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There is SO much going on at the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley this summer. Here is what’s new at Classes Near You > Northern California


University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley

http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu
This 34-acre garden was established in 1890 and is now a non-profit research garden and museum. The botanical art classes below are taught by Lee McCaffree and Catherine Watters. View a detailed schedule and register on the Garden’s website.

  • Sick Plant Clinic – First Saturday of Each Month, 9 AM – 12 PM. Free.
    No reservations required.
  • Monthly Butterfly Walks – Fourth Tuesday of each month (March – October); 3 – 4 PM. Garden volunteer, docent, and caterpillar lady, Sally Levinson, will lead walks through the garden in search of butterflies. Space is limited. Children welcome. Free with admission.
  • Garden Strollers – Second Wednesday of Each Month,
    11 AM – 11:45 PM. A 45-minute tour of the garden for adults with young children (3 and under). Tour will end on the lawn for play and snacks (bring your own). Children must be in a stroller or carrier during the tour. FREE with garden admission. Meet in front of the Garden Ship. For more information, call (510) 642-7082 or email garden@berkeley.edu.
  • Hands-on Plant Activities for Kids – Thursday, July 5, 2012; 10 AM – 3 PM. Free admission and walk-up, hands-on plant activities for the whole family! We’ll explore a diversity of plant life up-close and get crafty. First Free Thursday!
  • Botanical Art with Catherine Watters: Summer Flowers – Friday, July 20, 2012; 10 AM – 4 PM. Capture on paper what nature does so beautifully! Students will be instructed to observe, compose, draw and paint in great detail these wonderful subjects. Vibrant flowers from the Garden are sure to inspire your flower portrait masterpiece. All levels are welcome and students may use watercolor, colored pencils or graphite. Advance registration required; $80, $75 members.
  • Sunset Stroll – Tuesday, July 31, 2012; 5 – 8 pm. Experience a special evening docent-led tour of the Garden or enjoy the Garden on your own after hours. Free with admission.
  • Summer Birding Walk – Saturday, August 4, 2012; 9:00 – 10:30 AM. Join Phila Rogers, expert birder, and Chris Carmichael, the Garden’s Associate Director for Collections and Horticulture, on a morning walk to discover the Garden’s bird life. Advance registration required: $20, $17 members.
  • Blue Chair Fruit Company: Sweet Summer Strawberries – An Introduction to Jam Making – Sunday, August 19, 2012; 10 AM – Noon. Taught by Rachel Saunders, founder of Blue Chair Fruit Company. In this two-hour demo-style class, students will cook two different jams, one single-fruit and one mixed-fruit. Special attention will be paid to the preparation of raw fruit, the cooking process, and how to safely jar your jam. Participants will receive two take-home jars of jam and a set of class notes. Blue Chair Fruit Company is the premier artisanal jam and marmalade company in the United States. Advance registration required: $85, $80 members.
  • Dinosaur Plants & Terrariums for Kids – Saturday, August 11, 2012; 11 AM – 12 PM. Explore “living fossils” on this Garden tour and create your own terrarium! Youth must be accompanied by an adult. Advance registration required; $15, $12 members.
  • The PhotoBotanic Workshop with Saxon Holt – Saturday, August 25, 2012; 9 AM – 5 PM. Award-winning photographer Saxon Holt brings his PhotoBotanic workshop to the Garden and will help you “find your photo.” This all-day workshop with critique will begin with visualization exercises in the Garden and then concentrate on framing and focal points. Saxon will provide follow-up critique through the Flickr group created by students attending the workshop. Advance registration required: $95, $90 members. Learn more about Saxon Holt at www.photobotanic.com.
  • Pine Needle Basketry – Saturday, September 1, 2012;
    9:30 AM – 2:30 PM. Judith Thomas, master weaver, and Waldorf, handwork teacher, will instruct students how to craft a pine needle basket. Learn how to work with pine needles to create a small coiled basket, using a needle and waxed linen to bind the bundles of needles together. At the end of the workshop you will have a basket started and the knowledge to complete it on your own. Bring a lunch to enjoy in the Garden during the break. Coffee & tea will be provided. Advance registration required. $50, $45 members.
  • Kids Cook from the Garden – Saturday, September 22, 2012;
    1:00 – 2:30 PM. Join Garden Education staff to discover foods growing in the Garden’s Crops of the World Collection where you’ll harvest ingredients and learn to create delicious snacks. For budding chefs aged 7-12. Space is limited, registration required. $18, $15 members.
  • Small Space Orchards: Growing Fruit Trees in Small Gardens
    Sunday, September 16, 2012; 11 AM – 12 PM. Enjoy a special presentation and book signing by Bay Area author Claire Splan. Claire is a member of the Garden Writers Association and Alameda Backyard Growers and the author of California Fruit and Vegetable Gardening. Learn how you can work with the Bay Area’s urban landscape and Mediterranean climate to grow your own small space orchard. Advance registration required; $15, 10 members.

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Sempervivum arachnoideum. © Liz Leech. All rights reserved

Ask Liz!
Liz and I hope you have enjoyed learning about her approach to teaching botanical artists about plants. Today Liz and I would like to open up the conversation. Do you have any questions you would like to ask Liz?

Click here to join the conversation

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A few weeks ago, Carol Gracie wrote about how she has introduced people to the wonderful world of plants through her work at the New York Botanical Garden, as a guide of ecological tours and through her books.

Today Carol has a new way to teach people about plants! Together with her publisher, Princeton University Press, Carol has launched Wildflower Wednesdays. In this series, Carol brings attention to wildflowers growing in the northeastern United States. Carol will write about a different plant every Wednesday and share images from her wonderful collection of field photographs.

Learn more and read the first chapter of Carol’s new book for free on the Wildflower Wednesday website.

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A new art school is opening on Ireland’s Copper Coast this weekend. Founders and artists, Sean and Miranda Corcoran, invite you to join them this weekend to celebrate the grand opening of The Art Hand, a school offering intensive and challenging courses in the arts. A grand opening celebration will be held on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012 from 3-7 PM. Refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

The Art Hand offers art instruction in various disciplines. Upcoming classes include:

  • Introducing Technology to Stained Glass with Sean Corcoran
  • Explore Your Creative Side. The Art of Collage with Miranda Corcoran
  • But is it Art? Photography with George Munday
  • Flora, Fauna, Fantasy and Illusion. Decorative Painting with Pamela Silin-Palmer
  • Paint the Irish Coast with Patrick Palmer
  • Do You Cartoon? Illustration and Cartooning with Fintan Taite
  • Drawing and Photography with Aoife Banville & Emily Robyn Archer
  • Transform it. Mould Making in Clay and Plaster with Adele Stanley
  • Waxing Lyrical. Encaustic Painting with Lora Murphy

And let’s not forget botanical art!

Here is the latest at Classes Near You > Ireland:


The Art Hand

www.thearthand.com
Located on Ireland’s Copper Coast, The Art Hand offers intensive and challenging art courses in painting, photography, film-making stained glass, ceramics and more. Classes are held in a custom-built cottage with polished concrete floors and a grass roof. The Art Hand is run by artists Sean and Miranda Corcoran and a team of talented tutors.

    Drawing from Nature with Botanical Painter Yanny Petters
    May 18-20, 2012. Explore and stretch your creativity while learning how to draw plants and nature. Instructor Yanny Petters will teach you the techniques of botanical illustration through demonstrations and individual instruction. Materials are provided, however if you have materials you would like to experiment with, please bring them with you. Don’t forget your camera! Cost: €295. Accommodations not included, but can be arranged nearby. Details/Register

    Yanny Petters is a botanical artist studying and painting the wild plants of Ireland. She has had work included in two of Dr. Shirley Sherwood’s exhibitions — 1000 Years of Botanical Art (2005) and The Art of Plant Evolution (2009).

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Image courtesy of the Lloyd Library and Museum


Peppers in Image and Word

Lloyd Library and Museum
January 14 – April 13, 2012

The Lloyd Library and Museum in Cinncinnati, OH celebrates Capsicum annuum (the chili pepper) in an exhibition that will feature books from the 16th through 21st centuries, the photography of Eduardo Fuss and the work of Jean Andrews, David Carangilo, Amal Naj, Jeff Schickowski and W. Hardy Eshbaugh.

An opening reception will be held this Saturday, January 14, from 4-7 PM.

Arrive early to learn from pepper expert, W. Hardy Eshbaugh, who will discuss the chili pepper in a special presentation titled,
Some Like It Hot: The Little Known World of Chili Peppers.

Eshbaugh’s lecture begins at 4:30 PM.

Map to Lloyd Library and Museum

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Martin J. Allen is an award-winning botanical artist from the UK who creates larger-than-life paintings with exquisite detail. He has earned three gold medals from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and has shown his work in exhibitions held in England, Germany and the United States. Martin’s paintings have been published in three books and are featured in a series of Collectors’ Plates by the RHS. Martin is represented in the United States by Susan Frei Nathan Fine Works on Paper, LLC.

Please welcome Martin J. Allen, the Feature Artist for January!


ARTPLANTAE
: Happy New Year. I am thrilled to begin the new year with the opportunity to introduce you and your work. The start of a new year is always a time when people think big and plan for the year ahead. It is fitting, then, that we begin this year discussing your big approach to botanical art!

The examples of your work that I have seen in catalogs are about 14” x 9”
(36cm x 23cm) in size. They are definitely larger-than-life. Where does the impulse to go big come from?

MARTIN J. ALLEN: The two main influences on going big have been the work of Rory McEwen, whose later works were much enlarged, and the German photographer Karl Blossfeldt in whose black and white images the identity of the plant is secondary to its aesthetic appeal.

The initial impulse came about because I was asked by Constance Hepworth, who owned the gallery Hortus in London at the time, to take part in a joint exhibition on tulips. In trying to think of a way of saying something about tulips that would be different, I enlarged the images.

Later I found that in taking a small part of a plant (about an inch in size) that would otherwise have been overlooked in the garden, and enlarging it to reveal its beauty in detail, enabled me to present something exciting and different without having to travel to exotic countries or search for obscure plant species.

It would have been difficult to create such images without access to a good macro lens on my camera, an A3 colour printer, and of course a computer through which to coordinate it all.


AP
: In an article published by the Pittsburgh Tribune about the 13th International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration held last year at The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, it is explained that you enlarge photographs of your subject in Photoshop and use the printed image as a reference. You then create your original paintings using hand-painted dots. From this I assume you make limited use of washes, if you use them at all. How did you come to use this technique?

MJA: It can take me a month to finish a painting and no plant material stays in good condition for that long, so I always use photographs as reference material for this type of painting. I once had a part-finished painting on my desk for well over two years, as between work and bouts of ill health I didn’t have time to do any painting let alone get it completed. It was worth the wait though – it’s the painting at the top of this page.

My painting technique is a much messier affair than suggested in the article as it’s only tidying up at the end when the dots come into it. Basically I will do whatever I need to so that I get the effect I want.

To start, I add paint with a large brush (perhaps a number 4 or 6) and the paint is not really wet enough to be a wash and not dry enough for dry brush, but somewhere in between. I try to aim for the colour I see rather than building it up in layers, which is too complicated a technique for me. I invariably paint it a bit lighter than I want initially so I have to keep on adding more paint until it’s fairly close to the strength of colour I want. At this stage the painting all looks a bit scrubby (the stage when we all get bad tempered and say it’s not going to work), so I then spend a lot of time filling in the gaps to give the paint a smoother appearance on the paper with a number 2 brush – the smallest size I use. This is where the dots bit comes in as by that then it looks like I’m just adding little marks. It sounds laborious but I can do it quite quickly now.

I think my technique developed as a result of painting on Schoellershammer paper, on which paint lies very much on the surface like it does on vellum. If you paint over wet paint it will lift off the layer below. You can’t mess around with wet paint on the paper so you have to apply some paint and then let it dry. Only when it is dry can you add more paint, so I’ve got used to waiting until later to correct and tidy up.

The painting never looks right until the end. It always seems to me as if I spend all my time correcting mistakes I’ve made before. In my head I have this idea that every brush stroke should be perfect but life never works out like that. Sometimes I recognise a painting isn’t working but can’t see why, having looked at it too much. I hide the painting away for a couple of months and then look at it with fresh eyes. It’s surprising just how much easier it is to be constructively critical of your work once all the emotional baggage of applying the paint is forgotten.


AP
: If you work mostly dry, how to you keep color consistent throughout a painting? It is one thing to use stippling technique with a single pen and an unchanging medium. But paint is fussy. How do you manage color mixing, pigment concentration, etc. from one area to the next?

MJA: Colour is so important in how real or natural a painted image looks, especially with a large image.

I spend time at the beginning of a painting working out which paints I will use to mix all the colours in the painting and I practise mixing those colours so I can get an idea of proportions and density of colour I will be using. I don’t actually have many paints in my palette (about six I use regularly – perhaps ten in total) to use anyway so the choice is not that difficult!

I have a flat palette and place blobs of the three colours I’ll be using most in the corners and then mix them in the middle of the palette. When I mix a colour, I mix small amounts and then put it on the painting – applying colour to a test swatch first to check it is right for the area I am painting, and then I get on with mixing up the next lot.

I’m reasonably consistent but there are always slight variations – it’s these slight variations that I think make a painting look more real. If you think about how you look at a plant, then you can see why this might be. Your two eyes see slightly different versions of the plant and your head is always moving, so your eyes will register constant slight colour changes over the plant as the light changes when your head moves. A slightly varying colour over the whole of the painting is the way I translate this onto paper.


AP
: On your website, you explain that your objective is to “draw people into the painting and engage them.” How do you accomplish this? When you select a specimen, do you look for features that you think will draw people’s attention or do you choose your specimens based on your own reaction to them and then only later decide how to present the specimen in a captivating way?

MJA: Great question. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how a person views a painting. What they look for and what they see there depends on how much they know about art or about botany. I think there are a few generalities that can be made about what it is I am looking to create in a painting.

Firstly, a striking visual image when viewed from afar is needed to catch people’s attention so that they come and look at the painting at an exhibition. Then a clear focal point – a place in the image that immediately attracts the attention – to hook them in, followed by some secondary focal points so that the eye can move around the image and keep the viewer engaged. A variation in colour and texture also helps keep the image interesting.

Then I’ve tried to present an image that is not instantly recognisable; something that is ambiguous. A consequence of enlarging the plant material and taking it out of context is that we have no easy reference points in our brain and so we can’t identify it straight away. So the brain projects ideas of what it might be onto the image to try and get a best fit from our past experiences. It’s this that leads to the feeling that the paintings remind you of something else. I find this approach allows space for a more emotional and thoughtful response from the viewer than simply depicting all of the plant clearly as would occur in a botanical illustration.

In looking for plant material to paint, I basically wander round a garden or the local park and look for things that catch my eye. I bring them back to the studio and photograph them from different angles. Sometimes I chop things off if I think that will make a more striking image. I then choose what to paint when I look at the resulting photographs. It is surprising how things I am excited about in real life don’t always work on paper and then something I picked just because it was there, suddenly looks amazing when enlarged. There have been images that I knew I wanted to capture and so then I will visit a plant everyday to catch it at the right moment.

So my specimen choice works on a bit of luck, a bit of judgement, and a lot of discarding things that don’t work.


AP
: Your career as a contemporary botanical artist spans 20 years. How has contemporary botanical art changed since 1992?

MJA: The general technical standard of paintings is so much higher now than it was when I started and there are so many more botanical artists painting – which is all very exciting. One thing I am really enjoying at the moment is the way some artists are pushing the edges of how we see plants within a botanical art context and producing a contemporary image that reflects the present Zeitgeist.

Also one very important advance has been the influence of the Internet, as it is now so much easier to keep up with what is happening no matter where you live.


AP
: What would you like to see botanical art groups and organizations across the globe accomplish?

MJA: I think they should do whatever they want to do. There’s absolutely no point being an artist if you aren’t enjoying yourself and doing your thing on your own or as part of a group; it’s never going to make you rich, so you may as well be happy.

Visit Martin’s website to learn more about him and to view samples of his work. There you will also find links to websites of fellow botanical artists, descriptions of the classes he teaches, and a link to the exhibition guidelines for showing work at the Royal Horticultural Society.


Ask the Artist with Martin J. Allen

This month we have the opportunity to discuss botanical art and “seeing” with Martin. Do you have questions about his stippling technique? Have you been wanting to break out and take a more bold approach to botanical art? Let’s talk!

Please forward the link to this article to colleagues and friends who may wish to participate.



Related Information

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

This is the deadline for the botanical art and photography exhibition to be held during the conference about plant biodiversity at the University of Washington. Time is running out!

Here again is information and links for participating artists:

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens will host a botanical art exhibition and contest celebrating the native plants and plant communities of northwestern North America. The exhibition and contest will be held in conjunction with the conference Conserving Plant Biodiversity in a Changing World: A View from NW North America, March 13-14, 2012. The exhibition will be on view in the Miller Library at the UW Botanic Gardens from March 1-31, 2012. Conference attendees will vote for the winner in the botanical illustration category and the photography category.

Review of Requirements:

  • Artists must send digital image of their work for consideration.
    Deadline: January 1, 2012
  • Digital image must be 300-800 dpi and must be sent to 2012plantconf.art@gmail.com. Include artist’s name, contact information, name of species, the plant’s native ecosystem and location.
  • Artists will be notified by January 15, 2012 if their work has been selected. Further instructions will be provided at this time.
  • Work must be framed and wired for hanging. No glass. Plexiglass only. Size limit: 20″ x 24″
  • Send all questions to 2012plantconf.art@gmail.com.

Additional instruction (.pdf files) about submitting botanical illustration artwork and photography is available on the exhibition website.


Conserving Plant Biodiversity in a Changing World:
A View from NW North America

University of Washington Botanic Gardens
Seattle, WA
March 13-14, 2012

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