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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Our New 3-fold Information Brochure

Download our new brochure (click the image) or visit Denver Botanic Gardens to get your hard copy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Master Painter and Master Craftsman

 Jenny Phillips demonstrating for 13 students who are participating in our first of the 15-hour workshops that Jenny is teaching at Denver Botanic Gardens. Jenny Phillips established the Botanical Art School in Melbourne, Australia in 1992, visited Denver Botanic Gardens for the first time as visiting instructor in the mid-1990's when Angela Overy was the coordinator for the Botanical Illustrators here in Denver

We also have received a limited number of specially designed knives for quill cutting. These knives combine new technological processes with traditional skills. They are handmade by Master Blacksmith Hannu Antila in Finland. The 3.5 cm long blade has one side curved to make a better shape for cutting the quill. The handle is made of Finnish birch burl, which is stronger than the birch hardwood . The handle has a metal insertion to change the balance slightly, so if the knife is dropped it always falls on its handle protecting the blade. The sheath is handmade of reindeer skin.
For more images please click here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mylar® – Dura-Lar™

 (Ink on Mylar® by Lynn Zoller, click the image to enlarge)
Both Mylar® – Dura-Lar™ are used in our School for a variety of media: colored pencils, pen and ink (technical pen and quill), ink washes and polycarbonate pencil (plastic pencil). Both products are polyester films. Mylar is one of the brand names for stretched polyethylene terephthalate (PET).  The true Mylar® is a registered trademark owned by DuPont Tejin Films. Since Mylar® polyester film was invented in the early 1950s, it has been used in a variety of applications that add value to products in virtually all segments of the world. Its excellent balance of properties and extraordinary range of performance capabilities make Mylar® ideal for a broad array of applications in the electrical, electronics, magnetic media, industrial specialty, imaging and graphics, and packaging markets (cooking bags are also mylar).Mylar® is available in a variety of finishes and gauges. We typically use double frosted Mylar® for colored pencil, ink and plastic pencil, we like the 5 mil thickness best.
(colored pencil on Mylar®, Susan Rubin, click the image to enlarge)

What is then GrafixDura-Lar™?  According to GrafixGrafix Dura-Lar® is student grade Mylar®  The double frosted Dura-Lar comes only in the thickness of 5 mil, the other thicknesses of this film are single frosted. Grafix Dura-Lar® has smoother surface and can be used ideally for pen and ink and also for plastic pencil (which does not smear). This film does not wear the point of the technical pen as easily as mylar.
Both Mylar® and Grafix Dura-Lar® are archival and they are non-yellowing and water resistant (as is the polycarbonate pencil).

(polycarbonate pencil on Grafix Dura-Lar®, click the image to enlarge)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Grafito y Color

(Maple leaf study by Karla Beatty)
Our first class was held today in the quirky round classroom at El Charco. There were fourteen eager and appreciative students. A full house! It is a strong mix of English and Spanish language, and I'm so sorry to say that students must put up with the way I butcher the Spanish language. But we approach it all with humor and good spirits and that will get you through anything, verdad? 
We began our first class of the week with an approach based on leaves and foliage. I asked El Charco for a few samples of some of the local shrubs or small trees--mesquite and acacia--and one of the workers came into the class with a few big branches pruned from the shrubs! Full of thorns, too, ouch!
New students are ALWAYS so appreciative of the way that we teach drawing with pencils. They say that despite the art classes they may have had earlier, no one had ever taught them how to hold pencils, make marks on the paper, and create the kind of shading or toning the way that we teach at DBG. Whoo hooo! They are excited and eager to learn.
Although I understand you are having some more wintry weather there in Denver it is very hot here in Mexico. But the evenings and mornings are cool so it remains very pleasant. Of course I am so excited to be out and about the town that I am walking about in the heat, anyway. You know what they say, "Mad dogs and Englishmen....." Maybe the wrong country, the wrong continent, even, but I think it still applies! 

Hasta Manana,
Karrrrrla   (roll those rrrrrs)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Winners for 2013 Margaret Flockton award

This was the 10th anniversary for the Margaret Flockton Award. In addition to all new illustrators, all the former winners were invited to participate. In this years exhibit in the Maiden Theatre 38 competing art pieces are hung in addition to twelve original Margaret Flockton sketches, lithographs and an oil painting.
If you are visiting Sydney, Australia, please make sure to see this exhibit (Monday 15 April - Friday 26 July 2013, 10 am-4 pm.Red Box Gallery, National Herbarium of NSW, Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney) and the Botanica display.
 And here are the winners (Please, click the images to enlarge):

First Place Prize ($5000) to Rogerio Lupo from Brazil for Vellozia perdicipes sp.nov.
Second Place prize ($2500) to Lucy Smith from UK for Lecomtella madagascariensis

The following three were Highly Commended recipients ($500): 

1. Klei Sousa from Brazil for Cattleya forbesii
2. Edmundo Saavedra Vidal from Mexico from Dennstaedtiaceae in Veracruz
3. Pauline Dewar form Australia for Pellaea rotundifolia

Congratulations from Denver to all of you!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Teaching in El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico

This week we are teaching also at our satellite site in El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden.
Here is Karla Beatty's report from San Miguel for us day before her teaching starts:

Hola Denver!
I'm happy to say San Miguel de Allende is just as wonderful as I remembered it! This time I flew into the new airport in Queretaro, and it was an easy trip. The drive to San Miguel took the van through many small farm fields with donkeys or small horses or goats or a few sheep. It passes one very lovely old church, very scenic with the adobe look and cacti, mesquite, and bougainvillea. 
This is the hot season in San Miguel but there are still flowers everywhere. Today I walked through the cobblestoned streets of El Centro, the old town. Every building is stonework masonry or gaily painted stucco in golds, ochre, sienna, or red. And tumbling down from almost every wall is the bougainvillea that has been in blossom every time I have come here to teach, no matter the season. I saw one wall that had at least ten different colors of blossoms. Who knew there was such variety?
Tonight, I'm busy with last minute preparations for my class at El Charco on Botanicals in Graphite and Color. We will be  working on drawing skills, building strong draftsmanship and botanical accuracy. Then we will develop lovely smooth continuous tone in graphite. And finally we will add some color to the drawings and just see what we can get!

Buenos noches from old Mexico!
(Almada street that runs in front of Posada Corazon, Parroquia in the background - always the same)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Polycarbonate Pencils for Film

(Polycarbonate pencils on film on left and Pen and Ink on paper on the right by Randy Raak, please click to enlarge) 

Last August I blogged about film pencils and the workshop that Alice Tangerini from Smithsonian was teaching in our School. You can read about the course and technique by clicking here. We have now incorporated this media in our curriculum and the first course is in process with Randy Raak as the instructor. I have posted some images already in the BI-Facebook and will keep you updated with more images later. You can find these pencils and leads quite easily, some students prefer Mylar, some Duralar (by Graffix) or OCE as the ground.
Yucca flower with Yucca moth is a challenge to illustrate in black and white, as it is white on white on white. Here both of them rendered by Randy Raak. (Please kick the image to enlarge)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chronicles 2013 - Finding your Art

(Libby Kyer, April 8, 2013)
We are starting the second week of April and the 15th page in the 2013 SBAI Chronicles was just completed, and the first Chronicle page was completed in February. Because not all of our illustrators and artists are connected to Facebook, I will periodically report the progress to let you know about the incredible pages produced. Please click here to see the progress.

From today's page about Sketching - Finding your Art: A good sketch is as much about the artist as it is about the art. It is a constant negotiation between what you see and what you think you want to see: between what you need to represent to anchor the work and what you need to represent to access your own take on the spirit of the work; what must be represented and what may be inferred. Let your sketches grow as you grow - and take joy in your process.

All who have had Libby Kyer as a teacher know that you should sketch at least 10 minutes every day. We all know how beneficial that is for our artistic development.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Art of weaving in Cafe Botanique, Wednesday April 17th, 6:30 p.m.

Finnish American Rag Rugs: Art, Tradition and Ethnic Community
Yvonne Lockwood, Ph.D., Curator Emeritus of Folklife at Michigan State University

Material culture is made up of tangible things crafted, shaped, altered, and used across time and across space. It comes from one’s hands and is shared with others in a community, reflecting one’s learned ideas, and connecting persons and groups. Material culture “tells” a story about its relationship to people, both the ones that create them and the ones who use them, and to the culture and history in which it is embedded.
In the late 19th century Finns shared skills within their local North American communities and regions about the production and use of traditional material culture. Their knowledge included weaving, knitting, spinning, woodworking, construction, and many more skills needed to sustain their lives in new environments. With time and subsequent generations, some of these skills were maintained, some are only memories, some have been lost, and some have been revived and relearned.The lecture examines the role material traditions play in Finnish America today and what we can learn about Finnish American culture from objects. It also addresses the issue of cultural continuity. Why are some material culture traditions maintained while others are lost? How have traditions changed in form and function?

Yvonne R. Lockwood is Curator of Folklife at the Michigan State University Museum and Associate Coordinator of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program. She is co-editor of the Michigan Folklife Annual and of Michigan Folklife Reader.  She received 2012 America Folklore Society Köngäs-Maranda Award and was selected as 2013 Lecturer of the Year (LOY) for Finlandia Foundation National

Café Botanique is a program within the School of Botanical Art and Illustration and is open for everybody. The 30-40 minute talk starts at 6:30 p.m. and is followed by a discussion. Café Botanique generally meets on selected Wednesdays, each time with a different topic relating to Denver Botanic Gardens’ Botanical Illustration curriculum. Pre-registration is not required, but encouraged (required for a SBAI-School credit).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Denver Botanic Gardens – Gates Hall
6:30 – 8 p.m.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Quality for over 250 years: Faber-Castell and Polychromos

(From our Arts and Archives 2012 Tour to London and Southern Germany)

Colored pencil is one of the four main mediums taught in our School of Botanical Illustration. We start the training with Color Layering for Colored Pencils-course and recommend the Polychromos pencils from Faber-Castell for quality and reliability. 
Last year we visited the Faber-Castell headquarters and factory in Stein, a little town next to Nürenberg, Germany. Listen to the BBC 30-minute radio program about two major pencil companies: Faber Castell and Staedler by clicking here (skip to the start of the program at 1 min 10 sec). The transcript of the program is available by clicking here. (More pictures form our visit to Faber-Castell)
   (From our Arts and Archives 2012 Tour to London and Southern Germany)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Impressions of the Linnaeus Apostles' Achiements

Prof. Dr. William A. Weber (95 yr) from Boulder Colorado talks about Linnaeus, his Apostles and how these botanists were so influential for him. Please click here