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by Lesley Randall (reporting from the conference) and Deb Shaw

First place winner, Joan Keesey, Salvia spathacea, watercolor. © 2014, all rights reserved.

First place winner, Joan Keesey, Salvia spathacea, watercolor. © 2014, all rights reserved.

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) held their Conservation Conference in San Jose, California this past January 15 – 17, 2015. BAGSC members Joan Keesey won first place in the Botanical Art Exhibition with her watercolor of Salvia spathacea, and Lesley Randall took third place with her pen and ink drawing of Malva assurgentiflora. CNPS awards cash prizes of $500 for first place; $300 for second place; and $200 for third place, plus publication in the CNPS magazine, Femontia.

The CNPS conference was attended by about 1200 people—all of whom are passionate about California’s native plants. Bernard Halliwell and Kristin Jakob worked very hard to put the botanical art exhibit together and did a magnificent job. Although they had only a small space with which to work, the exhibit flowed very nicely. As always the standard of work was exceptionally high.

Third place winner, Lesley Randall, pen and ink of Malva assurgentiflora. © 2014, all rights reserved.

Third place winner, Lesley Randall, pen and ink of Malva assurgentiflora. © 2014, all rights reserved.

This year, the conference also included botanical art talks and demonstrations. Pria Graves gave a talk about The History and Tradition of Botanical Art; Lesley Randall taught a workshop on Pen and Ink Drawing of Plants; Nina Antze taught a workshop on Drawing Plants with Color Pencils; and Maria Cecillia Freemen taught Getting Started in Botanical Drawing and Painting.

Watch the blog as more images and information about the conference comes in. Congratulations to all for a successful conference, and kudos to Joan and Lesley!

By Joan Keesey

Thread-leaved Brodiaea, Second Place by Deborah Shaw

Thread-leaved Brodiaea, Second Place, by Deborah Shaw, watercolor on Kelmscott Vellum © 2012

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.

Snake Lily & Elegant Madia, Third Place, by Joan Keesey, watercolor © 2012

Snake Lily & Elegant Madia, Third Place, by Joan Keesey, watercolor © 2012

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.”

Hummingbird Sage, Honorable Mention, by Estelle DeRidder, colored pencil © 2012

Hummingbird Sage, Honorable Mention, by Estelle DeRidder, colored pencil © 2012

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.

September 2021
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