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!

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