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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Drawing a Day 31

Congratulations! We've gone a full month posting a drawing a day, with weekly drawing suggestions. Whew! Thank you to all who participated. Here's our last-but-not-least image to round out the month.

Orchid, watercolor on paper, by Kathy Cranmer

Just because we've finished this project doesn't mean there's not time to send in your images. Your art is important, and you can send it directly to rmsbartists@gmail.com, with the caption in the text portion of your email.  Hope to see your art soon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Drawing a Day 25 and a Challenge

Mountain sketches, mixed media, Renee Jorgensen

Is Negative Space a Bad Thing?
Of course not!  When you have a more complex piece, it sometimes makes drawing easier using negative space. That is, outlining the space where things aren't, as opposed to where they are. For example, here is a picture of a charming little succulent garden planted in a shell.

There are a number of roots on the dirt, right in the lower center of the garden (see red boxed area).

If I outline each root, I'll get a tangle of shapes, but my outlines might be unwanted. In the picture below, You can see where I filled in negative spaces, leaving white spaces for the root structures.

You can see the area that used to be white now has some white shapes but the definition comes from finding the negative spaces. Very handy. You might want to consider this technique any time you're dealing with lots of little details. Fun, and it works. It's worth a try! Please send me your images to rmsbartists@gmail.com and share your success. I'll post them here! We have 6 days left in our Drawing a Day challenge. Love to see your work!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Drawing a Day 21

A drawing that is carbon dust, graphite dust, and pencil. The subject is Juglans microcarpa. "Little Walnut", a small native tree, by Karla Beatty

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Drawing a Day 20

Clematis, watercolor sketch, Irma Sturgell
My sister sent me a cyclamen for my birthday and the delicate flowers not only charm me, they have a lovely aroma in the studio.
I want to work this up into a real watercolor...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Drawing a Day 18 and a Challenge

Sketching with a Copic Pen, Renee Jorgensen's freehand work

The "Wrong" Color: Have you ever had a problem separating form from color? It's a pretty common trial for us all, and especially difficult when we're working with deep colors. Here's a tip that might help you figure out what you need to do to draw a map of the deep tones needed just for form.

Select a specimen. I have some crab apple blossoms from the tree in my front yard - probably destined to freeze! But, they're drawable.
Crabapple sprig, #2B Tombow pencil on paper, Libby Kyer

Now, let's think about form for a minute. We know fast, creased changes require at least 2 tones. Leaves, for example. Round objects require a minimum of 3 tonal changes, and 5 is so much better! Throw a piece of tracing tissue over your outline. Now, select a colored pencil, a medium dark tone,  that has nothing to do with the local color of your specimen. I'm using blue. Start laying in the  tone, to represent form, laying in tonal values in broad areas that are only about shape. Since the color I'm using is the "wrong color", I find I'm more likely to just deal with dark areas that are about form, as I have no access to local color.

Polychromos pencil on tissue on top of graphite drawing, Libby Kyer

Here's my tissue, on top of the drawing. You can easily see, I'm talking about light and dark, not local color.

Pull the tissue away from you sketch. You'll still see  "shapes" even though there are no outlines. This means, you've got the right tonal values in the right place to create good form.

Form separation, showing using the "wrong color" to explore tonal values needed for form, Polychromos on tissue, Libby Kyer.

You can see that it's hard to confuse form and local color if the color you're using doesn't relate to your specimen. You separate thinking about form into one exercise, and mapping local color when you're planning your palette with another. This works really well for specimens that have local color that is tonally very close to that needed for form. The blossoms in this image in reality are a deep rose hue, with no white anywhere. The leaves are deep green, that is about the same tone exactly as the rose hue.

Give it a try! Don't forget to share your successes with us on the blog!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Drawing a Day 17 and News for You!

Forsythia, ink and graphite sketch, Libby Kyer

We’re RARE’n to Go!
Join us for the kickoff of the RARE II project!
Sunday, March, 25, 2012, RMSBA will meet at the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Library in Broomfield, at 1PM.

The Library is located at: 3 Community Park Road Broomfield, CO 80020
PH: 720.887.2300
Susan Panjabi, a botanist, from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program will give a presentation on the rare plants of Colorado.
We’ll talk about how to chose and find a plant, and how to begin your illustration.
If you have already started your RARE II drawing, no matter what stage it is in, please bring it for questions, critique, comments, and inspiration!

Please come and join the project!

Light refreshments will be served.

New Workshop Opportunities
Please take a look at some new education opportunities under Workshops. Looking for a way to touch up your drawing skills, get really comfortable with your drawing tools and techniques? There's a nice offering for you this October. And really indulge yourself with a great weekend trip to work plein aire in Salida, in September. These classes taught by RMSBA members Susan Rubin and Marjorie Leggitt. Look under Workshops to the right.

It's time to do the dues!
Last call to get your dues in for this year. RMSBA/ASBA directories will not contain your contact information if dues are not remitted by end of month. Get an application/renewal of membership form under Membership to the right.
February Member's Meeting
The February 26 Member's Meeting comprised a raft of activities. Members discussed the coloring book, developing into an educational project for RMSBA to reach out to new patrons; preliminary information regarding RARE II, and a member's critique . Here's a shot of Heidi Snyder, presenting one of her paintings for a spirited critique with other members.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Drawing a Day 11 and a Challenge

A Perfect Pair of Pears, Graphite, Julie Terry

Thinking about drawing media: Pen/Ink/Hatch. You can get a pretty reasonable image using just black and white, applied in lines,  contour, tone with hatching. For example:
Rhino study, pen and ink, Libby Kyer
This picture was sketched just with technical pen on paper, and tone and textures are the result of hatching: cross-hatch, criss-cross, single hatch, topographic hatch, and linear broken line hatching. The technical pen used here is a Copic refillable plastic point pen, and a Pigma Micron ultra-fine felt tip pen. Both are so handy for traveling, as they don't have the pressure driven problems a Rapidograph sometimes endures after flying! I made this picture by pausing the TV! For a pretty long time - probably 4o minutes. At least I didn't time out on the pause function! So, draw 'em where you find 'em! Sometimes it's a safari digging out of work projects to get to draw!

You can keep your sketching and drawing fresh by incorporating new media. This week, why not make at least one of your drawings using pen and ink techniques. Be sure to send me the results, and I'll post them on the blog. And remember, you can also send words with your images to explain what you learned, what you liked, what you disliked and where you need help. We'll all learn together.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Drawing a Day 4 and a Drawing Challenge

An apple a day, watercolor on cold-pressed WC Paper, Cathy Cranmer

As you can see, a drawing a day keeps the blahs away, and this little gem is in full color. There're a lot of ways to "draw." You can use outline, also called contour, you can use grisaille, also known as massing in where you create form with tonal values, or you can use full color, working quickly, not fussing, getting busy! 
This Week's Challenge
Sometimes, we get really tight when we start to draw. We believe we have to be "in control" and yet we know in our heart of hearts, we're pretty much not. That worries us! However, your eyes know how to talk to your brain, and your head knows how to talk to your hand. Here's a neat exercise to get out of your own way, that I have christened the "two-points tango."
Select a graphite pencil of medium tonal value. Select a colored pencil (yes, ANY color you want!) of about the same tonal value. Select a subject. Now, draw your subject using both points at the same time, like this:

Here's what happens. You're conscious mind will be so busy worrying about managing the 2 points that your hand, eyes and subconscious mind will just get on with the business of drawing your subject. With a little time, if you were drawing a neat little squash, you might end up with something like this:
Squash Study using Two-Point Tango method, Libby Kyer 

That's pretty squash-like, with very little brain damage! Now, select two more colored pencils - an analogous green in a lighter tone, and a brown or gray worked well for this specimen. Spend some time fleshing out the specimen. Work on form a bit, highlights, more details, corrections and additions. Don't erase - remember, our motto is "No regrets!" We learn from every stroke we make! You'll might wind up with something like this, a little further into the process.

Squash Study building right on top of the sketch, Libby Kyer

And now, you're drawing! Color has slipped in. Details are crawling all over this thing. And form has ramped up. Could you continue? Absolutely. Why not give this method of loosening up, letting go and getting it right, a try! Send me your results, and when they're posted, we'll all learn from your shared efforts.