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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Arts and Archives 2013: Day in the glass country

(Oiva Toikka birds at Nuutajärvi glass factory and craft school)

The glass village of Nuutajärvi with its picturesque buildings is home to Finland’s oldest glassworks and largest community of independent glass designers, glassblowers and a glass school. The oldest factory of Nuutajärvi Glass was founded in 1793, and it is the oldest glass factory in Finland that is still in function. Today Nuutajärvi factory site is still one of the most well-preserved industrial milieus in Finland representing the solid Neo-renaissance architecture style. The oldest buildings are the bell tower from the 18th century and the empire style manor house built in 1822. Worker huts have been built between 1860s and 1940s. Nowadays the factory produces famous Finnish art glass. For instance, the birds of OivaToikka are made here.
 (Visavuori, Emil Wickström´s home and studio)

Visavuori, the museum of the life and works of sculptor Emil Wikström (1864-1942) and his grandson, cartoonist KariSuomalainen (1920-1999) was our second stop after a short drive from Nuutajärvi. This place is said to be the most beautiful museum in Finland. Wikström designed the buildings himself, beginning in 1894 with a combined studio and home. It was destroyed by fire in 1896 and rebuilt in 1902 in the national romantic style with many art nouveau details, and is the finest example of Karelian architecture in existence. 
(Orchid by Timo Sarpaneva, crystal, air bubble made with a wet wooden stick, cut and polished, Triennale di Milano1954, named for the most beautiful object of the year 1954)

After Visavuori we visited and got an excellent tour of the Iittala Glass factory which was opened after the Senate of Imperial Finland granted a permit for a glass factory in April 1881. We saw the famous designs of Alvar Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva, and Kaj Frank. The heart of Iittala’s design philosophy is formulated along Kaj Franck’s early thinking. According to Franck, “objects should always be appropriate, durable and functional.” This is why one of the most important functions of design is to make sure that objects designed for everyday use should be universally usable. We spent a long time in the actual factory studying how the production and quality control operated at Iittala.
(Interior from Hvitträsk)

Hvitträsk museum which was the last stop for the day before our hotel Kalastajatorppa in Helsinki. Finnish architects Eliel Saarinen, Herman Gesellius, and Armas Lindgren created this artistic, lakeside retreat for themselves between 1901 and 1904.  The three men had established their partnership a few years earlier and built Hvitträsk to consolidate their practice and to escape the congestion and noise of city life.  The main building, designed in National Romantic style, built of logs and natural stone, was both a common studio and a home for Eliel Saarinen. 
Even though we were late and arrived after closing time, we got a very informative tour of the museum and were also given some time to explore the building and environment on our own.
(Sunset at Hilton Kalastajatorppa, Helsinki)
Please view more pictures by clicking here (coming soon)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Diploma in Botanical Illustration

(squash blossom buds by Constance Sayas, watercolor and graphite)
After completing the Foundational Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration (or equivalent), you can apply for the Botanical Illustration Diploma Program at Denver Botanic Gardens.
Application form, please click here (Google account needed)

NOTE: Application time for 2013 is extended to October 30th, 2013.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Beginner's Illumination

(D for the donkey by Carla Pawlewicz)
 Our Beginner's Techniques for Botanical illumination course was completed last week. The goal was to finalize one decorated letter by using gouache, ink and acrylic paints. No gold leaf was used during this class.
(by Cynthia Rothbard)
(Please see more images by clicking here)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Arts and Archives 2013: Through the largest archipelago to the oldest city in Finland

Crossing the sea of Åland between Sweden and Finland is always a joy and a maximal experience of Nature’s beauty. Our day on the sea was filled with sunshine and rest. Watching the 12-deck, 2800 passenger cruise ferry (212 meters long) navigate the 350 km route through tens of thousands of islands in twelve hours provides its own entertainment.
Finland’s oldest city Turku welcomed us with blue skies and sunshine. We visited Åbo Akademi University (Åbo is the Swedish name for Turku) library collections. This is the former Royal Academy of Abo, established in 1640. The library had prepared three different exhibitions for us: 1. Historical documents (including Peter Kalm’s dissertation, various Linnaeus’ material, Magnus von Wright’s bird illustrations etc.) 

(Herbarium Blackwellianum, Nurnberg 1757)

2. A collection of Tove Jansson’s early material and correspondance (Jansson was the creator of the famous Muumin characters); 
(Tove Janssons' color swatches for one of her early books)
3. Children’s books (Abo Akademi has the most complete collection of Finnish and Finnish-Swedish children’s books in the country).
The university is next to Turku Cathedral established in the 13th century. The cathedral is the mother church of the Lutheran Church of Finland. The Cathedral museum has a valuable collection even though the once rich collections have been plundered during various wars and damaged by fire.
In Aboa Vetus and Ars Nova (Museum of History and Contemporary Art) we could on one hand see an interesting underground area of ruins from earliest times in Turku, and on the other hand we could see the most contemporary art imaginable in galleries.
(Part of the huge Turku castle)
Finally we visited the Turku Castle dating back to 1280.  Constructed over centuries, it reached its current size in the 1500s and became a museum in 1881. It is today an important piece of architectural and cultural history and one of the oldest buildings still in use in Finland.  
(The wall of the scribe's room in Turku Castle)
See more pictures by clicking here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Arts and Archives 2013: Three days in Stockholm

 (Stranvägen in Stockholm) too short time to explore even a fraction of the wealth of science and art that is available in this old city of three crowns.
Our first stop was the Swedish Museum of Natural History, which is personally very close to me as this institute was my employer for 10 fantastic years before my  move to the U.S. 
(Swedish Museum of Natural History)

We were welcomed by Prof. Arne Andeberg and curator Mia Ehn on the sunny Friday morning. Mia presented us original Linnaeus plant material and the first Swedish flora from 1605 (still intact), all normally kept in the museums safe. We could study unique 19th century illustrations from the extensive South-American collection (Regnell collection). Already the second time during this trip we saw newly discovered expedition material which was not yet published.  Mia introduced us to Emma Hulten who has done many of the current illustrations for the research division and we had the opportunity to study her current illustrations material.  
(one of the newly recovered illustrations from South America, 19th century)

Our second major visit for this day was the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. Dr. Fred Hocker, Director of Research spent a fantastic three hours with us presenting the ship including a tour of the research magazines which are not available for public. A large part of the material stored there is not even cataloged yet (artifacts including wood, fabrics, human remains, brandy and metal). Finally before dinner we had a tour of the Old town and got a quick lesson of Stockholm’s and Sweden’s history past and present.
(some of the decorations of the warship Vasa)

On Saturday morning we visited at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts and had the possibility to see some 120 artworks by Carl Larsson, who is one of the best known and best loved artists in Sweden – Larsson quickly became a favorite also for many of our tour participants.

The Riddarholm Church is the oldest preserved building in Stockholm and the only surviving mediaeval monastery church build around 1290. It is the royal burial church as well as the national hall of remembrance and a given place to visit.
The K.A. Almgren Silk Mill is the longest operating silk factory in Sweden, it was established 1833 and closed in 1974; In 1991 the silk mill was reopened and is now a living museum. The mill has produced fabrics for both royalty and commoners and the original Jacquard loom from 1862 is still producing silk fabric today. In the museum exhibition we could study the sketches for patterns and also the finished products.
(In a Jacquard loom the pattern is transferred to the warp via a chain of punch cards)

The overview of Stockholm would not be complete if one could not visit Skansen open-air museum which is the oldest of its type in the world, here we could see the Swedish folk culture at its best/ We could also get familiar with many old crafts like how to prepare linen from harvesting the plant to preparing the fiber  and spinning the yarn.

Our last day in Stockholm contained two highlights:

1. Visit to the Nordic Museum’s archives and study of the museum’s amazing filing system in which each item was painted and carefully described on the index cards by Emelie von Waltersdorff (employed 1903-1933).
2. Bruno Liljefors exhibit at Prince Eugen's Waldemarsudde:

Please see the photos from the sunny weekend in Stockholm by clicking here (coming soon). 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Reflecting on September 11th

Star Spangled Banner by Karen Genoff-Gambell, watercolor (please click to enlarge)

Class cancelled!

Watercolor I tonight, September 12 is cancelled! It is not safe to be on the roads in Boulder - Denver area because of the heavy rains!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Arts and Archives’ Uppsala day: Carolina Rediviva and Linnaeus –

Bird illustration with actual bird feathers by an unknown artist, likely 17th-18th century (please click to enlarge), Carolina Rediviva archives, Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala University library was founded in 1620 by King Gustav II Adolf. The university was already been active for 143 years. In 1841 the library was moved to the newly build Carolina Rediviva. We spend our morning in the special collections where we were shown rarities among the Early PrintedBooks, illustrations connected to Linnaeus and Olof Rudbeck  (17th century). We were also able to see Charles De Geer’s outstanding  illustrations of insects and butterflies. As a special treat we could be among the first ones to study the newly discovered collection of bird illustrations which most likely are from the 17th-18th century, however at the moment the artist or scientist behind this material is unknown. 
The library’s special exhibit included for instance the Silver Bible, Sweden’s most valuable book written in the beginning of the 6th century, the oldest preserved original document written in Swedish from 1330 and Linnaeus' account of the reproductive system of plants from 1729 (no photos from this exhibit).
On our way to the special tour of the Linnaeus Garden and Linnaeus museum we stopped by Gustavianum including the Anatomical theater
Rounding up the day with Linnaeus garden and his former home was a perfect completion of our Uppsala visit and the second day of Arts and Archives 2013 tour.
Please see the photos connected to this day by clicking here.

     Charles de Geer's illustrations, (please click to enlarge), Carolina Rediviva archives, Uppsala, Sweden

Fungi Pharmacy - opening tomorrow, September 12!

(Please click the image to enlarge)