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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal School of Needlework - Embroidering Royalty


Royal School of Needlework was founded in 1872. Its aim was to employ gentlewomen and restore ornamental needlework to its original respected position among the decorative arts, create new needlework and restore the old. In the late 19th century it employed over a hundred women who were working on designs created by e.g., Burne-Jones, Lord Leighton and Water Crane. William Morris who was instrumental in the development of the Arts and Crafts movement was undoubtedly the most significant among these artists as he was directly concerned with the development of the needlework.
Today the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace is considered the best in the world for the art of hand embroidery: silk shading, goldwork, crewel work and blackwork.  

The wedding dress of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge (designed by Ms Sarah Burton)  paid tribute to the Arts and Crafts tradition. The bodice and the skirt were hand embroidered with floral motifs at the Royal School of Needlework using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique which originates in Ireland. Kate Middleton’s shoes were designed also by Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton and the florals were hand embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework. During the embroidery the workers washed their hands every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, the needles were changed every three hours  to keep them  sharp and clean.
Watch the CNN video about the Royal School of Needlework  – A very nice reminiscence for those of us who recently visited this school. 

Gathering of the GUILDS, Sunday May 1st

(please click the image to enlarge)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SOS- Seeds of Success: today in Cafe Botanique

(Little bluestem – Schizachyrium scoparium – BLM CO932, Seeds of Success)

 Seeds of Success - Building a National Collection of Native Seeds
Peter Gordon, Ph.D., Botanist, Bureau of Land Management

Seeds of Success (SOS) is the national native seed collection program created under the umbrella of the Native Plant Materials Development Program (NPMDP), led by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). SOS was formally established in 2001 in partnership with the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) to collect, conserve and develop native plant materials for restoring and rehabilitating public lands in the United States. The initial partnership between BLM and MSB quickly grew in scope and evolved to include many additional partners, such as botanic gardens, arboreta, zoos and municipalities. To date, SOS has well over 9,000 collections representing more than 3,000 species of wild land native plants in its National Collection.

The BLM Colorado State Office has coordinated over 500 wild land native seed collections from very diverse habitats, ranging from sub-alpine forests to sand dunes to shale cliffs and has been involved with SOS since its inception. Our staff works to collect seed, mentor interns, manage collection information and promote the development of native plant materials in Colorado.  
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Denver Botanic Gardens – Gates Hall
6:30 – 8 p.m.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pop-ups and Movables -

(The Elements of Geometrie of the Most Auncient Philosopher Euclide of Megara printed in 1570 by J. Daye) 
By folding the paper and creating movement, paper engineers and pop-up artists change the two dimensional forms to three-dimensional experiences. Movable books have flaps, pull tabs and volvelles (wheels) initiating the movement on the surface. Pop-ups utilize different folding devices that makes the structure to lift, pop up, unfold or rise when the page is opened. These books were originally constructed for leaning purposes.

The earliest known examples of movable books are by Ramón Llull (c.1235-1316) of Majorca, a Catalán mystic and poet. He used volvelles or revolving discs to illustrate his complex philosophical search for truth. This was before the printing techniques were discovered. 
"Turn-up" or "lift-the-flap" mechanisms were in use as early as the fourteenth century. They were especially helpful in books on anatomy, where separate leaves, each featuring a different section of the body, could be hinged together at the top and attached to a page. Andreas Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome, printed in Basel in 1543 features a movable illustration in which the human anatomy is shown in seven detailed superimposed layers.
Movable books were not created for young audiences until the latter half of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.

Read more about the history of this book-art form by clicking here. Photos from the Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery displays has at the moment an excellent exhibition “Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop & Turn”. The downloadable exhibition brochure is available here.  

Last weekend the Botanical Art and Illustration programs had an excellent two-day pop-up engineering workshop on flowers instructed by Shawn Sheehy.
See some photos from this workshop in the BI-facebook of by clicking here.


(Shawn Sheehy with Denver Botanical Illustration Programs)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

(from the Botanical Illustration Pysanky class)


In almost all ancient cultures eggs had been held as an emblem of life. The sun’s return from darkness in the springtime was also considered as an annual miracle and the egg was regarded as a natural wonder and a proof of the renewal of life. Within the Christianity the egg was adopted as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection from the tomb. The concept of all living beings born from an egg is also a foundational concept of modern biology.

Thus, the eggs in different forms are a fundamental tradition for Easter and the spring time. 
Photos from our Pysanky, Ukrainian Easter Egg class  can be viewed by clicking here. Our instructor was Annie Reiser.

"Omne vivum ex ovo” -  all life comes from an egg

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dutch Flower Painting of the 17th century


(Dirck de Bray, 1635-1694 - Private Collection)

Dutch flowers are an iconic image of Holland that also inspired many artists of the 17th century. Now an everyday item, cut flowers were prized luxuries at that time. Only the most affluent could afford to have them in their homes and gardens. As a result, the first flower still life paintings appeared in Holland in the 1630s and 1640s as a means of meeting the demand for flowers. After all, a painting of a flower was much less expensive then than an actual bouquet and lasted longer.
In our series Drawing on Tradition the very popular course of Dutch Flower Painters of the 17th Century (in colored pencil) has just had its final session for this season, please check out the photos from the last session. (Instructor was Susan Rubin)
– Happy Easter! 
(© Sharon Eaton)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Scratchboard with Trudy Nicholsen

(Sycamore by Trudy Nicholson)

Modern scratchboard also called scraperboard as we know it was introduced in Britain and France during the 19th century. Scratchboard became popular for its "finer" line appearance. Up until the 1950s it was used mainly for advertising and editorial illustrations. In more recent years it has made a comeback as an appealing medium.  It can easily be reproduced and it also closely resembles either wood engravings or woodcuts.

Last weekend our Botanical Art and Illustration program had a weekend workshop in scratchbord with Trudy Nicholson as the instructor. Trudy has illustrated several books, offers workshops especially within the GNSI-community and samples of her work can be viewed here.  
Student work from the workshop can be viewed at the BI-facebook photo album: Scratchboard.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Arts and Archives 2011 Europe Tour: two additional days in London and five days in Madrid

(The Bauer Unit at the Natural History Museum in London)
At the Natural History Museum we were delighted to have Mr. Armando Mendez to guide us thru the library collections. We were focusing on the Endeavour material, Ferdinand and Franz Bauer and Arthur Henry Church. We saw some of the gems from the Bauer unit and also the brand new exhibit “Images from Nature”. Some of us followed this to Tate Britain to see the extensive Watercolor Exhibit where 800 years of watercolor history was displayed from manuscripts and miniatures to supplies and historical watercolor palettes.
[Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-70) - Bull BAy (Magnolia grandiflora) 1743; Victoria and Albert Museum]
Our final day in London was as intriguing as the others: In the morning we went through botanical material at the Victoria and Albert Museum where Ms. Annemarie Bilclough had selected for us 12 boxes of rarities from both medieval material and material from the 19th and 20th century arts and crafts movement – unbelievable. We also saw the botanical display in the “lightbox” as well as Beatrix Potter’s paintings from her teenage –years.
Before boarding the plane to Madrid we attended the press viewing of the SBA’s 2011 exhibit with its overwhelming number of 751 entries. 

(Seed pod packages packed in 1785 waiting for to be opened, Royal Botanical gardens, Madrid)
Everything in Madrid was on a large scale, the art collections were huge, the architecture was beautiful and  the material was ancient and in copious quantity. Our absolute high point was the visit to the Royal Botanical Garden to see the material which had been collected from South America during the 18th century (plants, seedpods, wood etc.). We also saw a very nice selection from over 7000 original illustrations which are kept in the gardens.
(from Training in Real Fabrica de Tapices, page 69)
Another highlight from the Madrid tour was the visit to the Royal Tapestry Factory (founded 1721). We were completely overwhelmed. Many of us later saw huge tapestries in the Royal Palace made by this factory . Tapestry weaving continues there today for Royal and contemporary clients(please click here for tapestries; - here for rugs and here for aplique)
(Detail from a tapestry in process; From Real Fabrica de Tapicer. A living History, page 62)

We saw the Prado, Thyssen, and numerous churches with magnificent art. Many of us went also to Reina Sofia. We also were introduced to other botanical applications: tiles and other ceramics and also damascene work of gold inlay and engraving (flower details and plants in the case of Toledo damascene work).

To summarize the whole trip, in eleven days we had seen more botanicals and related items than many of us had even been able to dream about. I could count the same number of participants on the last day as we had on the first, and all of us had a nice suntan. Our muscle tone had  surely improved because of all the walking we had done during the 11 days of travel. We had had a marvelous time – and are now looking towards 2012 and two new countries which are waiting for us to come and explore.
(Please see the photo albums recently posted in the BI-Facebook)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cafe Botanique: Barbara Rogers about the art on Allure of the Seas


Allure of the Seas: The Story Behind 17 Paintings
Barbara Rogers, Prof. - University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

 “I want to remain vulnerable to beauty.  I want to be stopped in my tracks by something I call beautiful that I have never noticed or seen before.“ (Barbara Rogers)

Barbara Rogers is inspired by nature, art and the way people use botanical forms as the basis of their ornamentation in clothing, architecture and body decoration. She loves botany, travel and has a great respect for the arts of Asia and the Middle East.
Professor Rogers was commissioned to create a 30 by 18 foot painting for The Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, and 16 companion paintings, all sized 10 by 4 feet. This commission required buying the biggest Mac computer on the market, hiring a full-time assistant and working with a sizeable committee of stake holders—each of whom had to approve every one of Professor Rogers’s sketches and trust her to complete the project to their satisfaction.

Prof. Barbara Rogers holds a degree in Art Education from Ohio State University and an MA in Painting from The University of California at Berkeley. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including one-person exhibitions at major university and commercial galleries and museums in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Scottsdale, Pakistan, Germany, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. Her work can be found in many major art museums and private art collections.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Denver Botanic Gardens – Morrison Center
6:30 – 8 p.m.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Arts and Archives Europe 2011 tour, Day 3: Kew Gardens and the Blythe House of Victoria and Albert Museum

(Salvia foerskaelei  illustrated by Ferdinand Bauer in Flora Graeca, published 1806 and colored by him self - Kew Gardens' Collections)

On our third day of our London stay we went to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. In addition to a two hour presentation and viewing of the hidden treasures from Kew's rare collection we visited the Marianne North and Shirley Sherwood galleries which are now connected to each other. We also visited the Blythe House of Victoria and Albert Museum and were shown a very rare collection of Beatrix Potter paintings. More details can be seen here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Arts and Archives Europe 2011 tour, Day 2: Visit with Ann Swan April 3rd 2011

Ann Swan demonstrating some of her latest works and work-in-process
Ann Swan is one of the most skillful colored pencil artists what we have around. She is very well known in Denver and an always  welcome visiting instructor. She has been awarded five RHS gold medals.so far. Her studios are located in Rowde Court, Wiltshire. You can see our visit with photos in the BI-Facebook.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Arts and Archives Europe 2011 tour, Day I

(Musella lasiocarpa by Annie Patterson, Hampton Court Florilegium)

Our first day in London was spent in Royal Hampton Court. We did get an excellent presentation about the Royal School of Needlework's Floral designs and embroidery techniques. This school is globally unique and only one on it's field. It's 2-3 year curriculum  is heavily focusing in different embroidery techniques, conservation and Restoration of old pieces. 
The Royal Hampton Court is also the home for Hampton Court Palace Florilegium Society. Our group had the honor to visit the headquarters, get a informative presentation and see about half of the present collection.
Please see some further images from our initial day at the BI-Facebook.