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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives: The Historic Center of Cordoba, Andalucia

The entrance gate to the historic center of Cordoab, La Puerta de Almodavar 

After arriving to Cordoba (3 hours bus ride from Granada) we started with a walking tour through Cordoba's old Jewish quarter which consists of a fascinating network of narrow streets inside the old Cordoba city wall, built after the Romans captured the city in 206 BC.
Cordoba's period of greatest glory began in the 8th century after the Moorish conquest, when some 300 mosques and innumerable palaces and public buildings were built to rival the splendors of Constantinople, Damascus, and Baghdad. 
In the 13th century, Under Ferdinand III the Saint, the Great Mosque was turned into a cathedral. New defensive structures were erected at that time, particularly the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos and the Torre Fortaleza de la Calahorra.

The Great Mosque of Cordoba, at any given time it could host 30000 people

The Great Mosque of Cordoba was included on the World Heritage List in 1984 and the property was extended in 1994 to include part of the Historic Centre, the Alcázar (the fortress), and extending south to the banks of the River Guadalquivir, the Roman Bridge, and the Calahorra Tower. The total area of the heritage site encompasses 80.28 ha (almost 200 acres).

Lots of pictures were taken, and since my computer crashed, I will post more once I come home to Colorado on Tuesday.



Thursday, April 19, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives: Cartuja, Albayzin and the University Herbarium

Arriving to the Cartuja Monastery 
We arrived to the Cartuja Monastery prior of the opening hour. Our very knowledgeable guide, Juan (with good humor) was already waiting for us and started to inform us about the complicated history of the place.  Cartuja was founded in 1506; construction started ten years later, and continued for the following 300 years. The interior of the monastery was certainly spectacular.  After the Cartuja we also had a very pleasant and informative 3-kilometer walk through the Albayzin district. I will blog about this more in detail later.

In the afternoon was spent in the University of Granada Herbarium with Carmen Quesad Ochoa as a warm host. 
Herbarium is currently located in the old chapel of the Colegio Mayor Isabel the Catholic

The herbarium of the University of Granada (GDA) hosts the collections from the Department of Botany of the Faculties of Sciences and Pharmacy, of this university.  Its origin was linked to the pharmaceutical studies and goes back to the constitution of the first Chair of Botany, founded in 1853 by Professor D. Mariano del Amo and Mora, first dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy. In May 2000 was inaugurated the Herbarium was relocated in May 2000 in the old chapel of the Colegio Mayor Isabel the Catholic. After the transfer, to its current location, the herbarium constitutes a unique center that manages both collections.



  Carmen Quesad Ochoa, curator and the head of the Herbarium was showing us the historic myclogical collection with microscopic spore slides.
- please click here for a few additional images

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives: Alhambra, Sacromonte and Albayzin

From Alhambra -
During the 3-hour very professional tour of Alhambra and Generalife we learned so much of Spanish history and took so many pictures that it is impossible to summarize that in a same-day post - I will post more about Alhambra later.
From the Palace of Nazaries

In the late afternoon we had a strenuous but fantastic walking tour trough the Albayzin and Sacromonte - more detailed post about that will also follow later. 

 View from our evening walk 

 few more images from today, please click here

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives: Travelling Day from Netherlands to Granada, Spain


Granada Airport - Blue skies and Sun! 28C!

We started very early this morning to catch the 4:40 a.m. train to Schiphool airport and our flight to Spain. After changing the plane in Madrid we reach our destination in the mid afternoon. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are snow covered but in Granada we have 28C and blue skies! Alhambra and Albaicin are waiting for us tomorrow -. 

One of the gates to Alhambra
A few more pictures here:

Monday, April 16, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives : Special Archives at the University of Wagenigen

Lisbeth Missel, the curator of special collections at Wagenigen University and Research talking about Rumphius

This was our last day in the Netherlands and we took a 2-hour train ride to the east to the Wagenigen University and Research. We had a wonderful day with Dr. Lisbeth Missel who was informing us about the relationship between Rumphius and Maria Sibylla Merian. We saw several unpublished manuscripts and also several works by unknown artists. This was again a clear justification for how much more research needs to be done on the history of science to identify the unknowns in the documentation history.

The most expensive tulip! The tulip selection from 1637 - the plates were from that time, however the book was but assembled in the 19th century. Most likely the paper was cut smaller to fit better in the more practical book size.

Morepictures from our day can be found here

Sunday, April 15, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives: Delft, Royal Blue Pottery and Prinsenhof

One of the master painters at Royal Deft giving a painting demonstration 

This Sunday was devoted for Delft, the true birthplace of microbiology, center of technological research and development, and the birth place of Vermeer and Leeuwenhoek. Delft played an influential roll in the Dutch Golden age and once seat of the royal House of Orange.
We first visited the Royal Blue Delft factory, which is the only remaining factory of the 32 earthenware factories that were established in Delft in the 17th century. The factory was founded in 1653 and the original blue decorations are fully painted by hand with a color mixture made to a centuries old recipe, which is mostly cobalt oxide. The factory also manufactures products which are handmade but the decorations are screen-painted by means of a transfer. We learned a lot about the production and history. This is the 365th anniversary year of Royal Delft. 

In the afternoon we visited museum Prinsenhof Delft, once the court of William of Orange, the father of of the Dutch Nation. The museum hosted a temporary exhibit on Art Nouveau which translates to Art, Knowledge and Industry for Delft and the Netherlands. During this period (1890-1914) modern factories established and the Polytechnic School transferred the city into a center of  technical and artistic innovation. The Art Nouveau style was expressed in architecture, graphic design and applied art with decorations based on plant and animal motifs. The Art Nouveau was followed by the Art Deco movement (1920-1939) characterized by geometric forms and rich color. Our guide Sophia filled us with a ton of information from this era.

Delft Salad Oil poster from 1894, ink on paper by Jan Toorop (1858-1928) 
To see more pictures from our day in Delft, please click here

Saturday, April 14, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives: Van Gogh and von Siebold

This sunflower painting was aimed towards the  blind and partially sighted. The painting was accessible through touch smell and hearing. Here Diane and Sharon are feeling the brushstrokes on this relief reproduction

Van Gogh Museum was our destination this morning - This massive complex holds the most complete collection of Van Gogh's art. Even though his artist life was very short, around 10 years, he produced a vast number of art pieces. Vincent started painting when he was 27 (1880), he moved the Paris 1886 and 1889 he moved to southerns France. We had a guided tour, and after that spend an additional three hours going through and learning about Van Gogh's development and his life. There  wasa special exhibit about Vincent's connection to the Japanese art, he owned over 600 prints him self. No Photos here -

In the afternoon we were back in Leiden, continued with the Japanese theme and visited the Japanese Museum/Von Siebold House. Von Siebold (1796-1866) was a physician who was sent by the Dutch Government to Japan. Siebold had a keen interest in the natural world and  introduced a large number of Japanese plants and animals to Europe. He was known as the European expert par excellence on the subject of Japan for decades after.  We had the pleasure to have the same excellent guide as we had in the Hortus Botanicus during our arrival day, Mrs. Carla Teune!
Not many photos today, for the few, please click here

Friday, April 13, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives tour: Haarlem, Teylers Museum, Treasures from the Past


Carl Linnaeus' Systema Naturae (1735), first edition, published during Linnaeus stay in the Netherlands introduces the three kingdoms: Plants, Animals and Minerals - also the 24 different plant groups based on the reproductive parts of the plant.

Teylers Museum in Haarlem was opened to the public in 1784 and is the oldest museum in the Netherlands and the only 18th century authentic museum interior in the world. It was founded as a center for contemporary art and science. The holdings include fossils, scientific instruments, metals, coins and paintings. The archives include an amazing collection of drawings and sketches by Rembrandt, Michelangelo (25 drawings acquired in 1790 and part of the Odescalchi collection) and Hendrick Goltzius. The museum's rare book collection is unique. Our visit was exceptional and certainly one of a life time experience.

Michelangelo's preliminary studies for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, red chalk. Note "The Hand" on the left side.
Hortus Eystettensis by Basilius Besler (1613). This particular volume had beautifully handwritten notes

For more pictures, please click here.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives: Naturalis Biodiversity Center's Herbarium and Rijksmuseum Boerhaave



We were met this morning by Esmee Winkel, who is a scientific illustrator and botanical artist employed by the National Herbarium of the Netherlands (NHN) which is the Department of Botany of Naturalis Biodiversity Center. The botanical collections of Naturlis include the herbaria from Leiden, Utrecht and Wagenigen universities. In addition to the Netherlads the material focuses on plants in Southeast Asia, tropical America, and tropical Africa. At the moment the Naturalis is under renovation and all the botanic material: botanical library, research, herbaria and the work space is situated some 20 minutes bus ride away from our hotel.
Eshmee introduced us a large selection of original botanical illustrations mainly connected to Flora Rumphia by C.L. Blume (1796-1862), the first director of the Royal Dutch Herbarium.

The National Herbarium includes some 5.7 million specimens. The herbarium is now in a temporary location, this is one of the storage halls!
Herman Boerhaave, 1668-1738
In the afternoon we visited the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave, Netherland's treasure chamber for medicine and science. Herman Boerhaave was one of the leading scientist of his time in Europe. He was the director of Hortus Botanicus and also the rector of the University of Leiden. In addition to the replica  of the Anatomic Theater of Leiden University from 1594 the museum houses (acc. New York Times) one of the most important scientific and medical history collections of the world. Our 3-hour visit was way too short to see more than a fraction of the collection.
Weather? Overcast, Drizzle, icy wind, sunshine for a fraction of a second.

More images can bee seen by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives: The Hague


This morning we headed south to Den Haag, the third largest city in the Netherlands and the seat of the Dutch cabinet and Supreme court (Amsterdam is the  capital constitutionally). We visited the National Library of the Netherlands which have over 3.5 million items (equivalent to around 70 kilometers of bookshelves from medieval manuscripts to modern scientific publications. We met with Marieke van Delft, the curator of early printed editions and Karin Vingerhoets, the curator of children's books.
Album Amici from the turn of the 16th and 17th century

After a very informative morning we rushed to our private tour at the huge Gemeentemuseum den Haag, place for the richest Piet Mondrian collection in the world.

Basket with apples by Piet Mondriaan, 1891

To see more pictures from our day, please click here 




Tuesday, April 10, 2018

2018 Art & Archives' second day: Rijksmuseum and Concertgebouw

Rijks Museum in Amsterdam

Our second day was very long and we spend most of it in the Rijks Museum. We first learned with the help of a guide about the highlights of this museum: selected works of Rembrandt, Vermeer and others. In the afternoon we were busy in the study room with works by Hoefangel, Merian, Jacob Marel (Tulip Book from 1640) and the absolute favorite: Gesina ter Borch.
In the evening we enjoyed a Mozart/Beethoven concert with Teodor Currentzis as the conductor at the Concert Gebouw - absolutely fantastic! We returned back to the hotel in Leiden past midnight!  
More images from the day, click here!


Monday, April 9, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives tour has started: Arrival Day in Leiden



Most of us arrived to the Netherlands and Leiden before noon today. This year our group has 12 participants (from Colorado, California and New York), many of them familiar from earlier tours and some completely new.
Leiden university was established in 1575, and has been since the focal point for scientific and cultural exploration: Rembrandt, Von Siebold, Einstein are among those who were connected to this town. Our first destination was Hortus Botanicus established in 1590. Its first director was Carolus Clusius (1526-1609), the person who introduced the tulip to the Netherlands. Carolus Clusius had a horticulturist Clutius, who in 1599 published the first book about bees and beekeeping.
We had a very informative tour led by Karla who has been working in Hortus Botanicus since the early 1970’s – perfect introduction to our two weeks of exploration!


For more pictures, click here.
Tulipa sylvestris, one of the few tulips that are native in Europe.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Mastering Quill


We have had the pleasure to host Dr. Sarah Simblet (from Oxford, U.K.) once again at our School. We had two 3-day intense workshops, the students enjoyed the strong enriching experience and Sarah’s refreshing, amazing talent. Her visit culminated last night in an excellent Café Botanique lecture. Sarah Simblet is dedicated to sharing, and she encourages visual intelligence in others through her instruction and drawings. Now we are eagerly waiting for the next opportunity to do some quill work, perhaps next time it will be birds with Sarah!
We have posted some examples from the inspiring workshops by clicking here    

Drawing from outside, Suzi Stutzman, ink

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Happy Easter!

Ukrainian Easter Eggs "Pysanky", decorated using a wax resist (batik) method from our workshop

The eggs are decorated by written-wax batik method using aniline dyes and bees wax. This is a pre Christian tradition commonly found in Slavic cultures. The design elements vary from region to region,  geometric symbols and figures often dates back to Paleolithic times. You can find more information about this tradition by clicking here.   
More photos from our Pysanky class can be found here.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Cafe Botanique with Dr. Sarah Simblet, April 4th, 6:30-8 p.m.


From Human Anatomy to Botany and “The New Sylva”
Dr. Sarah Simblet, Oxford, U.K.


Dr. Sarah Simblet is an artist, broadcaster, lecturer and anatomist whose works explores the relationship between science, history and art. Simblet teaches anatomy at the University of Oxford and lectures at the National Gallery, London. She has published three major art reference books: Anatomy for the Artist, The Drawing Book and Botany for the Artist. Simblet also co-authored The New Sylva, a contemporary version of John Evelyn’s influential 1664 forestry text Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesty’s Dominions. Simblet will discuss the importance of visual literacy in the past, present and future of academia and art.

Café Botanique
April 4, 2018, 6:30-8 p.m.
Gates Hall

Reserve your seat by clicking here.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

School of Botanical Art and Illustration Artist-in-Residence 2018

Black Pine Half-Cascade-style Bonsai, watercolor by Asuka Hishiki


We are pleased to announce that the recipient of our 2018 Illustrator/Artist-in-Residence position at Denver Botanic Gardens' School of Botanical Art and Illustration is Asuka Hishiki from Nishinomia City, Hyogo, Japan.
We are very excited to host her and keen to see the beautiful work that she creates, and the inspiring projects that she gets involved while staying with us. Asuka will enjoy her residency in September-October 2018.


Brandies (girls band) - a portrait of a heirloom tomato, watercolor by Asuka Hishiki

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Orchids - Always Popular


(Watercolor by Sue Carr, please click to enlarge)

One of our most popular elective watercolor courses is the frequently repeated Orchids in Watercolor. According to the most recent information, the orchid family is the second richest plant family with 28,237 documented species. The family is also one of the oldest, dating back to about 80 million years ago.
In addition to leaning the painting techniques our students also get a special, behind the scenes tour of the Gardens' living orchid collection which is always a special treat for this class.
Please click here to see some finished/almost finished plates from this class. The album also includes plates from our recently concluded second level graphite class.


(Graphite by Celeste Tangorra, please click to enlarge)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Mostly ink in February


(1. by Mary Fowler)
When the students start at the entry level Pen and Ink course, they learn to use technical pens and start exploring the different techniques. The first exercise typically is illustrating mushrooms using mostly stipple.   


(2. by Kelly Belanger)
After the mushrooms students study dry leaves' twists and turns, and how the form affects the venation placement. This is done first with line, then with stipple and finally combining these two basic techniques.

(3. by Alba Sweeney)
Garlic is often the final piece where all the techniques learned during this 15 hour course are combined and executed with a technical pen.

Mary Ellen Cochran's interpretation of the different effects of Artemisia usage. (The Greece goddess Artemisia in the foreground) 

We are working with our Ethnobotany collection and while learning about the different items in the collection, the students are also creating pictorial stories about the uses and effects of the plants.

To see more images from our classes in February, please click here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Reminder: 2018 Artist-in-Residency applications

Aquilegia caerulea, Rocky Mountain Columbine, watercolor by John Pastoriza Pinol, 2016 

The application time for 2018 Artist-in-residency position(s) is closing tomorrow, February 28, 23:59 MST.  The application form can be found here

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cafe Botanique, Wed. March 7, 6:30 p.m.: Evolution of Time Measurement through Ages

Ion Clock Laser 3 (Photo James Burrus)
A Walk Through Time – The Evolution of Time Measurement through the Ages
James Burrus, Public Information and Outreach Coordinator, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder

Explore the history of time and timekeeping with James Burrus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)NIST develops standards for timekeeping and creates revolutionary technology, including an atomic clock the size of a grain of rice! The NIST-F1 atomic clock (the U.S. national standard for time and frequency) counts the natural vibrations in cesium atoms so accurately… it will neither gain nor lose a second in over 100 million years!

March 7, 2018, 6:30-8 p.m.

Gates Hall

Reserve your seat by clicking here

Friday, February 16, 2018

Big, Bold and Bright


Brownea ariza - Rose of Venezuela by Pene Yerigan

When it is cold and windy outside, and the days are short we get inspiration from our tropical conservatory and learn about plants in the tropics and warmer latitudes. See more work from our recently completed colored pencil class by clicking here.

Salacca magnifica's spiny primary vein and part of the undivided leaf by Irene Young

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Icon painting in El Charco del Ingenio


(egg tempera and gold on linden wood by Laurence Pierson)

Would you like to spend a week in San Miguel de Allende, GTO Mexico and learn icon painting. We are again collaborating with El Charco del Ingenio Botanic Garden and Laurence Pierson, one of our excellent instructors will be teaching this five-day workshop (2500 pesos = US$135 for non-menbers) . Perfect timing on March 12-16, just before the Easter. At the moment there is only few seats available.
If you are interested, please contact El Charco by email: Charcodelingeniocomunicacion@gmail.com. 

(egg tempera and gold on linden wood by Laurence Pierson)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Thurston Orchid Collection - a SBAI diploma work by Karen May



Stanhopea tigrina, watercolor on Arches paper by Karen May (painted from the artist's live plant)

At the end of January Karen May presented the synopsis of her independent study of orchids as part of her work toward a diploma in botanical illustration.

Masdevallia angulata, watercolor on Arches paper by Karen May (drawn from Thurston slides, an herbarium specimen, and a botanical illustration in the Thurston collection as reference)

Karen compiled and organized an extensive collection of documents, slides, photographs, illustrations, herbarium and live specimens accumulated during Mr. and Mrs. Thurston orchid expeditions mainly to Central and South America (1976-1985). 

Brassavola nodosa, colored pencils on Arches paper by Karen May (painted from the artist's live plant)

Karen spent the equivalent of 372 eight-hour workdays with this independent project. She organized and digitized 279 botanical illustrations, 2371 slides and over 260 photos, and indexed them to spreadsheet data. All the originals were organized in archival sleeves and folders, she also indexed the 159 Thurston collection herbarium specimens from the Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium to a spreadsheet data. In addition to this she produced a 50-page document about the collection, and created 5 botanical illustrations from the species included the orchid material. 
Phragmipedium besseae, watercolor on Arches paper by Karen May (painted from the artist's live plant)

Karen provided historical perspective for the Thurston orchid collection. Her careful research and  ability to organize this collection helps us to understand and utilize it better in the future. Karen's meticulous work adds true value to the Thurston collection for Denver Botanic Gardens.

Psychopsis krameriana, watercolor on Arches paper by Karen May (painted from the artist's live plant)

Very well done – Congratulations Karen!