Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

“Niki Simpson is an artist who has been awarded many medals from the Royal Horticultural Society (four for photography and four for watercolor). In 2003, she developed a technique to create composite botanical illustrations. Simpson’s digital composite images challenge the current thinking about botanical painting’s superiority over photography. Her objective is to present ‘new possibilities for the future of botanical illustration’ (Simpson & Barnes, 2008).”

This is how I introduced Niki Simpson as the Feature Artist in July 2011. Since then Niki has continued to develop her digital botanical illustration technique and has successfully made significant contributions to the future of botanical illustration. You can read about her progress and how she creates digital illustrations on her new website Visual Botany.

Supporting Botanical Science

I felt that the possibilities of digital plant illustration for scientific work needed to be explored if botanical illustration was going to support botanical science in the future. And so, my digitally created composite botanical images are very much based on my watercolour paintings and my botanical pencil and watercolour studies.

— Niki Simpson

Launched in December 2014, Visual Botany is an exciting place to visit and a resource you will want to bookmark whether you are a botanical artist, a teacher or a dedicated gardener.

When first arriving at Visual Botany, you will discover a slideshow of images introducing you to Niki’s educational illustrations. Explore a little deeper and you will learn how Niki’s digital botanical illustrations are based on her traditional (and award-winning) botanical art. You will learn how to read the digital illustrations in her gallery and learn how Niki has used technology to introduce new audiences to plants. In the online gallery, you will find botanical plates similar in appearance to traditional botanical plates. You will also find an exciting habitat illustration of Lathraea clandestina (Purple toothwort). This single image demonstrates the palpable connection between plants, Earth and people Niki’s digital illustration technique is capable of creating.

I encourage you to visit Visual Botany and to share it with students and colleagues.

Literature Cited

    Simpson, Niki and Peter G. Barnes. 2008. Photography and contemporary botanical illustration. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. 25(3): 258-280.
    (View or buy online)

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Download guidelines, entry form

Download guidelines, entry form

The UCR Botanic Gardens invites local artists to take part in the annual Primavera in the Gardens Poster Art Contest.

The artwork of the two first-place winners will be used as the artwork for Primavera. First-place winners will each receive four tickets to this annual food, wine and art event. Second-place artists will each receive two tickets to the event.

Original artwork will be accepted for two categories: 1) Photography and
2) Other Media. This contest is open to all artists. The only stipulation is that all original artwork must be of the UCR Botanic Gardens and be no smaller than 11″ x 14″.

Did you take a show-stopping photograph of a plant or landscape scene from inside the Garden? Do you have a drawing or painting of a plant in the UCRBG collection of which you are especially proud?

Download the entry form and submit your original artwork to the Primavera Poster Contest. Submissions are due March 6, 2015.

Download Guidelines & Entry Form

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Four years ago we learned about The Botany Studio at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The Studio’s senior artist, Kandis Elliot, was our guest and their poster about fungi had received First Place for Informational Graphics in the eighth annual International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge 2010 sponsored by the journal Science and the National Science Foundation.

Today the Botany Studio operates a Botany Outreach Store featuring not only their collection of botany posters, but also digital media and selected publications about the plants of Wisconsin.

If you’re looking for posters about plants for your classroom or program, be sure to visit the Botany Studio. You’ll find posters about the following topics:

  • Introduction to Fungi
  • Classification of Fruits
  • Specialization in Flowers
  • Plant Modifications
  • Pollination and Pollinators
  • Carnivorous Plants
  • Plant Colors
  • Life Cycle of Arabidopsis thaliana
  • The Annotated Big Bucky
  • The Tree of Life

These posters would be a great addition to a classroom, lab, or nature center.
Be sure to take a look!

More about the Botany Studio

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Clockwise from above left: Assemblage, watercolor and pencil on Kelmscott vellum by Kate Nessler, 2014, 30.5 × 22", © 2014 Kate Nessler, All rights reserved; Bird Nest Series No.1, colored pencil on paper by David Morrison, 2014, 13 × 19", © 2014 David Morrison, All rights reserved; Woven Trees, archival ink-jet print from 2.25 film negative by Sue Abramson, 2014, 24 × 24", © 2014 Sue Abramson, All rights reserved; Epilogue, watercolor on Cowley’s veiny calfskin vellum by Wendy Brockman, 2014, 27 × 23", © 2014 Wendy Brockman, All rights reserved.

Clockwise from above left: Assemblage, watercolor and pencil on Kelmscott vellum by Kate Nessler, 2014, 30.5 × 22″, © 2014 Kate Nessler, All rights reserved; Bird Nest Series No.1, colored pencil on paper by David Morrison, 2014, 13 × 19″, © 2014 David Morrison, All rights reserved; Woven Trees, archival ink-jet print from 2.25 film negative by Sue Abramson, 2014, 24 × 24″, © 2014 Sue Abramson, All rights reserved; Epilogue, watercolor on Cowley’s veiny calfskin vellum by Wendy Brockman, 2014, 27 × 23″, © 2014 Wendy Brockman, All rights reserved.

Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation
Pittsburgh, PA
March 19 – June 30, 2015

The Hunt Instutute invites you to view Elements!

The exhibition Elements features drawings and watercolors of bird nests with a focus on the natural and man-made materials incorporated into these architectural structures. Photographs of forest understory will transport the viewer between the landscape and the ephemeral artifacts that signify the remains of a cycle of building, incubating, nesting and fledging. The featured artists are Sue Abramson, Wendy Brockman, David Morrison and Kate Nessler. The creators of these drawings and watercolors of bird nests and photographs of transitional landscapes are inspired by the relationship of the nest to time, place, music and architecture. Each artist has imbued the structures and the materials used and the locations and environments where built with their individual insight and perspective. Also included in the exhibition is a selection of birds, nests and eggs on loan from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Pittsburgh artist Sue Abramson’s photographs of the Frick Park woodlands are a response to the raw materials in nests and the extraordinary visual chaos of these habitats. Minnesota artist Wendy Brockman’s watercolors of nests, eggs, feathers and plant materials are rich with nuance and complexity and speak of time and place. Indiana artist David Morrison’s colored pencil drawings are an exploration of the issues of existence, regeneration and obsessiveness through his examination of the layers of natural and found objects that compose the architectural structures of nests. Arkansas artist Kate Nessler’s watercolors are expressive of symphonic movements, and they reflect the intrinsically creative and practical use of disparate materials that are woven to create a space of strength and balance that are essential for survival.

Opening reception

The opening reception on 19 March (5–7 pm) is open to the public. Beginning at 5:30 pm each of the four artists will introduce their work in the Elements exhibition. This is an opportunity to meet all the artists.

Talk one-on-one with the artists

On Friday, 20 March, 10 am–noon and 1–4 pm, visit the gallery at any time during the designated hours and talk one-on-one with three of the artists. Abramson, Brockman and Nessler will be available to discuss their concepts and process and will display their materials, and Brockman also will demonstrate her painting technique. This event is free and open to the public.

Open House 2015

Our annual Open House on Sunday, 28 June (1:00–4:30 pm) will include the talk “Nest structures of North American birds and the materials used in their creation” (1:30–2:30 pm) by Patrick McShea, program officer and educator, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and tours of the Elements exhibition and the reading room (2:30–4:00 pm). This event is free and open to the public.

Cabinet of curiosities

The Cabinet of curiosities in the Hunt Institute lobby will display bird illustrations from the Library’s rich collection of natural history and art books, including Mark Catesby’s (1683–1749) exquisite folio, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (London, the author, 1731), and works by microscopist Marcello Malpighi (1628–1694), natural historian the Comte de Buffon (1707–1788) and the artist George Brookshaw (1751–1823).


The exhibition will be on display on the 5th floor of the Hunt Library building at Carnegie Mellon University and will be open to the public free of charge. Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 am–noon and 1–5 pm; Sunday, 1–4 pm (except 3–5 April, 3 May and 24–25 May). Because our hours of operation are occasionally subject to change, please call or email before your visit to confirm. For further information, contact the Hunt Institute at 412-268-2434.

About the Institute

The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, a research division of Carnegie Mellon University, specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. To this end, the Institute acquires and maintains authoritative collections of books, plant images, manuscripts, portraits and data files, and provides publications and other modes of information service. The Institute meets the reference needs of botanists, biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora.

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Natural science illustrator and science educator, Rick Simonson, and two fellow guides will lead an 11-day trip to the Galapagos Islands next Spring through the organization Education First College Study Tours. Here is a glimpse of what is planned for this upcoming adventure schedule for May 13 – 23, 2015:

  • Day 1 – Fly to Ecuador
  • Day 2 – Guided tour of Quito
  • Day 3 – Fly to Baltra and continue to Santa Cruz Island. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station.
  • Day 4 – Boat excursion to San Cristobal Island
  • Day 5 – Boat excursion to Floreana Island
  • Day 6 – Return to Baltra, visit Twin Craters, return to Quito
  • Day 7 – Visit Cotopaxi National Park
  • Day 8 – Travel to Riobamba to visit Andean villages
  • Day 9 – Travel to Guamote to take part in cultural exchange activities, return to Riobamba
  • Day 10 – Travel to Guamote to take part in cultural exchange activities, return to Quito
  • Day 11 – Depart for home

Visit the website of Education First College Study Tours to view a detailed itinerary and for more information.

$4,229 (age 29 and under, triple/quad room occupancy)
$4,529 (age 30 and over, double room occupancy)

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Get ready for Costa Rica 2015!

Here is the latest news at Classes Near You > Florida:

Mindy Lighthipe

Custom classes, art tours, books, ebooks, videos and artwork can be viewed on Mindy’s website. To register for classes, please contact Mindy.

Artistic Adventure Tour – Costa Rica

February 6-16, 2015

In this 10-day workshop, you will tour Costa Rica with botanical and nature artist, Mindy Lighthipe, and nature photographer
Nancy Richmond. Travel to different locations where the rainforest will by your classroom. Learn field sketching, field research, color notation, composition and how to use digital photography for reference details. This workshop is for all levels and welcomes photographers as well.

Some of the places you will visit include:

Go to Costa Rica Art Tours to view the detailed itinerary for this trip.

Cost: $3,549 per person
Save $250 discount if registered before August 1, 2014.

Any questions? Contact Mindy Lighthipe or call 352-226-0949.

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Last week the Nepalese Botanical Drawings of Dr. Francis Buchanan were hung at the Linnean Society of London. This collection of reproductions are of plants studied and described by Buchanan who served as Surgeon-Naturalist on the first British mission to Kathmandu (1802-3).

This impressive collection can be viewed online on the Linnean Society’s website. Go to The Buchanan-Hamilton Collection of Paintings to view this exciting and historic collection of 116 illustrations and paintings.

News of the exhibition made me think about the tireless efforts of people across the globe who document plants so that others may learn about them. We have all been fortunate to learn from some of these remarkable people here at ArtPlantae.

After you viewthe Buchanan collection, I invite you to revisit a few conversations with special guests. Go on a virtual tour of the herbarium at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden to learn about what goes on behind the scenes. Visit The Botany Studio at the University of Wisconsin and drop in on the photography studio of Anna Laurent.

As these examples show, there are many creative ways to document plants.
How do you blend art and science when documenting plants?

Also See

The Botanical Drawings of Francis Buchanan

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