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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

2015 Arts and Archives - Scientific Record and High Calibre

Dr. Shirley Sherwood OBE by John W. Mills 

The two remaining (busy) days of our 2015 tour were spent in London.  At Royal Horticultural Society’sLindley Library Elizabeth Koper had prepared wonderful presentation for us: first in the Research Collections we saw a selection several printed rarities from the 16th and 17th centuries like Mattioli’s Kreutterbuch and Aubriet’s work, 18th century paintings (Ehret, Catesby and Dietzsch) and modern works for publication. After that we entered the RHS’s room with flat files from the floor to ceiling filled with  botanical illustration acquisitions. We could compare the contemporary illustrations with earlier ones and also the originals with the printed ones.  This was very educational; we could also see the latest botanical art purchases now included in the collections. 
After a quick lunch we headed to the Kew Gardens and were able to see Masumi Yamanaka’s Treasured Trees Exhibit at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery featuring 22 of the oldest and finest trees growing in the Kew Gardens. She has worked on this illustration project for five years, and she is planning to continue on the same topic (circa 14,000 trees from around the world grow on the grounds of Kew). We were welcomed with an informative introduction from the Shirley Sherwood Gallery Leader, Laura Giuffrida
For many in our group this was the first visit in Kew and the afternoon went very fast. Many of us were comparing Masumi’s illustrations to the actual trees in the Gardens.
On our last day we visited the Buckingham Palace and the Queen’s Galleries where the Painting Paradise: TheArt of the Garden exhibit had recently opened. The exhibit brought together more than 150 works of art from the Royal Collection to explore the garden's enduring appeal for artists from the 16th to the early 20th century.  Many of these works were previously unseen. Exhibition highlights included works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Maria Sibylla Meriam and Carl FabergĂ©, a colorful Victorian glass chandelier entwined with flowers, and an elaborate 18th-century Sunflower Clock.
We also saw the Royal Mews which is one of the finest working stables in existence and responsible for all road travel arrangements for The Queen and members of the Royal family. The highlight there certainly was the Gold State Coach which has been used at every coronation since George IV in 1821 and has not been taken out from the Mews since 1953.
We concluded our 2015 Arts and Archives tour with the 30th anniversary exhibit for the Society of Botanical Artists “In Pursuit of Plants” at the Westminster Gallery in the Westminster Central Hall. This exhibit included over 600 excellent pieces (no photos)
The very successful fourteen day tour including over 100 walking miles had passed extremely fast with only positive memories. We are already making plans for the 2016 tour (4.16-4.28.2016) which includes Austria and Prague (Czech Republic) with an optional 4 day stay in Oxford and London (4.12-4.16.2016).
Please see more photos from our two last days of the tour by clicking here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Color(ed Pencil) from the Classroom

 Fabric design by Christine Hubbell (the lowermost square is a design by Kaffe Fassett)
Each year we offer a course related to fabric design. We learn about historic and contemporary textile designers and use their work as an inspiration to create our own patterns and color combinations. This year's class was inspired by Kaffe Fassett who has captivated us since the 1970’s with his colorful work in fabric, knitting, needlepoint, patchwork, painting and mosaic.
Learning about the various effects of layered and analogous colors was a good companion course for the fabric design.

You can see more images from both classes by clicking here
Analogous color exercises by Terrie Wright

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Leucospermum cordifolia by Estelle DeRidder

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Biomimicry in Cafe Botanique, Wednesday May 13th

Biomimicry – Sustainable Solutions Inspired by Nature
Marie Zanowick-Bourgeois, EPA and Lynne Sullivan, City of Boulder

 Biomimicry is an emerging science that guides people in discovering and creating sustainable solutions to fulfill human needs, by looking to nature for inspiration.  Join Marie Zanowick-Bourgeois, Engineer and Certified Biomimicry Professional and Lynne Sullivan, Interpretive Naturalist for the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department in this exploration of the concepts of Biomimicry and the Department’s inaugural launch using this problem solving process to address challenges in the management of the Open Space and Mountain Parks System. Applying the biomimicry method, they studied the local ecosystems and species to learn what strategies have enabled their long term survival, and then used these unique strategies to guide design ideas working towards an earth-friendly, sustainable solution to our challenge.
 Marie Zanowick-Bourgeois is a Certified Biomimicry Professional and a creative environmental engineer with 25 years of experience working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the areas of pollution prevention and sustainability.
Lynne Sullivan is an interpretive naturalist with the city of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department. She is passionate about exploring the wonders of nature and natural processes and sharing her findings through interpretive hikes and programs. 

Wednesday, May 13, 6:30-8 p.m.
Gates Hall

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Venice and Padova - Arts and Archives 2015

View from Piazza San Marco to the San Giorgio Monastery (established in 982)

Trains are comfortable and fast in Europe, in two hours we traveled from Florence to Venice. Our hotel was conveniently very close to the railway station. In the afternoon we had an excursion to Murano and visited the Schiavon Art Team and later the Mazzega glass factory and got a good understanding about the traditional and more contemporary glass manufacturing in today’s Murano. Many of us also took the opportunity to take the water taxi to Piazza San Marco and the Basilica.
The following day part of the group concentrated on the sites in Venice, like Peggy Guggenheim collection and Scuola San Rocco while others escaped the tourists and took the train to Padova, where the second oldest university in Italy (and 5th in the world) was established in 1222. Padova is also the home of the oldest Botanical Garden from 1543. We had an excellent guided tour of the old town and the beautifully frescoed Basilica of St. Anthony. We enjoyed our lunch at the historic Caffe Pedrocchi which was built for the fourth Italian Congress of Scientists in the mid-19th century before the unification of Italy. Some of us had the privilege to visit the remarkable Scrovegni Chapel with historic frescoes by Giotto from 1303-1305 which are the turning point for art and culture by introducing the technique of drawing accurately from life. 
We enjoyed a guided tour of the University’s Palazzo Bo and Anatomical Theater and learned about the intellectuals who studied and taught in Padova (Andrea Vesalio, Copernicus, Galileo among others). The University of Padova recently ranked #1 in Italy among the large universities (>40,000 students) 
Back in Venice many of us stopped by the San Geremia church at the Grand Canal. Since 1861, this church houses the relics of Santa Lucia martyred in Syracuse in CE 304. For me personally this was one of the many highlights since Santa Lucia celebration is part of my annual traditions. 
To see more about our time in Venice and Padova, please click here.

Santa Lucia at the San Geremia church painted by Palma il Giovane (1628) who was the dominant artist in Venice after Tintoretto.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Black-billed magpie, graphite by Jan Latona

Our annual bird class is always very popular and generates outstanding work. The course includes sketching sessions both in Denver Zoo (moving subject matter) and  Denver Museum of Nature and Science (studying the birds in dioramas).
See more bird illustrations by clicking here.
Barred Owl, graphite by Kathleen Harrington

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April in our Classroom

Douglas fir cone by Deanna Gammon, scratchboard

While 15 of us were exploring the treasures in Italy, the students in the classroom were busy in completing courses. 
To see some examples of the work, please click here

Draceana braunii (in process) by Charlotte Ricker

Monday, April 27, 2015

From Cesalpino and Bimbi to Ligozzi, Garzoni and Da Vinci – Arts and Archives 2015

Squash from the Grand Ducal Garden of St. Francis in Pisa by Bartolomeo Bimbi (1711) - Note the leaning tower in the background (weight 160 pounds noted on the label)

Monday, April 14th was likely one of the absolute highlights of our Italy tour. We started at the Botanical Collections of Museum of Natural History where Prof. C. Nepi  prepared an outstanding private tour at the botanical section “Filippo Parlatore” which is typically closed to the public.  The Botanical Gardens (Orto Botanico) date back to 1545, when Grand Duke Cosimo de' Medici purchased the land from the Dominican sisters. 
The museum includes several historical “closed” herbaria, the earliest is Cesalpino’s from 1563, including 768 species of plants in three volumes. The Cesalpino herbarium is probably the oldest herbarium still in existence. In addition the museum houses six other historical herbaria, including that of Webb (close to 400,000 specimens) and Beccari (The Malaysian herbarium and The Palm herbarium). Beccari’s collection from Malaysia also includes over 2,000 specimens in jars, either desiccated or in alcohol. We also saw a collection of botanical paintings by Bartolomeo Bimbi (1648-1730) showing the biodiversity in the gardens of the Medici Villas, and hundreds of wax, terracotta and plaster of Paris models of plants and fruits (oldest of these date to the end of 17th century). These collections show how the industrial large scale fruit growing has caused a genetic impoverishment and many of the 17th century varieties are now lost forever.
We walked through the halls of the open herbaria: The Herbarium Centrale Italicum and The Cryptogamic Herbarium containing at the moment circa 5 million specimens. This part was established in 1842, before the unification of the modern Italy. 
In the afternoon we visited the collections of Cabinetto dei  Disegni e Stampe at Uffzi,  where after the warm welcome by the department director dr. Marzia Faietti,  dr. Lucilla Conigliello presented numerous works by Jacopo Ligozzi and Giovanna Garzoni. This was an absolute privilege as these priceless works are always rested for five years after exposing them to the day-light.  Mrs. Conigliello is a specialist on Ligozzi and gave us an exceptional presentation of the original works. Before we left, Dr. G. Marini arranged a great finale by showing us several extremely fragile original drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, each demonstrating e different technique used by the master.   
For more information and images, please click here

Plum Branch (Prunus domestica) with a Rose-ring parakeet (Psittacula krameriby Jacopo Ligozzi (1547–1627), gouache on paper.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sunday in Florence - Arts and Archives 2015

Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1480)

Sunday morning we visited the Museo San Marco which opened to the public in 1869 and houses the largest collection of sacred art in Florence.
The Dominican convent was established on the 13th century and enlarged in 1437 by the architect Michelozzo. The building hosted personalities such as Sant' Antonino Pierozzi, Bishop of Florence, Fra Angelico (about 1400-1450), and later the famous Girolamo Savonarola. Apart from Angelico's paintings, the museum also has a beautiful Last Supper frescoed by Ghirlandaio at the end of the fifteenth century, and in its library a fine series of illuminated manuscripts.
At the close by Piazza della Santissima Annunziata we met Laura Lotti a local botanical artist who displayed very well rendered illustrations at the market.

Some of us then shortly visited the Museo Zoolocigo “La Specola” next to the Pitti Palace and saw the GalileoTribune.
See our Sunday in Florence in pictures by clicking here.
Acanthus mollis by Laura Lotti