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The California Native Plant Society is now preparing for the CNPS 2009 Conservation Conference: Strategies and Solutions January 17-19 2009 at the Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento California.

Among the many objectives of this conference is to “foment a greater understanding and appreciation of California’s unique flora”. A juried botanical art competition and exhibition will contribute to this goal. 

  • 1st Prize – $750, artwork published in Fremontia, & 2 complimentary tickets to Conservation Conference banquet.
  • 2nd Prize – $500, artwork published in Fremontia, & 2 complimentary tickets to Conservation Conference banquet.
  • 3rd Prize – $250, artwork published in Fremontia, & 2 complimentary tickets to Conservation Conference banquet.

“Conference Choice” – (voted on by conference attendees) Published in the CNPS 2009 Conservation Conference: Strategies & Solutions Proceedings.

Criteria Artists are invited to enter original artwork in any two-dimensional medium that reflects the beauty and uniqueness of California flora and adheres to high standards of botanical accuracy. All entries must depict plants indigenous to California (no introduced plants, please!). They must be botanically correct and species specific, accompanied by the scientific name.

Please download the Botanical Illustration Entry form or request a form from: CNPS Botanical Illustration Contest, 2707 K Street, Suite 1, Sacramento, CA 95816. Please type or write legibly on the entry form. All fields must be completed including: name of artist, full mailing address, phone number with area code, email, brief description of subject matter, medium, title and dimension of framed or matted work.

Deadline for submission November 1, 2008

Jenny Phillips in the Getty Garden

Jenny Phillips in the Getty Garden

This past June, July, and August, BAGSC participated in a variety of educational outreach programs held in conjunction with the Maria Sibylla Merian exhibit, titled “Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters, Women of Art and Science” at the J. Paul Getty Museum, featuring activities that introduced the public to botanical art, entomology, botany, natural history, and Suriname.

Tania Norris was instrumental in bringing Jenny Phillips to the Getty to explore flower and insect drawings by Merian and her daughters in a Getty “Point of View” lecture. Jenny also demonstrated and lectured in an “Artist at Work” presentation, celebrating the beginning of summer with a one-day demonstration about the art and practice of botanical painting.

Tania provided the voice over for the GettyGuide Audio Tour of the exhibit, as well as the voice-over for the slide show on the web site at

Tania was also instrumental in connecting BAGSC with the Getty. BAGSC’s participation began in June when Deborah Shaw and Tania Marien introduced Getty Gallery Teachers to the techniques of botanical illustration and to plant morphology. They also taught a two-week course in June (repeated in July) to the public, designed to introduce participants to botanical illustration, and to provide an experience similar to what Merian must have experienced upon traveling to Suriname and observing unfamiliar plants. The Getty arranged for this class to be taught in conjunction with The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Jim Folsom, director of the botanical gardens at the Huntington Library, lead tours of the Huntington’s conservatory and greenhouses and introduced participants to how plants work.

Veronica at the BAGSC Family Festival table

Veronica at the BAGSC Family Festival table

BAGSC members participated in two Getty Family Festivals, where they conducted botanical art demonstrations in the Getty’s Central Garden and lead a host of children’s activities. Both festivals were well-attended. Children who visited the BAGSC area had the option of coloring engravings created by Merian, creating a natural history illustration with leaf rubbings, stamping fruits and vegetables with tempera paint to create their own “paintings”, and drawing plants and insects freehand. At other Family Festival venues, children of all ages could make a hat out of ti leaves, assemble floral brooches, create their own butterflies, create picture frames, stamp and mail postcards, and listen to the music of Suriname.

During the entire month of July, BAGSC members demonstrated botanical drawing and painting twice each week in the Getty’s Central Garden.

BAGSC member Kathy Dunham also taught classes at the Getty. Kathy led the Getty’s Drawing Hour and demonstrated how to create a nature journal during three early-evening classes in July and August.

Sally Markel with Deb in the Getty Garden

Sally Markel with Deb in the Getty Garden

And, in a true “Small World” moment, Sally Markel ran into Deborah Shaw during one of the botanical art demonstrations. Sally happened to be out visiting friends in Southern California, and came across BAGSC members doing the Getty “Artist at Work” demonstrations. Sally generously donated her pineapple illustration for use on the ASBA Annual Meeting & Conference web site registration.

The exhibition is open at the Getty until the end of August. Information about the exhibition (and Tania’s voice over) can be found on the Getty web site. Once the exhibition is over, information can be found in the Getty web site archives. The exhibition catalog and other books about Maria Sibylla Merian can be found online in the Getty bookstore.

More photos will be published to the blog soon. Stay tuned!

(as brought to the meeting by Janice)

4 oz box of Reese’s wild rice — cooked (see side of the package)
1 bell pepper-diced
1 bunch scallions-chopped
1 small red onion-diced
8 oz pecan pieces
6 oz Ocean Spray Craisins
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. It tastes better if it is made a day ahead.

(submitted by Kathy, from “Frieda’s Fiestas”)

¾ cup sugar (for caramel)
1 quart milk (whole milk is best)
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 egg yolks
6 eggs, slightly beaten

Cook the ¾ cup sugar to caramelize, then pour into earthenware mold or other mold (an 8” cake pan works well) turning it around so that the bottom and sides of the mold are covered with caramel.

Heat milk with the cup of sugar and the vanilla for about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then add the egg yolks and beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly. Remove and discard the vanilla bean. Pour the egg mixture into the caramel lined mold.

Place the mold in a larger pan of hot water and bake in a preheated 350˚ oven for about 1 ½ hours or until set (an inserted knife will come out clean). Cool completely before unmolding.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Margaret teaching at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens in January.

Margaret teaching at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens in January.

There a few spaces left at Margaret Best’s second class at the magnificent Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Her first class last January class was filled with a waiting list and was very well received. So … she has been asked to come back.

The class is on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th August at the Garden from 10 am – 4 pm. By request, Margaret is going to focus on ways to introduce higher level of realism into your work through understanding the form of the plant. She will also help you look at ways to improve overall composition. Although Margaret herself works in watercolor, she welcomes participants who wish to work in graphite or colour pencil. The class is open to all skill levels – come and enjoy the beauty of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden with Margaret Best from Canada. See Margaret’s work on her web site,

Fee $125.00 for BAGSC and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden members, $145.00 for non-members.

If you would like to register for this workshop, you can do so online on the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s web site, or by calling (805) 682-4726, ext. 102.

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