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

Thursday, January 23, 2020

2020 Illustrator in Residence opportunity with School of Botanical Art and Illustration

 Aquilegia caerulea, watercolor by John Pastoriza-Pinol (2016)

The Illustrator in Residence Program is an exciting opportunity for illustrators to find inspiration in the natural beauty of Denver Botanic Gardens and further their practice with in-depth access to the Gardens’ extensive scientific collections. Residents will illustrate the Garden’s collections and landscapes with a focus on documenting plants native to the Rocky Mountain region, supporting the Gardens’ dedication to preservation, conservation, education and biodiversity.

This residency is offered for a period of six weeks between June 9 and October 9, 2020. The resident is expected to spend 40 hours a week engaged in residency activities, ideally Monday through Friday although some flexibility is possible. Optional professional development opportunities like lectures or programs may also be available to the resident during evenings and weekends.


The scope of this residency features two key elements: 

  • Creation of a body of work supporting the mission of Denver Botanic Gardens, particularly focused on plants native to Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. This work will be created through reference to the Gardens’ collections and landscapes, with specific plants selected for illustration by the Gardens’ Research and SBAI staff. The resident will retain copyright of all works produced during the residency, but will grant permission to Denver Botanic Gardens to use images for publicity, retail purposes, and publication. Additionally, of the artworks created during the residency, one piece will be selected to remain with Denver Botanic Gardens as part of its permanent collections.
·         Leading one 3-day workshop for 12 students in the Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration. This workshop will focus on a technique or media that the resident specializes in, subject to the approval of the Gardens. Dates of the workshop will be determined based on the residency timeframe. 

Additionally, interaction with visitors is optional though highly encouraged, promoting public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and offering an opportunity for visitors to see the Gardens through the eyes of an artist. Opportunities could include:

  • Offering an open studio to share works in progress
  • Conducting demonstrations for the public
  • Writing blog posts for the Gardens’ website
The residency provides a stipend of $4,000 paid up front to offset costs of travel and transportation, art supplies, and living expenses.

The Gardens additionally offers space to work inside or outdoors en plein air and access to the Gardens’ collections, including pressed plants, preserved fungi, and other preserved herbaria collections, living plant collections, rare books, archival materials, art collections, and books and periodicals in the Garden’s library.

The resident must provide their own art supplies and equipment, as well as their own travel, transportation, accommodation and related living expenses.
Ratibida columnifera, watercolor by Isik G√ľner (2017)

The residency is open to all illustrators who have completed a certificate program in scientific illustration, botanical art or illustration, nature illustration or equivalent qualification or experience. Artists working in all media will be considered. Current School of Botanical Art & Illustration instructors or staff at Denver Botanic Gardens are not eligible for the residency.

International applicants who are proficient in English are encouraged, although additional tax documentation may be required. 

Please email the application form on the following pages and the required attachments to with Illustrator in Residence 2020 in the subject line:

Submissions must be received by 11:59 PM, MST, February 29, 2020. Notifications of acceptance and regrets will be sent by March 13, 2020.

Colorado 'sampler', watercolor by Asuka Hishiki (2018)

Please click here for a downloadable pdf-document

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Intensive Foundational Certificate

Tillandsia,  Colored Pencil (distance learning option), Milvi Gill

Since 2011 the School of Botanical Illustration has offered an distance learning option, which is a hybrid combining classroom participation (10 classroom hours) with remote online teaching. Typically the results from these sessions have been convincing, however this form of training is high cost and time consuming.   

Entry level watercolor (distance learning option) by Cynthia Zyzda
In 2020 we are searching additional options to better facilitate our out-of state and international audience. We are introducing an intense Block system in which all the 15 required courses for the Foundational Certificate at the SBAI can be completed in three intense two-week BLOCKS onsite. The classroom instruction covers each class in 12 hours spread over two consecutive days within the 2-week block. The last day of each block is dedicated to a Deep-Dive Day providing the students an opportunity to explore the trickier challenges, questions and the next steps in their illustration studies.
Each of the 2-week blocks is followed by online sessions which may include both virtual sessions and email reports. The number of students for each block is limited to six (6)
In order to receive a credit for each session in a block and continua to the next level, the student work is evaluated according to the technical competence, accuracy and overall composition.
To complete the certificate candidates present a final themed portfolio reflecting a comprehensive botanical research of the chosen species. In addition to the intense blocks, the students are encouraged to take part in stand-alone courses to enrich their knowledge of different techniques and ways of working. 

For more information about the BLOCK system, please do not hesitate to write your questions to the school.

Pen and Ink (distance learning option) by Karey Swan

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

SBAI 2019-2020 Scholarship

We are happy to announce the recipient of the 2019-2020 School of Botanical Illustration Scholarship:

Brianna M. Drew, Laramie WY

Ginkgo - Gouache and Watercolor, Brianna M. Drew

Brianna is currently studying towards her BA in Fine Arts at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. While studying with us Brianna's goal is to refine her current art skills to a more professional level and to learn more about plants along the scientific illustration. Brianna will start with her first course with us in few weeks -


Monday, December 30, 2019

Anna: Exploring the Life and Art of Anna Pavlova

Anna Pavlova's "Russian Dance" Private Residence of Lord and Lady Londonborough, London 1909 - the outfit recreated by Peggy Turchette

The Dairy Arts Center in Boulder is displaying a unique exhibit exploring the life and the art of the world famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova, born in St. Petersburg, Russia 1881.
Peggy Turchette has been working with her Pavlova project for the past eight years. Through her research she has recreated 85 of Anna Pavlova’s performance costumes and couture in one-quarter scale.  
Anna Pavlova at the age of 15 when she was studying at the School of Imperial Ballet, St. Petersburg, Russia (1896). Anna was accepted to the school when she was 10-years old. - Costume recreation by Peggy Turchette 

Peggy Turchette graduated from our school with the certificate in foundational botanical illustration in 2007. 

In 2016 Peggy spoke to the botanical illustration community at our annual graduation ceremony and described how her 20-year career as botanical illustrator became a bridge to her work in creating the historically informed costumes of Anna Pavlova.
If you are visiting Boulder, CO please plan to see this extraordinary display which closes on January 12, 2020.
The Dying Swan, premiered at the Mariinsky Theathre, St. Petersburg, 1907 - Anna Pavlova costume recreation by Peggy Turchette
In addition to the Anna's clothing Peggy also recreated the pets - this is Anna Pavlova with her pets at Ivy House, Golden Green, London 1912
"The Legend of Azyiode" from "Oriental Fantasies" Danced with Michail Mordkin, Denver, 1914 - Costume recreation by Peggy Turchette
Note: Please click the images to enlarge!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas to All our Readers!

(A Christmas Card by Rudolf Koivu)

The gifted graphic artist and painter, Rudolf Koivu (1890-1946), is one of Finland's most famous illustrators. Koivu is best known for his illustrations of fairy tales and other children's publications. Koivu's Christmas cards and cover pictures for Christmas magazines have had a strong influence on the Finnish image of a "real Christmas".

Rudolf Koivu Prize (10 000 euros) is awarded every second year for the best children's or youth book illustration in Finland. The Rudolf Koivu prize was first awarded in 1949 to celebrate the lifetime achievements of the artist Rudolf Koivu. This year’s (2019) price went to the illustrator Marika MaijalaThe purpose of the prize is to raise the quality of artwork in children's books.

(A Christmas Card by Rudolf Koivu)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

“The Kiss” – a great ending for 2019

Inspired by G. Klimt by Chris Imhof

While learning new methods we are from time to time taking a step from the traditional botanical illustration to focus on artists like the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt (1862-1918). Klimt represented the Vienna Secession Movement and Art Nouveau; Klimt became perhaps the most important Austrian painter in the world. He painted some landscapes but mainly focused on the relationship between the man and woman, and also on the female body and feelings of life and death. The largest collection of Klimt’s works can be seen in the Belvedere Museum,Vienna.

Our last workshop of 2019 focused on Klimt’s golden phase and the use of metallic color with the arrangements of different patterns. Please click here to see more images (finished and in process) from the 3-day workshop.

Inspired by G. Klimt, Meredith Feniak - the instructor

Friday, December 13, 2019

Drawing skills are instrumental

Milvi Gill, carbon dust
 Our foundational certificate program starts with classes in graphite pencil and form. It is instrumental to learn drawing techniques with pencil prior the studies in color media.
If you click here you can see more images from our graphite classes and more advanced color media classes.
Cucurpita pepo var., graphite by Roan Jenks

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Inspiring and Encouraging

(watercolor by Peg Christon)

Our 2020 Winter /Spring registration opens on Tuesday, December 10, 9 a.m.  The online registration site can be reached by clicking here. If you need to download and/or print the full catalog please click here.  

We only accept 12 students for each onsite classes, six students for distance learning options, or the intense foundational certificate Block I (see page 5-6 and page 21 in thecatalog). Please register early, our classes fill out fast!
Here are some works from our recently completed classes for your inspiration.
(Ink by Peggy Delaney)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

2020 SBAI Winter/Spring Botanical Illustration Courses

Our 2020 Winter/Spring course catalog is out! You can view and download it by clicking here. The registration opens Tuesday, December 10, 9 a.m. Click here for the online registration page. (2020 courses are not visible yet at the registration site).

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Watercolor by Barbara Anderson
Happy Thanksgiving week to all our readers! 
In November we had two workshops on Bromeliads, one in ink and the other in watercolor. Bromeliacaea  is a family of more than 3300 species providing one of the largest collection of foliage colors and patterns in the plant world and a true challenge in perspective, pattern and value. We also had a repeat of our very popular drawing on tradition class on the Isabel Adams' sketchbook techniques. In this posted group are also some finished work from our distance learning graphite class.
Please click here for more images from these classes 

Summer flowers in the style of Isabel Adams by Karen Mahnken