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

Friday, August 9, 2019

Colored Pencils from Basics to Advanced Learning

(Jewel boxes from entry level colored pencil by Peggy Delaney )
After learning the basic drawing skills and color layering for colored pencils our students have the possibility to start with the entry level colored pencil. The typical is that each student selects several botanical subjects for small studies. We call these studies for jewel boxes which also provide an excellent opportunity to practice composition with both form and color. Our electives are designed to increase student’s knowledge, ability and experience in Botanical illustration and related fields. We recommend that the students integrate the elective curriculum with the required courses and take the relevant courses simultaneously with the mandatory courses for our Foundational Certificate in Botanical Illustration. This summer among our colored pencil electives focusing on techniques were practicing analogous colors, drawing from reference photos, and documenting our living lavender collection. This collection includes 19 different lavender varieties and over 2000 lavender plants . Some of these electives require a completed advanced colored pencil techniques course.
Please click here to see some finished or in-process work from our colored pencil classes during this summer.

Lavendula angustifolia by Susan Willis

Monday, July 29, 2019

Murals to Inspire

Our mural painting team with their instructor after the 3-day hard work 

Murals are typically art applied directly to wall, ceiling or other permanent surface. The earliest known murals are the Paleolithic cave paintings some 40,000 BCE. Masters like Leonardo Da Vinci (Last Supper) and Michelangelo Buonarroti (Last Judgement, The Creation of Adam, and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel) produced murals during the Renaissance period.
 It is during Mexican Muralism that murals got a new dimension as a powerful visual communication tool, through the large paintings of “the great three”: Diego RiveraJosé Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, at that time murals became the most important form of expression, and the subject of controversy and always a symbol of solidarity, freedom and hope.  
Today murals are an important form of public art with styles varying from abstract to trompe l’oeil.  In Denver the annual Crush Walls festival is spotlighting local, national, and international artist to bring the streets of RiNo district to life and has created hundreds of inspiring murals in that area since 2009. Read more about Crush Walls by clicking here.

Our school had during the past weekend the privilege to offer a workshop on the basics of painting murals. One of our instructors is a mural painter focusing mostly on botanical material and was willing to share her trade secrets with twelve students. The initial plan was to practice on our classroom wall and then paint it over during our annual maintenance week. The Zinnia-wall will stay without immediate over painting -Congratulations Zinnia-Team!!! 



Adding the furniture on its place makes a big difference and the decision weather or not the wall was going to be painted over immediately was easy to make.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Time for Color -

(Karen Mahnken, transparent acrylics)

This time mostly water media: Poppies in transparent acrylics; White flowers in watercolor; Poetry of Flowers in our drawing on tradition tradition series, this one focusing on Emily Dickinson's poetry with illustration techniques inspired by Dugald Stermer, and finally Pelargoniums in Watercolor. 



Rebecca Swain, watercolor

Irma Sturgel, watercolor pencil and graphite

Sue Carr, watercolor

For more pictures from these classes , please click here

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Santa Fe Folk Art Market: Appreciation of Cultural Heritage

Entrance to the Museum Hill International Folk Art Market

 Last weekend a group of SBAI-community traveled to Santa Fe, NM mainly to visit the International Folk-Art Market, IFAM (July 13, 2019). With traditional hand crafts from 53 different countries by 178 artists, this annual event at the Museum Hill in Santa Fe sold 40,000 + tickets.
This was the first year for the US to participate, with five US-born artists invited by the four different museums at the Museum Hill plus the School of Advanced Research. 
IFAM in Santa Fe was born 15 years ago (2003) and is a high-quality craft market. It gets over 600 applications annually and the exhibitors are selected through an effective two-jury system: (a) Selection Committee comprised by experienced museum curators and gallerists who judge each applicant for excellence and strong roots in folk tradition. (b) Placement Committee consists  of retailers and merchants who are looking for geographic diversity, media, price, and aesthetic.
This was a beautiful enriching experience, exceptionally operated and arranged. Over 1700 volunteers contributed to the success.
Samples of Kaitag and Caucasian silk embroidery, also called Armenian embroidery. It displays very fine detailed work with complex stitching originating in the mid 18th century. The motifs are derived from Ottoman and Persian art. Since 2004  group of women have been successfully working to save the art form from extinction. The silk is all naturally dyed. (Mehmet Cetinkaya Gallery, Turkey) 

The day before, we visited the Museum of International Folk Art including the Alexander Girard exhibition: A Designer’s Universe. The exhibition surveys Girard’s life and the connections to Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll, and Jack Larsen. His work for Herman MillerCompany, John Deere, and some private clients are also highlighted. We had the opportunity to explore the Girard Wing with around 10,000 objects representing roughly one tenth of the collection that Girard donated to the museum in 1978. One day is not enough for this museum!

Alfonso Sulca Chavez: Belt No. 25; sheep's wool weft, cotton warp, natural dyes Peru 2016. The design sketch of this piece is in the left had corner insert, Museum of International Folk Art


Display of Day of the Dead, children all over Mexico eat sugar sculls and play with toy skeletons. From the Girard Wing collections  

The International Folk Art Museum has a 30,000 piece textile and ethnographic dress collection, these ensembles are from Cusco, Peru as is the photo in the background. These costumes showcase the handwork, spinning and dyeing wool weaving on backstrap and treadle looms, knitting, sewing and embroidering.
These are all Alexander Girard's textile designs for Herman Miller, 1954-1961

For more pictures featuring a fraction of the Folk Art Market, please click here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Graphite and both Traditional and Expressive Ink

Graphite by Janet Bell

In addition to the training in the traditional graphite and pen and ink illustration we also teach the students to use the quill and brush in a more expressive way. This, perhaps more relaxed and painterly way of illustration brings the botanical subjects to life in a dynamic way, and simultaneously takes away the fear from using ink on a white paper.

Expressive Ink by Mary Crabtree

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

Pen and Ink by Peggy Delaney

Monday, July 8, 2019

2019 Arts and Archives: Bukhara the holiest city in Central Asia

One of the many floral wall decoration from the summer residence of Bukhara's last emir, Sayyd Muhammad Alim Khan

Our two days in Bukhara were packed with information and different historic localities and will be reported with two different posts.  The city is more than 2000 years old and said to be the holiest city in Central Asia, it also early on became the intellectual and cultural center of the Islamic world . The Historic Center of Bukhara got the UNESCO World Heritage site designation in 1993 as the most complete example of a medieval Central Asian City.
The crown gate of the Magoki-Attori Mosque, now a carpet museum - this temple originates in the Zoroastrian period (2000 BCE - 7th century CE). It was re-built after the 937 fire that destroyed Bukhara. The most extensive restoration was done in 1546 and the most recent restoration was done in 1970s.  




Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy 4th of July to our readers!

Watercolor pencil by Susan Willis

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Mushroom magic



Tricholoma by Irene Young

In addition to the Kathryn Kalmbach Herbariumfor Vascular Plants illustration students at Denver Botanic Gardens are fortunate to have access also to the Sam Mitchel Herbarium for Fungi.
Our fungi herbarium is the largest and best curated mycological collection of the Southern Rocky Mountain Region, with approximately 18,000 preserved and documented specimens of mushrooms and other fungi. The collection includes more than 2,500 species within approximately 300 genera, and 36 TYPE collection of Colorado Fungi. The herbarium was established in 1969 when Dr. Sam Mitchel turned a hobby into a real scientific endeavor by establishing a "mushroom collection" at Denver Botanic Gardens. 
Chlorophyllum rachodes by Carla Pawlewitcz

Please click here to see images from a recently completed class based on dried mushroom specimens from the herbarium. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

2019 Arts and Archives tour: Our second day in Samarkand - "The Paradise of This World" -



If it is said that a paradise is to be seen in this world, then the paradise of this world is Samarkand. - Ata-Malik Juvaini (1226-1283)

The settlements in Samarkand area can be traced back to 2000-1500 BCE. Alexander the Great used Samarkand as his base for expeditions in the region between 329 and 327 BCE. He called the town for Maracanda and stated that “Everything that I have heard about Maracanda is true, except that it’s more beautiful than I ever imagined”. Being in crossroads leading to China, India and Persia Samarkand was also a key Silk Road city. We made our best to cover and learn about a fraction the most important sights during our two day stay in the city. 

Ulugh Beg Observatory


The Ulugh Beg Observatory was built in the 1420s by the Timurid ruler Ulugh Beg, the grandson of emperor Timur. Ulugh Beg was unlike his contemporaries not known for killing but for his remarkable work for the science and astronomy fields. The main instrument was a 40 meter tall and 63 meters long arch (Fakhrī sextant) used in determining the basic constants of astronomy: the inclination of the elliptic to the equator and constants arising from observation of the sun, such as the length of the tropical year and the point of the vernal equinox. 

The scientists at Ulugh Beg Observatory measured the length of the year to within 25 seconds of the actual value, and determined the axial tilt of the Earth so accurately that their number falls within today’s accepted range of values. Ulugh Beg also compiled, roughly 200 years before the discovery of telescopes, a star catalogue containing some 1,018 stars and their locations in the night sky. After Ulugbek’s death observatory was destroyed and robbed by religious fans. For centuries the exact location of the observatory was known only by few. The observatory was rediscovered in 1908 by the Russian archaeologist Vassily Vyatkin.




Afrasiab Museum in Samarkand is dedicated to the history of the city and its development from the time of Alexander the Great conquest. Afrasiab, once located in the heart of ancient Samarkand, was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century.
The findings discovered during archaeological excavations at Afrasiab, each of which belongs to a different period of the settlement history are one of the most valuable artifacts of the museum. The most valuable exhibits of Afrasiab museum also include unique pieces of wall paintings dating back to the Ikhshidid dynasty (7-8th centuries), depicting hunting scenes and holiday celebrations.


Tomb of Daniel (Khodja Daniyar Mausoleum) is the one of several burial places claimed for the Old Testament Prophet Daniel and a pilgrimage site for not only Muslims but also Christians and Jewish people. Even beyond Uzbekistan and Susa, Iran, a couple of cities in Iraq also lay claim to be the final resting place of Daniel – which, since the Bible places Daniel in Babylon, in modern day Iraq, at the time of his death, is not too far-fetched either.  The tomb of the saint in Iraq (Mosel) was destroyed by the fighters recently.
As legend has it, Timur (Tamerlane) ordered the relics to be buried at Samarkand for good luck.

The tomb is 18 meters long and we can read several different legends for the reason of this, one of them is that Timur decided to build the the tomb so long that enemies could not find the relics. 




Shah-I-Zinda is one of the oldest and longest-running examples of a continually constructed historic site in the world located near Bibi-Khanym Mosque on the slope of ancient Samarkand settlement Afrasiab. This is a remarkable complex of medieval Samarkand mausoleums and other cult buildings (over 20 in number), and called ‘the street cemetery’ by the locals (time wise stretching from the 9th to 15th century). 
The decoration of the portals, the entrances and dome drums includes exquisite tile mosaics (geometric and floral designs), glazed brick cladding, various bands of inscriptions from the Koran and Persian poetry and wisdom heritage (as well as names of master craftsmen and patrons) and muqarnas (ornamental vaulting). The interiors also feature carved plaster designs and murals, gilt on the glaze and even landscapes and dragons (evidence of Chinese influence).




Shakhi Zinda is the burial place of royal persons and nobles. The complex was founded to mark a site of legend, where mythology states Muhammed’s cousin, Kusam ibn Abbas. Even in the Middle Ages, a pilgrimage to this grave was equated to Mecca hajj. All mausoleums at Shakh-i-Zinda form a single composition. Each of them is a square building with a dome, the entrance to each is highlighted by a portico. The buildings are decorated with majolica tiles and carved mosaic. The last construction is the main entrance to the Kusam ibn Abbas small architectural complex of a few buildings, which completes the whole ensemble (built 1434/35 AD). To reach that complex we needed to climb additional 33 steps. According to the legend Prophet Muhammed’s cousin was buried under this mausoleum. 


 Opening into the Kusam ibn Abbas shrine is an old wooden door with ivory inlays dated to 1404 - 1405.

For more photos and text from our overwhelming second day in Samarkand, please click here 




Friday, June 21, 2019

Colorado's Lost Legacy in Science Friday

Colored pencils by Deanna Gammon

Science Friday came live to Boulder last weekend, and it was a pleasure to talk about Colorado apples with Ira Flatow at the Chautauqua Auditorium. The interview will be aired 1:40 today, Friday, June 14 on NPR stations throughout the country -- please tune in  -- you can also listen to the podcast after the broadcast
There is also a recent TEDx talk about the apples, which you can watch here or if you like to read it, you'll find it here. 
Last winter we had a Cafe Botanique event around the apples, and starting this summer (August 20th, 1 p.m.) we have a botanical illustration course to document some of the endangered heritage apple species in Boulder County. You can register for that course by clicking here.
University of Colorado in Boulder will offer EBIO 1250 -- an inquiry-based course about these apple trees.

Chenango Strawberry-variety, watercolor and pencil by M.A. Palmer