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.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Holidays are OVER! Let's get busy!

And, let's start the year with getting everything in order, so that painting the rest of the year is a breeze. OK, we're botanical artists, so we'll aim for everything being in order so the rest of the year produces lots of carefully created, meticulously detailed, heavily documented astounding time-intensive paintings! We like that!

What is being prepared? Well, it starts with your studio or studio space. Here are some tips for the basics. You'll want:
         A good table – room for artwork, specimen, materials and papers to coexist during painting. make sure the table height combined with your chair heights puts your eyes comfortably on your specimens and paper.
        A great chair, with lumbar support, that allows you to have your feet flat on the ground comfortably, working in a balanced position. It's incredible how making sure the ergonomics of chair and table are perfect decreases fatigue!
        A great light. You'll want to arrange for great ambient light through window, Solartube or skylights, with no "hotspots" to interfere with good vision. You'll also want spot lighting, to light your specimens for great depth understanding, and to light your paper for great color work. Look for a balanced light that mimics north light.

Know what you have – an inventory plan. It's always good to know what you have on hand, know what you need. So:
        Inventory your materials and supplies.
        Know what you need – Make a quick list of all you don't have.
        Check out sales for the things you do need, and buy in bulk when you can. If you know you'll use up brushes during the year, keep an eye out for brush sales, especially in January and February.

What if you have all your materials and supplies gathered, a good spot selected to work in with perfect lighting, and you're still not achieving? Try finding out what really is stopping you.
Define “stoppers’ – Figuring out reasons why you haven't achieved what you've wanted in a day goes a long way to insuring you'll get past that "stopper" to achieve more the next time you're in the studio. Think of it like this: Say to yourself: I’d have painted/sketched/drawn today, but I am out of/don’t have ____________________. That's an inventory problem usually. Get what you need.
        Or, “When I paint, I need the right music, but I don’t have it handy.” That's an equipment failure, if there's no way to play the music/video/movie that provides the right background for your work. Fix the problem immediately.
       Or, "This painting is so intimidating, but it's working out, I think. It's so hard to put the first brush stroke down." That's a confidence problem Always have a practice piece to work on to limber up your skills, just as a musician plays scales before any work starts.

Promise yourself time to paint, first thing in the day if possible: I find that we tend to try to get everything else in our lives done BEFORE we paint. Reverse that. Paint first, for an hour or two, or even just 15 minutes if that's what you have. You'll thank yourself for doing so.

Looking for supplies and materials? Search by phrase, rather than specific item. For example, try “cheap art supplies” as opposed to "watercolor brushes." Craft stores frequently have somewhat better pricing for one-off purchases - a single brush, one pan of watercolor, etc. Using a more open-ended search phrase will open up new vendors to you. Here are some places with neat tips about good studios:
art studio easel 
Max Moss talks about his studio at Small Studios That Work.

Small Studios that work: Click here.

A quick tutorial for setting up a studio: Click here.

Lighting and other important bits: Click here.

Help for organizing your studio: Click here.  

A great little easel for the botanical artist: Click here.

Well-priced drawing table and stool: Click here.
Do you  have some tips and tricks you'd like to share for creating a great studio and work practice. Click here and send them to us. We'd love to see pictures of your studios, and words about how they work for you.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Botanical Art Website You'll Love

Exhibit Main Image
Botanical artist Margaret Pope, at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, sent a link to the Florilegium Program's website. Cindy Hartwell, their webmaster, has put the "Sonoran Desert Past and Present" exhibit on the website. She has done terrific job. Some images have been added to compliment the text as has more info on plant anatomy. The exhibit it will remain on the website and the added images and information will give viewers additional historical and educational information. For example, there's a great work of illustration from the USDA Botany Division's magazine,  published until 1901. Click HERE to go to the website, and you may want to add this address to your favorites, because there is a LOT to be seen and learned. Many thanks to Margaret and Cindy.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

RARE II Call for Entries Now Available

Pedicularis groenlandica, Patricia Whalen

The official Call for Entry for our Rare II exhibit is now available. This is a great exhibit that will travel extensively. The schedule is below:

Exhibit dates : February 14, 2015 – December 1, 2016

Venues for Rare II
February 14, 2015- April 27 - Wildlife Experience, Parker, CO
May 1, 2015 – September 28 - The Mitchell Museum, Trinidad, CO
October 1, 2015 – December 28 – Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO
January 16, 2016- April 16 – Sangre de Christo Art and Conference Center, Pueblo, CO
May 30, 2016 – July 6 – Wild Horse Gallery, Steamboat Springs, CO
July 10, 2016 – August 31 – Steam Plant Event Center, Salida, CO
Sept2016 –December 2016 - Grand Junction, CO (proposed)
Reception dates: To be announced with each venue.
To go directly to the Entry Form, please click HERE. Don't forget to check deadlines and include them in your planning calendars.

Time for Our Monthly Get-together

This month's meeting is an olio of fun things to do - visit with friends (excellent way to spend time), eat (always a favorite!), share techniques and tips (even more popular than eating!!) and something new to us, an ART SWAP! Does it get any better? Here are all the particulars from our President, Heidi Snyder:

Hello all,
Just a reminder that the first RMSBA meeting of the year will be
Jan 26, at 1PM
Golden Library
1019 10th street
Golden, CO
(303) 235-5275

On the agenda:
1. Tips and Tricks - art secrets you are willing to divulge/demonstrate -so bring materials to demonstrate them.
2. Potluck - bring some food to share, hot or cold.
3. Art Swap - To facilitate the art swap we will divide the art materials in a "donate" section and a "sale" section.

For the latter please clearly mark your item with a price and your name.
Hope to see you there!
Heidi Snyder

Friday, January 10, 2014

Remembering - RMSBA/Wildlife Experience Exhibition

In case you weren't able to see this beautiful exhibit, you can click here or go to the Exhibit box to the right and see a reprise of the artworks. Look quick! This exhibit will only be online for a brief time.

Aesculus glabra, Horse Chestnut, Shanelle Deater

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Inspiration Sites in Ephemera

All four of our new ephemeral links are courtesy of Bored Panda, which searches the web for bits that intrigue, excite, incite and inspire. Thank heavens the Panda has been very bored lately. You won't believe these sites! Click here for one site to whet your appetite, then go to Ephemera and click on the links for more visual adventures.

Holiday Meeting a Treat!

Colored pencil, Dorothy DePaulo
A warm welcome to 2014!
As the snow flies I hope you are all staying warm, mindful of the fact that this very snow will produce spring's growth and that this might actually be a good time to work on your art projects.

We had a lovely RMSBA Christmas party at Wendy's place (thank you for your hospitality, Wendy), and the elections (informal, but valid) produced the following results:

Exhibit chair Vanessa Martin
Membership: Sharon Garrett (who continues to head up RARE, thank you Sharon)
President Heidi Snyder
Program chair Carol Ferguson
Secretary Julie Terry
Treasurer Vicky MacWilliam

Vicky will retire from her position the end of 2014, but would happily mentor anyone who is inclined to fill the treasurer's position for 2015. She assures me it's all very doable and if you have any questions please direct them to Vicky MacWilliam at her email.  At this point you would have a whole year to ease into the position with Vicky's constant assistance - a very valuable help.

Thank you to all who filled a board position - RMSBA is what its members make it.

Dorothy DePaulo finished her 2-year term as (wonderful!) president and RMSBA owes her a renewed sense of purpose and vigor. It will be extremely difficult to fill her shoes, but with your help I am willing to try.

2014 promises to be a big year for RMSBA with hosting ABSA's annual convention the middle of October for which the planning is well on its way. Also well on its way are the planning and preparation for RARE II, to debut at TWE February of 2015.

So far we have one specific date for you to put on your calendar: January 8.

On January 8, at 1 PM, in the Denver Botanic Gardens cafĂ©, we will meet to put together the RMSBA program for 2014. While email is a great tool, it cannot replace the synergy of a group of brainstorming creative minds, so I encourage you to join us for 40-50 minutes. With enough participants a lot can be accomplished in a short amount of time. If you have any suggestions or input please contact our program chair Carol Ferguson at her email.

That is it for now, and I am looking forward to an exciting and 2014.

All the best

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Holiday Gifts Created with Botanical Art

In November, 11 colored pencil students gathered in a class led by Libby Kyer to create festive cutting boards in “Cutting Edge Art.” Over 3 days, we made strong compositions suitable to be reproduced for glass cutting boards. Many students ordered multiples of their works after they saw the finished results on their first cutting board. It was a great class, resulting in new skills in colored pencil and composition and a great gift, hand-made for the holidays. Check out some of the results!

"Pumpkin Fest," the completed cutting board photographed on a dark cloth. You can see the pattern of the glass on the board, which is why artists created images with strong color and detail, to show well through the glass. This one is by Jan Boyd-Haring. Her finished artwork is shown below.

This vibrant image reproduced well under glass, and shows up  more clearly than in the photo above, but design must take the glass texture into consideration.
One of the great pleasures of this class was seeing the variety of composition, color and approach exhibited among the artists. Check it out!
Autumn Leaves by Kristi Czajkowski

Cherry Lattice by Carol Varian
The Gourd by Elizabeth Lococz

Gourd #1 by Mary Barnes
Harvest by Vickey Wood
Herbs by Katy Howe
Sunflower by Hannah Rottman
It being the beginning of a new year, perhaps it's time to look into classes you might find inspiring, challenging or needed. Take a look and some good leads under Workshop Listings. You'll find drawing classes from Susan Rubin and Marjorie Leggitt, a range of botanical art classes from the School of Botanical Art and Illustration at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and links to Colorado Institute of Art and Art Students League of Denver. Especially in cold weather, it's nice to have a good studio to go to and share a learning experience with other artists. Hope to see you in the educational scence soon! 

Heidi Snyder's Work Accepted into FON XIII

Congratulations, Heidi! She tells us:
All [images] are based on my personal reference photos (yes, I saw the osprey), and done in pencil [and colored pencil] on drafting film, with some ink and pastel on the back and in case of the osprey, 2 layers of drafting film with a third layer of pastel on paper. I am humbled and elated to have gotten in."

Mullein by Heidi Snyder

Alamos Barrel Cactus, colored pencil, Heidi Snyder

Osprey, colored pencil, Heidi Snyder