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

Friday, June 15, 2018

We Did IT!

Aquilegia coerulea, Colorado Columbine, watercolor by John Pastoriza-Pinol, 2016

We reached our primary goal with our Kickstarter Campaign and are now ready to go for the first stretch goal and the first 6-week Artist/Illustrator-in-Residency position at Denver Botanic Gardens.

John was our 2016 Artist-in-Resident and during his stay completed this watercolor piece as a part of the "Nubile Perfection" collection. If you increase your pledge by $75 by June 22, 2018 you'll get the high quality giclee print of this work of perfection!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Climbing toward the Goal!

Dr. M. climbing the beanstalk at Denver Botanic Gardens, and just below the goal to publish the sketchbook (illustration by David Clarke) - click to enlarge


Our current Kickstarter Campaign had a successful start and at the moment we are at 89% of our goal ($16K) to get the sketchbook published.  Thank you all for spreading the word and thank you for supporting our project. 

Beyond that we hope to achieve our stretch goal to support the annual paid Artist/Illustrator in Residency Program and the possibility to host the illustrator internships next summer here at Denver Botanic Gardens. Our Botanic Gardens’ community of researchers, horticulturists, teachers and students is known for sharing all of their knowledge and experience with each other, making this a great place to immerse in art and science.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Polyester film and watermedia

Watercolor pencil on layered Dura-Lar by Karey Swan

Polyester drafting films, like Mylar and Dura-Lar (both by Grafix), are not typically coated to accept water-based mediums. The .004” wet media Dura-Lar film is specifically coated on both sides to accept water media. We recently tested this in the classroom and successfully completed a workshop with watercolor pencils on Dura-Lar. 
Caran d'Ache revolutionized the pencil market in 1931 by introducing the first ever water-soluble pencil (Prismalo),also known as watercolor pencils. The watercolor pencils are one of the youngest art mediums used today.

See more images from our class by clicking here
Watercolor pencil on Dura-Lar by Lynn Bruskivage

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Practice Makes Perfect II - our Kickstarter Project is Launched

(Two pages from our travelling sketchbook: Constance Sayas and Christabel King)

Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration offers a comprehensive series of classes and workshops in the well-established tradition of portraying plants for aesthetic appreciation, scientific purposes, and historical documentation.

Practice Makes Perfect II: Botanical Illustration Sketchbook from Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration is a collaborative project that showcases the skills and unique perspectives of 76 botanical illustrators. Assembled page by page as the sketchbook traveled from one artist to the next, this collection represents friendship, shared ideas and community, along with impressive artistic ability. Botanical illustration is based on scientific study, but it is also a highly creative form of expression that can be executed in many different media. This book reveals that combination of technical accuracy and aesthetic freedom, as each botanical image jumps off the page in all its detailed glory.
Our primary goal is to raise funds to publish the limited edition of 300 copies of Practice Makes Perfect II: A Botanical Illustration Sketchbook. This is an art book containing 76 illustrations made by artists from the School of Botanical Art and Illustration at Denver Botanic Gardens (hardbound, 7.5”x 11”, with dust jacket, sewn with reinforced end sheets and headbands, foil-stamped spine). It includes an interpretative overview of each of the illustrated subjects.

An original, handmade 160-page springback-bound sketchbook with 90 lb. Fabriano Artistico HP watercolor paper was used for this purpose. Each of the artists was given an 11”x 15” spread and up to one week to complete his or her work. Practice Makes Perfect II: A Botanical Illustration Sketchbook with a foreword by artist Billy Showell showcases a unique collection of talent and expertise ranging from natural science illustrations and artistic explorations to calligraphy with a personal touch.
The book also celebrates the forthcoming Freyer-Newman Center for Science, Art and Education and the 38th anniversary of the botanical illustration program at Denver Botanic Gardens. Our sketchbook project was completed in 76 weeks with participants from the Gardens’ botanical illustration community in 2016, including numerous renowned international artists. Part of the illustrations are in color and part meticulously executed in ink or graphite; each illustration offers insight into the individual artist’s way of working.

For more information or to watch a project video, please click here.
(watercolor by Billy Showell)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Reminder: Registration for Summer/Fall courses opens tomorrow, June 5th 9 a.m.!

(Nels Broste, 2017, watercolor)
The registration for the 2018 Summer/Fall botanical illustration courses opens tomorrow, June 5th 9 a.m. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Invisible Links - last day to submit

(Invisible Links, Lynn Bruskivage, colored pencil)

The call for entries for our annual botanical illustration exhibit Invisible Links  will be closing in about 15 hours (11:59 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time).
To submit your piece, please click here.

 (Invisible links, Susan Willis, graphite)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Not always acutely correct but constantly educational



Sunflower by Cassi Bailey

In our series of Drawing on Tradition we recently completed a very popular class on Piet Mondrian, who was an instrumental part of the Dutch modern movement De Stijl founded in 1917 in Leiden, Netherlands.  In addition to his iconic abstract works he produced around 150 flower studies which along with trees inspired his abstract works.  
We do not always strictly adhere to accurate botanical portrayal but also analyze styles which help us to loosen up and play with expressive flower interpretation exercises. The students in this class loved the ability to focus on the parts of the subjects that they loved and the permission to ignore the parts that were not as beautiful or would be tedious to draw. They were also introduced to new media, water soluble carbon and jumbo sized pigment blocks on large format toned paper (18”x 24”). Very refreshing!
The 2018 Arts and Archives Tour visited the Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag and got a crash course on Piet Mondrian’s life and production. There is an earlier blog post about that visit (please click here)

More images from our class can be seen here.


Oriental lily by Joanne Katz

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Summer/Fall class registration opens in two weeks

Pen and Ink Textures by Bonnie Emery

This is a reminder for the Summer/Fall registration opening on June 5th, 9 a.m. Please click here to get inspired and see more student work from our spring classes.


Advanced level watercolor by Jane Smith

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Linking People with Plants - Worldwide Day of Botanical Art - May 18, 2018

Yucca harrimaniae, watercolor by Constance Sayas. This piece was also part of the School of Botanical Art and Illustration' s gold medal winning group exhibit at the 2017 RHS-Botanical Art show.



May 18th 2018 will be celebrated as the Worldwide Day of Botanical Art.
Exhibitions of original contemporary botanical art will be curated by the participating countries around the world and they are exhibiting original contemporary botanical art on native plants to a given area.
The main goal with this event is to link people with plants through contemporary botanical art, and educate the worldwide community on plant diversity through highlighting the world’s different plant geographic regions.
Artist from our BI-community participating in the ASBA and the US Botanic Gardens’ Worldwide Americas Flora exhibit are Dorothy DePaolo, Sharon Garret, Vanessa Martin and Constance Sayas.
Michael Campbell is participating in the Irelands’ Celebrating Native Plants of Ireland - exhibit.

Botanical Art & Artists-site by Katherine Tyrrell has an excellent summary of this worldwide  event. 


Geranium versicolor, colored pencil Michael Campbell - part of the Irish exhibit

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day 2018!

(Laura Matthews, colored pencil)