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

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Art of Nature Journaling at The Gardens with Maria Hodkins - Rare opportunity

September 7 - 9, 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Explore the artistic, scientific and reflective pursuit of keeping a nature journal at Denver Botanic Gardens. Delight in the environment as you observe and record its details. Observing deeply, sketching and noting the features of plants, flowers, birds, animals, sky and land formations will reveal to you insights that you might never discover in the rush of daily life or studio practice.
Learn basic techniques in graphite and colored pencil pen and ink wash and watercolor. Enjoy instruction in attuned observation, writing in reverie, field sketching, color, and creating “encounter maps.” Whether you are new to the nature journal or an advanced naturalist/artist, you will deepen in your skills and develop an artful daily practice for your life through all of the seasons.
This workshop is open for everybody with no pre-requisites -
(For more information and to register, please click here)

Maria Hodkins is a professional free-lance journalist of 35 years, a former naturalist for Colorado State Parks, a multi-media artist, and poet. She has taught field/nature journaling programs and workshops for Colorado State Parks, schools, college environmental studies classes, botanical gardens, interpretive organizations, art centers, and private groups.
Maria teaches illustrated journaling, creative non-fiction writing, and bookbinding.

Marias sketches were featured extensively in Artists' Journal Workshop (2011) by Cathy Johnson (staff writer for Artists Magazine and Watercolor Artist).
Please see the Artists' Journal Workshop Interview with Maria by clicking here. You can also see samples of Maria's Journals by clicking here.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kingdom of Plants by Will Benson


Kingdom of Plants. A Journey Through Their Evolution by Will Benson

In the last 500 million years, plants have undertaken an epic journey that has not only spanned the ages but has altered the very make-up of the planet. It was a journey that began in a dark and barren world, and has culminated in a planet that is draped in rich colours, and overflowing with a diversity of mystifying orchids, exploding seed pods and snapping carnivorous plants.
But plants are far more than just beautiful and bizarre. Through the chapters of this book we uncover how plants first began to live on land, how they have become linked with a multitude of animal and fungi partners, and how ultimately they have shaped both landscapes and cultures. The book also includes a chapter about Fungi  which are believed to be the first organisms to venture onto land in the form of lichens 1.3 billion years ago. There are believed to be up to 5.1 million different species of which only 5 % have been found.  And we are still discovering and naming some 2000 new species of plant on Earth each year.


The 256 pages includes the latest scientific insights, it is extremely well written and certainly proves that science does not necessarily need to be dry. Warmly recommended for everyone to read because without plants there wouldn't be humans. Just be careful when you start reading - you do not like to finish reading until you reach the last page. 
The book is published by HarperCollins Publishers, the accuracy of the information is checked by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The Foreword is by Professor Stephen Hopper, the director of Kew. Unfortunately it looks to me that Amazon is only planning to publish a kindle version of this great book.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Exotic Botanical Illustration with the Eden Project


Exotic Botanical Illustration by Rosie Martin and Meriel Thurstan is the fourth book in the Eden Project series. This time the focus is on unusual colors and complex textures of exotic plants which might challenge the botanical illustrator/artist. This book guides you through each stage of the illustration process with abundance of exercises and step-by-step projects. It primarily concentrates in water media but has a short section also for colored pencil.
There is something for beginners and more experienced botanical illustrators alike, ranching from bananas and pineapples to complex orchids, passion flowers and carnivorous plants. 
Including plenty of worksheets, sketches, color swatches and finished illustrations (note: especially the green colors have not always been reproduced correctly) this work gives something to everyone and is warmly recommended to botanical illustrators of all levels.
At the moment the book is available only in England and New Zealand, Amazon in the US is predicting it to show up in the market in September.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Zentangle - with Botanical patterns

Botanical Illustration Program at Denver Botanic Gardens now has the authority to teach Zentangle. Our program will specialize in the botanical subject matter and botanical patterns. More about Zentangle later.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Film Pencils on Drafting Film

(Cabbage leaf in process on Oce and the zinnia on Grafix by Beth Bradford, both with polycarbonate pencils, please click to enlarge)

This technique uses pencils formulated for use on translucent drafting film to achieve high degrees of shading and contrast in an illustration. A film pencil (polycarbonate pencil) is made from a combination of carbon and polymers which gives great adherence to the film and is non-smearing. The pencil leads are graded from hard to soft in degrees indicated by numbers (lower numbers indicating a softer lead). 
Although the pencils have been made by major drafting companies; Mars Staedtler, (Mars-Duralar, K series) and (Mars-Dynograph, N series) pencils and leads, and Berol Turquoise (Filmograph pencils and leads, E series), they have been discontinued in the later part of 1990.  The Pentel Company has discontinued its film leads as of 2009 (the P series).  The remaining batches of leads and pencils may still be found at art and drafting stores or online  in art supplies categories.  The reason for the discontinuance is that the computer has usurped the trades of engineering drafting and architecture which was originally the market for these tools.

Last weekend our BI-program was introduced for this medium and method. We used all the above brands on Oce 868320011 Double Matte Drafting Film (Oce North America) and Gafix double frosted drafting film, 3 mil (Note: not Duralar). The instructor was Alice Tangerini, National Museum of National History, Smithsonian.
Please see photos of the student work by clicking here.