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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018!

The preview of our 2016 SBAI Chronicles pages is almost over, we have only one page left to present after this posting.  In the coming months we are launching the Chronicles II Kickstarter project to facilitate the publication of this amazing collection of art. Our (stretch) goal will fund our Artist-in-Residency program for the coming years:

Zinnia by Lesley MacGregor, colored pencil; Plate #75 in SBAI 2016 Chronicles

Zinnias are native mainly to Mexico; however the wild zinnias grow from southwestern Colorado in the north to Guatemala in the south. The wild Zinnia species are much more modest than the varieties and cultivars that we grow in our gardens today. Pre-Colombian cultures used zinnia leaves and flowers as medicinal and ritual herbs. The Aztecs living in Mexico City grew zinnias in their gardens at the time of the Spanish occupation.  Many of the southwestern tribes used zinnias for dyes and paints.
It is not clear when Zinnia for the first time was introduced to Europe but it is confirmed that the plant was brought from Peru to France in the early 1700s.  The Zinnia seeds spread quickly throughout Europe. Linnaeus published the genus in his Systema Naturae (1759)and attributed the genus to the German anatomist and botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn, who at the time was director of the Botanic garden of the University of Göttingen.
Several other wild Zinnia species were introduced to France during 1800s and by 1856 the French had developed the first double forms of the flower.  In 1876 the German seed company Haage and Schmidt introduced several Zinnia hybrids that they called Zinnia darwini, this cross was originally developed in France in 1864.
In 1798, when the first zinnia seeds were offered for sale to the public in the United States the Americans were not interested.  In 1876 the Henry A. Dreer seed house of Philadelphia started selling several varieties of Zinnia seeds and these multicolored varieties are still available today. The real breakthrough for Zinnia happened when the natural mutation ‘Mammoth’ zinnias became available in the early 1900s.
Today we have 22 accepted Zinnia species in addition to over 100 cultivars. 

Please click here to see the 74 additional plates.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas to All Our Readers

Scratchboard by Peg Christon

Cones are tightly connected to Holiday traditions all over the world. Here you can see some of the challenging subjects produced mostly on our scratchboard class, please click here.

Scratchboard by Susan Carr

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Color for the Holiday Week

Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata group) by Irene Young, colored pencil

After two weeks we can write 2018! Please click here to see some finished work from our end of the year classes

Textile/gift wrap/wallpaper pattern by Susan Willis from our class inspired by John Lockwood from Indian Arts and Crafts movement, colored pencil

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

America's Flora opening in May 2018

Yucca harrimaniae, Constance Sayas, 2017, watercolor and graphite

Katherine Tyrrell will be blogging about the artists whose artwork has been selected as a part of the Botanical Art Worldwide exhibit. Her first post is about the 43 USA artists who were selected for the America's Flora exhibition which is opening in May 2018 at the US Botanical Gardens in Washington D.C.
In addition to Constance Sayas, our gifted watercolor instructor, three illustrators from Colorado are included: Dorothy DePaolo, Sharon Garrett and Vanessa Martin!

Please read more by following this link.
Congratulations to all!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Pencil I and beyond - registrations for 2018 BI-classes opens tomorrow!

Jacaranda seedpod by Michelle Wysocki, graphite (Pencil I)

 Gladiolus by Laura Matthews, graphite (Pencil II)

Autumn leaves in Watercolor: Grape leaf painted by Pauline Edwards; on the right a photo of the specimen few weeks after Pauline started her painting it. Here the decay has proceeded further. 
You can see more pictures from our recent completed classes by following this link.   

Tomorrow, December 5th, 9 a.m. you can sign up for 2018 Winter/Spring Botanical Illustration 
courses at Denver Botanic Gardens. Please follow this link. to registration for all classes  - 
You can find the downloadable course catalog by clicking here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Botanical illustration 2017 scholarship

We are happy to announce the recipient for the 2017 School of Botanical Art and Illustration Scholarship: 

Phillip Potter
Buddha's hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis), watercolor and colored pencil by Phillip Potter

Phillip Potter's goal is to gain an intimate knowledge of plants as well as improve his drawing and painting skills. He has always been interested about plants and gardening, lately he has begun a bonsai practice at home and learning to work with limb patterns and root structures. His plan is to use his new skills to document some of the world's bonsai specimens and also illustrate unusual plant species.
Phillip has studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (fine art painting and video emphasis), and Metropolitan state College of Denver (fine art drawing and sculpture).

Dracunculus vulgaris, watercolor and colored pencil by Phillip Potter

Cynara scolynomus, watercolor and colored pencil by Phillip Potter


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Warm and  Happy wishes for the Thanksgiving Holiday to all our readers! 

Cucurbita maxima 'Lumina', watercolor by Elizabeth Lokocz

The portfolios or the twelve students who this year received the Foundational Certificate of Completion in Botanical Illustration are presented here (you can also access the page from the right hand column). The graduate show is displayed in Gated Garden Court until February 11, 2018

Do not forget to visit our annual student show, WHIMSY, that celebrates the role of humor in botanical art and illustration. While the pieces are playful and unusual with a poetic license they also are scientifically accurate. This juried exhibit featuring the students' best achievements is on display in Gates Garden Court also until February 11, 2018. 

Garden Magic, colored pencil and ink by Susan DiMarchi

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Congratulations 2017 BI-graduates!

(Back row form left: Karey Swan, Christine Ruch, Ann O'Connell, Shiere Melin, Elizabeth Lokocz, Sara Little, Mary Burns, Elizabeth Virdin; Front row from left: Leslie Crosby, Louise Bath, Karen Taylor)

Today twelve Botanical Illustration Graduates received their Foundational Certificates from the School of Botanical Art and Illustration at Denver Botanic Gardens. Please join me to congratulate them all: Louise Bath, Mary Tricia Burns, Leslie Crosby, Lyn Alice Hamilton, Sara Little, Elizabeth Lokocz, Shiere Melin, Ann O’Connell, Christine Ruch, Karey Swan, Karen Taylor and Elizabeth Virdin.
We are impressed with the graduates’ competence level and Denver Botanic Gardens is truly proud of their accomplishments.
Estelle DeRidder received the Sydney Parkinson Award and also was the invited speaker at the event.

The graduation and award ceremony was followed by the opening reception for the annual juried botanical illustration art show.
Please click here to see few more images from the event, the graduates portfolios will be posted shortly.

Friday, November 17, 2017

WHIMSY: Botanical Art and Illustration

This annual juried exhibition from the Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration features the students’ best achievements in a variety of media. These works are also part of a well-established tradition of portraying plants for academic purposes and rendering the beauty of flora around us. The theme for this show is depictions of plants that are both scientifically accurate as well as playful, humorous or unusual, with poetic license highly encouraged.

If cannot visit Denver Botanic Gardens to see the original, you can see them by clicking here, the image or the link on the right hand column (under Of Note)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Looking into 2018: Winter and Spring 2018 Botanical Illustration Course Catalog

Our Winter/Spring 2018 catalog is out! You can view, print and save it into your computer by clicking the image above,  in the right hand column, or by clicking here. We'll  offer over 75 courses during during the first six months of 2018. We have the pleasure to host two overseas visiting instructors: Lucy Smith and Sarah Simblet both from U.K.
Registration begins on December 5th, 9 a.m. either per phone (720-865-3500, 720-865-3653 or 720-865-3670), on-line or in person (Visitor Center).

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Freyer-Newman Center at Denver Botanic gardens

The donations from two benefactors will help complete the 10-year Master Development Plan at Denver Botanic Gardens.  These funds, contributed by Ginny & John Freyer and Robert and Judi Newman, coupled with the successful voter support for Denver Bond Issue 2B (Denver Cultural Facility Bond) make the construction of the new center for science, art and education possible.

A huge, sincere thank you to all!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Autumn Leaves and Salsa

Cottonwood leaf in progress by Jean Scorgie, watercolor 

Please see more images from our most recent classes by clicking here.

Salsa by Angela Tingle, watercolor

Thursday, October 26, 2017

2018 Arts and Archive tour (April 9-23, 2018)

(Maria Sibylla Merian at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam)

The destination of our 8th annual Arts and Archives tour will be The Netherlands and Andalusia, Spain (April 9-23, 2018). During this 15-day tour we will be exploring and discovering hidden jewels in national archives, research centers, museums and libraries. In the Netherlands our base will be Leiden for eight nights and in Spain, Granada. The details of the daily program for this group and the specially designed tours are under final development, however you can expect the following to be included:

(Jacob Marrel, Two tulips, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam)

-The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has been recently reopened after ten years of rebuilding and renovation. We have the possibility to visit the 80 galleries but more importantly we go behind the scenes into the collections and concentrate in conservation, research and selected works (including Jacob Marrel, Maria Sibylla Meriam, Hoefnagel, Vermeer, Mondrian and Rembrandt). 

(Adriaen Matham, Two Owls Skating, c. 1630-1640, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam)

- We stop by Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in the world.
- One day will be spent in the Teylers Museum in Haarlem. This is a science oriented and the oldest museum in the Netherlands. Here we have a special tour of the library with works of Michelangelo Buonarroti, van Gogh and sketchbooks of van Gogh and Barend Hendrik Thier. In the Lorentz lab we step into a time machine to experience walking in the footsteps of Lorentz and Einstein.
(Lorentz lab, Teylers Museum in Haarlem)

-The United East Indian Company and its collections are placed in Hoorn where we learn about Georg Rumphius and his documentation work in Indonesia among others.  

- We’ll spend some time in Naturalis biodiversity research center in Leiden. Here we meet a botanical/science illustrator who works on the site, have a special tour of the library and visit the Herbarium Cliffortianum

- On our earlier tours we have seen anatomical theatres in Uppsala, Sweden and Padova, Italy. Here in Leiden we can visit the oldest anatomical theatre (from 1575) at Boerhaave. We will also have a collection tour at the Royal Library with early manuscripts and illuminations, works of Maria Sibylla Merian and lots of other valuables, even the first Dutch Donald Duck. 
(Piet de Smeerpoets at the Royal Library)

- We cannot miss the The Kröller-Müller Museum that boasts the second-largest Van Gogh collection in the world with almost 90 paintings and over 180 drawings, nor the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag with the largest collection of works by Piet Mondriaan.
- After visiting a cheese factory (Gouda or Edam), and the Delft Pottery factory with guided tours, and enjoying an evening concert with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra we are ready to take the flight to Granada, Spain, where our focus will mainly be on the Moorish culture.     


- In Granada our main destination will be the Alhambra, the palace and fortress complex originally constructed in 889. We have a tour focusing on the art and the Alhambra garden.
The Cartusian Monastery is one of the finest examples of Spanish Baroque architecture and was founded 1506. We have a 3 hour tour of this UNESCO world heritage site.
- In Granada we also visit an 11th century Arabian Bath and museum. 
- Travelling to Cordoba we have the opportunity to visit another UNESCO World heritage site, the historic center of the town with the Mezquita Mosque of Cordoba which is the most important monument of all the Western Islamic world. 
(interior of the Mezquita Mosque of Cordoba)

- We will be picked up for a four hour private tour of Medina Azahara (‘Beautiful Town’), one of the main archaeological sites in Spain.

- We spend some time in Malaga and visit the Picasso Museum, Botanic gardens, and Alcazaba, an ancient Moorish fortress from early 11th century. 
-To round up this unique tour we have the possibility to see Paleolithic caves with over 40,000 year old rock art.
 (Nerja caves)

The trip is limited to 12 people only and it is sold out. If you are interested please let me know and I'll add your name to the waiting list. In 2019 we travel to new destinations - perhaps we follow the silk road to Irkutsk! 
You can already put your name on the list if you plan to come with!
(Girl with the Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ute Indian Prayer Trees in Cafe Botanique, November 1st, 6:30 p.m.

Ute Indian Prayer Trees

John W. Anderson, author 

This presentation is based on the book “Ute Indian Prayer Trees of the Pikes Peak Region” by John W. Anderson and published by the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS). The Culturally Modified trees are believed to have been cultivated between 150-450 years ago and are found throughout Colorado. Learn about the original inhabitants of the Pikes Peak region, their world view and history, and how these trees connect us to the richness of their culture.

John Anderson is an author, artist and consultant. He spent 10 years working in the corporate world, and before that served two-terms as the elected Sheriff for El Paso County, Colorado. Although John has travelled around the world—including several adventures on a catamaran sailing the Caribbean, three corporate security assignments into a combat zone on the Horn of Africa and landing on an aircraft carrier at sea in the Pacific Ocean—he is most fascinated by the rich history and art he has discovered in his own back yard in the American Southwest

Café Botanique
Wednesday November 1, 6:30-8 p.m.
Gates Hall

Monday, October 9, 2017

Late Summer in the Classroom #2

From our indigo class, egg tempera, Milvi Gill

Second sett of random images from our late summer classes can be found here.

Acorns and oak leaves, graphite by Sue Carr

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Late summer in the classroom #1

Pelargonium, pen and ink by Patti Hearn from the distance learning option class, Drawing on Tradition: Margaret Flockton, Story in Fine Line

We have been working hard in the classroom all summer long. This is the first post to show you a selection of finished and in progress work from the late summer classes. To see more photos connected to this posting, please click here.

We posted earlier about Isabel Adams and the drawing on tradition class inspired by her. Here is one more image belonging to that series. Watercolor and Ink by Rebecca Swan

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ratibida columnifera - completed

watercolor, by Işik Güner, our 2017 artist-in-resident

Cafe Botanique: Supplements: Are They Weeds or Seeds?

Helleborus orientalis 'Ivory Prince', watercolor and graphite by Susan Curnutte

Supplements: Are They Seeds or Weeds
Monika Nuffer, Pharm.D., Skaggs School of Pharmacy and the School of Medicine, University of Colorado

Join us in a discussion around the origins of medicine from botanical sources, the history of various plant uses and the continued interest in identifying medicinal properties from botanicals. Dr. Monika Nuffer will provide a brief background on some of the herbs grown at Denver Botanic Gardens, and answer questions about common herbal remedies.

 Monika Nuffer, Pharm.D. is a clinical pharmacist with expertise in Integrative Medicine.  She provides individualized consults where she evaluates and explains the safety and efficacy as well as pros and cons of different herbs and supplements patients are or are considering using. Taking her patients  complete medication profiles into account, she screens for interactions and duplications and helps to optimize pharmacotherapy treatment at The Center for Integrative Medicine (TCFIM). Dr. Nuffer holds faculty appointments at the University of Colorado in both the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and the School of Medicine.

Wednesday, October 11, 6:30-8 p.m.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Işik has started her residency at Denver Botanic Gardens

Işik Güner from Turkey has started today the second week of her 6-week artist-in-residency at the SBAI of Denver Botanic Gardens. She is focusing on Colorado native flora and currently illustrating Ratibida columnifera, the true representative of North American mixed grass prairies. In few days she will be teaching a 3-day master workshop on the Giant World on Tiny Details.
Click here to see few more pictures on her progress and process.

 "Live specimens and natural light are the two most important necessities for a successful illustration" says Işik 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Whimsy: Submissions deadline is on September 22nd, 11:59 MDT

Cockscomb (Celosia argenta), colored pencil by Susan DiMarchi

Please follow this link to the call for entries. and click this link to submit.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Inspired by Harriet Isabel Adams

(Rose of Sharon by Mary Francis, watercolor pencil and ink)

I recently blogged about Harriet Isabel Adams' work and our watercolor pencil class which got inspiration from her work. If you click here, you can see some of the plates which were developed during that class.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Congratulations Valerie Teska!

I Love Your Warts and All by Valerie Teska, Colored Pencil.

The Colored Pencil Society of America awarded one of the five Honorable Mentions to Valerie Teska at their 2017-2018 Annual Online Competition "ArtSpectations". You can see ArtSpectations' 359 participating works displayed here. Valerie is an active member of our community.
Congratulations Valerie!

Monday, September 4, 2017


Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists (RMSBA) will exhibit at The Museum of Natural History at University of Colorado, Boulder. The opening reception is on Thursday, September 7th and the exhibit runs through February 28, 2018.
More about this exhibit here.

Cannabis sativa by Ida Pemberton (1890-1963) CU’s Museum of Natural History collections. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cafe Botanique, September 6, 6:30-8 p.m.: Water Quality and Abandoned Mines

(Animas River Mine Spill 2015)

Abandoned Mines Across the West: Impacts on Water Quality
Lauren Duncan, Abandoned Mine Restoration Manager, Trout Unlimited

Lauren Duncan describes the extent of abandoned mines across the west and in Colorado and talk about how they impact water quality.  She also describes Trout Unlimited’s Abandoned Mine Lands program and shares her knowledge on the progress to address the problems that are impacting the water condition. 

Founded in 1969, Colorado Trout Unlimited (TU) is the state’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organization providing a voice for Colorado’s rivers to protect, conserve and restore our waters.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Denver Botanic Gardens – Gates Hall

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

World Art Drop Day on September 5th - Please participate!

From our weekend entry level graphite class in the beginning of August. (Still in progress by Mary Chen Fowler.)

All artists, (that means students and professionals, painters and cartoonists, sculptors and illustrators, animators and fine artists, photographers and print makers; EVERYONE who creates) this September 5th* is World Art Drop Day. Wherever you find yourself that day, drop a piece of your art and tell someone where to find it. The world needs this right now. We need to feel a little more... 

If any of our readers within the BI-community like to participate and hide the art around The Gardens (remember, the hiding place needs to be accessible for the public), please email Erin Bird a photo of the work and a note about where you placed it. She will share your photos and clues to all Denver Botanic Gardens social media.

This is how one of the participating artists from previous years in Denver wrote:

Make art and hide it somewhere.
• Take a photo of either the art or the hiding spot or a combination of both.
• Post the image, the city you dropped it in, and a hint on any social media of your choice. Be sure to included the hashtag: #artdropday
• Then move on, hoping someone finds it OR hang around and meet your new friend.
That's it!

It can be a sketch, little painted canvas, fiber arts, a book and the list goes on. Please follow this link and learn more.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Solar eclipse August 21, 2017

(please click to enlarge)

Countless amazing photos were taken and at least one painting made last Monday when the total solar eclipse swept the continental USA. This was the first total solar eclipse path from west coast to east coast since 1918.

This plein air painting was done during the 2 min 30 sec total eclipse phase plus a couple of minutes afterward at the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska (Randy Raak, gouache on casein prepared art board).

Friday, August 18, 2017

Color with Pencil and Brush

Gala apple with its gamut by Deanna Gammon, colored pencil

One of our regularly repeating elective offerings is following James Gurney's book Color and Light and focusing on botanical subject matter. The students learn about limited color palettes and gamut mapping. This method is found to be effective and helpful in Botanical illustration. See more images from this class by clicking here.
During the summer we have also completed several other classes both in watercolor and colored pencil. You can see some random examples of them in the BI-Facebook album Color with Pencil and Brush.
 Watercolor by Karey Swan