Thursday, May 19, 2016

Direct-Printing Lesson

[Note: Celeste Johnston gave our group a fun, interesting and informative "hands-on" lesson about nature printing during our April meeting, and here are her thoughts]:

                            About Nature-printing, Direct Printing/Monoprinting
                                                   By Celeste Johnston
I would like to start with a quote by Henry Bradbury when he addressed The Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1856:
He exclaimed "How powerful are the results direct from Nature herself", during the lecture
entitled 'Nature Printing: Its Origin and Objects.' He stated that nature printing had  "come to the 
aid of science".  Despite its decline as a scientific tool, nature printing  has stood the test of time and there has been a revival of this ancient art form.  The Nature Printing Society was formed in 1976 by a group of dedicated professionals employing nature printing as an extension of their scientific work. 
The Nature Printing Society, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, is an international organization devoted to the artistic and educational pursuit of nature printing.

Artists and scientists have been inspired by nature printing. Leonardo da Vinci, in his manuscript Codex Atlantis, includes the first know written record of nature printing.  
It is accompanied by a printed impression of a sage leaf. In the later half of the 1600's when the science of botany was born, nature printing was found to be extremely helpful to botanists who had no artistic talent. The first female botanist  in this country compiled a major volume describing the plants of New York and illustrated it with 340 nature printed specimens. Her name was Jane Colden 

Later techniques evolved and over a thousand impressions from one plant could be cast in soft metal. Out of this evolved the imprinting of plants on a copper plate coated with a soft ground. Nature printing will continue to evolve and I am glad to know  about this  important part of our botanical history. 

Monday, April 11, 2016


Maymont Tour 
by Judy Thomas
with photos by Gail Goodrich Harwood

On April 1, CVABA members had a real treat, a wonderful tour of the Maymont Estate house by our own Paula Blair. 

The Maymont Estate, now a public park, was the home of James and Sallie Dooley, who lived there from 1893 to 1925, during America's "Guilded Age."  Maymont was bequeathed to the City of Richmond after the death of Sallie Dooley in 1925, and  is now run by the Maymont Foundation.  For more information:

Paula gave us an excellent tour of the home/museum. We learned a lot about the Dooley family, how the wealthy (and the not-so-wealthy) lived during that era, and the decorative and fine arts collections in the home.  The website states there are over 900 period objects in the mansion, about 60% of them original to the Dooleys: 

For example, the mansion is home to several pieces of Tiffany glass, including a large window.  The Dooleys also purchased a full, duplicate set of Presidential china (made by Haviland), each piece different, that was sold to raise funds for its manufacture for the Rutherford B. Hayes White House:

The design on each piece is based on an original watercolor by Theodore R. Davis.  For more images of some of the plates, go to:

It seems that everywhere we looked we found a treasure, many nature themed!

Thank you to Paula, and kudos for a great, personalized tour!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Juliet Kirby to Exhibit at the RTD Gallery
by Judith Towers

     Works by Juliet Kirby, Botanical Illustration Advanced Watercolor instructor at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will be featured at the Richmond Times-Dispatch Gallery, 300 E. Franklin Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, beginning with the show opening Friday, April 1, 6:30-8:00 as part of RVA First Fridays Art Walk, and 9-5, Monday through Friday until April 29, 2016

     If you missed the colorful article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sunday, March 27, follow these links to see some of Juliet’s work and read about her early experiences in art school in England, her studies at the New York Botanical Garden, and classes that she has taught in Williamsburg, at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, and here in Richmond: 

     Don’t forget to check the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden website where the new spring/summer schedule of art classes soon will be posted!  At

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Member Happenings!

By Judy Thomas
[ Note: Please let me know if you would like me to post any botanically-related news about you on the blog!]

Our very own Winnifred, drawing a plumeria branch that she found on the ground in HI!

Having fun there, eh Winnifred?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What Fun!

Skills and Techniques Showcase
by Judy Thomas

As part of our "teaching/learning" model, we held our first "Skills and Techniques Showcase," with thanks to MinhChau Truong, Angel Zhao and Gail Goodrich Harwood!

Angel and MinhChau teaching

Angel began the first session by discussing the traditions, methods and materials of Chinese calligraphy (photo above).  She described the process to make the character for the word "flower" and members tried their hand at it, first on simple newsprint, then on xuan paper.  Angel gave the members handouts for other Chinese characters that we can try on our own.

Members practicing Chinese calligraphy

MinhChau demonstrated the various ways to paint orchids with black ink, in many different spatial orientations and stages of development, using black ink and Chinese brushes.  She made this difficult task look easy, and also demonstrated how to create different shades with ink and water.

MinhChau demonstrating painting orchids

The "Four Treasures of the Study" of Chinese brush painting and calligraphy.
Angel and MinhChau shared papers, tools and displayed traditional tools and materials.

In the second showcase, Gail showed members how to paint and draw (with colored pencil) water or dew drops.  Gail learned this method at an ASBA workshop.  She provided prepared papers, showed how to lift dry watercolor off the paper to create the water drop reflection, and how to use several colored pencils to draw the drops.

Thanks to these member/teachers, our first showcase was a success!

Monday, February 15, 2016

My Talk: Following in the Bartrams' Footsteps

By Judy Thomas
I had the great good fortune of being selected to participate in the ASBA, juried, traveling exhibit, "Following in the Bartrams' Footsteps." I am giving a talk about the Colonial plantsman and explorer, John Bartram, my fascination with him, and the exhibit, on February 21, 2016, 1PM, at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  It is free to members, and with a paid garden admission. I am giving the talk in conjunction with the Student and Teachers Exhibition, so you can see the lovely art on exhibit as well!

Biannual Student and Teachers' Exhibition, through March 13, 2016

By Judy Thomas
Several members are exhibiting in the Student and Teachers' Exhibition at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, come check it out!

Judith Towers' work on the left, Gail Goodrich Harwood's work on right

Some lovely zinnias by Becky Spangler
Some assertive color... me.