Morning Light (Theodore Payne Headquarters Building), Oil, © 2014 Frank Lennartz. All rights reserved.

Morning Light (Theodore Payne Headquarters Building), Oil, © 2014 Frank Lennartz. All rights reserved.

Plein Air Painting of Theodore Payne Foundation by the San Fernando Valley Art Club
Theodore Payne Foundation
Sun Valley, CA
July 3 – August 16, 2014

This past Spring, members of the San Fernando Valley Art Club gathered at the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley, CA to sketch and paint en plein air. The paintings created during these springtime visits are now on view in the Theodore Payne Gallery. The Foundation invites you to visit the Gallery to view this special exhibition.

The Theodore Payne Arts Council explains:

En plein air is a French expression meaning “in the open air,” and is used to describe the act of painting outdoors. Artists have long painted outside. However, in the mid-19th century, working in natural light became increasingly important to multiple schools of art, including the Impressionists, whose work focused on ordinary subject matter and the changing qualities of light. 

The popularity of plein air painting increased in the 1870s with the introduction of paint in tubes, which replaced the task of grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil. The box easel was invented during this period, increasing the ease and portability of art supplies. In the mid-20th century, the invention of fast-drying, water-based acrylic paint added yet another convenience.

Visit the Theodore Payne Gallery

This exhibition has been added to the Exhibits to Visit page.

There is a new resource for educators introducing students to coastal ecosystems, wetlands and watersheds. This new resource is CA Outdoor EDU and it was created by Ian Bernstein, an Environmental Studies graduate from UC Santa Cruz whose passion is education and environmental stewardship.

The CA Outdoor EDU website is brand new and resources will be added on a continuing basis. Visit CA Outdoor EDU and you’ll discover activities about the following topics: ocean tides, intertidal zonation, tide pool ecology, plant ecology and nature studies. You may be especially interested in the handouts for the plant ecology and nature study activities because both involve observation, drawing and writing.

Today we have the opportunity to learn more about this website and its creator.

Please join me in welcoming Ian Bernstein!

Ian, why did you choose to major in Environmental Studies?

I always knew I wanted to get into something involving the environment and didn’t know what I wanted to do at first. I started taking environmental studies classes on ecology and the environment and environmental literacy and fell in love.

You have lead environmental programs for California State Parks, Ballona Wetlands and are now at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. What have you learned about creating programs for the public?

Creating programs for the public you have to know your target audience and also be aware of how you approach any subject so that you can speak not only to your target but also anyone that happens to wander in and want to take part.

Sometimes parents, grandparents or guardians find themselves in the position of having to lead a group of young naturalists in an activity at summer camp or scout camp. What advice do you have for individuals who suddenly find themselves in the position of being a front-line interpreter?

Open ended questions are the best way to encourage scientific discovery and fuel creative exploration of the outdoors. Simply asking questions that ask them how and why will make all the difference.

I see you are also a photographer and an avid traveler. How have your photography and travel experiences informed your environmental education programs?

I have been all over the world and seen so many sights — but the most stunning thing I have found isn’t the number of places, but the quality of time I have spent in those places enjoying what was around me instead of trying to make sense of it. This has definitely helped me develop my nature experience and in turn my approach to how to best facilitate this in formal and non-formal school situations.

What are your plans for CA Outdoor EDU? What kind of a resource do you want to create?

I hope to create a resource that helps people to have a nature experience. This can happen anywhere from seeing an ant on the sidewalk in downtown Los Angeles to walking through the redwood forests of northern California in Santa Cruz.


Do you have questions for Ian about CA Outdoor EDU and how you can use it in your classroom or program?

You are invited to ask Ian questions.
Please type your questions or comments in the Comment box below.

Orchard Fruits, © Elaine Searle. All rights reserved.

Orchard Fruits, © Elaine Searle. All rights reserved.

Orchard Fruits:
A Painting Holiday with Elaine Searle

September 6-13, 2014
10:00 AM – 3:30 PM
Near Holt, Norfolk, UK

Visit one of England’s most unspoilt regions. Just a few places remain on this very special NON-RESIDENTIAL botanical painting holiday. Botanical artists of all levels welcome. We shall draw and paint stone fruit such as plums and gages from local orchards. Two half-day excursions will be included, as will all lunches (using fresh local produce) and a welcome dinner. Accommodation to suit most budgets can be arranged.

Visit www.paintbotanical.com for full details and booking form.

See what’s new at Classes Near You > Southern California!

The Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is in Twentynine Palms, CA. This 800,000 acre park is home to 750 species of plants, five fan palm oases and geological features. Visit the park’s website to learn more about the park and its botany class and field classes for families.

    Botanical Drawing with Ink on Clayboard
    October 4, 2014
    8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
    Cynthia King will teach you how to capture the details of the desert with ink using both additive and subtractive drawing techniques on clayboard. Draw and scratch details that you observe on the board. Artistic level: Beginning to Advanced. Students will be responsible for providing their own supplies.
    View Details / Register

    Meet at:
    Black Rock Visitor Center
    9800 Black Rock Canyon Rd., Yucca Valley, CA
    Fee: $60 for JTNPA/PINE members, $70 nonmembers

    Light & Color: Oil Painting in Joshua Tree National Park

    November 2, 2014
    9 AM – 4 PM
    Diane McClary will teach fundamental plein air painting techniques while immersed in the beauty of the desert. She will demonstrate the method behind her unique use of color and her approach to color harmony in the field. There will be plenty of time for individual instruction, questions, and review during this pleasant and easygoing class. No previous experience required, just come to relax, enjoy, and paint. Students will be responsible for providing their own painting supplies. This class will be held in the historic homestead, Keys Ranch.
    View Details / Register

    Meet at:
    Joshua Tree Visitor Center
    6554 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree, CA 92252
    Fee: $60 for JTNPA/PINE members, $70 nonmembers

    Watercolor Painting in Joshua Tree National Park

    November 16, 2014
    9 AM – 4 PM
    Anahita King, artist and instructor, will help students shift the desert scenery to paper with watercolor paint. Participants will learn basic methods for transforming nature into art through techniques that maintain color clarity and high quality value differences with glazes, washes, wet-on-wet, and dry brush. This pleasant non-intimidating class provides ample time to relax, investigate and paint. Participants need to bring their own art supplies.
    View Details / Register

    Meet at:
    Joshua Tree Visitor Center
    6554 Park Blvd., Joshua Tree, CA 92252
    Fee: $60 for JTNPA/PINE members, $70 nonmembers

Dear Readers,

I received an inquiry about botanical art classes near Cleveland, OH.

Do you teach in the Cleveland area?
If you do, are your botanical art classes listed in Classes Near You > Ohio?

If you know of upcoming classes in this area, please post the information in the comment box below. Thank you.

Only hours ago, a new website was launched at ArtPlantae.com. This new site will serve as a gateway to my offline and online projects and serve as a fresh new introduction to this growing community.

This site here at ArtPlantae Today will continue as it has been. There will be some housecleaning, but that’s about it. For example, you may have noticed the teaching and learning section has been removed from the right margin. The posts to this popular column can now be found in the tab above titled, “Teaching & Learning Archive”. Future posts will be collected here, if you need to revisit an article or download information for your classroom or program.

If there are other notable changes, I will announce them.

Thank you for your patience.

See the new ArtPlantae.com

Graduate students Michael Pin and Elizabeth Luscher lead a conversation about genetically modified plants. Photo credit: Plant Discovery Day Staff

Graduate students Michael Pin and Elizabeth Luscher lead a conversation about genetically modified plants. Photo credit: Plant Discovery Day Staff

There are many places to see plants in an urban setting, but where can you go to learn about plants and current plant research?

Elementary school students in Riverside don’t have to look too far to learn about plants. They only need to turn to UC Riverside. Some local students have the opportunity to learn about plant research first-hand every school year and it is this exciting opportunity that is the focus of this issue of Plants, Life, Riverside.

Each Spring one hundred fifth-grade students from Highland Elementary School in Riverside get to immerse themselves in the plant sciences thanks to the dedication of graduate students in the Department of Botany & Plant Sciences at UC Riverside.

Launched in June 2012, Plant Discovery Day was created by graduate students Jessica Diaz and Erin Brinton, National Science Foundation (NSF) research fellows who wanted to do more than mentor undergraduates and make classroom visits to satisfy the outreach requirement for NSF grants funding their research. They wanted to do something more meaningful and fun that involved more of the department. After doing some brainstorming, they decided to invite students from a local school to campus and Plant Discovery Day was born.

Originally called “Where Does Food Come From”, the first Plant Discovery Day took eight months to plan. Jessica and Erin selected Highland Elementary School as a partner because it was close to campus and served minorities underrepresented in the sciences. 

At the first Plant Discovery Day, students visited several interactive stations, each about a separate plant science topic. This format has proven to be successful and Plant Discover Day is well on its way to becoming a model example of how to engage students in activities related to plants, science and higher education.

This year graduate students provided each student with a white lab coat and a folder for their work. With lab coats on and with folders in hand, students engaged in interactive activities about:

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy
  • Citrus research at UCR
  • Carbon Dioxide Exchange
  • Plant Physiology
  • Alternative Energy/Biofuels
  • Strawberry DNA Extraction
  • Plant Biotechnology
  • Going to College

Students also learned about botanical illustration. I had the opportunity to participate in Plant Discovery Day and led an activity called “Discover Seeing” that was about how to see plants while using drawing as a learning tool. I also introduced students to scientific illustration as a career and brought attention to the many ways scientific illustrators teach us about science. 

What’s Next for Plant Discovery Day

Event founders Jessica Diaz and Erin Brinton will soon complete their graduate studies and they have started working with the graduate students who will coordinate Plant Discovery Day after they leave.

I asked Jessica and Erin what they envision Plant Discovery Day becoming. Both said they would like it to become a public event benefiting the entire Riverside community. Erin added, “If we could invite more children, have more events, and involve entire families in the event, I feel we would have really succeeded in creating a special outreach event that fills a niche not yet explored by UCR.”

Both founders are very aware, however, that to grow Plant Discovery Day, they will need more funding. While the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences contributes some money towards the event, graduate students are left on their own to raise money to pay for expenses associated with materials, equipment and lunch for the children. 

Would you like to help this group of bright, passionate and dedicated graduate students with Plant Discovery Day 2015?

Go to UCR Online Giving and select the fund titled, “Excellence in Botany and Plant Sciences”. This is a general fund benefiting activities sponsored by the department. Please enter Plant Discovery Day in the box labeled “Special Instructions” and use Appeal Code 14CNAS05. This will make sure your contribution will be used to support this wonderful outreach event. 

When asked what message they wanted to get across about Plant Discovery Day, Jessica replied, “The overall goal is to get kids thinking about the amount of research that has been done on plants and the types of research that has been conducted about plants and plant ecology. Don’t take plants for granted. Science is not only working with mice.”

Questions about contributing to Plant Discovery Day should be directed to
Dr. Edie Allen, Department of Botany & Plant Sciences, UC Riverside.
(951) 827-4714

About Erin Brinton

Erin is a 5th-year Ph.D.candidate in the lab of Dr. Julia Bailey-Serres at
UC Riverside. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Her interest in plants is rooted in years of gardening with her father while growing up in Colorado. It was at Occidental College that Erin cultivated her love of plants and her desire to feed the world. While at Occidental, she studied the root system of desert agaves and aloes in the lab of Dr. Gretchen North. She received a Beckman Fellowship for her undergraduate work. As a graduate student, Erin was awarded a NSF graduate research fellowship to fund three years of her schooling and research. She was recently awarded the UCR Dissertation of the Year Program Fellowship to fund her remaining time at UCR. Erin will return to Occidental College in January to begin a two-year post-doctoral research position in Dr. North’s lab. Dedicated to making science accessible to all people, Erin’s previous outreach experience includes presentations at colleges and high schools and working as a math and science tutor with elementary school and high school students.

Erin is currently investigating flood tolerance in corn at the molecular level. She explains that, “Crop loss to flooding in the US costs on average $1 billion dollars with over half of that coming from corn. Improving corn’s tolerance to flooding could not only save money, but also have the potential to alleviate crop loss in areas of the world where farmers cannot afford to replant their corn fields after a flood as we do here in the US.”

About Jessica Diaz

Jessica is a 5th-year Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Patricia Springer’s lab at UCR where her current research is focused on creating rice plants that have more upright leaves so they can be planted at a higher density. Her research also focuses on creating these plants without altering any other parts of the plant’s architecture. Jessica was awarded an NIH MARC U-STAR (National Institutes of Health Minority Access to Research Careers – Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research) fellowship in 2007 as an undergraduate at California State University, Northridge. The NIH MARC U-STAR program focuses on encouraging and preparing underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in research. Jessica credits this program with providing her with a sense of direction in her life. Jessica is a past-participant in the Plant Genomics Research Program at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University. Since beginning her research at UCR in 2009, she has been awarded a two-year IGERT fellowship sponsored by NSF, followed by a three-year NSF graduate research fellowship to fund her research.

Originally from Arleta, CA, a predominantly Latino city, Jessica found it difficult to learn about education beyond high school because she did not know anyone with a higher education. While working as a Playground Supervisor at an inner city school, she created an academic and recreational program promoting a positive social atmosphere that went beyond standard school hours. Dedicated to increasing science literacy in underprivileged areas, Jessica wants students to know that science can be enjoyable and stimulating and not intimidating. Jessica explains, “I feel if I can convey to them what I have learned through my journey, I can bring diversity to the science community and integrate it to inspire other students.”

Inspire young botanists.
Contribute to Plant Discovery Day.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,265 other followers

%d bloggers like this: