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by Beth Stone

photographs by Gayle Uyehara

An enthusiastic group of artists enjoyed three days with Elaine Searle for her class entitled “Liquid Shine…Sculpting Form with Light and Color”. This was one of two Weird, Wild & Wonderful pre-symposium classes held at The Huntington this week. Gilly Shaeffer searched everywhere until finally her artist’s eye found beautiful Italian peppers for our studies. The class explored the differences between Sheen, Shine and Liquid Shine learning a host of indispensable techniques and tips.


Elaine Searle (back of room) made good use of the projection system in The Engemann Applied Tech Lab for demonstrations. Even Jim Folsom stepped in to help by printing personal photographic pepper portraits (see sample in foreground).


Terri Monroe thoughtfully applying finishing touches to her pepper.


The class joins in a group status check mid way through the third and final day.


Elaine Searle (far left) treated the class to an overview of just a few samples of her beautiful artwork.

by Beth Stone
The LA Times dubbed the weather WEIRD, while plant lovers call it WONDERFUL!!

Symposium week is finally here! There are two great workshops underway — Mieko Ishikawa and Elaine Searle, and attendees are getting a preview as the Banta Hall displays are being assembled.


by Joan Keesey

Common Poppy, photo by John Keesey, © 2013

Common Poppy, photo by John Keesey, © 2013

Consider the “campi fiori,”
Arrayed in their natural glory.
Their existence is brief
Unless an artistic thief
Memorializes their story.

John Keesey, June 2013

Preci, Umbria, photo by John Keesey, © 2013

Preci, Umbria, photo by John Keesey, © 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.

The Studio, photo J. Keesey, © 2013

The Studio, photo J. Keesey, © 2013

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.

Lunch at Il Collaccio, photo by J. Keesey, © 2013

Lunch at Il Collaccio, photo by J. Keesey, © 2013

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.

Making Paper at the Fabriano Museum, photo by J. Keesey, © 2013

Making Paper at the Fabriano Museum, photo by J. Keesey, © 2013

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.

Bee Orchid, Ophrys apifera, watercolor by Joan Keesey, © 2013, all rights reserved.

Bee Orchid, Ophrys apifera, watercolor by Joan Keesey, © 2013, all rights reserved.

Common Poppy, Papaver rhoras, watercolor by Joan Keesey, © 2013, all rights reserved.

Common Poppy, Papaver rhoras, watercolor by Joan Keesey, © 2013, all rights reserved.

by Deb Shaw

Elaine Searle, "Rhubarb" (Rheum rhabarbarum), watercolor, © 2013, all rights reserved

Elaine Searle, “Rhubarb” (Rheum rhabarbarum), watercolor, © 2013, all rights reserved

Elaine Searle‘s “Rhubarb” (Rheum rhabarbarum), and Joan Keesey‘s “Hummingbird Sage” (Salvia spathacea), were both accepted into the 16th Annual International American Society of Botanical Artists at The Horticultural Society of New York.

Congratulations to both of you!


Joan Keesey, "Hummingbird Sage" (Salvia spathacea), watercolor, © 2013, all rights reserved

Joan Keesey, “Hummingbird Sage” (Salvia spathacea), watercolor, © 2013, all rights reserved

by Elaine Searle, posted by Deb Shaw

BAGSC member Elaine Searle is a botanical artist and experienced instructor from the UK who has taught extensively in the USA.  By popular demand she has extended her 2013 Italian painting holiday to 10 days. A day excursion to medieval Fabriano to learn how to make paper is included. Previous visits have attracted students of all levels from UK, USA, Europe, the Caribbean and Japan.

Non-painters are also most welcome as the national park setting is perfect for nature walks, independent sightseeing with a hire car or simply lazing by the pool with a good book.

10 Day Botanical Painting Holiday in Umbria, Italy
May 29-June 8, 2013
1,380 Euros per painter sharing, 980 Euros per non painter sharing, 150 Euros single room supplement.

Includes 10 nights in a family owned ‘agriturismo’ hotel, all meals, wine with evening meal, daily tuition, 24-hr access to the studio and a full day excursion to Fabriano. Paint local flora (even native orchids) or vibrant veggies with guidance. Or for those who would like more specific drawing and watercolor technique instruction choose one of Elaine’s mini-projects with full color handouts (ideal for less experienced). Elaine is on hand to demonstrate and assist.

The hotel is situated in breathtaking countryside and is noted for its hospitality and good food. You can paint as much or as little as you wish.

Download the ESearle_2013Umbria brochure to see details about the 10 Day Botanical Painting Holiday in Umbria, Italy.

More information and booking, go to

by Tania Norris, posted by Deb Shaw

We are privileged to have two of the foremost artists and teachers in the world of Botanical Art scheduled to give classes at the Virginia Robinson Gardens shortly.

Jenny Phillips

Jenny Phillips

JENNY PHILLIPS, from Australia, has her own botanical art school in Melbourne. She has not taught in America for five years so it is wonderful to have her back.
Class dates: April 11, 12 and 13, 2012
Time: 9:30 am – 4 pm each day.
Subject: Tonal work to emphasize form and planning a composition which will fill a page with movement and meaning.
Cost: $375.00

Jenny has also asked that each student bring a painting so that she can help with any problem areas that we need special help with.

Elaine Searle

Elaine Searle


ELAINE SEARLE, from England, will be returning for another of her popular classes. Elaineʼs quiet way of explaining “how to” has given us many “a ha” moments. Elaine is always ready to look at our paintings and help with problems.
Class dates: June 4 – 8, 2012.
Time: 9:30 am – 3pm
Subject still to be decided. Please let me know your thoughts.
Cost: $595.00

To register for the classes, please contact the Friends of Robinson Gardens by telephone if paying by credit card, (310) 550-2068 or if paying by check, please make payable to the  Friends of Robinson Gardens and mail to:
1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

If you have any questions, please email me or call.

Look forward to seeing you at two wonderful classes,
Tania Norris

March 2023

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