Tuesday, January 26, 2016



Drawing in Precious (and Not-So-Precious) Metals: Silverpoint
By Judy Thomas



As part of our new "Teaching/Learning" schedule for CVABA meetings, Celeste Johnston and I recently gave an introductory lesson on silverpoint. This is the Old Masters' technique of drawing with metals, some of them precious.  Before the discovery of graphite (in around 1560), artists drew with metal on surfaces prepared with a ground, often made with marble dust, zinc and rabbit skin glue. The metal (with the exception of gold) tarnishes over time, deepening the value of the line.

Thank goodness, we can now buy a prepared silverpoint ground or use diluted casein paint (see photo above).  During the session, members found the process far easier than they thought it would be, though drawing with metals takes some practice, as the drawing is built up in layers, and there is limited ability to erase (it damages the ground).

Here are some resources I provided, including a link to some truly beautiful, contemporary silverpoint drawings:

More than you want to know about metalpoint:
http://bethantoine.com/research/Metalpoint_Final.pdf

How to apply pre-made ground:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YD8QHSCsd7M

Silverpoint drawing instruction, parts 1 and 2:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8gOi89R3PI8
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VPBNwZl4qOs

Some contemporary silverpoint drawings:
http://www.tommazzullo.com/more-about-silverpoint.html

Golden's silverpoint ground:
http://www.dickblick.com/products/golden-silverpointdrawing-ground/

Shiva casein paint, titanium white:
http://www.dickblick.com/products/shiva-casein-colors/

A basic book on silverpoint instruction:
http://www.amazon.com/Silver-Linings-Introduction-Silverpoint-Drawing/dp/1468041673/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453826755&sr=1-1&keywords=silverpoint

2016 Schedule

2016 Prediction:  Learning and Growing!

by Judy Thomas

We have a vast variety of skills and abilities, not to mention artistic inspiration, among our membership.  In order to learn more from each other and stimulate discussion, several of us (Celeste, Gail, Judith, Paula, and I) have developed a schedule of artistic activities for 2016.  The activities, for our 9-meeting per year schedule, will include (with some additions):

Member-Directed Skills Building Activity: This could be a demonstration, instruction or a facilitated discussion on some aspect of botanical art. For example, Judy and Celeste demonstrated silverpoint in January and gave everyone a chance to try it.  Participants came away with enthusiasm and their own silver wire.
Portfolio Sharing (see description below)
Skills and Materials Showcase:  Have a tool, material. technique you are crazy about or just love? Show it, along with several others, as members rotate among the stations.

Please, consider participating. It will take our whole "village" to grow our skills and knowledge!

2016

January 20
9:30-10:30 Member-directed skills building or activity: Join Judy and Celeste to try your hand at silverpoint or metal point.

10:30-11:30 Networking, business meeting, input session (anyone asking for help or suggestions regarding artwork)
11:30 lunch
12:00-3:30 work session

February 17
9:00-10:00 Set up and draw
10:00-11:00 Portfolio sharing: bring a portfolio or some work to share, or come to look!
11:00-12:00 networking, business meeting, input session (anyone asking for help or suggestions regarding artwork),  lunch
12:00-3:30 work session

March meeting
9:00-10:00 Set up and draw
10:00-11:00 Skills and Materials Showcase:  rotate through three stations where member volunteers will share a tool, technique, material or paper they love with other members
11:00-12:00 networking, business meeting, input session (anyone asking for help or suggestions regarding artwork), lunch
12:00-3:30 work session

April meeting
10:00-11:00 Member-directed skills building or activity: TBA
11:00-12:00 Networking, business meeting, input session (anyone asking for help or suggestions regarding artwork), lunch
12:00-3:30 work session
In April:  look for a tour at Maymont, lead by our own Paula Blair!

May Meeting
9:00-10:00 15-minute drawing activity or do your own work
10:00-11:00  Portfolio sharing: bring a portfolio or some work to share, or come to look!
11:00-12:00 Networking, business meeting, input session (anyone asking for help or suggestions regarding artwork), lunch
12:00-3:30 work session

June meeting: June 1. Hanging the Tuckahoe Show, Plants and Pollinators!
9:00-10:00 Set up and draw
10:00-12:00 HANGING THE TUCKAHOE SHOW, networking, business meeting, input session (anyone asking for help or suggestions regarding artwork), lunch
12:00-3:30 work session
Saturday. June 24, 1:00-4:00 FAMILY FUN DAY: A CVABA botanical art event for the public at Tuckahoe Library relating to our exhibit, Plants and Pollinators!  Look for more information about this soon!

July, August:  no meeting

September meeting:  
9:00-10:00  Set up and draw
10:00-11:00 Portfolio Sharing
10:30-11:30 networking, business meeting, input session (anyone asking for help or suggestions regarding artwork)
11:30 lunch
12:00-3:30 work session

October meeting:  
9:00-10:00  Set up and draw
10:00-11:00  :  Skills and Materials Showcase
11:00-12:00 Networking, business meeting, input session (anyone asking for help or suggestions regarding artwork), lunch
12:00-3:30 work session
Look for a tour of trees at Lewis Ginter, led by Lorrie Lincoln!

November meeting:
9:00-10:00  Set up and draw
10:00-11:00: Draw an autumn leaf, compare styles.
11:00-12:00 Networking, business meeting, input session (anyone asking for help or suggestions regarding artwork), lunch
12:00-3:30 work session
Look for a tour of Fine Arts and Flowers at the VMFA by our own Celeste Johnston!

December: No meeting. Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Paper Making Class in the News!

Please click on this link to learn about the class recently taught by our very own Celeste Johnston, "Making Paper from Plant Fibers" at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, published 11/8/2015 in the Richmond Times Dispatch:

http://www.richmond.com/life/collection_bfc45e44-84cc-11e5-a722-b34d92f02a3c.html

Well done, Celeste!

Monday, November 2, 2015

My Plant is "Leaving on a Jet Plane..."
by Judy Thomas

One of the first things I did on a recent trip to South Florida was go to a tropical plant nursery to buy a cool plant to draw, one that was not easily available in Virginia, nor as lush. I found a stunning Indonesian pitcher plant, Nepenthes alata.  I drew it, and, as I did, I fell in love, as we botanical art people often do with a plant.  I had purchased it thinking I would leave it behind, but.....

I had a thought "Can I take it back on the plane?" I knew Hawaii banned any plants or plant material from going in or out of the state, except certified ones (out of the state), to prevent invasions by exotics.  I knew Florida and California also restricted plants brought in. I also knew that some states banned plants that were pests in that state.  But could I bring a commercially propagated plant home with me?

I first checked the airlines.  Their main concern is that the plant not make a mess, so sealing it in a 5 gallon, zipper-closing bag or other waterproof container was necessary. Second, the plant had to be small enough to be carried on as your "personal item" and, hence, fit under the seat in front of you. Check and check.  I also knew that N. alata could not survive in Virginia and was not on the noxious plant list for the state.  So, good there.

Then I checked the TSA website and found that houseplants are allowed, as long as they are small enough to go through regular screening...and could possibly trigger a delay for special screening.  So, we got to the airport early.  And voila!  The plant went through the x-ray with nary a second look by the TSA and onto the plane!

I have finished drawing the plant, but now....how to keep it alive?  I really, really love it.  Anyone have a used aquarium they want to get rid of?  I have a heat mat!

Mr. N. alata in his bag:




Friday, October 30, 2015

Color Pencil Session

Color Pencil Group Meeting 
by Judy Thomas

Nine color pencil artists got together today at the Atlee Library in Mechanicsville, VA. Most are members of CVABA, but not all.  We did a fun activity: we discussed and  made a variety of compositions using interesting fall, botanical subjects, from Osage Orange fruit, to winter squash and acorns!  Everyone picked a subject for the day to draw.
Some of the compositions we played around with:



ASBA 2015: Miami

Reflections Contributed by Gail Goodrich Harwood and Paula Blair

When asked to describe their favorite parts of the ASBA Conference, Gail wrote:

“- The Small Works exhibition featuring works from artists new to botanical art alongside world-renowned artists.

- All beautiful works, even more so because of the use of neutral, standard frames.  The most instructive aspect for me was the range of imaginative composition treatments.

- The Portfolio Sharing session - loved the opportunity to look at both finished and in-progress works.

- Classes - the chance to learn new techniques and tips for correcting mistakes.

-Hanging out with 200 people who are completely into botanical art!

And Paula wrote:

“Ditto to what Gail said!

-I loved meeting so many interesting people who also love art, botanical art, flowers, gardens, etc.  My workshops/classes were great! 

-I got to meet some of the people whose names I see in the Journal - all were welcoming, encouraging, friendly . . .

-I sat by Lea Rohrbaugh and Catherine Watters on the bus going to Vizcaya and took a class with Derek Norman . . .

-Now I am fired up to go to Pittsburgh 2016 and Filoli 2017!!"



Monday, October 26, 2015

Plants and Pollinators

Plants and Pollinators
By Judy Thomas

Today at the CVABA meeting we had a presentation on plants and their pollinators by educator and member Susan Estes.  This is the theme for our next show, in June 2016, at the Tuckahoe Public Library.  Susan gave many examples of the relationships between plant structure and the pollinators they evolved to attract.




We also discussed the exhibit, so stay tuned for more details!

An excellent talk, thank you Susan!