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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year 2016

(Aquascapes in Colored Pencil by Sally Grew, please click to enlarge)

Happy and inspirational New Year of 2016 to all our followers! 
To see more both entry level and advanced technique illustrations from our December classes, please click here.

(Lindsay Giebler, graphite - from Pencil I, please click to enlarge)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Warmest wishes for the very best Holiday Season
If you are desperately trying to find the perfect gift to someone special, please remember the BI classes, they are perfect gifts for all seasons (January – June 2016 catalog is viewable here, and you can register for classes by clicking here). If you are new for the program and live in the northern part of Colorado or in Wyoming, you might like to try our entry level courses offered at the Schissler Academy of Fine Arts in Loveland, CO.

If you like to connect with Santa Claus, the direct link to his village is here, live-stream here, and you can also send the last minute letter here. Just remember that Santa leaves to deliver the Christmas presents to the Finnish and other European kids just in few hours (in the Christmas Eve).
(By request: recipes for rutabagacasserole and Glögg can be found here).

Image by Rudolf Koivu (1890-1946). The gifted graphic artist and painter, Rudolf Koivu (1890-1946), is one of Finland's most famous illustrators. Koivu is best known for his illustrations of fairy tales and other children's publications. Koivu's Christmas cards and cover pictures for Christmas magazines have had a strong influence on the Finnish image of a "real Christmas".

Since 1949 Rudolf Koivu Prize (10 000 euros) is awarded every second year (next 2017, applications deadline in December 2016) for the best children's or youth book illustration in Finland. The purpose of the prize is to raise the quality of artwork in children's books.

Monday, December 21, 2015

SBA 2016 Annual Open Exhibition - Call for Entries

The next London exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artist will be held from the 15th to 23rd of April 2016. For the first time the Society is inviting artists to submit work digitally for pre-selection.  The closing date for digital entries is 15th January 2016. Please see the detailed instruction at Making  A Mark.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Inspirational Progress work from the classroom

Indian Corn in progress, Carbon Dust by Sarah Little
We are finishing our 2015 classes during the current week. We scanned some truly inspirational works from the classroom, and there is more to come...
Please see more of the progress work by clicking here.

Cyclamen in progress, watercolor by Leslie Crosby

Monday, December 7, 2015

Registration opens tomorrow, December 8th, 9 a.m.

Tomorrow, December 8th, 9 a.m. you can sign up for 2016 Winter/Spring Botanical Illustration courses at Denver Botanic Gardens. This spring we also offer a selected number of entry level courses at Schissler Academy of Fine Arts, Loveland, CO. Registration for all classes is through Denver Botanic Gardens - please follow this link. You can find the downloadable course catalog by clicking here.
Please NOTE: All classes are of-line between 00.01 a.m. and 9 a.m. tomorrow, December 8th!

Happy Registration Time -
Gingersnaps and coffee is served in the office!

Friday, December 4, 2015

El Charco del Ingenio

Since 2009 we have been offering illustration classes at El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden in San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico. This November twelve students learned how to illustrate birds with Randy Raak as the instructor . This very successful El Charco project is a part within of our Center of Global Initiatives.
To see more from the class please follow this link.

(example of the student (Pakina's) work from the class)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Artist in Residency 2016 at Denver Botanic Gardens

Corispermum seed comparisions, ©2015 Ikumi Kayama, MA Medical & Scientific Illustrator, 2015 Artist-in-Residence at School of Botanical Art and Illustration, Denver Botanic Gardens

This is an exciting opportunity for an illustrator/artist to get involved in the daily happenings at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The resident would document the day-to-day progress and changes in the Rocky Mountain plant world translating the botanic gardens’ purpose as a place of preservation, conservation, education and diversity into images or works which bring others enjoyment and a deeper understanding of the environment some may never visit. The works completed under this residency contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of our collections and the broader environment we care for and offer an opportunity to see our activities through the eyes of the contributing residents.

The Summer2016 residency provides an opportunity for the selected illustrator/artist to get involved in a variety of activities at the Denver Botanic Gardens, from participation in open studios, demonstrations and educational projects in the classroom or the Science Pyramid to developing a blog or other online documentation.

The resident is expected to contribute to the established priorities of Denver Botanic Gardens, negotiated and tailored to the resident’s own personal interests. The residency could involve participation in any of the following:
  • Online blog about the Gardens (WordPress or similar)
  • Participation in Open Studios and presenting work in progress 
  • Compiling work produced during the residency
  • Educational workshops
  • Demonstrations for the public

  • The illustrator/artist is expected to spend five days/week on site, although this can vary from week to week depending on other professional commitments by prior agreement.
  • The residency may involve presence during evenings and weekends.
  • The resident must provide their own supplies, equipment, and logistics for their activities during the residency.

Outdoor studio space, access to the Gardens’ library, herbaria and the classroom.

This call for illustrators offers two residency opportunities, each for a period of six weeks:
1. June 13 – July 22
2. August 8 – September 22


The residency provides a stipend of $3,000 for the selected illustrator/artist to be used for both housing and materials. 

At least one completed original work from the selected illustrator/artist will become property of Denver Botanic Gardens.

The resident reserves the copyright of the produced illustrations, but will give written permission to Denver Botanic Gardens to use or print images for publicity, publication, or retail product development. When the resident reproduces artwork created during the residency for their own purposes, publication information will include the language: “This artwork was produced under the Artist-In-Residence Program at Denver Botanic Gardens.”

The residency is open to all illustrators/artists who have completed a certificate of botanical art or illustration. Artists who have completed a certificate program in scientific illustration or nature illustration (or equivalent) are also eligible. The instructors of Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration are not eligible for the residency.

The application form should include:
·         A description of how you will respond to the opportunity and how this opportunity will develop your practice (not more than 500 words in length, typed and double spaced).
·         CV with two references
·         Link to your website and/or blog
·         5 examples of recent work in a low resolution format (not to exceed 3MB per image)
·         Your preference for the residency time period
Please email your application to with Illustrator in Residency 2016 in the subject line.

Closing date for submissions: February 29, 2016
Selection completed by March 4, 2016
Carex viridula, ©2015 Benjamin Cardenas Valderrama, 2015 Artist-in-Residence at School of Botanical Art and Illustration, Denver Botanic Gardens
Amorphophallus titanum, 'Stinky' , ©2015 Ikumi Kayama, MA Medical & Scientific Illustrator, 2015 Artist-in-Residence at School of Botanical Art and Illustration, Denver Botanic Gardens

(Please click the images to enlarge)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!

 Cynara scolymus, Pen and Ink by Shiere Melin

more images, click here

Autumn Leaves, watercolor by Susan Willis

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Great Holiday Gift!

(please click to enlarge)

It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since Practice Makes Perfect, our  student and faculty art book, was published. You can learn more about the project by clicking here. We have only a limited number of copies of this book left. This is your chance to get an excellent Holiday gift for your botany or art lover in Your life.
To get this book before the holiday rush, please click here.

Sketchbook 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 O.B.E. Kew, U.K. and 76 full-color illustrations each presenting insight into the artist’s way of working at Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration. Limited edition of 500, hardbound. ISBN: 978-0-9678676-3-2. Printed in Canada.
$50 members and non-members. Mailing U.S. $10, Outside U.S. $20.]

Friday, November 20, 2015

2015 Graduation, Steppe Plants and Graduate Art Show Opening - November 22

(Oenothera macrocarpa sspincana, watercolor by Constance Sayas)

Our 2015 graduation ceremonies including the announcement for scholarships and awards are taking place on Sunday, November 22, 2015, 1 p.m. 

We also have the opening reception for our annual botanical illustration show Steppe Plants Featuring Plant Select species (Gates Hall). 
In El Pomar Gallery the graduates exhibit their art and for the first time we have included samples from our diploma students. 

Graduation Ceremony 1-2 p.m.
Opening Reception 2-3 p.m.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Time to start planning for 2016: Our Winter/Spring Catalog is out!

Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration Winter/Spring 2016 catalog (January - July) is published and the courses for the first part of 2016 can be viewed here or by clicking the catalog image in the right hand column on this blog.  
We have over 80 course offerings for the coming period and certainly everyone can find something of interest and suitable for their personal calendar. This spring we also offer some entry level classes at the Schissler Academy in Loveland, CO.

Registration for these classes opens on December 8, 9 a.m.

Botanical Illustration 2015 Scholarship Recipients

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 2015 we have four recipients and two of them have already started taking classes during the year.

( Fall Favorites, Graphite by Holly D'Oench)

Holly D'Oench is already enrolled in the courses at our school since this fall. She has a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from CU Boulder has spent the past four years working as a field biologist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Ecological Observatory Network. Holly if focusing on developing and improving her technical skills and studying botanical illustration to obtain a basis of blending art and science. Her ultimate goal is to become a professional scientific illustrator.  
(Orchid, etching by Sandra Doherty)

Sandra Doherty has her background in arts and education. Sandra likes to develop her skills further and apply the learned to different design elements such as wallpaper and textiles.

Graphite by Emily Prengaman

Emily Prengaman studied anthropology and fine arts at Carnegie Mellon. She is currently involved in K12 teaching and the education program at Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Her goal is to develop her skills in developing educational materials and interactives. She is also looking forward to working within our BI-community.  
(Hinoki Cypress Bonsai, graphite by Lyn Wellsand)

Lyn Wellsand enrolled in our courses during the late summer 2015 and her goal is to graduate in 2016. Lyn has a graphic design degree from American Academy of Art in Chicago, IL and comes to Colorado from Georgia. Her goal is to develop her own style as a successful botanical illustrator.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Maria Sibylla Merian - one of the greatest ever botanical artists

Rebecca Hall, Dry Point Intaglio 

Maria Sibylla Merian has inspired many of our courses through the years: we have had classes on Butterflies, Dry Point Intaglio, Drawing on Tradition, etc. and she is mentioned each time we teach the history of Botanical Illustration. In connection to our Arts and Archives Tours we have studied Merian's original work at collections of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg, Germany (2012) and at the collections of the Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg (2013).   
Katherine Tyrrell has in an excellent way summarized Maria Sibylla Merian's life and works on her website. Highly recommended for every botanical illustrator!

Susan DiMarchi, Dry Point Intaglio (in process) 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Kevin Sloan in Cafe Botanique, November 4th, 6:30 p.m.

Birds of America - The Ascension of Martha by Kevin Sloan, acrylic on canvas

Visual Storytelling by Kevin Sloan

At the core of my work is a deep concern and respect for our planet particularly its "silent inhabitants" - the animals and plants we share this world with.
Through allegory and symbolism Kevin Sloan expresses this concern and at the same time reminds viewers of the wonders in this extraordinary world. He seeks to create a body of work that can speak about our modern technological environment and simultaneously present images of natural balance, odd, unexpected beauty and mystery. His paintings consistently refer back to nature but also acknowledge contemporary society and thus create a dialog between the modern world we've created and the fragile, quiet, and always present natural environment.

Often lush, sometimes stark and theatrical, Kevin Sloan’s "allegorical realism" paintings always ask more questions than they present answers. They aspire to start a conversation about our relationship with nature in this modern, technological and quickly changing era.”

Currently based in Denver, Colorado, Kevin Sloan has been painting and exhibiting internationally for nearly 30 years.  His wonder in the extraordinary and quirky beauty of the natural world is apparent in all his work.

Wednesday, November 4, 6:30-8 p.m.

Gates Hall

Friday, October 30, 2015

Letters, Fooling the Eye and HAPPY HALLOWEEN

From our Trompe l'Oeil class (by Chrystal Beckel, colored pencil)

Illuminated letters, M for a Monarch by Helen Smithwick, mixed media

The demonstration piece for our Cute Killers' class AND 
HAPPY HALLOWEEN (Randy Raak, graphite)
For more images, please click here

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Two Months Ago

Amorphophallus titanum by Randy Raak, graphite (please click to enlarge)

It is now for two months ago our famous corpse flower bloomed and was named to Stinky... 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Time for more Shakespeare

(by Deanna Gammon)

We are preparing for our Shakespeare's Flowers - themed exhibit (March - October 2016) in the Norlin Library, University of Colorado, Boulder. This exhibit will celebrate Shakespeare's First Folio which will be at the CU Art Museum in August 2016.

In 2015 we had two Shakespeare flowers themed courses about the plants mentioned by Shakespeare in his writings and these works are part of those classes. To see more from these classes, please click here.

(by Beth Bradford)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fall Greetings from Hibiscus classroom -

(Bev Johnson, colored pencil)

Nights are getting chillier in Colorado and the mountains have got their first dusting of snow. Our learning experiences continue in Hibiscus: we have had lots of graphite, colored pencil, and some watercolor classes. We illustrated some insects collected from the Gardens which are now in the Gardens' growing insect collection. Last weekend we learned about the historic art of Chinese Flower Painting from Ms. Sally Yu Leung of San Francisco. All twelve students from that class agreed that the technique is challenging and certainly different from the traditional scientific illustration.
  (Linda Forbess, Chinese Flower Painting)
 Carduus nutans  by Shiere Melin, Graphite) 
(Syrhidae toxomerus - haverfly approaching Gallardia grandiflora, Susan Willis, Graphite)

For mere images from the recently completed classes, please click here

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Surprise Visit by James Gurney!

View from Denver Botanic Gardens' romantic garden south towards our herb garden. James Gurney, casein (5"x 8")

While traveling through Denver, James Gurney unexpectedly had couple of extra hours and he chose to devote those to Denver Botanic Gardens. Excellent decision!
He will in the near future write about his visit on Gurney Journey.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Congratulations to 2015 Graduates!

(Marj Hopkins, colored pencil)
Join me to congratulate the 8 artists who are in 2015 receiving the Foundational Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration from Denver Botanic Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration: Karen Boggs-Bryant, Noreen Goetz, Patricia Greenberg, Linda Forbess, Marj Hopkins, Dawn Huston, Diane Inman and Constance Neuber. 
We are impressed with the level of competence, and thoroughly proud of you. Please click here to see some random examples from each portfolio. 
The graduation ceremony will be held in conjunction of the Annual Botanical Illustration Art Show (Steppe Plants: Botanical Ilustrations Featuring Plant Select®) on Sunday, November 22, 1-2 p.m. at Denver Botanic Gardens Gates Hall. 

Artists, 2015 Graduates and their families are invited to attend!
(Patricia Greenberg, Watercolor)

"In Boom" in Cafe Botanique - Wedensday, October 7, 6:30 p.m.

Édouard Manet (French, 1832–1883)Flowers in a Crystal Vase, ca. 1882Oil on canvas, 127⁄8 × 95⁄8 in. (32.7 × 24.5 cm)National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection,1970.17.37.

In Bloom: Painting Flowers in the Age of Impressionism
Molly Medakovich, Ph.D., Department of Learning & EngagementDenver Art Museum

A seemingly simple and often overlooked subject in the history of art, the flower was a significant source of inspiration to French artists of the 1700s and 1800s. We'll explore the trajectory of styles and approaches to flower painting across time, from the exacting eye of artists who painted in the detailed tradition of botanical illustration, to the expressive experiments in color and paint by the Impressionists. Discover personal stories, creative experiments and interesting anecdotes of artists who embraced this sensory subject during the early modern period.

Molly Medakovich is a museum educator and art historian. She works in the Learning & Engagement Department at the Denver Art Museum, serving on exhibition teams, experimenting with programs and hands-on activities in permanent collection galleries, and training docents to create engaging experiences for the variety of visitors who walk through the museum’s doors. She has a Ph.D. in 18th- and 19th-century art history and, in addition to her work at the DAM, teaches colleges art history classes at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Wednesday, October 7, 6:30-8 p.m.
Gates Hall

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bird Illustration at El Charco del Ingenio

Are you interested of visiting the lovely San Miguel de Allende in November? Randy Raak will be instructing a bird illustration course at El Charco del Ingenio on November 16-20. This is possible through the collaboration between Denver Botanic Gardens and El Charco.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

September Untitled-night at Denver Art Museum

(30-minute expressive ink-sketches by Susan DiMarchi)

The September Untitled night at Denver Art Museum was called Offshoot and focused on everything that flowers can inspire. Three of our instructors were involved in this event to represent our school: Susan DiMarchi was demonstrating expressive ink, Susan Rubin had two 30-minute workshops on textile design and Randy Raak had also two workshops on scratchboard technique. 
As always we enjoyed participating and meeting enthusiastic arts lovers.

Susan Rubin's plan for the 30-minute textile design workshops

Randy Raak gave his 30-minute workshops on scratchboard technique with the help of  Mr. Bones, who is here posing with his portrait executed in 30 minutes by Randy Raak.

See more images about our participation by clicking here

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lynne Chapman about Denver Botanic Gardens and The Power of Social Media:

(Victoria Lilies at Denver Botanic Gardens by Lynne Chapman)

For some weeks ago we had a guest instructor from the U.K., award-winning children book illustrator Lynne Chapman. Here is what she wrote about her visit with us:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

We have been working hard #1...

(Colored Pencil by Rebecca Swain)

In addition to our core classes we have recently completed courses in Illustrating Colorado mushrooms, Water lilies and Roses. We have also had classes in Herbs and Poisonous plants. 
Last weekend award winning illustrator Lynne Chapman from Sheffield, U.K. demonstrated for the students how to design  the characters in a picture book effectively. 
Finally Sarah Homfray, also from the U.K. returned for the third time to teach us traditional embroidery techniques, this time blackwork which can be traced back 500 years and likely originates in Spain. Blackwork is like a refined value study done with needle and thread instead of graphite pencil or ink.
See more photos from our classes by clicking here.

(graphite by Elizabeth Lafemina)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Science of Forensic Art in Cafe Botanique, September 16, 6:30 p.m.

(by Cynthia March)

Science of Forensic Art
Cynthia March, Forensic Artist, Denver, CO

A forensic artist assists law enforcement by combining artistic skills with scientific information to aid in criminal investigations and case prosecutions. During this talk four different categories of forensic art will be discussed to clarify when and how forensic art is used in investigations.

Cynthia March received her forensic training from Stuart Park Forensics, Denver FBI & CBI, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and forensic artist Karen Taylor. She currently works with law enforcement

Wednesday, September 16, 6:30-8 p.m.
Gates Hall

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

STEPPE PLANTS: Botanical Illustrations Featuring Plant Select®

(colored pencil by Marj Hopkins)

THE CALL IS OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS: Annual juried exhibit from the School of Botanical Art and Illustration highlights species from Plant Select®, a leading nonprofit cultivator, and distributor of plants suited to the high plains and intermountain regions. 
Entries are accepted until October 9, 2015. 
The exhibit display time: November 22, 2015 - February 14, 2016 
Venue: Gates Garden Court Gallery, Denver Botanic Gardens.

Please click here for more details about the exhibit.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A SBAI Weekend: From Hibiscus to DAM

Students presented their projects for the class and received helpful and constructive peer comments

The past weekend was one of those inspiring and hectic weekends for our school: In the classroom twelve students transformed their botanical illustration into a teaching tool in a three-day intense workshop: Science, Art and Communication. Ikumi Kayama guided the enthusiastic group through the process.
We also participated in Denver Art Museum's (DAM) August Untitled Final Friday-event: Cross-pollinate with numerous workshops, demonstrations and talks.
Please see some photos form the weekend by clicking here.
Constance Sayas demonstrating watercolor technique in botanical illustration at the Denver Art Museum