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

Friday, June 15, 2018

We Did IT!

Aquilegia coerulea, Colorado Columbine, watercolor by John Pastoriza-Pinol, 2016

We reached our primary goal with our Kickstarter Campaign and are now ready to go for the first stretch goal and the first 6-week Artist/Illustrator-in-Residency position at Denver Botanic Gardens.

John was our 2016 Artist-in-Resident and during his stay completed this watercolor piece as a part of the "Nubile Perfection" collection. If you increase your pledge by $75 by June 22, 2018 you'll get the high quality giclee print of this work of perfection!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Climbing toward the Goal!

Dr. M. climbing the beanstalk at Denver Botanic Gardens, and just below the goal to publish the sketchbook (illustration by David Clarke) - click to enlarge

Our current Kickstarter Campaign had a successful start and at the moment we are at 89% of our goal ($16K) to get the sketchbook published.  Thank you all for spreading the word and thank you for supporting our project. 

Beyond that we hope to achieve our stretch goal to support the annual paid Artist/Illustrator in Residency Program and the possibility to host the illustrator internships next summer here at Denver Botanic Gardens. Our Botanic Gardens’ community of researchers, horticulturists, teachers and students is known for sharing all of their knowledge and experience with each other, making this a great place to immerse in art and science.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Polyester film and watermedia

Watercolor pencil on layered Dura-Lar by Karey Swan

Polyester drafting films, like Mylar and Dura-Lar (both by Grafix), are not typically coated to accept water-based mediums. The .004” wet media Dura-Lar film is specifically coated on both sides to accept water media. We recently tested this in the classroom and successfully completed a workshop with watercolor pencils on Dura-Lar. 
Caran d'Ache revolutionized the pencil market in 1931 by introducing the first ever water-soluble pencil (Prismalo),also known as watercolor pencils. The watercolor pencils are one of the youngest art mediums used today.

See more images from our class by clicking here
Watercolor pencil on Dura-Lar by Lynn Bruskivage

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Practice Makes Perfect II - our Kickstarter Project is Launched

(Two pages from our travelling sketchbook: Constance Sayas and Christabel King)

Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration offers a comprehensive series of classes and workshops in the well-established tradition of portraying plants for aesthetic appreciation, scientific purposes, and historical documentation.

Practice Makes Perfect II: Botanical Illustration Sketchbook from Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration is a collaborative project that showcases the skills and unique perspectives of 76 botanical illustrators. Assembled page by page as the sketchbook traveled from one artist to the next, this collection represents friendship, shared ideas and community, along with impressive artistic ability. Botanical illustration is based on scientific study, but it is also a highly creative form of expression that can be executed in many different media. This book reveals that combination of technical accuracy and aesthetic freedom, as each botanical image jumps off the page in all its detailed glory.
Our primary goal is to raise funds to publish the limited edition of 300 copies of Practice Makes Perfect II: A Botanical Illustration Sketchbook. This is an art book containing 76 illustrations made by artists from the School of Botanical Art and Illustration at Denver Botanic Gardens (hardbound, 7.5”x 11”, with dust jacket, sewn with reinforced end sheets and headbands, foil-stamped spine). It includes an interpretative overview of each of the illustrated subjects.

An original, handmade 160-page springback-bound sketchbook with 90 lb. Fabriano Artistico HP watercolor paper was used for this purpose. Each of the artists was given an 11”x 15” spread and up to one week to complete his or her work. Practice Makes Perfect II: A Botanical Illustration Sketchbook with a foreword by artist Billy Showell showcases a unique collection of talent and expertise ranging from natural science illustrations and artistic explorations to calligraphy with a personal touch.
The book also celebrates the forthcoming Freyer-Newman Center for Science, Art and Education and the 38th anniversary of the botanical illustration program at Denver Botanic Gardens. Our sketchbook project was completed in 76 weeks with participants from the Gardens’ botanical illustration community in 2016, including numerous renowned international artists. Part of the illustrations are in color and part meticulously executed in ink or graphite; each illustration offers insight into the individual artist’s way of working.

For more information or to watch a project video, please click here.
(watercolor by Billy Showell)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Reminder: Registration for Summer/Fall courses opens tomorrow, June 5th 9 a.m.!

(Nels Broste, 2017, watercolor)
The registration for the 2018 Summer/Fall botanical illustration courses opens tomorrow, June 5th 9 a.m. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Invisible Links - last day to submit

(Invisible Links, Lynn Bruskivage, colored pencil)

The call for entries for our annual botanical illustration exhibit Invisible Links  will be closing in about 15 hours (11:59 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time).
To submit your piece, please click here.

 (Invisible links, Susan Willis, graphite)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Not always acutely correct but constantly educational

Sunflower by Cassi Bailey

In our series of Drawing on Tradition we recently completed a very popular class on Piet Mondrian, who was an instrumental part of the Dutch modern movement De Stijl founded in 1917 in Leiden, Netherlands.  In addition to his iconic abstract works he produced around 150 flower studies which along with trees inspired his abstract works.  
We do not always strictly adhere to accurate botanical portrayal but also analyze styles which help us to loosen up and play with expressive flower interpretation exercises. The students in this class loved the ability to focus on the parts of the subjects that they loved and the permission to ignore the parts that were not as beautiful or would be tedious to draw. They were also introduced to new media, water soluble carbon and jumbo sized pigment blocks on large format toned paper (18”x 24”). Very refreshing!
The 2018 Arts and Archives Tour visited the Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag and got a crash course on Piet Mondrian’s life and production. There is an earlier blog post about that visit (please click here)

More images from our class can be seen here.

Oriental lily by Joanne Katz

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Summer/Fall class registration opens in two weeks

Pen and Ink Textures by Bonnie Emery

This is a reminder for the Summer/Fall registration opening on June 5th, 9 a.m. Please click here to get inspired and see more student work from our spring classes.

Advanced level watercolor by Jane Smith

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Linking People with Plants - Worldwide Day of Botanical Art - May 18, 2018

Yucca harrimaniae, watercolor by Constance Sayas. This piece was also part of the School of Botanical Art and Illustration' s gold medal winning group exhibit at the 2017 RHS-Botanical Art show.

May 18th 2018 will be celebrated as the Worldwide Day of Botanical Art.
Exhibitions of original contemporary botanical art will be curated by the participating countries around the world and they are exhibiting original contemporary botanical art on native plants to a given area.
The main goal with this event is to link people with plants through contemporary botanical art, and educate the worldwide community on plant diversity through highlighting the world’s different plant geographic regions.
Artist from our BI-community participating in the ASBA and the US Botanic Gardens’ Worldwide Americas Flora exhibit are Dorothy DePaolo, Sharon Garret, Vanessa Martin and Constance Sayas.
Michael Campbell is participating in the Irelands’ Celebrating Native Plants of Ireland - exhibit.

Botanical Art & Artists-site by Katherine Tyrrell has an excellent summary of this worldwide  event. 

Geranium versicolor, colored pencil Michael Campbell - part of the Irish exhibit

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day 2018!

(Laura Matthews, colored pencil)

Friday, May 11, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives - Malaga and Our Final Day in Andalusia

The entrance to the Museo Picasso Malaga

If you are in Andalusía, you shouldn’t miss visiting Malaga on the Costa del Sol, 120 kilometers southwest of Granada. We took a bus and arrived after a very pleasant journey through olive orchards and mountains to this southern town founded by the Phoenicians circa 770 BCE.
Our first destination was the Museo Picasso Málaga housed in Palacio de Buenavista from the early 16th century and a National Monument since 1939. It is located in Malaga’s historic city center just a stone throw from the building where Picasso was born in 1881. Museo Málaga was created in response to Picasso’s desire to get his work exhibited in the city where he grew up.The core of the collection was created with donations from the artist’s daughter-in-law and grandson. It was also Junta de Andalucía’s priority to coordinate setting up a museum devoted to the artist whose styles and techniques changed the course of modern art.
The central court yard of the Malaga's Picasso Museum

The permanent collection originally included some 233 works. Since March 2017, the collection is complemented by a selection of 166 works from the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte (FABA). Our excellent guided visit through the 12 galleries revealed how the artist’s work evolved over his life time. We saw all his artistic periods beginning from childhood to the age of 90+ years including paintings, sketches and sculptures. Very interesting but no photos in the collections!
Malaga's Glass and Crystal Museum's courtyard, on the back wall collection of 20th century glass. 

We finished our 2018 Arts and Archives tour with a memorable visit to Malaga’s Glass and Crystal Museum (Museo del Vidrio y Cristal de Malaga). It is located in an 18th century mansion known as the old San Felipe Neri Inn by the church of the same name. This private museum opened in 2009 and has over 3000 pieces of glass dating from the Phoenician times to the 20th  century. About 1,000 pieces are on display at any given time, the rest being constantly rotated. 
Designs of the Swedish Ulrica Hyldeman Vallien and Finnish Gunnel Nyman 

The museum is a private home and the collection is divided into various historical eras, across two floors, with period furniture and paintings from each era to complement the glass. We had the privilege to have Senor Gonzalo Fernandez-Prieto, the passionate owner of this museum, as our knowledgeable guide.
Senor Gonzalo Fernandez-Prieto explaining the history behind three of the numerous stain glass works in his home/museum 

This was the end of our 2018 Arts and Archives Tour, another inspirational and successful trip. We were all captivated with the science and art history as well as cultural and political history and architecture that filled these two weeks. We were welcomed with open arms everywhere and our keen interest was appreciated by all our hosts. 
Thank you Holland and Andalusía – next year we travel to Istanbul and Uzbekistan.
More pictures from our final day, please click here.

An example of the exquisite Spanish fashion (street view from Malaga)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Summer/Fall 2018 Course Catalog

Our 2018 Summer and Fall course catalog is out. You can view and/or download it by clicking the image above, the link on the right hand column ( the web version), or by following this link.
We will be offering 67 workshops during mid-July - early-December, including 37 workshops from the required curriculum and 30 elective workshops.
We do have the pleasure to host two visiting instructors: Lucy Smith from U.K. and John Pastoriza-Pinol from Australia. While Asuka Hishiki from Japan is with us as the 2018 artist-in-resident, she will also teach one workshop in September.
The registration for these classes starts on June 5th, 9 a.m. You can already view the classes on the registration website, registration starts in four weeks.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Old and New Techniques: Carbon Dust and Watercolor Pencil

(by Dawn Leopardi, Carbon Dust)

As a part of our elective courses selection we offer classes in carbon dust and watercolor pencil, both very popular and loved by everybody who can get into those classes. Carbon dust was developed during the 19th century. Max Brödel (1870-1941), a German medical illustrator, pioneered the technique and recommended it specifically for the medicinal illustrations. Brödel was also instrumental in creating the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the end of the 19th century. Using a combination of pencil lines and dust washes applied with brushes, this medium produces rich tonal renderings with the value range of charcoal and the precision of watercolor.
The history of colored pencils is not too well documented. We know that the production of the first art color pencils started in 1924 by Faber-Castell and Caran d’Ache.  Water-soluble pencils are one of the newest art mediums, likely invented in the 1940’s.
Please click here to see some images from our recent workshops

(by Lynn Williamson, Watercolor Pencil)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

2018 Arts and Archives: El Sacromonte and Flamenco

On this Saturday we visited the Cave Museum of Sacromonte, an ethnographic museum, botanic garden and the place to learn about the Gypsies who inhabited this area as early as on the 16th century. They suffered social exclusion and persecution by the Catholic Monarchs following the conquest of Granada and settled outside he medieval city walls. Here they could maintain their identity together with Moriscos  and an affordable form of living in the cave houses.

In addition to the ethnographic museum this location also served as an excellent botanical garden with exceptional signage informing and educating not only about the plants but also about the diversity of the fauna and geology.
Flamenco was born through the intermingling between the Gypsies and Moriscos. The earliest record of  flamenco dates to 1774 in Andalusia. In 2010 UNESCO declared flamenco one of the masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
The day was one of the absolute highlights of our 2018 tour - More pictures can be seen here 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Power of Sketchbooks, Power of Process

(by Randy Raak, watercolor and graphite)

Today we had the final session in our series Drawing on Tradition: Superb Natural Detail of Keith Brockies’ Birds and Nature Illustration. Brockies’ freshness and vitality was the inspiration for this workshop which mainly focused on birds.  
            As illustrators we are aware of the importance and utility of sketchbooks in the creative documentation process. The artists use sketchbooks to solve problems both in documentation process and composition. Simultaneously they are making the private public, informing others of the analytical, thoughtful and imaginative process that they generate in sketchbooks and how they use sketchbooks as a research tool.
Please click here to see more few more competed and in progress work from this 6-week workshop (2 sketching sessions in the Zoo and 4 sessions in the classroom).

Rainbow Lorikeet by Milvi Gill, graphite, watercolor and gouache - in process (label missing) 

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, here is a fraction of them

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.