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.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fighting words?

Recently I read a review of botanical art online. The author stated that traditional botanical art, or more accurately flower painting, was a rich genre. Then lamented that botanical art in the contemporary scene was really just illustration, and contained no aesthetic. The last comments offered did concede that there were a few botanical "artists" out there with obvious artistic sensibilities, but the genre simply relied too much on the needs of science.

Mesmerize, White Giant Allium, Allium giganteum, 18x18", colored pencil on film, Susan Rubin

My first reaction was to prepare to do battle for my own beloved genre. Then, I realized that the reason I was prepared to do battle is that there is a kernel of truth in the author's statements. Sometimes it seems that historical "plant on a page" needs of science drive the composition, media and methods of contemporary botanical art. Is that a bad thing? Isn't it a fact that contemporary botanical art springs from this approach and is the genesis of what we do? However, botanical art is not limited by its origins. In fact, the art used to illustrate science isn't even limited by its origins. The complaining  author obviously hasn't seen enough botanical art!

Then, what is that annoyng kernel of truth? To me, it's knowing that not enough viewers get to see botanical art, and that not enough of us market our art appropriately. So, how did a discussion of botanical art segue to marketing? It followed the money! Let's look to the pros. Those artists who succeed in growing the genre sell their art. And they sell it as "art" with terrific accurate botanicals, not "botanical art." The difference in the words broadens the acceptance and interest in our work.

Brassica,  watercolor on paper, Estelle DeRidder

So yes, let's fight! Let's fight to find more appreciators of botanical art. Let's start thinking about our work as art first. Stunning and useful and necessary illustration is embraced by that concept. Let's think of ourselves as artists who swim in the large pool of art in general. Let's grow our genre to embrace people who love flowers, who love mystery, who love innovative use of media, who love seeing an artist's point of view about any subject.

It's where we belong to insure that our work is seen broadly and informs contemporary art trends. It's where our art belongs to serve our goals of educating the world about the importance of plants, their beauty, their utility, their service to humans, their essential fit in ecology.

Penstemon, cinquefoil, and fairy trumpet, watercolor and colored pencil, Jan Boyd Haring

To this end, find ways to expand how you see your own art via general art education. Find a great course on linear and atmospheric perspective. Try plein aire work - especially since the weather is fine in the mornings now. Study color in the media of your choice. Pursue composition as avidly as you do the right color or scientific accuracy. And use this venue to display what you discover. That's why the blog is here.

New School Hopper Juan, Fly, mixed media, Julie Sprinkle

Check the blogspot today. New links in Ephemera take you to some amazing art with botanical subjects in oil, pastel, watercolor, graphite and mixed media. There are a few precious spots left in the two workshops listed, Drawing Basics in Denver,  and A Watercolorist's Best Kept Secrets in Crested Butte. Both classes promise growth and exploration. When you have picked the plant you want to portray for RareII, go to Contacts and submit your choice to the email there to register your plant(s). If you haven't registered for the ASBA conference, there's still time to beat the August 15 deadline for savings in registration fees.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Colorado Garden, An RMSBA Exhibition

This exhibition will feature any images you have created in the last 4 years of plants in your gardens. Veggies, flowers, rock garden plants, cacti, succulents, and even invasives are welcome. All 2-dimensional media are accepted. The exhibition will hang at the Evergreen Library, a lovely venue that we have been invited to use before. Time now to submit your entry to Dorothy DePaulo. Click on the call for entry to the right, and enter today.

Larkspur, colored pencil, by Annie Reiser

When the heat gets to you, try a museum tour. DAM has their Marvelous Mud exhibit on display, and Renaissance Cities is still available. Combine the two and you can easily spend 3 hours in welcome cool halls where you can discover the art of now and then. Taking my young family members, since they know I paint "flowers", we played a game finding all the botanical images contained in these offerings. One sharp-eyed grandnephew found the Columbine in a Renaissance painting. Another found a garden in a huge ceramic installation. And still another botanical find popped up in some amazing tapestries.

Water Lily, colored pencil, Annie Reiser

The links in Ephemera will be updated next week. As your BlogMeister just did them after returning from vacation on Wednesday, she's embarked on a new search for things to amaze, amuse, inspire and educate. Catch them here, next week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Are you feelin' it?

Here's a quick beach picture, in case you haven't quite immersed yourself in summer (despite repeated thunderstorms, which have greened the plains beautifully - in their defense):

"Too Hot for the Beach", a variety of Caren d'Ache pencils on PastelBord, 4x6", Libby Kyer

I painted this little fun piece when it was just too hot to be on the beach one afternoon. Your BlogMeister has returned from a week of bobbing in the welcoming waters of the Gulf, and it brought summer into full bloom for me. Hope your plans are unfolding well also. We'd love to see your summer paintings, botanical or otherwise. To that end, we're announcing the first annual "Remembering Summer" blogspot exhibit. It's so easy to participate. Any current RMSBA member is eligible. Just:

    1. Select up to 3 paintings, sketches, journal pages or drawings from your summer experiences.
    2. Create scans, 150 to 360 dpi, .jpgs in color.
    3. For each image list:
        Latin name and/or Title
        Medium/a used, substrate used
        Size in inches wxh
        Any comments about creating an individual image you'd like to share.
4. Email them to rmsbartists@gmail.com, with "Remembering Summer" in the subject line.
5. Please time your submittals so that I have them by 30 September 2011.

That's it! So easy. All images received will be posted with caption and small paragraph about the image if desired. Great way to remember your summer, get a little exposure for your work, and learn from your fellow artists. Hope to hear from each member. What a great gallery this will be!

Pleated Cactus, watercolor on paper, Anna Arkin 2010

RMSBA Summer Meeting
The RMSBA Summer Meeting was held June 26, 2011, at Koelbel Library, Centennial, with 21 members attending. Due to a misunderstanding on event dates, Kirk Gillespie representing M.Graham & Co. Watercolors, who mount their pigments in honey, was unavailable to make his presentation. We will reschedule with him for a later date. We did have time to visit, exchange ideas and snack on refreshments.

Susi Olson discussed Julie Terry’s proposal for a future meeting featuring Alyson B. Stanfield and her book I’d Rather Be in the Studio. Alyson has developed a number of systems to help you plan your art future. In I’d Rather Be in the Studio! and this demo, she takes on the top eight excuses she hears from artists who aren’t promoting themselves. Each excuse is discussed with practical action steps that can be implemented into an art-marketing plan.

Two options were discussed: A no fee meeting with Alyson selling her books and CDs; or, a nominal fee to attend the meeting with each member receiving her book to take home. If you are interested in this business-of-art topic and find your paintings piled up with no place to go, please contact Susi at susiolson@msn.com by August 15th.

Mary Jo Ramsdale demonstrated Zen Tangle (zentangle.com) as a possible meeting activity. Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing. It increases focus and creativity. Let us know if you are interested in this topics by contacting Susi at susiolson@msn.com.

RareIICarol Till discussed RareII, our exhibit targeted for the 2014 ASBA Conference. She reviewed the Call for Entries. RareI was a list of plants at risk per the Colorado Heritage Program CU Ft. Collins. RareII species will be generated by 121 federally listed plants rated G1 and G2, the most imperiled plants in Colorado. The list of plants is under Calls for Entries on the right. Review the list and submit your choice via email at rare2014@q.mail.

We now have legal non-profit status so we can apply for grants resulting in money for scans, framing, and possibly a book. Evaluations and critique sessions will begin September 2011. We need to locate a willing artist and botanist for the sessions.

Other notes:
Use caution while searching for a plant on public lands. Climb no fences, harm no plants. The ASBA website lists a Code of Ethics for artists in the field if you need guidance in finding and illustrating rare plants.
RareII also needs volunteers:
    A committee to manage critique sessions
    A volunteer to write a grant(s).
    Someone to generate educational materials.
    Volunteers to communicate with artists.
    Susi did pursue bank funding. They were interested in education of the public and offered their grant   representative to attend one of our meetings.

Working Drawing, watercolor on paper, Frank Merrem

2014 ASBA ConferenceTerry Ruiter announced that we need more volunteers to participate in committees for the 2014 Conference in Denver. She has hosted two meetings to date and can provide information on what is in place and what is needed.
The 2014 meeting will be held at the downtown Denver Westin Hotel from 16-18 October 2014. The venue is lovely and promises to provide the support needed for the exchange of ideas and information that characterizes an annual ASBA meeting.
Thus far we have the following Committees:
    Logistics – Open
    Education – Ann Fleming, Heidi Snyder
    Registrar – Open - registrar manages registration activities at the meeting
    Exhibit (possibility of three concurrent exhibits during the meeting) – Dorothy Depaulo, Ann
    Fleming, Marge Sjoden, Edie Devis, Teresa Burkitt, Wendy Peterson, Heidi Snyder
    Website – Actual website will be set up by ASBA designer, but liaison is needed, and a blog designer   from our group is needed.
    PowerPoint Welcome to Denver Presentation for 2013 ASBA Meeting – Dorothy Depaulo
    Silent Auction (to work with ASBA Silent Auction Committee) – Open
    Notebooks/ASBA Gift/Registration Packet – Susi Olson, Jan Boyd Haring
    Marketing/Communications – Open
    Budget – Open
    Grants/Sponsors – Carol Till, Vicky MacWilliam, Susi Olson, Ann Fleming
    Denver/Front Range/Rocky Mountain Interest – Sharon Garrett, Saundra Dowling, Heidi Snyder, Jan Boyd Haring
    Transportation – Saundra Dowling, Sharon Garrett, Jan Boyd Haring
    Hospitality – Teresa Burkitt
Please identify your area of interest and call one of the names listed or contact Terry Ruiter (303.798.9452, tlruiter@msn.com) and offer help. If you have not been able to attend an ASBA annual meeting in the past, it would be worth checking out the Boston meeting website at asba-conf.org/. It will be a busy time! There is plenty of need for everyone in the RMSBA to contribute something for 2014. The next meeting of the whole planning committee is expected to be in December. In the meantime, things should be happening!

Lavandula spica, watercolor on paper, Jan Boyd Haring

The RMSBA website was closed due to lack of use. Because of the way we were able to have it updated, it couldn't be as timely as we needed. It was beautiful, gave us a presence, but didn't serve as well as we'd hoped. In a single year, we had less than 1000 hits by members and others.

This blog site was created to address the needs the website couldn't meet. The blog is updatable at any time, so that timely news, calls for entries, events, and fun can be shared. Gallery pages are available for each member at no cost to the member. Newsletter archives are readily available and save you that hunting for the right issue event! The blog is searchable using labels. We think it's a good choice. In it's 3 months of existence, we've already had almost a thousand hits by members and others, so there is certainly some improvement in reaching our members.

In the future, within 3 months, we will be phasing out the RMSBA Newsletter for a number or reasons. Most of the info that is put in the newsletter has already appeared on the blog in "real time." Most members already receive an electronic newsletter, to save print and mail costs, and are accustomed to looking to their email to get the latest edition. The contacts and "go-to" info we need is all listed on the blog, and if it has to be changed or updated in any other way, it is done in real time. And we can publish so much more of your art on the blog.

We want to hear your thoughts on this development. It's a bit of a sea change, but with a little preparation, a manageable one. Instructions to find the blog, use its features, and other helpful hints will be distributed later in an email, and all members have already received information about the blog by email in the past. So, take a moment to share your thoughts with us regarding the future. We can't do it without you!

Friday, July 8, 2011

So Many Great Paintings

I asked. You sent! I now have a great gallery of images to post with the blog. There's a new Gallery Page for Margaret Sjoden, with words and pictures. And I'm feeling like your art will make this blog the happening botanical art place to be. Take a look!

In  journaling mode:

Shady Lane at DBG, Watercolor sketch by Karla Beatty

Succulent fruits of summer:

"Sweeties" by  Cynthia Rothbard

In an aesthetic and experimental mode:  

Rosa "John Cabot," Essence, Climbing Rose, Acrylic, Barb Schwarz Karst

More fruits of summer:

It's Not Easy Being Green! colored pencil on film, Dorothy DePaulo

And a picture created after Dorothy's colored pencil on film demonstration at the May meeting:
Vellum Orchid, Colored pencil on film, Irma Sturgell

It's wonderful to see the diversity of approach, media and aesthetics in our member's works. If you haven't sent me two or three of your own favorite artworks, now's a good time to take care of that task! This is your blog, and it needs pictures from each of you.

There's still time to sign up for workshops listed or referenced in the blog. And if you have a class/workshop offering you'd like to share, please contact me. I'll be taking some beach-time renewal therapy for a few days, but hope to come back relaxed, tan (politically incorrect but lovely!) and replete with images of beach life, the ambulatory kind as well as plants. Wishing you warm sea breezes in the interim, and hope you take time to draw for your inner child.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

The Fourth of July marks the "real" beginning of summer for me. Something about the fecund smell of Earth racing to full bloom, the July Denver 'monsoon' beginning to provide our daily water needs, warm nights, lying on the grass with the kids listening to little blades pushing their way up to the sun, all conspire to make me totally happy. Hope the weekend brings you many summer delights.

Barbara McKee is exhibiting her art at Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery until July 17th. Barbara studied art in Switzerland and at Cornell College. She has worked thirty years with stained class design and production and has also authored five books on that subject. Her most recent passion is botanical illustration.

In this exhibit, Barbara's botanicals follow all the rules for a correct plate, however she has given a peculiar twist to all her illustrations which definitely make you smile. 
Aquilegia cerulea cv. May Day by Barbara McKeen

There's a new gadget on the right side of the blog. It's a listing of species already selected by those of you  who want to participate in the Rare II project. Check it out soon to get the plant you love.

The Echter's sale is planned for autumn, and PR work is beginning. Carol Till has managed this sale for several years, and now needs to pass that baton to a new manager. RMSBA needs a volunteer for this sale. You'll coordinate activities in regards to the sale and be primary liaison between Echter's and us. It's an extremely rewarding task, with lots of interaction with artists and art lovers new and established. Please contact me at rmsbartists@gmail.com to volunteer. Thanks so much.

In Ephemera, you'll find Ann Fleming's website, Helen Fitzgerald's tutorial on painting a eucalyptus leaf, and another of her tutorials on watercolor depiction of  E ficifolia. Both are informative and inspiring! There's also a link to a natural science art blog that has a lot of birds, in case you're thinking of adding birds to your paintings.

Iris, Colored pencil on film, Dorothy DePaulo

Take a deep breath of Summer. Marvel over the perfect iris. Stretch out on the lawn. Watch the fireworks. It's the right thing to do! And remember, this blog is for you. Send your comments, articles, suggestions and images to rmsbartists@gmail.com. Your gallery page is waiting for your input.