Mission Statement

The Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists is an open and diverse group of artists, collectors and admirers who share a love for the practice and perpetuation of botanical art and illustration with a fond focus on plants in the Rocky Mountain Region.
We encourage and participate in educational outreach, juried and non-juried exhibits, lectures, workshops and regular chapter meetings. The RMSBA is proud to be the very first chapter affiliation of the international organization, the American Society of Botanical Artists.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Thinking about art and creativity, one realizes the importance of words. And, conversely, the failings of words. Try to explain the color of red. Or find the words to describe the relationship of a botanical specimen to you and your art. Not always easy. I once described art to a colleague as painting words with pictures.

Jade Vine by Kaye Hurtt, with colors so other-worldly that
finding the right words to describe them is a challenge!

When your creativity needs a muse, right now, write a bit. Find words that describe, challenge, illuminate or amuse. Figure out how to translate those words into paintings. Save your notes! Many of my musings end up art projects that really work.

Some words simply irritate, as they are repeatedly misused! Nucular. Nuclear. Regardless. Irregardless. My pet peeve o' the moment involves the use of the word "medium." So many variations are used to describe the matrix for pigments. Media, mediums, medias. Let's just set the record straight. Medium refers to the carrier for pigments. For example, watercolor describes pigment carried in a water soluble medium. Further defined, it could become more specific, as in gouache, or acrylic, both of which are water media.

There are more obfuscations that we may want to abandon at some point. Colored pencil describes the applicator for a pigment, a handy wood or plastic casing, with pigments carried in a variety of media - wax, oil, water soluble carriers and even chalk. Media for pastels and pencils are determined, generally, by brand. In pencils, PrismaColors could be wax, Polychromos are oil, Caran d'Ache are synthetic wax, and most brands have an "aquarelle" line that is water soluble. Pastels can be "dry" or "oil." They're bound in gum Arabic, with chalks and other additives. The stick is what is generally described by the word pastel, not the media involved in making the pigment usable.. 

When you want to talk about using many carriers for pigments, watercolor with graphite or ink for example, the phrase is "Mixed media." An unfortunate choice would be "mixed mediums." That refers to a diverse group of psychics or a lot of averaging data! Not really what we wanted to say, but some potential for some wonderful puns! And we'll just have to rule "medias" right out!

A word that serves my art is "juxtaposition," literally, putting items in close proximity to one another. In art, I find unusual juxtapositions - items in close proximity where the connections are not necessarily immediate -  create interest, mood and power. To wit, our ant friend below! This image has to make you think, and the addition of words only heightens the impact.

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but if it's pictured  with interesting or unexpected companions, it creates a story line, a good way to invite closer viewing of your artwork.

These words are about our next meeting. Lots going on so plan on attending!

Sunday, June 26, Koelbel Library, 1:30 to 5:00 PM

Our agenda includes Carol Till, who will tell us more about the Rare II Project, with scheduled exhibition in 2014.

Then Kirk Gillespie representing M.Graham & Co. Watercolors, a paint manufacturer out of Oregon, will present their approach to making fine quality artist paints.  Kirk likes to keep it pretty loose, answer a ton of questions and share technical and not so technical information.  He has been in the art materials business for 21 years, and has a lot of experience with the chemistry and process of paint making. 

A maker of oil, acrylics, watercolor and gouache, each M. Graham line has qualities and properties that set them apart from other paints. Kirk will talk a little about each medium, we’ll have samples available in watercolor and gouache, and he'll go into deeper detail about those. Bring watercolor paper or your favorite surface for water media, a container for water and your favorite brushes. Come and learn about a truly amazing line of paints- made by hand in the USA.

Hope to see you at Koelbel Library, 5955 S. Holly Street, Centennial, CO 80121.  RSVP to Dorothy DePaulo at ddepaulo@gmail.com.

This week, some new words were added to the dialog of botanical art by Carolyn Payzant. Carolyn is a chemist and artist, and her passion is knowing color. Her new blog is in our Ephemera listing of links. This promises to be a valuable resource for any artist. You'll also find the website for the Arvada Center for the Arts, a lovely museum in our fair cities, a fascinating paper exhibition, and other interesting tidbits.

The ASBA website for Conference registration goes live on 17 June 2011 at http://www.asba-conf.org/. . But you can plan your activities at the Conference website, listed in Contacts, beginning 15 June 2011. Plan now for a wonderful experience. Timely registration helps to insure you get into the wonderful workshops and activities scheduled for us in historic Boston and environs.

Send your words - and pictures! - for use in our blog to rmsbartists@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

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