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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays!

(transparent acrylics by Nance Minnick)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bartram exhibit now displayed at UC Berkeley, CA

From the exhibit: Panicum virgatum by Susan Curnutte

"Following in the Bartram's Footsteps" exhibit features 44 original artwork in the style of John Bartram and is now on display at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden's through February 2015.  
You can find out about the exhibit details by clicking here. You can watch an excellent video about the exhibit by clicking here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Botanical Illustration 2014 scholarship recipients

(Stones (2012), colored pencil by Elizabeth Lafemina)

Each year the School of Botanical Illustration awards scholarships for new students who are 15 years or older and planning to enroll in any of the required classes  in Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration. In 2013 we have five recipients:

1. Elizabeth Lafemina is already enrolled in the courses at SBAI since the past summer. She likes to learn how to render a subject accurately; and to master technically to capture the true identity and structure of plant while depicting its beauty. Her desire is to help the illustration field to grow through pioneering new opportunities, illustrating extinct or rare species or educating others.

(Polyporales (2014), watercolor by Stephanie Oliver)

2. Stephanie Oliver has been taking our botanical illustration classes already and would like to use her skills to do scientific illustrations for museums and scientific papers involving extinct and extant plant species, as well as create public awareness of the many plants and bird species that we may lose in the future as our planet changes.

 (Magnolia, watercolor by Laurel Sprenger)
3. Laurel Sprenger will start in our school in 2015. Her background is in botany and she would like to develop her observation and drawing skills and apply that into her greeting card business and illustrating children's books.  

(Swallowtail, pen and ink with watercolor by Sage Stowell)
4.  Sage Stowell  has a degree in environmental studies and is planning to start our courses in 2015. Her goal is to illustrate field guides and textbooks, and pursue a graduate degree in botany.

(Stain glass painting by Julie Talty)
5. Julie Talty will enroll in our courses in 2015. She is a practicing artist and has been painting, sculpting, welding and drawing. She has also been practicing performing arts. With her own words she needs to improve in the range of values, perspective, composition.

Congratulations to all of you and welcome to the School of Botanical Art and Illustration! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014


This 32-page illustrated story about re-introducing wolverines to Colorado has just been published in a limited first edition. It is packed with information about these fast moving animals while telling the story of Gulo M1. You can get your copy by contacting the author.
Susanne Stutzman is an illustrator, wilderness advocate, and supporter of wolverine re-introduction in Colorado. She graduated from our School last year (2013).

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter/Spring 2015 courses open for registration

(Mary McCauley, colored pencil)
Our Winter/Spring 2015 classes will open for registration tomorrow, December 9th, 9 a.m. If you misplaced your new catalog, you can download and print a new one by clicking here.
The on-line registration site can be reached here, please note that the winter and spring courses appear now as sold out, they will go off-line between 00:00 a.m. and 08:59.99 a.m. on tomorrow, December 9th  and on 09.00 a.m. they are all on-line again and ready for the registrations.
Good luck with the registration and remember that our courses typically sell out very fast - 

Friday, December 5, 2014

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

Our School has partnered with El Charco del Ingenio in San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico since 2009 and we have offered botanical illustration classes there 3 - 4 times/year. Our collaboration will continue and in 2015 we have planned to offer three 5-day-long workshops: one in March, one in July and the last one for the year in December.
Laurence Pierson was the teacher for our most recent workshop that ended today. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Plant Select

(Echium amoenum - Red feathers by Marj Hopkins)

Plant Select® is a well-established, unique collaborative venture between Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado State University and Green Industries of Colorado. Its main aim is to identify and distribute the best plants for gardens from the High Plains to the intermountain regions. The first publication, “Durable Plants for the Garden,” published in 2009, featured 75 plants with beautiful illustrations to accompany the text and photographs. Since then, many new plants have been included in the Plant Select® program. The second publication is in planning and we have participated this time too and will provide some illustrations of the new plants. Please see more of them by clicking here

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The New Sylva

When John Evelyn's Sylva was published in 1664 it was the world's first comprehensive study of trees. It was published by the Royal Society and didn't include any illustrations because it was understood that everybody at that time knew how the common trees looked like.
Siverologist Gabriel Hemery and artist Sarah Simblet have recently published an inspirational contemporary version called The New Sylva. It offers a deep and enriching  understanding of our forests and orchards. Its over 200 absolutely exquisite ink drawings include not only trees and details of them but also landscapes and the fauna connected to these plants. Please click here to listen to the interview with Sarah Simblet in which she tells about her work with the book.
The New Sylva is warmly recommended both for the text and for the magnificent illustrations.

(Redwoods, page 92; and Picea, page 60 both by Sarah Simblet)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Looking into 2015!!!

Our Winter/Spring 2015 catalog is published. You can view, print and save it into your computer by clicking the image above,  in the right hand column, or clicking here. We offer over 90 courses during during the first six months of 2015. We have the pleasure to host two overseas visiting instructors: Lucy Smith from U.K. and Damolar Lal Gurjar from India.
Registrations starts on December 9th, 9 a.m. either per phone (720-865-3580), on-line or in person.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Drafting with Tradition

The history of movable and pop-up construction begins within the walls of a medieval monastery and the Benedictine monk Matthew Paris (1200 – 1259) is said to have applied the first wheel for educational purposes.  From 16th century onward pop-up books became rabidly more popular along the advances in printing. The visually complex structures often related to medicine, mathematics and technology were superb teaching tools making learning more effective, interactive and memorable.
More about pop-ups and their history, please click here.
Last weekend an enthusiastic group of 12 students engineered 12 different structures (vegetables and critters) under Shawn Sheehy's instruction and guidance.  This was already the third time Shawn was visiting our school and this time the topic was vegetables and critters. To see a few more images from our workshop, please click here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Autumn Colours - Fall Colors

(Nels Broste, watercolor)
This fall is going to go to the history as the time of overwhelmingly rich fall coloration. Some of the colors got beautifully captured on our Autumn Leaves class, for more images, please click here.
If you like to know more about Nature's Palette, please click here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Exploring Ecology with Pop-Up Books in Cafe Botanique, November 5th

Spoonfull of Honey: Exploring Ecology with Pop-Up Books
Shawn Sheehy, Chicago
While teaching ecology to children at the YMCA in the early '90s, Shawn Sheehy felt his interest in the topic solidify into a life-long pursuit. Now he uses the allure of pop-up books to explore environmental principles with a new generation, both children and adults.

Shawn Sheehy's interest in paper engineering is a result of study in sculpture, graphic design and book arts. His interest in the natural world stems from his years living in rural Indiana and teaching environmental studies. Shawn creates limited-edition pop-up books, contributes on the occasional commercial pop-up project and teaches paper engineering workshops. If he's not in the studio, you can find him in the garden.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Denver Botanic Gardens – Gates Hall
6:30 – 8 p.m.
(to reserve your seat, please click here)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween in black and white

(Ink, Meredith Feniak)
Appropriately right before the Halloween we completed some of the black and white-media classes. Graphite and ink both expressive and beautiful media. Please see more images by clicking here.

(Graphite, Susan Willis)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Two Additional Days of Mushrooms -

(by Shanelle Deater)
A new group and two additional successful days - you'll see more pictures if you click here! 
(by Alice Pearson)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mushroom Portraits

(bolete by Susan Curnutte)

We have had the pleasure to host Alexander Viazmensky from St. Petersburg (Russia) and learn about his techniques. He just completed a 3-day intense watercolor workshop and inspired our BI-students to paint mushrooms, and other workshop is in process. Sasha's teaching is filled with individual attention and one-on-one demonstrations. To see some images from the first workshop, please click here.
 (Sasha Viazmensky with his students at Denver Botanic Gardens)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mr. William H. Lizars

Callidryas eubule and Terias mexicana by William H. Lizars, circa 1858

 William H. Lizars (1788-1859) of Edinburgh was an established portrait and genre painter who went to work in the book trade and created plates for “British Butterflies” and J.J. Audubon’s "The Birds of America" Lizars experimented with new techniques and is perhaps best known for his colored insect and bird illustrations on monochromatic habitat backgrounds.
In our series of Drawing on Tradition the students worked in the scientific style of Lizars using ink and a color media – please click here to see some some examples of their work.
Ink and watercolor by Helen Smithwick

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mushroom Magic in Cafe Botanique

Mushroom Magic – The Annual Gold Rush in Russia
By Alexander Viazmensky, St. Petersburg, Russia

In Russia, mushroom hunting is a favorite pastime (even more so than fishing) for many people— men and women, old and young, crowd the forests for this activity. Throngs of people with mushroom baskets fill the morning trains out from the city, and the most devoted ones go to the woods in the evening and spend the night at a campfire. The Russians are enthusiasts about mushrooms; many depend on their collections as important sources of food as well as income. However, this intense picking is causing a serious decrease in the mushroom population, as well as disturbing the remote forests with intense motor vehicle usage. Mushroom Magic will be an entertaining tour with Alexander Viazmensky from St. Petersburg, Russia.

Alexander (Sasha) Viazmensky was born in Leningrad and originally trained as an electrical engineer. He soon changed careers and after working as a freelance artist he joined the Art Academy in St. Petersburg where he graduated in 1991. He currently devotes all of his time to creating his art. His works are included in numerous international collections such as Millesgarden Museum in Stockholm, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Lindley Library in London, and Dr. Shirley Sherwood Collection, Kew Gardens, UK.
 Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Denver Botanic Gardens – Gates Hall
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Suggested donation: $5
(To reserve your seat, please click here )

Friday, October 10, 2014


Perspective exercise from the Perfecting Perspective class (Elizabeth LaFemina) 

Perspective in action, from Colored Pencil II by Mary Francis (the plant 'bulb' is ca 2 cm wide, here strongly enlarged, scale is yet missing)

If you like to see more images from our Colored Pencil II class, please click here.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Final Count Down - 24 hours Left!

(cartoon by D. Clarke)

 We are running to the last hours of our project and we are sooo close to the third stretch goal. Can we get the third Artist/Illustrator in Residency stipend? Let's do it and get all the way to the $29,000-mark!
 Thank you again and again!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Congratulations to 2014 Botanical Illustration Graduates!

(Populus deltoides by Mary McCauley, Artist Choice)

Join me to congratulate the 17 artists who are in 2014 receiving the Foundational Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration from Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration: Beth Bradford, Nels Broste, Cyndy Calkins, Ralph Chapman, Sharon Eaton, Meredith Feniak, Carol Ferguson, Patti Hearn, Jan Latona, Sarah Matthews, Edward May, Liz McCauley, Mary McCauley, Jaclyn Sachleben, Angela Tingle, Barbara Vucich and Erika Walker. 
We are very impressed with the level of competence, and we are thoroughly proud of you. Please click here to see the best plates in each media category. The more complete presentation of the graduates' work will be on-line shortly.
The certificate awards ceremony will be held in conjunction of the Annual Botanical Illustration Art Show (Drawn from Nature) on Sunday, December 7, noon - 2 p.m. at Denver Botanic Gardens Gates Hall. 
Artists, 2014 Graduates and their families are invited to attend!

Peruvian Rainforest Floor

(by Marjorie Leggitt for Denver Botanic Gardens)

A mural illustrating the Peruvian Rainforest Floor created by Marjorie Leggitt will be part of the signage in Marnie's Ppavilionat Denver Botanic Gardens. It will be installed in the Pavilion's grotto later this year. 
The mural was also featured in the Scientific American blog site as a part of month-long celebration of science artists.  This was the third consecutive year that Scientific American featured 30 science artists in the 30 days of September = the September SciArt Blitz

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Almost at our second stretch goal - Can we reach the third one?

Soon the work starts! (cartoon by D. Clarke)
 We have 2 days and twelve hours left to reach our goals - thank you for your support toward our artist-in-residency program. The second stretch goal at $26,000 gives us in addition to the production of the book, two stipends, each of them for 6-week artist in residency position (at $29,000 we can get three...). More info, please click here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

First Artist/Illustrator in Residence Position at the Gardens in 2015?

(cartoon by D. Clarke, please click the image to enlarge)

We are very close to unlock the first 6-week Artist/Illustrator-in-Residency position at Denver Botanic Gardens. This position would be a paid position and would be documenting the day-to-day progress and changes in the Rocky Mountain plant world, interact with the School of Botanical Art and Illustration and our newly opened Science Pyramid!  We have seven days to go and the ultimate goal is to get three (3) of the 6-week positions to materialize and be opened for applications! 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Entry level and advanced

From the Entry Level Graphite, Tulip by Corrie Frank

 For more images from our August-September classes please click here

From Drawing on Tradition workshop and with the style of Irene Wellington, illuminated and lettered by Jill Quillian 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Looking into the Future!

(please click to enlarge, Dr. M cartoon by David Clarke)

We have at the moment reached 90% of our goal of $20K. Thank you for spreading the word and thank you for supporting our Kickstarter project
We are looking forward to our future Artist/Illustrator in Residency Program and the possibility to fund up to three illustrator internships next summer here at Denver Botanic Gardens. Our community of teachers and students is known for sharing all of their knowledge and experience with each other, making this a great place to get involved in art and science.
More information about our project can be found by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

We can soon start with our Stretch Goal!

We have reached 75% of our goal! Thank you all- Keep supporting our project, we have soon unlocked the production of our book and can start with our stretch goal (Artist/Illustration in Residency Program)!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Emerald Ash Borer in Cafe Botanique

(Emerald Ash Borer, scratch board by Randy Raak)

Emerald Ash Borer in Colorado
 Kathleen Alexander, City Forester, Boulder

In late September 2013, City of Boulder Forestry staff discovered an emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation within the city. The subsequent delimitation survey showed EAB is well established within a corridor in central Boulder. Over the next 15 years, EAB management, including tree removal, tree replacement, wood disposal and pesticide treatments will have a significant direct budgetary impact to Colorado cities and private residents. The loss of tree canopy will have considerable economic, social and environmental impacts for decades. This presentation will focus on the symptoms of EAB and management options for emerald ash borer in Colorado.

Kathleen Alexander is the City Forester for the City of Boulder and has been with the city for the past 17 years. She received her B.S. in Forest Biology and M.S. in Forest Management from Colorado State University. Kathleen serves on the Emerging Pests in Colorado (EPIC) Committee and has been active on the ISA-Rocky Mountain Chapter Education Committee since 2003.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Denver Botanic Gardens – Gates Hall
6:30 – 8 p.m.

To reserve your seat, please click here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Featured in THE DOWNTOWN9 -

(click the image)
The Downtown9 staff says that "our project was simply wonderful" and have featured it on their site. Support the publishing of this book and support our Artist in Residency Program.

(Lesley Switendick)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Exhibits to visit and enjoy in Colorado

Nancy Blum, Nirvana (detail) - Ink, gouache, colored pencil on paper 
1. Drawings by Nancy Blum until September 27 at Colorado State University Art Museum, Fort Collins Colorado.
- Nancy Blum creates large scale and intricate botanical drawings influenced both by Chinese plum blossoms and German botanical renderings. 
- Definitely recommended if you are in Fort Collins

Susan Rubin, Gone to Seed - exhibit in Spark Gallery, Denver, September 4 - 28, 2014 (Opening reception on Friday, September 12, 6 - 9 p.m.)
- Original colored pencil work with preparatory sketches and the printed seed packets by Botanical Interests. 

Anna Kaye Bleached Pine - charcoal on paper
Anna Kaye, Flash Point exhibit in Sandra Phillips Gallery, Denver, September 12 - November 1 (Artist reception Friday, September 12, 6 - 8 p.m.)  
- Series of drawings and paintings mainly exploring the relationship between western coniferous forest and their wildfires

Friday, September 5, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect - Kickstarter is launched!

(Two pages from the travelling sketchbook - Constance Sayas and Karen Cleaver)

Back our great project:

Practice Makes Perfect: A Botanical Illustration Sketchbook from Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration not only represents skills and abilities, but also creativity, ideas and friendship. Illustration can take many forms; it has an ability to transform a page and can add magic to words to present what simple text might imply, but can not say.
The primary goal of this Kickstarter is to raise funds to publish the limited edition Practice Makes Perfect: A Botanical Illustration Sketchbook. The book showcases a unique collection of talent and expertise, including natural science illustrations, artistic explorations and calligraphy with a personal touch. It includes a foreword by Dr. Shirley Sherwood, Kew, U.K. and 76 full color illustrations by artists from the Gardens’ botanical illustration community, including international experts, each presenting insight into the artist's way of working.
The Stretch goal of this Kickstarter project is to receive funds to establish an Illustrator/Artist in Residence Program at Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration.

For more information or to watch a project video, please click here.

Botanical art is undergoing a great renaissance and it is delightful to see such a wide and lively interpretation in this charming sketchbook. - Dr. Shirley Sherwood

(Jessy Bergeman's sketch from the Japanese Garden)

(Denver Botanic Gardens is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. All donations to Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration qualify as a charitable deduction on your federal income tax return.)