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by Joan Keesey
Consider the “campi fiori,”
Arrayed in their natural glory.
Their existence is brief
Unless an artistic thief
Memorializes their story.
John Keesey, June 2013
John and I just returned from Umbria, Italy, where I took Elaine Searle’s Botanical Art Class. We stayed for eight days at a resort, Il Collaccio, in the mountains near the walled hill town of Preci and adjacent to the Monti Sibillini National Park. The views of the mountains and valleys were beautiful; the fields were filled with wildflowers: red poppies, small wild orchids, fringed hyacinths, buttercups, and many flowers that I had never seen before.
We were a group of 13 including Elaine: four Americans including Deborah Friedman and myself from BAGSC, six women from Britain, three ladies from Finland, Japan, and Trinidad respectively. We stayed in a lovely stone building in which the studio was also located. Il Collaccio provided all of our meals. They were very good, especially the lunches which were interesting, varied and served outside if the weather permitted.
There was no assigned subject. We could paint wildflowers, vegetables from the local market, or roses growing on the wall of our building. I chose to paint the poppies and a small orchid called the Bee Orchid.
Elaine gave a demonstration every morning on one of the selected subjects. We worked from 9:30 am until 1:00 pm when lunch was served. After lunch Elaine was available in the studio if we wished to continue painting, or we could take the afternoon off for a hike in the hills or a visit to one of the many Umbrian hill towns.
On one of the days we had a group outing to Spello, another beautiful walled town, and Fabriano where we were given a tour of the Fabriano Museum. Fabriano not only makes high quality art paper, they also make the paper for the Euro. We were shown how paper was originally made by hand in the 16th century and their extensive collection of watermarks. At the end of the tour we all made a piece of paper.
It was a great trip—an opportunity to see a really beautiful part of Italy, to meet new and interesting people, and to concentrate on drawing and painting without the many distractions and obligations of daily life.
By Joan Keesey; Photography by John Keesey, posted by Deb Shaw
On Thursday, April 18th, John and I attended the Artist’s Reception at Filoli. We spent the morning checking out the exhibit and looking at the garden, always beautiful, but sensational in the spring. The garden is a series of “garden rooms” similar to the Hidcote Gardens in England; each room is surrounded by a hedge of shrubs or trees and usually contains a fountain or pool. Each “garden room” has a color scheme. I spoke with one of the volunteer gardeners who said that the colors change with the seasons and from year to year, but each year there is a master plan. The first garden you see is the sunken garden. This year it is cobalt blue and white columbine, cerulean blue forget-me-nots, and hansa yellow tulips. The wisterias that climb up the brick walls of the Georgian style house were all in bloom and spectacular.
There were also many bushes with a very small, quinacridone red azalea that was quite stunning. It was a perfect day.
There were 64 works of botanical art by 50 artists including the two jurors, Carol Hamilton and Susan Fisher. The Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (BAGSC) was very well represented with seven artworks by five artists—Alison Denning, Joan Keesey, Sue Kuuskmae, Mitsuko Schulz, and Deborah Shaw.
We went back for the Artists’ Reception at 5:00 pm. It is always very pleasant with wine, very nice appetizers, and the opportunity to meet other botanical artists. Carrie DiCostanzo won the 2013 Roth Award for distinction with an emphasis on traditional botanical art presentation with a beautiful picture of “Ponderosa Pine” (Pinus ponderosa). Maria Cecilia Freeman won the Juror’s Award with an exquisite picture of “Tan Oak” (Notholithocarpus densiflorus), and Ingrid Finnan won the Horticulture Aware with a delicate picture of “Dandelion” (Taraxacum offivinale).
by Deb Shaw
Botanical Visions, an exhibition of botanical art by the Botanical Artist Guild of Southern California opened on January 12th in the Ecke Building of the San Diego Botanic Garden.
The exhibit features paintings, drawings and prints in watercolor, pen and ink, graphite and colored pencil. BAGSC member Lesley Randall organized this wonderful exhibition of ten BAGSC artists: Estelle DeRidder, Linda Ericksen, Polly Jones, Joan Keesey, Lesley Randall, Gilly Shaeffer, Janice Sharp, Deborah Shaw, Mitsuko Schultz and Patricia Van Osterhoudt.
The artwork was hung the day of the opening artists’ reception in the Ecke Building. The light-filled, open-beamed room is used as a classroom, so the artwork will have lots of exposure for the duration of the show, from January 13 – March 23, 2013.
Lesley Randall, Leslie Walker, Estelle DeRidder, Joan Keesey (and BAGSC helper John), Polly Jones (and husband), Patty Van Osterhoudt (and BAGSC helper Chris), Janice Sharp, Mitsuko Schultz and I were all on hand to hang the show. Linda Ericksen joined us for the reception.
Formerly called “Quail Gardens”, the San Diego Botanic Gardens are absolutely beautiful, and this is a wonderful time of year to see them. Although the gardens are extensive, with different sections devoted to plants from different parts of the world, each section feels like an intimate treasure, with delightful surprises around each bend of the path.
The exhibit will be open during regular garden hours January 13 – March 23, 2013.
Thank you Lesley!
by Deb Shaw
In October, 2012, when we posted the “Stipple, then Tipple” article about Anita Walsmit Sachs’ BAGSC class, we also posted a request for additional artwork as students completed their drawings. (See https://dbshaw.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1448&action=edit for the original article.)
Joan Keesey emailed Tania Norris’ pen and ink beautiful Sunflower from the class. Thank you Joan and Tania for sharing a wonderful drawing!
by Joan Keesey; photography by John Keesey, posted by Deb Shaw
Yesterday John and I visited Descanso Gardens to check out the two art exhibitions currently on display there. In the Sturt Haaga Gallery the exhibit, “The WILD Flowers”, is a collection of works by seventeen contemporary California artists. Concurrently, contemporary botanical illustrations are being presented in the Boddy House; these paintings are provided by five members of the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (BAGSC): Joan Keesey, Sue Kuuskmae, Gilly Shaeffer, Janice Sharp, and Deborah Shaw.
It was a beautiful clear and crisp day, and although it is still winter, Descanso Gardens was very lovely; the magnificent Coast Live Oaks (Quercus agrifolia) provide the perfect canopy for the garden’s remarkable collection of Camellias, many of which were blooming.
I hadn’t really expected to like the exhibit, “The WILD Flowers”. I couldn’t conceive of how an artist could invent flowers that were more wild and astonishing than real flowers, but the pictures were very imaginative, technically accomplished, and fun. Many of them, like Potentilia multijuja by Penelope Gottlieb, included recognizable flowers and plants. I was told that Ms. Gottlieb always includes a flower that is no longer in existence.
There was one video that had bubble-gum and aqua colored slime dripping from slowly opening lilies—not sure what that was all about.
The botanical paintings by BAGSC members were very thoughtfully displayed and illuminated in the Hall and the Gunroom of the Boddy House. Without knowing that I was involved the docent was very enthusiastic about and complementary of our
pictures. Several visitors took pictures of our pictures. I am impressed and proud that BAGSC has been able to provide quality paintings for the three concurrently running botanical exhibitions in Southern California: “Botanical Visions” at the San Diego Botanical Garden, “Drought Tolerant Beauty” at Chapman University, and “Contemporary Botanical Illustrations” at Descanso Gardens.
by Janice Sharp
The WILD Flowers presents work by 17 contemporary artists who live and work in California. The show was conceived and curated to complement the exhibition When They Were Wild, which opens March 9, 2013, at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.
Running concurrently with the WILD Flowers are works of contemporary botanical illustration provided by the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California. This exhibit is presented in the Boddy House’s Heritage Gallery and features selected works by Suzanne Kuuskmae, Joan Keesey, Janice Sharp, Deborah Shaw, and Gilly Shaeffer.
Both exhibits are free with admission and open during regular business hours: the Sturt Haaga Gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Mondays.
by Lesley Randall, posted by Deb Shaw
Botanical Visions, an exhibition of botanical art by ten members of the Botanical Artist Guild of Southern California (BAGSC), opens this weekend in the Ecke Building of the San Diego Botanic Garden. Guild members produce scientifically accurate as well as beautiful botanical pieces. The exhibit will feature paintings, drawings and prints in watercolor, pen and ink, graphite and colored pencil.
Come meet the artists at the opening reception, Saturday, January 12th, 2013, from 5:00 – 7:00 pm. The reception is free and open to the public.
The exhibit will be open during regular garden hours, January 13 – March 23, 2013.
Exhibiting members include: Estelle DeRidder, Linda Ericksen, Polly Jones, Joan Keesey, Lesley Randall, Gilly Shaeffer, Janice Sharp, Deborah Shaw, Mitsuko Schultz and Patricia Van Osterhoudt.
The garden is located at 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, California. Exit off of the 5 freeway and head inland (up the hill). Turn left on Quail Gardens Drive. Go roughly 200 yards; the driveway is on the left (there is a big sign.)
by Clara Josephs, posted by Deb Shaw
It’s closer than you think!
Continue about 15 minutes beyond the Huntington exit on the 210 and you are at the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley. BAGSC member Joan Kessey’s Artist Reception was held there this past Sunday and it was so worth the drive!
For 30 years Joan has been painting the wildflowers near her summer cabin at Mineral King (Sequoia National Park). Her paintings are lyrical records of the delicate and charming plants that populate the area. The paintings were hung around the room in order of increasing altitude, and a map that Joan and her husband created showed the location of each specimen she painted.
The reception room was packed with art and plant lovers who were drawn to the enchanting colors and compositions of Joan’s informative paintings. If you are questioning whether wildflowers and drought tolerant plants can be beautiful, then head up the 210 and be prepared to be delighted. Joan’s show runs through June 30. Theodore Payne is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
by Deb Shaw
Joan Keesey, BAGSC member and membership chair, will be having an exhibition of botanical watercolors, “Wild Flowers of Mineral King” at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants (TPF), Friday, March 30 – Saturday, June 30, 2012.
An opening reception for the artist will be held Saturday, March 31, 2012, from 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm.
The opening reception coincides with “Poppy Day” at the TPF, their annual spring plant sale event, which takes place from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on March 31. Hundreds of different native California species and cultivars will be available to choose from — a great opportunity for those BAGSC members who would like to paint California natives for the Chapman University exhibition on drought-tolerant plants. TPF members will receive 15 percent off all plants in 4-inch containers, one gallon containers and up. Non-members will receive 10 percent off those same plants, and memberships will be sold at the door.
The TPF is located at 10459 Tuxford Street, in Sun Valley, California 91352. The phone number is 818.768.5215 and the wildflower hotline number is 818.768.3533.
By Joan Keesey
It was very gratifying to see the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (BAGSC) so well represented at the Botanical Art Exhibit at the CNPS Conservation Conference 2012 in San Diego at the Town and Country Resort. There were thirteen pictures by seven BAGSC members: Diane Daly, Estelle DeRidder, Clara Josephs, Joan Keesey, Janice Sharp, Deborah Shaw, and Dorthea Yellot. Members of our group won some prizes as well: Deborah Shaw received a second place ribbon for her watercolor on vellum of Thread-leaved Brodiaea; Joan Keesey won a third place ribbon for her watercolor of Snake Lilies and Elegant Madia; Estelle DeRidder won an honorable mention for her colored pencil of Hummingbird Sage.
My husband and I visited the exhibit twice—once on Thursday evening and again on Saturday afternoon. On both visits there were 12-15 enthusiastic conference attendees who had taken the trouble to make the trip to the ninth floor of the Regency Towers to see the botanical art and photography. Generally the conference attendees were biologists, botanists, geologists, environmentalists and land managers—a different crowd from the usual botanical art group. The focus at most botanical art exhibits is on the artistic aspects of a work—composition, values, and technique. While this group was very appreciative of the skill displayed in the compositions, they were equally if not more interested in and enthusiastic about the actual subject matter. You overheard people say things like: “Oh, that is my favorite plant”; “Have you ever seen that beautiful sage.”; or “This is such and interesting plant. I saw it for the first time on that hike along the Merced.”
This is the second CNPS exhibit that I have participated in, and I thought that the pictures were better displayed and of a higher quality. I am particularly interested in California Native Plants, so I find a show like this a real treat. I also like botanical exhibits where there is a focus or theme. I find the juxtaposition of “Turnips & Tulips”, “Corn and Camellias”, “Radishes & Roses”, jarring and difficult to evaluate. I hope BAGSC will consider sponsoring exhibits that are more focused—a plant family such as the mustard, pea, rose or lily family, plants of a particular region, trees, succulents, etc. The options are endless, but I think it makes a more interesting and informative exhibit.