these multicolored varieties are still available today. The real breakthrough for Zinnia happened when the natural mutation ‘Mammoth’ zinnias became available in the early 1900s.
Today we have 22 accepted Zinnia species in addition to over 100 cultivars. 

Please click here to see the 74 additional plates.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas to All Our Readers

Scratchboard by Peg Christon

Cones are tightly connected to Holiday traditions all over the world. Here you can see some of the challenging subjects produced mostly on our scratchboard class, please click here.

Scratchboard by Susan Carr

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Color for the Holiday Week

Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata group) by Irene Young, colored pencil

After two weeks we can write 2018! Please click here to see some finished work from our end of the year classes

Textile/gift wrap/wallpaper pattern by Susan Willis from our class inspired by John Lockwood from Indian Arts and Crafts movement, colored pencil

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

America's Flora opening in May 2018

Yucca harrimaniae, Constance Sayas, 2017, watercolor and graphite

Katherine Tyrrell will be blogging about the artists whose artwork has been selected as a part of the Botanical Art Worldwide exhibit. Her first post is about the 43 USA artists who were selected for the America's Flora exhibition which is opening in May 2018 at the US Botanical Gardens in Washington D.C.
In addition to Constance Sayas, our gifted watercolor instructor, three illustrators from Colorado are included: Dorothy DePaolo, Sharon Garrett and Vanessa Martin!

Please read more by following this link.
Congratulations to all!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Pencil I and beyond - registrations for 2018 BI-classes opens tomorrow!

Jacaranda seedpod by Michelle Wysocki, graphite (Pencil I)

 Gladiolus by Laura Matthews, graphite (Pencil II)

Autumn leaves in Watercolor: Grape leaf painted by Pauline Edwards; on the right a photo of the specimen few weeks after Pauline started her painting it. Here the decay has proceeded further. 
You can see more pictures from our recent completed classes by following this link.   

Tomorrow, December 5th, 9 a.m. you can sign up for 2018 Winter/Spring Botanical Illustration 
courses at Denver Botanic Gardens. Please follow this link. to registration for all classes  - 
You can find the downloadable course catalog by clicking here.