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

Thursday, October 31, 2019

True to Form

(Please click on the picture to enlarge).

This two day salon features artworks created by students in the Gardens' School of Botanical Art and Illustration, part of the venerated tradition of portraying plants for scientific purposes and in celebration of the beauty of nature. 
True to Form highlights the complex visual language of the natural world showcasing its incredible variety of shapes, colors and textures within six  thematic categories: hairy,  spiky, shiny, striped, spotted, and multicolored.
On Friday, November 15, we also celebrate the 2019 graduates with the certificate of Foundational certificate for botanical illustration.This year we have twelve graduates.

Welcome to the opening reception, and celebration of the 2019 graduates!

November 15th, 6-7:30 p.m.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Alifie Rojas

Medicago sativa with its pollinator Bombus huntii, watercolor by Alifie Rojas (please click the image to enlarge)

Alifie Rojas from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico has been visiting us during the past few weeks. She is a natural science illustrator and has exhibited all around in Mexico. She has illustrated several books and was recently featured in the July-August issue (Number 145) of Biodiversitas. Today Alifie is mainly focusing on plant and insect interactions.
During her visit to Denver Botanic Gardens she illustrated Medicago sativa with a Colorado native bumble bee Bombus huntii. She also saw the bird's nest fungi (Cyathus olla) in the close by park and illustrated that for us.
Cyathus olla, watercolor by Alifie Rojas; (please click the image to enlarge)

Here is the specimen, Cyathus olla; the fruiting body is about 8 mm long and 6 mm in the diameter

Friday, October 18, 2019

In the Classroom and on Distance

By Janice Hoffman, Pen and Ink

Our illustration students can take classes either completely on-site, or as an option combining the classroom participation with remote online learning. From next summer (July 2020) we include an additional option in which the requirements can be taken in three 2-week blocks onsite with applicable on-line and homework sections in-between. The on-line sessions may include both virtual sessions and email reports. 
Please click here and you can see more images from our 100% on-site courses and from courses with the distance learning option. 

By Kelly Belanger, colored pencil

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Red: A Color of Passion with Isik Güner

During the past weekend we concentrated in the rich red color with Isik Güner from Turkey. This 3-day workshop was filled with demonstrations, practical exercises and individual guidance. 
Isik's book Botanical Illustration from Life is out in distribution for the European customers. The U.S. customers need to wait until November 5th. The book is also simultaneously printed in French and Spanish, which both should be out by November 5th. This book is all about observing, drawing, painting, exploration and mastering the art of illustration. An excellent guide from start to finish, and made to be used as a textbook!!!
You can get your copy either through the publisher, Search Press or Amazon.

Friday, October 11, 2019

October 2019 SMA-tour: Successful Illustration – There are No Shortcuts!

Isik demonstrating different approaches for the same final result 

The two final days of our tour were filled with demonstrations and illustration at the Posada Corazon’s terrace. Time after time Isik pointed out how important it is to make the initial sketches carefully, get all the connections right. Isik typically tests all the colors and different painting approaches on her practice piece and then chooses the one which works best for her and the specimen. There is NO shortcuts.
In one of the afternoons we also made our final walking tour guided by Alberto We visited the Art Institute, Belles Artes and also the city public library and studied the many important murals in town.
Our very successful 10-day Illustration/Printing/culture tour had concluded and we were ready for the return trip to the U.S.  
Mural created by 16-18 year old students in the public library honoring Stirling Dickinson, an American artist who was appointed director of the Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes. 
A fraction of the Quetzalcoatl el Sol Eterno (dimension 145 square meters) by David Leonardo (2003) at the San Miguel Public Library

Please click here to see more pictures from our final days in San Miguel de Allende.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Assistant Manager

(Panicum virgatum by Mary Crabtree, please click to enlarge)

We are searching for an assistant manager for SBAI. Please click here for more information.

October 2019 SMA tour: Eight hours Intense Learning about Siligraphy

Antonio Domingues giving us an overview of the technique

We had the privilege to have Maestro Antonio Domingues from La Esmeralda-institute, Mexico City, to come and teach us the basics of the siligraphy technique.  Siligaphy, water-less lithography, came to Mexico mainly from the Tamaring Institute of University of New Mexico, NM, U.S.
The image was traced on the smooth surface of an aluminum plate (originally used for newspaper printing). The drawing must be done with a pencil containing Gum Arabic. After several steps preparing the plates, the ink was applied and the printing was done. This is very much like the drypoint technique. The results are stunning! 

We used three different inks: black, sepia and blanch mixed little with green. At least 50 identical prints can be done from one plate.

October 2019 SMA tour: Ghost Town from the past - Mineral de Pozos

Some of the buildings are still in ruins

On Sunday we didn't have any illustration in our program. Instead we visited the town of San Pedro de los Pozos (Mineral de Pozos), where silver and gold was mined since 16th century. It was a ghost town not too long time ago and now reviving as an arts community. People say that the town is like San Miguel De Allende in the 1950s-60s. Mineral de Pozos was born in 1576 as a mining town. 
The area around Mineral de Pozos was originally populated mainly by indigenous Chichimecas and Huachichiles.The main exploitation period of this mining district was between 1888 and 1922, with sporadic activities until 1942. By the last years of the 19th century, the number of working mines had reached 300 and the population in Pozos alone had reached 70,000. After the Mexican Revolution of 1910 mines began closing down, and many flooded, silver prices fell. According to the records by the 1950s, the town had shriveled to about 200, and it became a half-forgotten part of the small city of San Luis de la Paz, about 5 miles away. In 1980, government declared Mineral de Pozos a “National Historical Monument.”  On February 16, 2012, it was declared "Magic Town of Mexico" in order to facilitate further restoration of the ruined buildings.

For more pictures from this magical town, please click here

This was supposed to be the cathedral  in town, but only small part got finished and then abandoned.

Monday, October 7, 2019

October 2019 SMA tour with Isik Guner, 4th day: Painting and Atotonilco

 Isik demonstrating about the paper and how important it is to know the paper before starting to paint

In the morning all the students returned to their desks and now continued with their pieces. Most of them had already transferred the piece to a good paper and it was time to stat putting down the color.

Each time we have visited San Miguel de Allende we also go to Atotonilco and the The Sanctuary of Jesus Nazareno de Atatonilco including the Chapel of Calvary (from 1776) and the chapel of De La Virgen Del Rosaro (from 1766). This site, constructed by Father Felipe Neri Alfaro, represents an important example of the cultural exchange between European and Latin American cultures and is a masterpiece of Mexican Baroque. The murals in the sanctuary are mostly done by Antonio Martinez de Pocasangre . 
The Sanctuary of Jesus Nazareno de Atatonilco

We continued to Dolores Hidalgo where we visited the home of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (now a museum), the initial leader of the insurgent army against Spaniards in 1810 (Grito of Dolores) - the war and the Spanish rule ended in 1821. We also visited the Parroquia of Our Lady of Sorrows in Dolores Hidalgo before heading back to San Miguel. Dolores is a very nice little, authentic Mexican town with almost no tourists. Another sunny day filled with painting and Mexican history!
Taxus distichium, the official state tree
More pictures from our day, please click here,

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Intense start for the October 2019 SMA-Tour

Tagetes lanulata with the white Bidens odorata

Our October tour is right after the rain season, everything is green and the blooming wildflowers are  covering the grounds. 
We started our October 2019 SMA tour officially with a welcome dinner at Posada Corazon when everybody had arrived. 

Our guide Alberto explaining us the structure of the main structure on this ceremonial site

During the first day we visited the Cañada de la Virgen archaeological site located some 25 km outside San Miguel de Allende. This ceremonial site was occupied between 540 and 1050 CE, and then abandoned like many other sites in the region. This was likely because of the severe drought that lasted for an extended period of time. The ceremonial site covers about 16 hectares and is today the only archaeological site in Mexico where the number of people visiting it is heavily controlled and only a certain number of people can enter the area during the opening hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is also one of the only sites where the pilgrims and visitors enter the area from the east with the rising sun.
Several bodies have been discovered and C-14 dated about 1000 years older than the site itself. The DNA analysis is showing that one of the bodies was a Mayan male. The bodies were likely kept as relics among the Otomi people for 50-60 generations and finally interred in the temple at the top of the main structure. Two of the found bodies we young females, DNA analysis of one of them locates her to Yucatan Peninsula. We had an exceptional tour led by Alberto Aveleyra, anthropologist from the National School of Anthropology and History. He is specialized in the interpretation of the ancient Otomi codex and the history of pre-Columbian cultures related to the San Miguel De Allende surroundings.

After the pyramids, we had a pre-Colombian meal at the Museo Astronomia Prehispanica. The Lunch was planned and prepared by Dr. Rossana Quiroz Ennisas. 

Our lunch menu
The day was filled with outstanding information about past local cultures and with an abundance of wildflowers. (For more pictures, please click here)

On Thursday we toured El Charco botanical gardens and studied a plethora of wildflowers with Michael, our guide with Australian roots. 
We were lucky to see one of the few native orchids in bloom - Dichromanthus cinnabarinus

In the afternoon we had a Mexican cooking class. We learned about traditional local Mexican Food, went to a traditional food market to by our ingredients, while leaning about the different chili peppers both fresh and dried. We prepared a festive meal while tasting variety of typical Mexican fresh cheese types. 
 Visiting the local food market with our chef Esmeralda

The fresh and roasted salsas that we made, tasted and combined with different fresh and dried chili peppers, as well as all the main vegetable and meat stews were delicious. We could also enjoy the special virus infected corn (huitlacoche), cooked it with onion on a pan and used it as the filling in roasted Mexican pepper leaves (like grape leaves) with cheese which were then re-roasted – really good! To see more pictures from the day, please click here.
Huitlaloche, virus infected corn, delicacy during October in Mexico

Yesterday our illustrating class with Isik Guner started at Posada Corazon’s terrace. This was the perfect possible setting for an illustration class. 

Isik explaining basics of measuring at the beginning of the session
Class in action

In the afternoon our destination was the Los Palomas Natural Protection Area close to Guanajuato (elevation over 8000 ft). AT the entry we heard that the park was unexpectedly closed for the day because of a regional gathering for the high level ecology people. This had not been announced to the public at all ahead of time. 
Wildflowers at 8000 ft elevation, Castilleja and Cosmos among them
The situation turned to almost better, since we entered the area from the back site, saw so many wildflowers in bloom, collected several of them for the coming class, and then continued to see some of the fantastic city of Guanajuato, the heart of Mexico.

Stop to the Mayolica ceramics factory in in the town of Santa Rosa and to see the artist painting the vessels individually made the day even better!

A professional painter at the Mayolica porcelain factory. The factory has its own art school.
You can see more pictures from each day by clicking below: