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by Patricia A. Mark and Deb Shaw

Olga Eysymontt will be teaching two botanical art workshops this summer at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens (LA Arboretum) through the Extension Program at Otis College of Art and Design.

The first is a two-day drawing and painting workshop, “Heirloom Tomatoes in Watercolor/Colored Pencil. The focus for this workshop will be techniques for conveying the perception of light and shadow, mixing color and continuous tone. Prior experience in drawing botanical subject matter is helpful. A supply list is on the Otis workshop registration site (included on the link below):
Heirloom Tomatoes in Watercolor/Colored Pencil
Saturday, July 7, and Sunday, July 8, 2018
9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Science Lab Classroom
Cost: $185
LA Arboretum & Botanic Garden (link to map)

The second two-day drawing and painting workshop, “Eggplants in Watercolor/Colored Pencil,” will be held in August. This workshop also will cover the techniques for conveying light and shadow, mixing color, and continuous tone. Changing the subject matter from tomatoes to a variety of eggplants allows exploration of different techniques and effects. A supply list is on the Otis workshop registration site (included on the link below):
Eggplants in Watercolor/Colored Pencil
Saturday, August 18, and Sunday, August 19, 2018
9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Oak Room
Cost: $185
LA Arboretum & Botanic Garden (link to map)

Both workshops will be held indoors at the LA Arboretum. Class details will be sent to registrants. There are still a few seats remaining. Take one or both classes!

Questions? Call Otis Extension at 310-665-6850, or email

by Cynthia Jackson and Clara Josephs, posted by Deb Shaw

Olga Eysymontt's demonstration of carbon dust, graphite dust and pencil techniques. Photo by Cynthia Jackson, © 2016, all rights reserved.

Olga Eysymontt’s demonstration of carbon dust, graphite dust and pencil techniques. Photo by Cynthia Jackson, © 2016, all rights reserved.

In each of Olga’s classes, we show our progress on what we had started the class before. Recently, that meant we shared our composition of the seedpods, cotton plant, bottlebrush branch, pussy willow, or whatever each of us had chosen. After the critique we continued to finish the drawing we had started.

One session ago we had a demonstration of carbon dust technique by Olga. She had done a pepper using graphite dust, carbon dust, and a combination of both, including the pencils that she had listed on the list of supplies we got for the class. She uses old makeup brushes for some of the application of the dust. The shorter handles are easier to work with when applying the carbon dust or graphic dust. Olga suggested we start with an outline of a simple object—nothing complicated. It turns out this technique is a very fast way, comparatively, to do a drawing. One classmate had drawing almost completed before the end of the class, beautifully done. And it’s fun!

We were asked to try to continue practicing with the carbon dust and other work we had started. We are learning a lot!

by Beth Stone
029A wonderful series of weekly classes has just concluded at the LA Arboretum and Botanic Garden. This Otis College course was taught by Olga Eysymontt. Each class in the series built upon the preceding progressing from contour drawing to shading exercises then on to visualizing basic forms as they apply to increasingly complex botanical subjects. Artistic composition was also a theme throughout.

Copy (1) of 027For some students the material was brand new, for others it was review, for myself it certainly filled in some gaps. Without question, all the subject matter and techniques which Olga covered are foundational to botanical art.

Olga makes great use of a combination of demonstration, class discussion and one-on-one guidance. Each class included at least one opportunity to share our progress with and learn from one another. Each session concluded with a homework assignment. I found this particularly valuable and just the right level of effort to keep me engaged between classes. Practicing the concepts on my own really helped to reinforce each lesson.



By the end, each of us had several completed works…and one more work in progress to keep that momentum going.

Watch for Olga’s next series coming up in January 2016. I highly recommend it!


by Lori Vreeke/Diane Daly/Deb Shaw

The jurors for the BAGSC exhibition at the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens, “Zoo in Bloom” have been announced: Olga Eysymontt, Ann Swan, and Chris Briggs.

Their bios are as follows:

Olga Eysymontt:
Olga is one of the founding members of BAGSC, and has taught botanical illustration classes for the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden since 1997. She is a former instructor at Otis College of Art, and a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology in Fine Arts. Olga is passionate about teaching and the thrill of bringing out each student’s vision. In addition to botanical illustration, she enjoys landscape and macro photography.

Ann Swan:
Based in Wiltshire, UK, Ann works primarily in graphite and coloured pencil. She is well known for her exquisitely fine detail, vibrant colours and strong contemporary style. Ann champions the underdogs of the plant kingdom—drawing attention to Brussels sprouts or beetroots and demonstrating through her art that they are just as beautiful as the iris or tulip. She is equally passionate about coloured pencils, believing they are easy to master, forgiving and accessible, enabling even a complete beginner to produce quality artwork.

Ann began exhibiting in 1990 and now shows her work worldwide. Exhibitions include The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 1994 and the Hunt Institute’s 8th International Exhibition in Pittsburgh. Ann is a member of the RHS Picture Committee and exhibits with the Society of Botanical Artists on a regular basis. She has exhibited numerous times at the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. Her work is represented in the prestigious Shirley Sherwood Collection and is in many private collections around the world.

Chris Briggs:
Following six years in the Navy and a seven year hiatus in Hawaii, Chris Briggs returned to the mainland to attend the University of Oregon in Political Science and Environmental Studies, and then the University of Florida for a degree in Photojournalism. He came to California in 1992 to attend Brooks Institute for a degree in Commercial Photography. Chris is currently the Director of Safety and Security at the Santa Barbara Zoo and personally hangs all the exhibitions at the Zoo. He continues to photograph nature and landscapes with an emphasis on Southern California.

Chris has spent the past 20+ years chasing, photographing, and identifying spring wildflowers. In his spare time he is an active gardener, or at least he was before the drought!

A warm welcome to our jurors.

More plants!

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Thank you to Diane and a very patient Jack Daly for more plant images. We’ve included Lori’s images in the slide show as well. They are the same as those published in the previous Santa Barbara “Zoo in Bloom” article, but are single images and larger here, so they may be easier to see.

As the exhibition title suggests, artwork of plants at the Zoo in flower fits the theme perfectly. Additionally, any plant species that grows at the zoo is eligible for entry even if it is not currently blooming.

Submission Deadline is September 5, 2015. Questions? Contact Lori Vreeke.

by Clara Josephs, posted by Deb Shaw

Passion Flower study, Olga Eysymontt, © 2008, all rights reserved.

Passion Flower study, Olga Eysymontt, © 2008, all rights reserved.

Olga Eysymontt, one of the founding members of BAGSC and the first botanical art teacher to many of us, is returning to the Los Angeles Arboretum to teach her iconic class, Graphite for Botanical Illustration. If you have not had the opportunity to study with Olga, now is your chance. Classes will held for 8 Sundays, from September 13 through November 1, 9:30–4:30 and is appropriate for all skill levels. Register through Otis College 310 665 6950 class # XILU3556. This class is not yet up on the website, but will fill quickly. If you are interested, register soon by phone.

This hands-on drawing course enables teaches students to observe and draw plants with accuracy, develop perceptual acuity, analyze the role of light on form, and use tonal value skills that are essential in drawing any subject. Classes will be held at the LA Arboretum. This course is suitable not only for beginners but also for those students with extensive drawing experience. Course includes demonstration, class discussion, and critique.

First class materials: 14″ x 17” Strathmore Drawing Pad Series 400, Medium (no sketch or recycled paper; you can use another brand), 14” x 17” Medium Weight Tracing Paper (any brand), 3 Drafting Pencil Holders and 1 Sharpener, Leads: 2H, HB and 2B leads (at least 2 each), Eraser Stick, Erasing Shield, Drafting Brush, Mars Drafting Dots (masking tape), Portable Task Light (Ott-Lite). Vis a Vis wet erase fine point marker, Clip, 8″ x 10″ Plexi and 8″ x 10″ format supplied by teacher for $10.00.

by Deb Shaw

Our dear Jill Berry at the Los Angeles Arboretum will be retiring shortly. BAGSC sends out a BIG THANK YOU to Jill for all your years of help, service, and support.

Many of us got our start in botanical art at the LA Arboretum, in classes taught by Olga Eysymontt. Jill was a big part of our experience there, and we will miss her. Jill, congratulations on your retirement, and we wish you all the happiness and fulfillment in the years ahead. Thank you!

Our collaboration and support of the Arboretum will continue, of course. The schedule for Cristina Baltayian’s classes has been announced for January – June, 2015 at the Arboretum. These classes will be exploring color pencil, graphite, pen and ink, and watercolor on various papers, vellum and other surfaces. The emphasis will be on plant observation, drawing, composition, color theory and matching, and medium techniques.

Tuesdays,  2015  (10 am – 2 pm)
January: 6, 13, 20, 27
February: 3, 10, 17, 24
March: 3, 10, 17, 24
April: 7, 14, 21, 28
May: 5, 12, 19, 26
June: 2,  9,  16, 23

Cost: $275 Arboretum members per month; $295 non-members per month (includes Arboretum admission)

To register: Pre-registration required; please call the Class Registration line at 626.821.4623. Class participation is limited to a minimum of five students and a maximum of 12. A supply list will be provided upon registration. You may bring your lunch or purchase it at the Peacock Café.

Additionally, this year continues the “Arboretum Plant Introduction Project.” Cristina’s students, along with BAGSC members will be studying and portraying many of the Arboretum plant introductions from the last 50 years.  The goal is to build a collection of paintings that will celebrate and document the invaluable contribution of the Los Angeles Arboretum to the state of California.

About the Instructor

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 Leatherby Libraries. She is a  member of the American Society of Botanical Artists, and The Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California.

March 2023

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