Friday, October 31, 2014

Destination: ASBA Denver

Photos from top left, all at the Denver Botanical Garden: Chihuly glass tree; perennial garden; in the conservatory and; the desert garden.

The American Society of Botanical Artists Annual Conference was held in October, 2014, in Denver Colorado.  Here are the impressions of three CVABA members who attended.

By Paula Dabbs

Wow . . . my first visit to Denver and my first ASBA Conference.  My impressions of both include the wow factor.  To be with over 200 botanical artists for three days is inspiring, to say the least.  From the opening reception of "Small Works" to the portfolio reviews to the Techniques Showcase, the talent on display was impressive.  I was especially taken with Ann Swan's colored-pencil techniques which she put to good effect in her demonstration of a kiwi (hair and all!)

The biggest surprise was Annie Reiser's Botanical Zentangle class: I think we were all hooked when we left.  Especially fun was seeing some of the other teachers (who are stars in their own right) sitting in as students in the class.  

Also, unexpected for me was the incredible beauty of the Denver Botanic Garden.  It includes a huge conservatory and many garden "rooms."  Especially lovely for me was the Japanese Garden with a Ceremonial Tea House.  Fall was a perfect time to visit as the gold cottonwood trees and scarlet staghorn sumac added extra pops of color.  To top it all off, the Chihuly in the Garden exhibit was taking place while we were there.  I loved turning a corner to see another beautiful vista with a carefully placed piece of Chihuly glass.

I'm already thinking about next year's conference.  I hope to see you in Miami!

By Anne McCahill

The ASBA Convention's  small works exhibit reflected the use of different media and encouraged beginners to attempt new techniques.  For me, the highlight of the Convention was indeed the portfolio sharing by accomplished botanical artists, as well as visiting the DENVER botanical gardens, a haven of color and variety of species. The abundance  of Chihuly glass  added magic to the display.  Having access to the Daniel Smith display and sales  as well as the sale of ASBA books and catalogs on the premises appealed to many of us.
I am sorry that only a modicum of accomplished artists gave one class with a limited number of students, thus denying the opportunity to some of us to be exposed to different techniques.
The half day classes that took place at the Denver botanical gardens were reduced given the
bus ride of 30 minutes to the venue from the hotel. Not a good idea!
However....Miami, we shall be there for more inspiration!

By Judy Thomas

What I like most about the two ASBA conferences I have attended is seeing all the wonderful and inspiring work by the members.  There are several ways you get to see these great works: through the member small works show, portfolio sharing, the techniques showcase, and during classes.  Portfolio sharing is by far my favorite.  You get to see new and exciting works, new media and get to talk to the artists who created it.  Here are some examples:

Works by Connie Scanlon
Lotus McElfish's handmade botanical books

Another huge bonus at the Denver conference was the Denver Botanical Garden.  Anne and I flew out a day early to spend it at the garden and boy, was it worth it.  The garden is a series of densely packed and planted garden "rooms," each with a different theme.  The plant architecture seems carefully planned for shaped dimension, color and texture (we both fell in love with the autumn colors of stag horn sumac).  I made some photo collages of my favorites, at top and below.  As you will see, we were also treated to a Chihuly glass exhibit, which looks very different in a garden setting, versus in a museum.

From top left: Annual color; staghorn sumac in its glory; pink and purple sedum planting; Chihuly glass on the lake and: more glass.

I took two color pencil classes, both taught by great teachers:  Susan Rubin, of the Denver Botanical Garden illustration program, taught a class on color pencil on Mylar.  She was very patient, demoed and explained the process well.  Though I do not want to give up paper, Mylar presents some interesting advantages: it is quick, fully erasable, and the drawing can be worked from both sides of the sheet!  I think I will work with it in the future.

Susan Rubin teaching at the DBG.
The other class was "Tips and Tricks" taught by Ann Swan.  Anne is an excellent and experienced teacher, and also gave several demos and good explanation of her process.  She showed us how to use a surprising blender/solvent: baby oil!  Baby oil is not really an oil, but is liquid paraffin and it dissolves the color pencil and mixes it.

Ann Swan teaching.
The conference was inspiring, so hello to Miami in 2015!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Following in the Bartrams' Footsteps" in NC

By Judy Thomas
I went to the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill ( this past weekend to view the ASBA exhibit "Following in the Bartrams' Footsteps" ( This is the closest the exhibit will get to the central Virginia area and I wanted to see how the show looked (and visit my piece).  The garden is a conservation garden featuring many native plants, so the Bartram exhibit (almost all native US plants) is a perfect fit. Many truly wonderful pieces are in this show and I hope you get to see it, before it goes to California.  The show runs through Nov. 2.

 The gallery space was light and airy, showing off the works wonderfully!

 Two different displays:  one on creating botanical art and the other including herbarium samples and botanical manuscripts.

One delightful addition to our visit, a beautiful botanical quilt exhibit!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Field Trip Opportunity

Home Page Slider Link to History
  Wednesday, September 10, 2014
         9:45 AM until 2:30 PM
    Botanical Drawing at Tuckahoe Plantation
Tuckahoe Plantation
12601 River Road [Rt. 650]
      Richmond, VA 23238
Consult your CVABA newsletter for details.

Tuckahoe Plantation Information:
Organized by Judy Gilman-Hines!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Celeste and Judy T at the LoVA Again!

by Judy Thomas

Celeste Johnston and I were invited by educator Donna Kouri to teach her students in her "Junior Master Gardeners' Camp" from the MathScience Innovation Center (MSIC).  The class was making a visit to the Library of Virginia in Richmond to see the "Flora of Virginia" exhibit on July 10.  Donna originally asked us to teach a class in flower drawing, but we also offered a botany lesson and flower dissection.  We brought a wealth of flowers and plant materials to use in our discussion, along with tools used in our art.  The MSIC provides school-year and summer educational opportunities to engage students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Celeste and I had a great deal of fun!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"He Who Has a Garden and a Library Wants for Nothing" Exhibit June, 2014

Our third, annual exhibit is now open at the Tuckahoe Public Library. The exhibit, titled "He Who Has a Garden and a Library Wants for Nothing," is on display until the end of June.  Come out with friends and family to see the lovely botanical art!

For more information, including location and directions to the library, go to:

Visit to Nimrod Hall

Nimrod Hall

Submitted by Judy Thomas

Five CVABA members went to Nimrod Hall, an art retreat in Bath County, VA, for the first retreat of the season, called "open week."  Nimrod Hall is hard to describe: established in 1783 the hall has been home to artists each summer for 27 years.  It is a rustic, but beautiful, setting on the Cowpasture River.  Artists come to work in this amazing setting.  As it is hard to describe, I thought I would let the artists' words speak for themselves, below.  But one important thing to know, is that we are all going back next year!

For more information about Nimrod Hall, go to:

Anne McCahill:

Early morning haze and crisp air

Await a sunny day

Some of us are prepping canvases and palettes

Others are selecting plant and flower samples

While their senses are awakening....

Feathered friends chirp in unison

Flowers adorn porches and jardinettes

There's beauty and inspiration all around....

Ding dong, the antique bell resounds for the breaking of bread

Bon appetit!

Rustic dwellings, lake, pond, fields, mounts and vales

Are captured by caressing brush strokes,

Greens, blues and mauves compete for the best in show

At dusk, a glass of rouge or blanc is shared by fellow painters,

Lively exchanges echo thru the compound

Before the curtains are drawn.

'Tis time to dream about another fulfilling day

Gail Goodrich Harwood:

Nimrod is:
Taking time out from the busyness of life to just draw, to paint, to find new sources of inspiration...while sharing experiences with others who are passionate about art...and a little crazy, as all artists are.

Nimrod is:  a magical place to feed one's soul.

Kay Lindberg:

Not knowing what to experience on my first visit to Nimrod, I was very pleased with my whole vacation. Laura Loe, the owner and artistic director, covered every detail to make us welcome. She had not previously dealt with botanical artists like CVaBA, but she made us feel at home by allowing us to use the old post office as our studio. The whole grounds are unbelievably beautiful and peaceful with trees that are hundreds of years old and original buildings that have been restored but remain rustic. With farmland and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background, I could not ask for more.

Geranium, watercolor, Elizabeth Binnings
Elizabeth Binnings:

Nimrod Hall Plant paintplaycation,  I made that up, but it best describes our week.  Everywhere we looked, there were fresh flowers, wonderful vistas and serenity.  No TV, No loud music, No loud talking on cell phones, just laughter, quiet conversation, crickets and frogs and birds.

Our "Square House"  was very comfortable, even with my scooter.  The front porch was wonderful with rocking chairs and cool breezes.  Stacy, the chef put together some great meals and was creative with the vegetarian menu.  Laura, our hostess, made sure we had what we needed for inspiration, supplies and gentle help.  One morning, several of us even went to paint a landscape at the "pond" or swimming hole.

It seemed that each of us botanical folk were using different media so it was good to learn more about embroidery, pen and ink, colored pencil, water color and mixed media.  And yes, I am proud of my geranium painting, and received some great compliments.

All in all a most excellent adventure.

Judy Thomas:
Nimrod is:

…permission to work all I wanted, to sketch and draw, with no other obligations.

…beautiful, peaceful, soothing, yet inspiring.

…camaraderie in a community of artists.

…rustic, yet comfortable.

Think about coming with us next year!

Thursday, May 22, 2014


By Judy Thomas

The Central Virginia Botanical Artists teamed up with the Library of Virginia to exhibit our art in May (the last full day for the exhibit is May 27) and hold a free family fun day on May 3rd. Though crowds on the 3rd were light due to a national bike raced held in downtown Richmond, we had fun with the visitors who attended.

One part of the exhibit: from top left clockwise, works by: Scott Vrana, Judy Thomas. Minh-Chau Truong, Jane Zander and Gail Goodrich Harwood 

Celeste Johnston, a teacher at Lewis Ginter Botanical garden, provided botany lessons.

Judy Thomas teaches some children "How to Draw a Flower in Perspective"

Becky Spangler helps a family (and me!) make some beautiful flower cards.

All in all, we had a lot of fun, though we wished the crowds would have been larger!  Those present (in addition to those mentioned in the captions above, were: Gail Goodrich Harwood, Ellen Keane, Elizabeth Binnings, Kay Lindberg, and Lara Call Gastinger) had a great time and hope this was just a "dry run" for a future similar event!