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, March 31, 2013

Drawing a Day

Tulipa, Tulips, in colored pencil on film, Dorothy DePaulo
Well, today is the last day of our March Drawing a Day project, to jump start you into art. Hopefully, you've found helpful hints, technique tips, and most importantly, inspiration from other members. Spring has sprung, and it's pretty exciting to see living things poking up through the warmed soil, ready for us to discover and represent.

Many thanks to all the members who participated. Seventeen members sent artworks! Can't do it without you. And, if you have a piece you'd like featured on our blog, please send a .jpg to rmsbartists@gmail.com. We'll post it for you.

Remember, our annual online exhibit, Remembering Summer, is posted for 2 months in October and November. It's a great way to get your art seen and generally has thousands of hits on the Internet. Now that you're all ready to capture nature this summer, plan ahead to submit several images to this exhibit. Entries are not jurored, and yet, we receive amazing beautiful artworks each year. Looking forward to seeing the fruits of your labors.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Drawing a Day, Week 5, Day 2

Check out Zentangle, the hot new method for fluid, relaxing, revealing art. Try this this link for more information:

Have some fun with this process. It will lead you to new expressions of your art.

Rocky Mountain Park, Fern Lake Trail head, includes two Botangles, using specimens as a starting place, and embellishing with graceful decorative items. There's terrific detail in these images, and a good sense of depth. By Annie Reiser



Friday, March 29, 2013

Tagawa Art Sale

Remember to put this great event on your calendars. Artworks of botanical and natural science subjects, plus cards, posters, prints, cups and more will be for sale at Tagawa, for our fifth iteration of a spring sale to savor.

Tagawa has a huge customer base, and this weekend is perfect for folks to turn out and get their perennials and annuals. What a perfect setting for botanical art. 

Drawing a Day, Week 5, Day One

Pen and ink is the cornerstone of botanical and scientific art. It was the go-to medium for the illustrators traveling with the great expeditions in the Age of Exploration. It was versatile, resisted fade and water, was expressive and useful in fine detail. This week, you may want to make a commitment to pen and ink for the last days of our Drawing a Day adventure. After all, it's always been there for us! Try this link for some pointers:
Good tips for anyone interested in pen and ink. Here are a couple of pen and ink drawings combining ink and color.

Cyclamen, pen and ink with watercolor, Renee Jorgensen, has immediacy, plenty of information, and portrays the wonderful curling petals that draw people to cyclamens.
Leaning Geranium, ink drawing with colored pencil overlay for quick punch, Libby Kyer

We have a few more days before the month ends, and we want to see what you've been doing. Be sure to send  our images to rmsbartists@gmail.com. Can't wait to see what you've been up to.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Drawing a Day

Study of leaf arrangements on miniature Dendrobium, colored pencil on toned paper, Libby Kyer
Using toned paper allows for quick (10 minutes) exploration of form and light. Actual size of little orchid leaves here is 2" for the center leaf. The leaves are very succulent, so form is extra important.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Drawing a Day

Gorilla, graphite on paper, Constance Sayas
Graphite is a great medium for quick sketches of live subjects that move, including botanicals like hibiscus, which move constantly! You can see here, there is a great deal of depth and drama using just grayscale.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Drawing a Day

Aliciella sedifolia, colored pencil, Teresa Burkert
Teresa reports, I have been doing this little kid a lot...more than it shows!...instead of small items on a daily basis." And that's another really helpful way to do a drawing a day - focus on one specimen.

Draw the specimen again and again until you like your drawing, then start finishing techniques. The benefits of working this way are many. You get to know your specimen in a way few have the time. Each time you rework, re-see, re-imagine, or re-toss, you're learning more and more and more. Building on your on work, in a series, or simply in a longer creation process hits all the right notes for growth and improvement. What could be better?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Drawing a Day

Delphinium, a graphite drawing in progress, by Karla Beatty
This drawing ably illustrates the versatility of graphite, from outline to full rendered drawing. Even local color can be represented with varying tones of gray, which can be achieved in layers using one hardness of graphite, or more comfortably, using several hardnesses of graphite.
There are a lot tutorials for graphite work on line, but one of the best artists in graphite, who resides locally but exhibits internationally, is J. D. Hillberry. His graphite works are so convincing they seem 3-dimensional. Want to see how he does it? Click here:
Graphite is perfect for creating form studies and form itself. It can be used under watercolor and colored pencil. Try out this versatile medium, which comes in handy wood barrels or in bare sticks of pure graphite. Yours to explore. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Drawing A Day Week 4 Day 1

Watercolor. Can you sketch with it? Draw with it? Absolutely. You can use it to block in color quickly, finish some details with graphite. You can go all the way, and work the color in well and create intense detail. Here's a tutorial about a leaf in watercolor by Rob Webb that might just light you up!

And, if you click here, Mindy Lighthipe's Tutorial, you'll find a nice article about materials and methods that she uses for her bold botanical style.

Winter Hosta, watercolor on paper, Constance Sayas
Feeling confident? Now, make your own specimen tomorrow, and maybe even another the day after that. You can do it!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Drawing a Day

Cucurbita, watercolor on paper, Marjorie Leggitt
This image was created for a seed packet. All the necessary-to-a-gardener aspects are portrayed
 Cowpea Mississippi Silver Crowder, finished seed packet Cowpea Mississippi Silver Crowder, Susan Rubin

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Member Meeting Highlights, Sunday 17 March 2013

The March meeting of the RMSBA took place in the offices of Double Take Artistic Images at 830 Kipling Street, Suite 300 in Lakewood with 18 members attending. Dorothy Depaulo welcomed members and began the meeting at 1 p.m.
Heidi Snyder urged members to participate in the April sale at Tagawa Nursery. Tagawa has supported the RMSBA by having this sale for the last five years charging no fees. Tagawa is a very popular nursery and April is one of the busiest gardening months so artwork is seen by many, many people. See complete information about Tagawa Sale in a separate posting.
From August 3 to November 17th our exhibit at the Wildlife Experience has as its theme, Wild and Wonderful Autumn in the Rockies. RMSBA members will frame all entries. Artworks are not restricted to botanicals.  Here are a couple of examples of plants and critters.
Hunting Hens, colored pencil, Heidi Snyder
Flowers and Chick, watercolor, Julie Ann Terry
Click here for full submission details.
Sharon Garrett reported that venues are still being sought for the RARE II exhibit.
Dorothy asks that artists consider donating artwork to the CSU online rare plant directory being worked on by Susan Panjabi of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. The new edition will be online in April and offers artists a chance to have their work seen nationally.
Chuck Renstrom, owner of Double Take Artistic Images, then discussed scanning of art works of all types and a brief history of the technology. He specializes in scanning fine art and has the latest in digital cameras, computer technology and printers to print on canvas, all types of archival papers, greeting cards of various sizes. He can even provide printing journals, fabric, decals etc.  He can scan artwork still in frames and behind glass.

Chuck Renstrom, owner of Double Take Artistic Images

A tour of the offices included a view of the green screen he uses to provide backgrounds for all types of artwork

The meeting ended about 3 p.m. after light refreshments!

Drawing a Day

Live horse study in a corral, oil on watercolor paper, Constance Sayas

Sketching in the corral, oil paint on watercolor paper, 5" x 7"  by Connie Sayas

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Drawing a Day

Attached is my drawing of Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis, Buddha's Hand. Have been fascinated with this plant since I first saw it in the Orangery at DBG. My fascination is in part because of the unusual form of the fruit, the contrast between the buds and flowers and the fruit, and in part because it flowers all year long.
Color pencil on Arches 140 lb. HP.
Cyndy Calkins

Monday, March 18, 2013

Drawing a Day

Form Study of Tiny Orchid, graphite on paper, Libby Kyer
Outline is not necessary when studying form. Put your contour on the lightbox, overlay with paper, and create the form study. You'll get a map of all the tonal values needed to start to create form. This abstract can be held handy while coloring your image, to insure form continues to be a critical element of light and drama in your drawing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Drawing a Day

Cowpea Mississippi Silver Crowder, graphite sketch for a seed packet, Susan Rubin
Note the use of drawn parameters so scale is accurately observed, and written notes, always a good way to internalize and analyze what needs to go into a painting.

The finished project is full color, colored pencil on film:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Inspiration is where you find it...

...and you just might find some great concepts at www.brainpickings.org/. Check out the Sorted Books Revisited. A "temporary" way for an artist to find inspiration that has turned into a life-long quest.


Drawing a Day Week 3, Day 1, Dry Color

Colored pencils are a semi-dry, or conversely, a semi-liquid, medium that holds pigment in a handy wood holder. They are mostly semi- or fully transparent, and can be used to build a quick sketch painting. Barbara Benedetti Newton is a master of the media, and she offers this neat tutorial painting some garlic heads, backlit.

Try this:

A Tutorial with Garlic

When you're drawing and sketching, keep in mind that you can add color pretty much at any time. Pump up your explorations with good, fast color with colored pencil, watercolor washes, or colored pens. You'll love the results.

Black Cherry using listed colored pencils, Libby Kyer
We want to see YOUR work!
If you're noticing a lot of just one artist in this exercise, it's because I am waiting for your artwork! Please send JPGs of your work to rmsbartists@google.com. Looking forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Drawing a Day


Leaning Tower of Tacos, colored pens, Libby Kyer
Drawn while waiting for entree, using objects at hand, proving there is NO bad place to draw!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Drawing a Day

Portrait with kids!, graphite on paper, Katherine McCrery
New Botangle Website Debuts:
Check out Annie Reiser's new website about Botangle, her personal favorite for working with Zentangle. Just go to
for a lovely and informative website about this art form that combines media, methods and inspirations.
A botanically themed Zentangle, a Botangle by Annie Reiser
Check out the Zentangle link in Ephemera for more about this movment. Their concept is: Anything is possible, one stroke at a time. What a great statement of belief in art and creativity.

ASBA Conference Planning Update
Perhaps by now you have heard that Susan Fisher has moved back to Colorado and will chair the 2014 ASBA Denver Conference Committee. Terry Ruiter is moving to Oregon - shortly. She is on the Board of Directors of the ASBA and we look forward to seeing her at this conference. The 2014 Denver conference will be the 20th anniversary of the ASBA. Many of you remember the conference we held here 10 years ago.

Terry, Ronda and Susan met with the staff at the Westin Downtown Hotel on March 3. The facilities are very nice and everything is conveniently located around the hotel which will make things easy for us as planners and good for the conference attendees.
Please click on Rare-ing to Go Conference Activities for more information and Susan Fisher's updates.

Name Your Passion...and write about it for our Blog:
This is your blog. Really. We want to hear what you have to say about a variety of topics. We're looking for writers who can address subjects such as:
     Here's a great technique tip for watercolor/graphite/carbon dust/colored pencil/pen and ink
     Here's a great technique for underpainting/creating great form/trying new media/trying new materials.
     I use my tablet for: sketching, emailing, keeping in touch with clients/whatever.
     Have you seen the great exhibit at:_______________________________?
     I find __________________________________________________ a great way to create compelling composition.

Share your thoughts, techniques, tips and trends with your fellow members. Let's get busy, and discuss our art together.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Drawing a Day Week 2, Day 1, Negative Space

Complex forms and subjects can sometimes be more easily managed by careful observation of negative space - the area in-between objects. Check out Mike Sibley's discussion of negative space as he leads you on an adventure to draw grasses. Make sure to have paper and pencil handy to work along with his tutorial.


Try some negative space sketching in your notebook. It's fun and very accurate.

Big Horn Sheep studies, graphite on paper,  Katherine McCrery

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

ASBA Annual Meeting and Conference planning update from our missed meeting...

A New Opportunity for Working Together

Hello Members!
We wanted to give you the information that was to be presented at last Sunday's meeting, cancelled due to weather! It may seem like it is still a long time away, but an event like this takes huge amounts of planning with lots of volunteers. This Conference is the 20th Annual Meeting and Conference of the ASBA, and the second time it has been held in Denver. RMSBA was awarded this event in recognition of becoming the first Chapter of the ASBA at the first meeting held here in 2000. In that Conference, the first to have workshops and lectures over two days, RMSBA set the bar for a thriving conference culture in the ASBA which continues to grow and change with the times.

We need your ideas for workshops about art media, computer art, botanical art history, framing, exhibiting standards and how-to's, specialty specimens and other topics you want to include, educators you'd like to see teach, field trips you know will be wonderful, and support for the Silent Auction and Banquet and Awards activities. There are so many creative ways to help, from designing table decorations for the Banquet, to teaching, to shepherding first-time attendees, etc.

There'll be a Small Works Exhibition during the conference, and we need your help to manage the handling of artwork, labeling, opening reception and other fun tasks.

Click below to see the schedule and committee listings:

Rare-ing to Go!

Once you've looked things over, find a place where you can provide your support. Please contact Susan Fisher at susan@susanfisher.com  and let her know what you would like to do to help with this event. We need you!

All the best,

Dorothy DePaulo
President, RMSBA

Drawing a Day

Shooting Star, watercolor, Julie Ann Terry

Monday, March 4, 2013

Check out The Sketchbook Project


The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project and interactive, traveling exhibition of handmade books. Our community is made up of over 75,000 people and our permanent collection at Brooklyn Art Library holds over 26,000 sketchbooks from 135 countries around the globe.

We invite participants from all walks of life to fill the pages of a blank sketchbook (provided by the project) and send it back for inclusion in our ever-growing library of inspiration.

Anyone, from anywhere in the world, can participate in this project!

Go to The Sketchbook Project for all the details. The project is created in a 32-page 6x7" sketchbook, with 100% recycled paper, saddle bound. You are encouraged to create a book that is all about how you see the world, create art, and share art. This is a great way to maintain your Drawing a Day habit, and get your artwork seen in a large project. Have fun!

Drawing a Day

Wild Rose, colored pencil, Roberta Lutgens

Workshop Opportunities

Don't forget our workshop listings. This year so far, Libby Kyer, Marjorie Leggitt, and Marjorie Leggit with Susan Rubin are offering some neat workshops in Cape Cod, Taos and Denver. Just click on the Workshops heading in the column t othe right.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Drawing a Day

A Bo-tangle in pen and ink:
Oak leaf, pen and ink on paper by Karen Eberhardt

Tagawa Show and Sale is coming up soon!

5th Annual Tagawa Spring Show and Sale
Show Dates: April 12, and 13, 2013
Location: Tagawa’s Garden Center, Centennial, CO
Saturday, 9-5, Sunday 10-5 www.tagawagardens.com

Join us for Tagawa’s Garden Center for our Fifth Spring Event. The theme is “Spring in the Garden.” Bring your botanicals of course, but other artwork that fits in the theme may be included. This a DIY SALE open to all RMSBA members with 2013 dues paid. Participating artists set up and take down the artwork and handle the cashiering. Each artist is required to work a four-hour shift. Because this is a DIY Sale the expenses are being handled by RMSBA.
Tagawa Gardensopened its door to the community 30 years ago, and is one of Colorado's Largest Garden Centers. The sale will be open two full days.

The Call for Entries with complete information and application form is avialable here: http://rmsbacallsforentries.blogspot.com/

Drawing a Day, Week 1, Day 2, Light and Form

One of the great joys of drawing and painting is getting an image prepared in two-dimensions on paper to appear 3-dimensional. Take a look at this book, which has some great explanations of how to create light on form. Go to:
and try some of the exercises there. Today is a good time to start creating your visual "scales" - the exercises you create to enhance your drawing skills, and limber up before settling down to works in progress.

Here are a couple of drawings from our members:

Astralagus leptaleus flower, colored pencil on paper, including a background! Teresa Burkert
The Gardener, graphite on paper, Katherine McCrery

Friday, March 1, 2013

Drawing a Day Kicks Off Today!

Well, it's March, and that means our annual fire-up our drawing skills event begins. It's Drawing a Day time! Admittedly the season is still officially winter, but spring is not far behind. It's a great time to sharpen up our drawing skills, so that when nature entices us out of doors, we'll be ready to capture the things we love in art. So, let's chat about the concept a bit.
Here's the premise:
Drawing daily integrates art into your life. It helps you know what you know. Sounds a little simple, but sometimes we forget what we've become comfortable with, as we haven't used that skill recently.
It helps you know what you don't know, and that leads you to find out how to remedy the have-nots.
It leads you to new solutions, to new explorations, to new growth.

Here's how to start:
Draw every day, at least six days a week.
Draw at least ten minutes a day, more if you want.
Draw any subject.
Use whatever materials you want to, and take this time to try some new ones!

This is a drawing a day event, not a painting a day. Stick to a simple selection of materials, inspiration and other needs and push them to get the effect you want. Remember that your drawings are like practice scales on a musical instrument: you don't always have to play the whole tune to get really good skills.  Here are few drawings from my sketchbooks using a variety of media:

Three colors of ink work great for getting the basics of a duck afloat

Graphite and colored pens work great for quick field drawings and field notes
 so that when I go to the studio, with my field studies and
photos, I can create a full drawing or painting.

Quick shell drawing on toned paper,
using the paper as the mid-tone

Some suggestions to make your drawing a day experience easy, fun and so beneficial to your skills:
Find inspiration, and keep it at hand: This includes books, your own sketchbooks, specimens that fire you up, photos that you've been meaning to turn into drawings...it all helps. 

From left, Sketchbook Confidential by Pamela Wissman and Stefanie Laufersweiler gives you some great insights as to how other artists use their sketchbooks. Very inspiring. Center is Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It for Life, which is a practical guide to making creativity a daily, sustaining event in your life. Far right is Stanley Maltzman's Drawing Nature,
with amazing drawings and tips and techniques for the lover or natural realism.
Gather your materials, sketch book/s and inspirations in one easy-to-maintain spot.

I'm going to be using Copic pens, a ballpoint pen, a 2B graphite pencil, and some colored pencils as my basic kit. I'll work in pen and ink, pen and ink with graphite, graphite, graphite with colored pencil, and colored pencils. I have my little "travel tin" stocked with all the basics, so sharpener, impressing tool, blender, stump, scissors, kneaded eraser (for drawing not erasing!), a view finder, a brush that holds its own water supply for watercolor work when I want it, and dusting feather are always available.
 I'll be using a variety of sketch books, including one with a toned paper. Toned paper is cool! It provides your mid-tones in a drawing, and lets you add light AND dark effectively and quickly.
From top to bottom: a 5x5" HandBook, perfect bound in many little signatures so it opens flat. I love these sketchbooks - the paper is creamy, stiff, and the results always seem important when I use this sketchbook. Middle left is Strathmore's Toned Gray medium surface 5.5x8.5 wire-bound sketchbook. Paper has great tooth, is smooth enough for fine detail, but also gives subtle textural effects with different media. Lower right is Big Art's Hybrid Pad, half smooth art stock, half vellum bristol. Two surface treatment, both a stiff bleed-proof acid free sheet.
Get your drawings done early, before the realities of the day take over.

Don't bother to erase. There are really good reasons to skip erasing. Without erasures, you leave the earlier lines as a base to build the right lines on. You won't repeat a bad stroke. Not depending on an eraser to save you, you'll develop stronger, more limber, more competent, more flowing, more fun work! And you'll find you're much more forgiving about your work, because you're not working so much to the end product, as to the process.
Have fun! Let this exercise rock your day, start it with a bang, end it with a sigh of pleasure...whatever works for you.
Send us the results. Each day at least one drawing will be added to the blog. Send yours to rmsbartists@gmail.com. Let us know your name, materials, and any words about method, inspiration, materials, problems and triumphs you want to share.
Take a moment today to get your materials and inspirations together. Find a spot they can live for the month, easy to access. And let's get drawing!