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by Deb Shaw

There are still a few spots available for BAGSC’s first Basic Botanical Art Workshop: A Day of Skills and Techniques for All Levels. Join us on:

Sunday, January 27, 2019
9:00 am to 3:00 pm

at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden

for a day of mini-workshops and fun exploring techniques and supplies.

Cost, BAGSC Members: $50
Non-Members: $60

Register online at: https://bagsc.org/classes/bagsc-basic-botanical-art-workshop
Bring your own lunch or purchase from the Arboretum Café.

This day of botanical art is designed to allow participants of all levels an opportunity to enjoy a hands-on botanical art experience in different mediums. The day starts with a presentation about botanical art. Then, each participant can choose any combination of four (4) one-hour, hands-on workshops taught by skilled BAGSC instructors. Registration is for the entire day—no pre-registration for individual workshops is required.

Participants may choose to sit down with different artists to experience techniques applied to creating botanical art. Currently scheduled are:

  • Creating 3D forms by light to dark shading in graphite
  • How to do a watercolor wash
  • Easy color mixing in watercolor (NEW—just added!)
  • Dry brush techniques (NEW—just added!)
  • Using pen and ink in scientific illustration
  • Drawing with silverpoint
  • Color pencil techniques in botanical art
  • Labeling your painting with calligraphy
  • Creating 3D forms by light to dark in watercolor
  • How to draw a leaf in graphite
  • Using mixed media in scientific illustration
  • Graphite tips and tricks
  • Perspective for plants
  • Watercolor pencil techniques

BAGSC teacher members will be sharing their skills, displaying some of their works and bringing information. Currently scheduled to participate are:

  • Cristina Baltayian
  • Diane Daly
  • Akiko Enokido (NEW—just added!)
  • Sally Jacobs
  • Lesley Randall
  • Olga Ryabtsova
  • Gilly Shaeffer
  • Deborah Shaw
  • Ellie Yun-Hui Tu

All basic supplies, including paper and paint, are included in the price. Additionally, most artists will bring special supplies to share that can be used with their techniques. Participants are welcome to bring some of their supplies if desired. Please see the lists in the right-hand column of BAGSC’s website about the class.

Questions about the Workshop? Contact the BAGSC Education Chair.

by Deb Shaw

California Current, colored pencil by Nina Antze, © 2018.

California Current, colored pencil by Nina Antze, © 2018.

There are still a few seats left! Nina Antze will be teaching her color pencil technique in a two-day workshop at the Madrona Marsh Preserve in Torrance in February:

Non-Native Invasive Plants of the Madrona Marsh
Workshop in Color Pencil with Nina Antze
February 7-8, 2019

Madrona Marsh Preserve Nature Center
3201 Plaza del Amo
Torrance, CA 90505


$200 for BAGSC members, $250 for non-members

Learn about the non-native invasive plants at the Madrona Marsh Preserve in Torrance, California. Participants will tour the nature preserve and select an invasive plant to use as their specimen. Participants can remove as many specimens from the preserve as they would like!

Additionally, BAGSC members are invited to submit works for the exhibition “Non-Native Invasive Plants of the Madrona Marsh” to be held in the summer of 2019, opening June 1 and running until August. Nina’s workshop is a great opportunity to get your artwork started for submission to this important exhibition.
Exhibit submission deadline: May 15, 2019
Questions about the exhibition? Contact Olga Ryabtsova, BAGSC Exhibition Chair.

To see more details and to register for Nina’s workshop: go to BAGSC’s website at https://bagsc.org/ click on “Classes” and then on “Class details” under the workshop name, OR go directly to https://bagsc.org/index.php/classes/nina-antze-2019.

by Kirsten Rindal, posted by Deb Shaw

“Using Light to Create Realism in Botanicals”, taught by Robert McNeill at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, October 3-5, 2018 was an amazing 3-day workshop!

Robert began with a thought-provoking quote by Leonardo da Vinci: “A painter should begin every painting with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where it is exposed to light.” We were all inspired by the meticulous approach and techniques, and how he used light to reveal the drama, depth, form, transparency and detail of the subject.

Snapshot's from Robert McNeil's workshop.

Snapshot’s from Robert McNeil’s workshop.

He discussed the importance of capturing the effect of light, how it requires controlled tone/value to describe the relative lightness or darkness of color, creating an illusion of form. When we perceive tones/values, they are always relative to each other and never seen in isolation. Therefore, simultaneous contrast is always at work. Being able to create and control tonal/value gradation in watercolor is an important skill to acquire, along with the ability to see them and record them accurately. This controlled effective tone/value can take your work to a higher level by creating “enhanced relations through convincing volume”. Robert’s painting of the Cardiocrinum gigantum was a perfect example of how a painting encourages the viewer to look closer by revealing detail that has been made more apparent by light.

During the workshop, Robert shared examples of his work to illustrate the process and techniques of using light to create realism. He stressed the importance of constantly analyzing the process as one worked. Generous with information, patient in answering every question, his enthusiasm, interest and support were always encouraging.

Lighting:
Robert reviewed ways to light your subject, explaining that correct intensity and direction of light for the subject is important to reveal aspects crucial to capturing its essence. He usually uses overhead lighting that is controlled. He noted that it is not always helpful to place subjects in strong light, as extreme contrasts can create more problems than it solves. His painting of Abies koreana ‘Carron’ beautifully illustrates how studying the play of light across all aspects of his subject creates a sense of drama. We were encouraged to think about lighting in the subject’s natural habitat, and what would be typical of natural lighting. It was suggested that we avoid overhead lights in a room, and also light from windows, keeping light consistent on the subject you are painting.

Documenting Stage:
Thorough and objective observation of the subject is key. Observe the subject from all angles to ascertain which angle would convey the most convincing nature of the subject. Carefully look for overlapping and foreshortening. (Taking photos as a reference is OK, but best not to rely on photos.) For details use eyes, and measure subject for 1:1 scale, carefully documenting information, as subject will change by growing, wilting or drying out. Observe the difference that the angle of light source makes upon subject for revealing visual strengths. Fifteen minutes were given to make three quick loose, linear drawings of our subject, the rose. Fifteen more minutes were given to make three more quick, linear/tonal drawings. Color matching was made at this part of the documenting process. He asked us to be mindful of the way colors are affected by the color next to it. Robert uses Winsor Newton transparent paints only, and always mixes his own greens and oranges.

Development Stage:
We began this part of the process by producing a full size 1:1 scale drawing, referring to documenting stage material to ensure accuracy. Robert shared examples of his work showing meticulous detail to be used as a reference for final painting. Next we were to make an accurate tracing from the drawing of our rose. The tracing was placed in a variety of positions before making a final decision and transferring it to watercolor paper. After transfer, it was advised to always re-work to produce more accurate drawing. He cautioned us about erasures on watercolor paper that can cause paper’s surface to breakdown. Robert also gave a tip about using a piece of silk and an agate to smooth a ruffled paper surface.

Demonstrations:

Lifting Preparation.

  • Winsor Newton Lifting Preparation may be used for ease in lifting paint for veins, etc.
  • Use 3 layers of lifting prep, allowing 2 hours of drying time in between each layer.
  • You may use lifting prep over layer of wash.
  • Best to only use in small areas, and be extremely careful not to go over pencil lines.

Ox Gall Liquid.

  • Mix 3 drops of Winsor Newton Ox Gall in ¼ cup water. Keep small marked water jar with this mixture separate from other water.
  • This mixture helps paint to flow easily.
  • You may use Ox Gall and water wash on paper first, and when slightly damp, add paint wash. Or, you may use Ox Gall and water and paint all at the same time.
  • Never use paint with Ox Gall for dry brush work. Keep paints and brushes used for dry brush separate.

Dry Brush Technique.

  • Using a Spotter, WN 000, Robert demonstrated stipples and tiny fine lines.
  • Robert used a separate plate with tiny dots of dry paint, moistening his brush with a damp sponge.
  • For texture, only hit the high points of the paper.
  • Can use damp brush on top of stipples very carefully.
  • It is important to avoid using one technique, rather use a combination of wash and dry brush. Continually analyze the process you are using.
  • Indian Yellow may also be used as a light glaze over finished painting…very carefully.

During the three days, we all talked about Robert’s useful ideas and techniques that made an impression on us. At the end of the class, works in progress were placed on a table for sharing. Robert emphasized the importance of seeing all work within the group as a valuable learning experience. Following are ideas and techniques that resonated with members of the class:

“I very much enjoyed learning how to make fast, free sketches while not looking for details, but instead seeing the overall shape.”
“Learning how to focus on the contrasts, especially the dark and light.”
“Watching Robert using a scalpel to release bits of dried paint from the paper surface.”
“Experimenting with Ox Gall as a wetting agent in the water jar, and learning how to use WN lifting preparation was very interesting and highly useful information.”
“Hearing the words: ’Slow down, think, organize and plan’ was a reminder to always approach work with pre-planned thought.”
“Importance of continually analyzing the process.”
“Reactivate the line after a trace to create depth as a reminder while painting.”
“Remembering to soften outside edges while keeping them sharp, yet light.”
“Using a damp sponge for moisture control when using dry brush techniques.”

The time flew by far too quickly! We are all grateful to Robert McNeill, both as a brilliant artist and as an excellent teacher. His meticulous attention to detail and thorough observation of his subjects are reflected in the light and form he achieves in his paintings. He inspired us to see the subtleties and nuances of light as we create art. Thank you also to the Education Committee for bringing him here, to Tania Norris for supplying the subjects, and treats, to The Huntington for hosting us, and to BAGSC.

by Deb Shaw

Kokia drynarioides, Hau hele 'ula. Lesley B Randall, color pencil and graphite on cold press illustration board. Scale 1:1 and various for enlarged details, © 2015, all rights reserved.

Kokia drynarioides, Hau hele ‘ula. Lesley B Randall, color pencil and graphite on cold press illustration board. Scale 1:1 and various for enlarged details, © 2015, all rights reserved.

BAGSC’s exhibition “Totally Tropical,” opens Saturday, November 3, 2018, at the San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG) in the Ecke Building. “Totally Tropical” celebrates the opening of the San Diego Botanical Garden’s tropical conservatory this past summer.

Seventeen BAGSC members are exhibiting 32 paintings of plants that grow in tropical climates in this non-juried exhibition. Originals and archival giclée prints will be shown. Artists include Natalia Alatortseva, Margaret Best, Melanie Campbell-Carter, Diane Nelson Daly, Catherine Dellor, Steve Hampson, Janice Sharp Hoiberg, Mary Jansen, Suz Landay, Arillyn Moran-Lawrence, Terri Munroe, Marilyn Anne Parrino, Lesley B Randall, Veronica Raymond, Kirsten Rindal, Deborah B Shaw, and Leslie Walker.

A casual reception will be held from 2:30 to 5:00 pm, Saturday, November 3, to celebrate the opening!

Exhibition DATES: 
November 3 – November 30, 2018


Exhibition installation: 
November 3, 2018, from 11 am – 2 pm

Potluck Reception: 
November 3, 2018, from 2:30 – 5 pm

Some of the artwork is for sale; ten percent of all sales will be donated to support SDBG.

Nepenthes ventricosa Blanco, watercolor on paper, Kirsten Rindall. scalle 1:1, © 2017, all rights reserved.

Nepenthes ventricosa Blanco, watercolor on paper, Kirsten Rindall. Scale 1:1, © 2017, all rights reserved.

As usual for SDBG exhibitions, BAGSC will install the exhibition the same day as the opening. All BAGSC members are welcome to come join in the installation, assist with the hanging, and see the amazing gardens. BAGSC members, friends, family, SDBG staff and the public are all welcome to join us for the opening reception.

The San Diego Botanic Garden is located at 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024. The garden covers approximately 35 acres; hours, admission, and information can be found on their website.

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

by Deb Shaw

Midnight (Eastern Daylight Time), August 31, 2018 is the last day to register for the American Society of Botanical Artists 24th Annual Meeting & Conference in St. Louis!!

Come spend time with fellow botanical artists, take workshops, and attend lectures. Spend quality time at the Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the world’s top botanical gardens. Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is the nation’s oldest continuously-operating botanical garden and a National Historic Landmark.

The Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, Missouri will host “Out of the Woods: Celebrating Trees in Public Gardens, the Third New York Botanical Garden Triennial” exhibition of botanical art along with a companion, adjunct exhibition “Out on a Limb.” A reception for conference attendees will be held Thursday, October 11, and will also feature the slideshow of artwork from the 25-country Botanical Art Worldwide exhibitions.

To register, look at the descriptions and information on the ASBA website. Then go to the Conference Registration website to register. Scroll down on the registration site to see openings remaining in various workshops and presentations. There are a lot of openings left in wonderful workshops!

If you’ve already registered but would like to add a class, contact the conference registrar to request the additions to your registration.

by Deb Shaw

Signage with artwork by Esmée Winkel, Leiden's 300-Year-Old Tulip Tree in Autumn (2016), Liriodendron tulipifera. Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Leiden, The Netherlands. Watercolor on paper. © Esmée Winkel. Courtesy of the American Society of Botanical Artists and the New York Botanical Garden.

Signage with artwork by Esmée Winkel, Leiden’s 300-Year-Old Tulip Tree in Autumn (2016), Liriodendron tulipifera. Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Leiden, The Netherlands. Watercolor on paper. © Esmée Winkel. Courtesy of the American Society of Botanical Artists and the New York Botanical Garden.

The Los Angeles Times joined The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and BAGSC in letting everyone know that the “Out of the Woods” exhibition will be coming to a close soon. See the article: http://www.latimes.com/home/la-hm-out-of-the-woods-20180822-story.html?outputType=amp

Make it a day at The Huntington: see “Out of the Woods,” organized by The New York Botanical Garden and the American Society of Botanical Artists, and “Amazing Trees,” the adjunct exhibition by BAGSC members in the Brody Botanical Center, Flora Legium Gallery. Then pop next door to the Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science to see the blooming Corpse Flowers!

The exhibition closes Monday, August 27, 2018. The traveling exhibition will then go to the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, MO where it will be on display October 5 – December 28, 2018, including during the American Society of Botanical Artists annual meeting and conference.

In the beginning of next year, the exhibit will travel to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, AZ, January 25 – April 13, 2019, and then on to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, MN, May 9 – August 13, 2019.

by Deb Shaw

Li'l Stinky decided not to bloom after all, but provided a wonderful dissection opportunity! The Huntington team and the public got to see what's inside!

Li’l Stinky decided not to bloom after all, but provided a wonderful dissection opportunity! The Huntington team and the public got to see what’s inside!

We were all disappointed when Li’l Stinker, Amorphophallus titanum, or “Corpse Flower” failed to bloom last week at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. The failed bloom, however, gave Jim Folsom, John Trager, and Brandon Tam the opportunity to dissect the bloom on Facebook Live to create an herbarium sheet (watch the dissection here on Facebook Live.

Then, lo and behold, not one but THREE more Corpse Flowers stepped up to the plate. Quickly dubbed the #TitanTriplets! All three plants, “Stink,” “Stank,” and “Stunk,” #CorpseFlowers can be seen in the Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science at The Huntington, along with a corm and a plant with a leaf. Daily updates, photos, and FAQs are being shared on The Huntington’s website.

“Stink” suddenly decided to bloom today! See it during public hours: 10 am – 5 pm. The two other #CorpseFlowers, “Stank,” and “Stunk” look like they have a few more days to go. But who knows…they might change their minds and bloom any time.

For more stinky resources (from The Huntington) #StinkyatTheH:

The Corpse Flower inspires creativity. Lindsay Brennan made (delicious!) Corpse Flower Cake Pops and brought them to Jim Folsom's Orchid Lecture for BAGSC members.

The Corpse Flower inspires creativity. Lindsay Brennan made (delicious!) Corpse Flower Cake Pops and brought them to Jim Folsom’s Orchid Lecture for BAGSC members.

The bloom (and smell) only lasts a day or so. If you’re coming to The Huntington this weekend to see and smell, be sure to stop by the Brody Botanical Center, Flora-Legium Gallery to see “Out of the Woods: Celebrating Trees in Public Gardens,” The Third New York Botanical Garden Triennial, American Society of Botanical Artists, and “Amazing Trees,” the adjunct exhibition by the Botanical Artist Guild of Southern California (BAGSC). BAGSC artists will be on hand all weekend with drop in family activities and botanical art demonstrations. The exhibitions go through to August 27, 2018.

Another view of the chocolate Corpse Flower Cake Pops.

Another view of the chocolate Corpse Flower Cake Pops.

Deborah Shaw (L) and Tania Norris (R) took a few minutes to sketch Li'l Stinky.

Deborah Shaw (L) and Tania Norris (R) took a few minutes to sketch Li’l Stinky.

BAGSC member Tania Norris with her Li'l Stinky sketch.

BAGSC member Tania Norris with her Li’l Stinky sketch.

by Jude Wiesenfeld, posted by Deb Shaw

Lesley Randall with one Aristolochia gigantea flower. Photo by Jude Wiesenfeld, © 2018.

Lesley Randall with one Aristolochia gigantea flower. Photo by Jude Wiesenfeld, © 2018.

Lesley Randall’s workshop, held at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Acadia, was very informative, focusing on Aristolochiaceae, commonly known as the Dutchman’s Pipe Family of plants. Lesley began the workshop with a lecture on the origin of the Aristolochiaceae. They first appeared about 30 million years ago, when most of us were barely starting our careers!

We examined, both in hand and through our microscopes, the distinguishing characteristics to look for while drawing. Lesley encouraged us to write down measurements and notes on the specimens for future clarification in our drawings and to include for illustration work.

Aristolochea gigantea seed pod. Photo by Jude Wiesenfeld, © 2018.

Aristolochea gigantea seed pod. Photo by Jude Wiesenfeld, © 2018.

It was fascinating to see how the different techniques (stippling vs. lines) gave a variety of results. Sometimes a broken line worked better than an unbroken one! Lesley supplied great examples of this in handouts.

The final drawings are started with an outline and then the details are added with stippling. It is important to stipple with a purpose: i.e., namely to clarify a characteristic, show shape, create depth and/or show color pattern. Also, Lesley stressed how important it is to keep your paper, hands and workspace CLEAN.

Lesley encouraged us to research other artists’ work to learn about technique and mentioned Bobbi Angell as someone to study.

Two books recommended by Lesley Randall: "Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification" by Thomas J. Elpel, ISBN-13: 978-1892784353, ISBN-10: 1892784351; and, "Guide to Flowering Plant Families" by Wendy B. Zomlefer, ISBN13: 9780807844700, ISBN-10: 0807844705. Photo by Jude Wiesenfeld, © 2018.

Two books recommended by Lesley Randall: “Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification” by Thomas J. Elpel, ISBN-13: 978-1892784353, ISBN-10: 1892784351; and, “Guide to Flowering Plant Families” by Wendy B. Zomlefer, ISBN13: 9780807844700, ISBN-10: 0807844705. Photo by Jude Wiesenfeld, © 2018.

Lesley was a fantastic teacher and very generous with us all. I hope she will consider other workshops in the future.

[NOTE: click on any of the thumbnails above to view the images larger, in a slide show format.]

by Janice Sharp, posted by Deb Shaw

Please be aware that when you deliver artwork to a local BAGSC exhibition, the BAGSC members who are hanging the exhibition will be collecting everything together and transporting artwork to the exhibition location. This is usually done by one or two people who will be carrying the art into the location.

Mitsuko Schultz's packing box showing the interior box and artwork. Photo by Janice Sharp, © 2018.

Mitsuko Schultz’s packing box showing the interior box and artwork. Photo by Janice Sharp, © 2018.

To do this efficiently—and safely for the artwork—it is best to have all the art in portfolios with good carrying handles, clearly labeled with the artist’s name and contact information.

Facilities where we hang art often do not have convenient places to pack and unpack art. Therefore, delivery in a portfolio allows the art to be simply slipped out of the portfolio or slipped back in.

Art in the portfolio can be protected with Foam-Core or cardboard. Plexiglass is notorious for scratching easily. Foam-Core or cardboard across the front that does not touch the surface of the plexi will help protect it. Please see the sample photos of Mitsuko Schultz‘s portfolio to the left which contains an interior box made of cardboard to support and protect the framed artwork.

The box is sufficiently wide to accept at least two pieces of art. An additional sheet of cardboard could be used between the frames if two were inserted into the box. This kind of a system makes it extremely easy (and safe) to unpack and repack art.

Mitsuko Schultz's packing portfolio showing the interior box and artwork. Photo by Janice Sharp, © 2018.

Mitsuko Schultz’s packing portfolio showing the interior box and artwork. Photo by Janice Sharp, © 2018.

We ask that all BAGSC members exhibiting use a similar system to make it easy for those who are hanging and taking down exhibitions.

Of course it is expected that people mailing art will do so in a suitable mailing container instead of a portfolio!

 

We thank everyone for their attention to these important details.

by Kat Powell, posted by Deb Shaw

Some of the workshop participants getting ready for a final critique with Carrie Di Constanzo. Photo by Teri Kuwahara, © 2018.

Some of the workshop participants getting ready for a final critique with Carrie Di Constanzo. L to R: Mary Jo Newman, Carrie Di Costanzo, Suzanne Bassani, Janice Sharp, Carol Readhead, Melanie Campbell-Carter, Kathlyn Powell. Missing from photo: Patricia Mark, Alyse Ochniak.  Photo by Teri Kuwahara, © 2018.

What a fabulous experience! We were honored to have the awe-inspiring Carrie Di Costanzo for a workshop on the use of gouache in botanical art. First of all, Carrie’s work is beyond exquisite — I suspect I was not alone in getting goosebumps while gazing at her originals. They are miraculous in their refinement and perfection. Although Carrie works her magic in other media such as egg tempera and watercolor as well, it is her masterful handling of gouache that we focused on for those wonderful three days.

We all had a choice of working on a large deodar cedar cone, kumquats on a branch, loquats on a branch, or tulips. One participant requested a cactus as a subject, and The Huntington very kindly supplied that subject as well.

Reviewing artwork with Carrie Di Constanzo. Photo by Kathlyn Powell, © 2018.

Reviewing artwork with Carrie Di Constanzo. L to R: Teri Kuwahara, Carrie Di Costanzo, Suzanne Bassani, Janice Sharp, Carol Readhead, Mary Jo Newman, Melanie Carter-Campbell. Missing from photo: Patricia Mark, Alyse Ochniak. Photo by Kathlyn Powell, © 2018.

Carrie demonstrated several ways of using gouache, as the medium is quite versatile. She showed her favored method of laying down a pale “wash” of her mixed paint that consisted of a highly controlled stippling using her amazingly fast feathery stroke of dilute gouache on a dry brush. Texture was instantiated from the start and retained throughout with this technique. Subsequent layers were laid down with generally successively more concentrated pigments with the occasional unifying dry brush wash over. She worked from light to dark in this method, somewhat reminiscent of watercolor.

She also demonstrated an approach using titanium white mixed to varying degrees into her colors to opacify and smooth the deposition of color and it had a depth and richness rivaling oils while retaining the luscious velvety matte surface of gouache. Indeed, in this approach, the handling is more like that of oils or acrylics and many renowned artists such as James Gurney use this method. [See some of James Gurney’s favorite gouache artists here.] Lights do not necessarily need to be retained and working dark to light is possible. Highlights and light structures such as Melanie’s cactus spines can be directly added on top.

Carrie showed us that gouache is like watercolor in re-solubility but has a higher pigment load, yielding greater opacity. It can be used in a watercolor way with wet, dilute translucent washes retaining the light of the paper, building up to a gorgeous matte depth of color. It can also, again, be used somewhat like oils or acrylics, with light pigments over dark. This allows for going over sections with many layers until one is satisfied, without harming the surface or looking overworked. Thus, you can push a painting further. One can also use gouache to exquisite effect on toned papers, like botanical artist Albert R. Valentien did. Carrie showed us how she creates a toned sheet for such an approach.

Carrie encouraged us to use the method that we felt most comfortable with and everyone had their own unique look to their paintings, and all were lovely. The medium was adaptable to each person’s individual style of painting.

A Little About Gouache:
Gouache has a history that goes back to the 9th Century. Illuminated manuscripts and Persian and Mughal miniatures were painted using opaque watercolors mixed with white or on white priming. Chinese white was also freely used in Western watercolors in the nineteenth century as “body colors”, distinguished by their beautiful precision (see, for example, the watercolor and body color work of William Trost Richards). For many subjects, such as landscapes, body color made it possible.

Zinc white (Chinese white) as a pigment had become available in Europe in the mid-19th century (although in use in Persia, India and China since at least the 12th century) and thus at least partially displaced the more opaque but very toxic lead white. It is no wonder that artists happily explored the possibilities of this new pigment! (Especially en plein air, once pigments were packed into tubes.) We are lucky to have access to nontoxic, very opaque titanium white (introduced 1921) as well as zinc white.

Gouache was favored by commercial artists during the twentieth century for its beauty, speed of drying, and matte surface which the camera loves — it is renowned for reproducing extremely well. It got a bit of a bad rap because of the fugitive quality of many of the paints then in use — pieces were made for the camera rather than the frame, so archival lightfast pigments were not always employed. Now, however, we have beautiful, fully lightfast gouache pigments available to us from numerous pigmenters. Also, the medium suffered some stigma in the pretentious “Fine Art” vs “illustration” controversy.

Technical instruction in gouache has become very difficult to come by over the last few decades, so I cherish the training we were so fortunate to obtain with a Master Artist like Carrie. I personally have longed for this type and quality of didactics for nearly half a century. Opacity is another dimension of control which enhances the ability to work the magic of mimesis.

Profound thanks to Carrie Di Costanzo, a real treasure both artistically and as a person, to the Education Committee for bringing her, to The Huntington for hosting us, to Patricia Mark for supplying subjects and to BAGSC for everything!

by Teri Kuwahara and Deb Shaw

BAGSC gathered at the Madrona Marsh Nature Preserve in Torrance for the January meeting to feature the ongoing mural project of BAGSC member Estelle DeRidder.

The interior of the meeting room walls in the Madrona Marsh Interpretive Center have been filled with Estelle’s paintings of the plants, animals and insects found in Marsh. She has spent countless hours capturing each plant in its native environment. The meeting was highlighted by featuring Estelle as our guest speaker, adding her wit and wisdom in starting and continuing this ambitious project. In addition to discussing her process and goals, Estelle also spoke about the challenges of creating such a large work, including determining scale, practical techniques, and interesting visitors (of the human, insect and avian varieties).

Estelle was recently honored by the Cultural Arts Commission in Torrance for her work on this mural. [See BAGSC News blog article about the award here.] The Marsh staff and volunteers from the Friends of the Marsh group were also present to support Estelle, a true indication of how much she is respected and admired. A video was made to highlight Estelle’s mural project for the Cultural Arts Awards ceremony and we were fortunate to view it.   It has now been posted on YouTube so members unable to attend the meeting can enjoy it, and can be found here: https://youtu.be/zExN3JWTcMY

Our sincere thanks go out to Estelle for bringing BAGSC to the attention of Madrona Marsh. Estelle’s mural can be viewed in the Interpretive Center, Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Additional thanks goes to Tracy Drake, Park Services Manager, Community Services Department, City of Torrance; Hilary and Dave Jamieson; and, Lance Hill for his wonderful photographs of the meeting.

The Marsh is located at: 3201 Plaza del Amo, Torrance, CA 90503.

Click on any image below to see larger images in a slide show format with full captions for each photo.

by Deb Shaw

Botanical Art Worldwide is listed on the American Express Essentials Culture site as one of 15 Art Exhibitions to see this spring at this link: https://www.amexessentials.com/top-art-exhibitions-events-spring-2018/

Congratulations to Akiko Enokido, her Camellia japonica var. decumbens is included (number 14 of 15 in the slide show). Thank you to the ASBA facebook page for the notification!

BAGSC and ASBA member Akiko Enokido's, Camellia japonica var. decumbens.

BAGSC and ASBA member Akiko Enokido’s, Camellia japonica var. decumbens.

by Gilly Shaeffer, posted by Deb Shaw

I recently had a wonderful opportunity to teach a workshop during the California Native Plant Society 2018 Conference that was held at the LAX Marriott Hotel in early February. The attendees at the conference were from all over California. They are a very energetic, enthusiastic and passionate group of people who are committed to protecting the plants and open spaces in our state. Since I live in an area of Los Angeles where many residents are also committed to protecting natural areas and encouraging the cultivation of native plants. I was looking forward to teaching at this venue and thought that a workshop that would be an Introduction to Botanical Art would be well received by this group and I was right.

It is always fun to share an appreciation and love for a subject with those who are attending my class. In this case, it was my love for Botanical Art. This class was intended to introduce botanical art to those who were interested and wanted to know and do more.

The class started with an introduction to the materials used to create this art. Class attendees received a list of recommended books to inspire and to give step by step drawing exercises to begin the process. Workshop attendees did exercises to learn how to shade with graphite to create a value scale which would be preparation for creating three dimensional forms using light to dark shading.

The next portion of the class was focused on line drawing and some of what this entails. We did drawing warm up exercises then contour drawing. I wanted those attending the class to have as much “hands on” experience with drawing, as possible. They were shown how to use the plexiglass view finder, also called the “Leonardo Frame” as a drawing aide.

Workshop participants applied their skills to drawing Toyon berries and leaves. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2018.

Workshop participants applied their skills to drawing Toyon berries and leaves. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2018.

Next, the group learned about how establishing a light source can be very important in the shading of their drawing. I showed them how to establish a source of light coming from the left and how it would hit the object that the artist is shading. Those in the class shaded a sphere and a cylinder. After doing this shading, the information about shading was applied to shading a branch and some berries.

Seeing as the class members were all fans of our California native plants, this was a great opportunity to to have them shade Toyon branches with some leaves and berries applying the concept of light coming from the left.

The class members did remarkably well with this drawing and shading exercise and to my delight seemed keenly interested in learning how to do more in the future.

by Deb Shaw

Every three years, the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Conservation Conference brings together California’s conservation community for scientific sessions and lectures, field trips, workshops, special events and networking. Each conference also has a native plant botanical art and photo contest. This year included a California native plant tattoo contest as well!

BAGSC members Olga Ryabstova and Gilly Shaeffer taught botanical art workshops at the Conference.

Congratulations to the CNPS Botanical Art Contest winners (including BAGSC members):

These images and more from the exhibition can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/CaliforniaNativePlantSociety/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1587978757905901 Participating BAGSC members included: Ellie  Yun-Hui Tu, Kim Garrison Means, Nina Antze, Donald  Davidson, Estelle DeRidder, Susan Jackson, Joan Keesey, Lee McCaffree, Olga Ryabtsova, Mitsuko Schultz, Gilly Shaeffer, Janice Sharp, Deborah Shaw, and Jude Wiesenfeld.

Kudos to all who participated, and a special thank you to Elizabeth Kubey, CNPS Conference Assistant and the CNPS art panel: Tina Curiel, Wendell Pascual, Lesley Randall, and Nancy Elizabeth Saltsman.

by Tania Norris, posted by Deb Shaw

BAGSC handouts for "Portraits of Bonsai from The Huntington Collection." Cover image, Ficus retusa, watercolor on paper, © 2018 Anna Suprunenko. Brochure and photo by Olga Ryabtsova, © 2018.

BAGSC handouts for “Portraits of Bonsai from The Huntington Collection.” Cover image, Ficus retusa, watercolor on paper, © 2018 Anna Suprunenko. Brochure and photo by Olga Ryabtsova, © 2018.

The Botanical Center at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, is the location for the BAGSC exhibition ‘“Portraits of Bonsai from The Huntington Collection.” The paintings received many admiring comments from the public and participants at The Huntington’s Bonsai-a-Thon held the weekend of February 24 – 25, 2018.

Demonstrations during the two-day event were given by Olga Ryabtsova, Mitsuko Schultz and Tania Norris. The questions and comments from the viewers were many and varied. They ranged from ‘how do you?’, ‘I could never do that’, ‘are they for sale?’ and ‘where do I find classes?’ etc. People were really interested and appreciative of our participation.

Amazing Bonsais everywhere! Photo by Olga Ryabtsova, © 2018.

Amazing Bonsais everywhere! Photo by Olga Ryabtsova, © 2018.

The wonderful and patient Bonsai master, Ted Matson, gave a long plug for BAGSC before he started the auction of bonsai for the attendees. He mentioned how BAGSC members had come weekly to paint The Huntington Collection. Ted also mentioned the upcoming ASBA “Out of the Woods” art show at the Brody Center (May 18, 2018 to August 27, 2018) and was most complimentary about the BAGSC paintings.

Olga Ryabtsova (L) and Mitsuko Schultz (R) demonstrate in front of the BAGSC wall of Bonsai Portraits. Photo by Jude Wiesenfeld, © 2018.

Olga Ryabtsova (L) and Mitsuko Schultz (R) demonstrate in front of the BAGSC wall of Bonsai Portraits. Photo by Jude Wiesenfeld, © 2018.

It was also wonderful to see many BAGSC members attending the event. A few additional BAGSC demonstrators or BAGSC members who could answer questions would have been appreciated. Don’t be shy — all levels of expertise are appreciated at our outreach events, and seasoned BAGSC participants are always on hand to lend a hand.

Jude Wiesenfeld with her painting Juniperus Californica, © 2018. Photo by Mitsuko Schultz, © 2018.

Jude Wiesenfeld with her painting Juniperus californica, © 2018. Photo by Mitsuko Schultz, © 2018.

Thank you to Ted Matson and The Huntington for this wonderful opportunity; and kudos to all BAGSC papticipants!

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