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The BAGSC Botanical Day of Art is almost here, and the website has been updated with more information. There are still a few spots available for:
Sunday, January 26, 2020
9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

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

Be sure to visit the BAGSC website at to review updated information, including:

  • A full schedule of the day;
  • Instructors and subjects for each of the four sessions;
  • Supplies provided;
  • Supplies for sharing;
  • AND the BAGSC Mercado!

Last year we sold extras from the art supplies purchased for the Day of Art, and participants were clamoring for more. We have just added a BAGSC “Mercado” to the day: in addition to the workshop sessions, BAGSC will be selling extra art supplies purchased for the “Day of Art” as well as gently-used art supplies in our very own Art Supply Mercado.

Please bring cash or check; credit cards will not be accepted for the Art Supply Mercado.

Registration is online and easy. Hope to see you there!

by Deb Shaw

Back by popular demand! Last year’s BAGSC BOTANICAL ART WORKSHOP was such a great success, we’ve created a new one! Start a creative 2020 with:

A Day of Botanical Art Skills & Techniques for All Levels

Sunday, January 26, 2020
9am to 4pm
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, CA 91007

Participants may choose from a variety hands-on sessions taught by skilled BAGSC teachers in a new, longer, 80-minute format! Choose which sessions you want to attend the day of the event.

  • Color Mixing and Pigments
  • Colored Pencil and Watercolor Pencil
  • Drawing Leaves and Flowers
  • Dry Brush Technique
  • Fixing Fiddly Bits with Masking Fluid
  • Graphite (Pencil) Techniques
  • Nature Journaling
  • Pen & Ink
  • Pen, Watercolor & Colored Pencil
  • Silverpoint
  • Watercolor

BAGSC Artists include:

  • Cristina Baltayian
  • Sally Jacobs
  • Kathlyn Powell
  • Lesley Randall
  • Olga Ryabtsova
  • Mitsuko Schultz
  • Gilly Shaeffer
  • Deborah Shaw

$50 BAGSC Members ~ $60 Non-Members 

Register online at

No refunds after January 17, 2020.

BAGSC Basic Botanical Art, photo © Deborah Shaw.

All basic supplies are included in the registration cost. Beginners can try new techniques while others can brush up their skills and try out new materials.

Please register early. Spaces are limited, and this workshop is open to the public. Registrations are expected to fill quickly.

Questions? Contact BAGSC’s education chair at the link on the online registration page above.

by Deb Shaw

Detail of Cucurbita Maxima, watercolor by Deborah Shaw, © 2014, all rights reserved.

Detail of Cucurbita Maxima, watercolor by Deborah Shaw, © 2014, all rights reserved.

The Ultimate Color Mixing Workshop has moved to Wednesday, January, 14 – Thursday, January 15, 2015 at the Virginia Robinson Gardens.

The workshop details are the same, as posted on a previous BAGSC News Blog article. You may find it at:

9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Cost: $225 for Virginia Robinson Gardens members and Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (BAGSC) members; $275 for non-members.
$50 deposit is non-refundable.

The Virginia Robinson Gardens has just installed online registration! Register for this workshop by going to:

You also can still make reservations by calling (310) 550-2068; or mail a check, made payable to: FRIENDS OF ROBINSON GARDENS. The Virginia Robinson Gardens are located at 1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills, California 90210.

by Deb Shaw

Tired of spending endless time and paint trying to find the right color? Learn to mix colors through color theory. This fun, no-stress overview workshop is for beginners through advanced participants and goes beyond what is typically taught in botanical color mixing classes. Although this watercolor workshop will focus on botanical subjects, the theory and exercises apply to all art forms and media, including: plein air, still life, and portraits; whether they’re created in watercolor, oil, acrylic, colored pencil, or pastel. Learn about:

  • The hidden values in color, and color mixing basics.
  • Where colors fall on the color wheel, and how that affects mixing.
  • Transparency, lightfastness, granulation.
  • Basic color theories and changing color through the ages (how did Van Gogh get those sad violets?).
  • Color mixing and painting methods.
  • How to avoid mixing mud, AND how to (purposefully) mix the appropriate mud, shadows and other nasty colors.
  • Mixing beyond the basics, including a handout containing the ultimate color mixing exercise.

Monday, October 27, 2014, and Tuesday, October 28, 2104, 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Cost: $225 for Virginia Robinson Gardens members and Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California (BAGSC) members; $275 for non-members.
$50 deposit is non-refundable.

Tea, coffee and water provided. Bring your own lunch. A materials list will be supplied. Paint samples will be supplied.

Suz Landay and Kerstin Royce look over Deb Shaw's shoulder during a demonstration.

Suz Landay and Kerstin Royce look over Deb Shaw’s shoulder during a demonstration.

Classes will be held in the Pool Pavilion, Virginia Robinson Gardens, 1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills. To make reservations, visit Virginia Robinson Gardens; call (310) 550-2068; or mail a check, made payable to: FRIENDS OF ROBINSON GARDENS.

Instructor biography:
Deborah Shaw has a degree in fine art from Pomona College, The Claremont Colleges, where she also studied botany and native California flora. Ms. Shaw is an active member of the American Society of Botanical Artists, the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California, and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. She has taught art and botanical art at numerous venues, including The Getty; The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens; Virginia Robinson Gardens; and Bowers Museum. She taught illustration, digital design and information design at the University of California, Irvine, Extension where she was the recipient of the “Distinguished Instructor” award.

Deborah’s work has been displayed in juried and non-juried exhibitions, and is in private collections. Her work is in the permanent collection at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University. She has received numerous awards for art, illustration, design, product design and advertising. Her preferred media include graphite, watercolor, colored pencil, scratchboard, Illustrator and Photoshop.

by Deb Shaw and others

There are always new tempting art supplies available, but this year there seems to have been a cascade of new art products that make traveling with art supplies a breeze. Below are just a few of our current favorites. Disclaimer: I’ve included some links and prices where it’s easy and I know the resource. I haven’t done extensive research on who carries what, or who has the best prices. If you click on any of the links below, you’ll go to the exact product page for that website, rather than the home page.

Do you have some favorite new products? Write a review and let me know and we’ll put together another column in the future.

Derwent Carry-all

Closed Derwent Carry-all

Closed Derwent Carry-all, image courtesy of the Ken Bromley website.

Not yet available in the US, this is the best portable art studio I’ve found! I can fit everything I need for pencil and watercolor artwork, all into one 10″ x 8″ x 4″ canvas satchel. Everything I need now lives permanently in my Carry-all, whether I’m working in the studio, or I’m on the road or in classes.

The Carry-all comes with three “leaves”, held in place by six small notebook-style snap rings. The leaves snap in and out, depending on your travel requirements, and have elastic straps to hold pencils, pens, brushes, etc.

Open Carry-all

Open Carry-all, image courtesy of the Ken Bromley website.

There’s a zippered mesh pocket on the inside front, and a strap on the inside back to hold an A5 sketchbook and other necessary items.

An external pocket, carry handles and a detachable shoulder strap complete the kit. The Derwent Carry-all is available at Ken Bromley Art Supplies (among other UK art suppliers), on sale now for about $26.00 (£15.99). Deb is putting together a BAGSC group order. Watch your email for an offer to participate!

Invisi Lightweight Display Easel

Invisi Lightweight Display Easel

Invisi Lightweight Display Easel, image © Ken Bromley Art Supplies website.

This one is a Ken Bromley exclusive that I’ve tested extensively and will be ordering a lot more (BAGSC members watch for the email to participate).

Originally designed as portable display easel for art exhibitions, the Invisi Easel is made from white corrugated plastic (the same material out of which the Post Office constructs its boxes). Reusable, they lay flat for storage and transport, and snap together in one easy motion to set up.

In addition to using the Invisi Easel to set up an artwork display, I’ve also been using one as an easel in art classes. My neck and back no longer allow me to work hunched over a table, and I work sitting upright at an easel in my studio. The need for lightweight packing for airline travel, however, doesn’t allow me to drag my easel along for art classes.

I’ve been setting up my Invisi Easel, adhering it to the table with a bit of kneaded eraser or tape (so it won’t scoot away as I work). I have my paper (or vellum) on a piece of foam core as I usually do, and I’m ready to draw or paint. No, you can’t put a lot of pressure on the painting as you work, but I haven’t had a problem with painting or drawing. And my back and neck are grateful as well.

The Invisi Easel is about $9.11 each (£5.65), or approximately $40.24 for a 5 pack (£24.95), or approximately $72.50 (£44.95) for a 10 pack. If enough BAGSC members are interested, a pack of 50 is available for about $272.00 (£168.50).

Porcelain Tinting Saucer

Porcelain Tinting Saucer

Porcelain Tinting Saucer, courtesy of Ken Bromley website

This item comes from BAGSC members Elaine Searle and Pat Mark (who discovered it in Elaine’s class). Again, it’s another one of those things we don’t seem to be able to get here in the US yet. A small (only 3.3″ diameter) white porcelain saucer, it has four divisions for mixing paint and is easy to pack. It’s about $3.60 each from Ken Bromley (£2.25). This too will be on our order list for BAGSC member who want to participate, so watch your email.

Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Wheel Set

Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Wheel

Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Wheel Set, image courtesy of the Dick Blick website

Thank you to Tania Marien for discovering this gem at the SCAD bookstore at the GNSI conference in Savannah, Georgia. These are available all over, including Dick Blick and my local art store (where I bought mine). Each wheel measures 3-1/4″ in diameter, and set comes with four wheels (trays) that stack and screw together. Each tray holds six colors (seven if you use the middle space, for a total of 24 – 32 colors. The transparent cover can be used for mixing, if you don’t mind mixing in plastic.

Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Wheel Set

Koh-I-Noor Watercolor Wheel Set, courtesy of Dick Blick website

Be forewarned; it’s not easy to pry, soak and scrape the original colors out of the pans. Once you do, however, your own palette neatly and easily fills the spaces. I created labels with the paint names and information for the underside of each well. Two sets gave me enough space for my entire palette, plus extra spaces for that squirt of color that I didn’t know I needed from a friend in class.

Faber-Castell Clic & Go Water Pot

Faber-Castell Clic & Go Water Pot, courtesy of Dick Blick's website

Faber-Castell Clic & Go Water Pot, courtesy of Dick Blick’s website

Expanded water pot, courtesy of Dick Blick's website

Expanded water pot, courtesy of Dick Blick’s website

Everyone seemed to discover this one at the same time! Easy to find everywhere (at Dick Blick for $3.86 — 26 percent off list), this ingenious water pot collapses for travel (or for a small amount of water) and then expands to hold at least double the amount. Easy to clean, and nicely designed scallops on the rim are the perfect holders for brushes.

I use two.

Caran d’Ache Pencils

Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Colored Pencils, courtesy of Dick Blick's website

Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 Colored Pencils, courtesy of Dick Blick’s website

Thank you to Margaret Best for steering me to the Caran d’Ache Luminance Lightfast colored pencils and graphite.

The Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) worked with the American Society for Testing and Material to develop the ASTM D-6901 standards for lightfastness in colored pencils. After two years in development, the Swiss company Caran d’Ache released their Luminance 6901 Lightfast Pencil Sets: the only brand to offer 76 colors, 61 of which are in the most lightfast (Lightfastness I) category.

The chromatic range of the soft leads is very similar to the watercolor palettes used by botanical artists, and contains the highest level of pigments of any colored pencil. Additionally, the Luminance 6901 colored pencils have been awarded use of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label, guaranteeing that the logging of the California cedar for the pencils is environmentally-friendly and socially and economically sustainable.

The colored pencils come in sets of 16, 38, and 76 from many sources in the US, including Dick Blick, Cheap Joe’s, Jerry’s Artarama, Rex Art, and more. Jerry’s Artarama is the only site I’ve seen in the US that also sells individual colored pencils, but there may be others.

Range of Caran d'Ache Grafwood Pencils, courtesy of Dick Blick's website

Range of Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils, courtesy of Dick Blick’s website

Caran d’Ache also offers a spectacular line of graphite: their Grafwood pencils range from HB through 9B, as well as F, H, 2H, 3H, and 4H. They also carry water-soluble graphite (Caran d’Ache Technolo Water Soluble Graphite Pencils), Grafstone Woodless Graphite Pencils, Charcoal Pencils, and Grafcube Graphite Sticks. The pencils are “color-coded” the entire length of the pencil; the harder the pencil the lighter the silvery-gray color of the barrel.

The only adjectives I can come up with to describe these pencils are the same ones I would use to describe food: luscious, buttery, smooth, creamy, all come to mind. Warning: they’re not cheap. Take a deep breath before looking at the sticker price. As far as I’m concerned, however, they’re absolutely worth it.

by Deb Shaw

Color test chart by X-Rite

Color test chart by X-Rite

The X-Rite site has a new, nifty Hue Test they’ve developed. They report that 1 out of 255 women and 1 out of 12 men have some form of color vision deficiency. Their online color challenge, based on the official FM100 Hue Test is a fun way to see how well you see hue and value across the spectrum. Rearrange the squares in order of hue and then click on the “score test” button to see how well you do! Zero is a perfect score.

by Jill Berry and Cristina Baltayian, posted by Deb Shaw

Cristina Baltayian, © 2011, all rights reserved

Cristina Baltayian, © 2011, all rights reserved

BAGSC member Cristina Baltayian will be teaching colored pencil classes at the LA Arboretum through December 2012 on both Tuesdays AND now on Saturdays as well!

At the Arboretum, 301 North Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, CA 91007, phone: 626.821.4623

These classes will focus on techniques, composition and color mixing. All levels of experience are welcome.

Cristina Baltayian, Instructor
10am-2pm (includes one hour lunch break) – 3 hours of class
$255 Arboretum members per month
$275 non-members per month

Pre-registration required; please call 626.821.4623

Cristina Baltayian has a background in drawing (graphite, charcoal, pen and ink), two-dimensional design, watercolor, and colored pencils.

Her work has been shown at Filoli, the Los Angeles County Arboretum, and Chapman University. She is a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists, and The Botanical Guild of Southern California. A supply list will be provided upon registration. You may bring your lunch or purchase it at the Peacock Café.

Tuesdays, 2012:
May 1, 8, 15, 22
June 5, 12, 19, 26
July 10, 17, 24, 31

August (No Classes)

September 4, 11, 18, 25
October 2, 9, 16, 23

November (No Classes)

December 4, 11, 18 ((December classes go from 10am – 3:15pm)

Saturdays, 2012
Each individual class will explore flowers, fruits, vegetables and more, using colored pencil techniques to get beautiful, painterly results. You may register for one class at a time if you wish.

A supply list will be provided upon registration; you can also bring your lunch or purchase it at the Peacock Café.

10am – 4pm (includes one hour lunch break) – 5 hours of class
$ 95 Arboretum members per Saturday
$115 Non-members per Saturday

Pre-registration required; please call 626.821.4623

May 12
June 9
July 14
August 18
September 15
October 13

(No class in November)

December 15

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