Photo Album of NCALSBA – 2018 Events


“NCalSBA 12th General Membership Meeting”, September 8, 2018

Presidio, San Francisco, CA

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Photos by Elaine Wismer
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“Garden Tour and Sketching in Tilden Regional Park, Regional Parks Botanic Garden”, August 9, 2018

Berkeley Hills, Berkeley, CA

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Shaded trails provided welcome relief from the heat, as master gardener, and docent, Dolores Morrison led a small group of fellow NCalSBA members on a guided tour of Berkeley’s Regional Parks Botanic Garden, in Tilden Park. The 10-acre garden is a sanctuary for many of the state’s rare and endangered plants from plant communities throughout California.

Examples of some of the plant highlights we saw can be seen at the Park’s seasonal online gallery at: Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden

And, for an overview of the regional diversity at the garden see: The Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden Virtual Tour

Thank you to Dolores for a delightful introduction to this tranquil setting!


Photo and text by Walter Denn
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“Laguna Ranch Gardens Tour and Sketching Day with MaryJo Koch”, July 28, 2018

Laguna Beach, Santa Cruz, CA

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On Saturday, July 28, 2018 eleven attendees had the unique opportunity to visit the Laguna Ranch gardens owned by David and Stephanie Mills. Approximately 25 years ago they purchased a 400 acre site north of Santa Cruz overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The gardens were developed over these many years to reflect the ecology of the site and the vision of the owners. Laguna Ranch is not only home to numerous stunning gardens but also provides habitat for rattle snakes, hawks, deer, mountain lions and other wild creatures.

Maryjo Koch, Santa Cruz Mountains’ resident, naturalist painter and a frequent visitor to the gardens, was our guide. She provided an historical perspective of the development of the gardens and highlighted the unique aspects of each. Several distinct ecological areas required plants that would thrive in each. We toured the Moon Garden, the Orchard Garden, a vegetable and cutting garden and several more. The variety of plants and settings is almost overwhelming. Numerous sculptural works are placed around the property, many of a whimsical nature. Later in the day, Maryjo shared examples of her work and provided a demonstration of her techniques.

We were able to visit Laguna Ranch through the generosity of the owners and were allowed to take photographs for our own personal use. But since the ranch is private property we are restricted from sharing these publically.

Potted Agave ‘Blue Bola Select’ accents a thriving collection of Southern Hemisphere plantings. Photo: Jeff Rosendale (Pacific Horticulture, July 2012).


Photo by Jeff Rosendale and text by Celia Bakke
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“California Rare Fruit Growers – FESTIVAL OF FRUIT!”, July 28, 2018

Campbell Community Center, Campbell, CA

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On Saturday, July 28th, NCalSBA participated in vendor day at the 2018 Festival of Fruit sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers The five day festival sold out (400 attendees) and Vendor Day was also open to the public so a few extra folks wandered through.

Thankfully the day was not a scorcher, our booth was shaded most of the time, and had a bit of a cool breeze all day! Not really knowing what to expect, I’d recruited staffing help and had lots of volunteers: Bonnie Bonner, Walter Denn, Margi Connelly, Kaye Herbranson, Linda Wegner and Elaine Wismer (as well as my long suffering husband George!). Liz Stroh-Coughlin loaned tables and chairs for the booth and we had an assortment of product from seven artists: note cards, aprons, market bags, and t-shirts.

Obviously the scale of the event was much smaller than our previous booth experience at Heirloom Expo and sales were limited. The booth did not lend itself to displaying the aprons and market bags very well (no wall) but we sold quite a few cards and had lots of people asking about our group, our art form, about sources of tuition, etc. We passed out plenty of our information cards.

The booth next to us was promoting next year’s San Francisco Flower & Garden show which has moved back to the Cow Palace and is trying to revitalize itself. The person staffing suggested that they’d like to have one or more of us actually drawing/painting in one of the display gardens. No sales, but participants could hand out business cards for possible follow-on contact. It would be easier than mounting a show or having a booth. She and Kaye agreed to be in touch. And she let us have a couple of extra feet of booth space! I was most grateful for that.

Like Expo, it was a tiring day but as with Expo, the outreach was probably the biggest benefit.


Photo by Walter Denn and text by Pria Graves
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“Ring Mountain Tour and Hike”, June 9, 2018

Tiburon, CA

On a cool and breezy day, 20 participants (about half NCalSBA and half CNPS members) joined Kristin and Bernard for a very pleasant ramble up the north slope of the Ring Mt preserve, home to several rare plants.

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One of these, the Tiburon mariposa lily (Calochortus tiburonensis) is only found here amongst the serpentine rock outcrops crowning the ridgetop.

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Another rare plant present in considerable numbers this year is called Marin dwarf flax (Hesperolinon congestum), a delicate annual with pale pink flowers. The soap plants opened their whitish starry flowers on cue at 4:00 PM, to enhance the return walk down to the trail head.

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Farewell-to-spring (Clarkia rubicunda) is on the left and (Dudleya farinosa) is on the right found near the top of the ridge.

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Photos and text by Kristin Jakob
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“Celebrating Trees II”, May 20 – June 23, 2018

Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross, CA

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Photos by Kaye Herbranson and Mary Gilardi
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“Beyond Color Mixing with Susan Fisher”, May 20, 2018

Los Altos Hills, CA

Fifteen artists attended Susan Fisher’s “Beyond Color Mixing” workshop at the Palo Alto Hills Town Hall, Sunday, May 20, 2018.

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Susan brought her delightful sense of humor and shared her passionate knowledge surrounding the interaction between pigments, light, water, paper, temperature and our individual visual perception of color.

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We reviewed pigment attributes, CIE Lab scale, and the variation in pigments between manufactures. She discussed the importance of developing color scales for each significant color in your piece before beginning the painting. We worked on several exercises – using three different mixes to create similar colors. Several artists brought paintings that they are working on and Susan provided valuable critique.

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For further information please check out Susan’s website. Special thank you to Elaine Wismer for securing the venue and to all the generous artists who brought yummy goodies to share.

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Photos and text by Liz Stroh-Coughlin
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“Bonsai Drawing with Lee McCaffree”, May 12, 2018

Gordon Dregg’s in Atherton, CA

After a dreary March, the Bonsai date was changed to May (sorry we ‘lost’ some artists in the transfer).

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The most difficult thing of the day was choosing which Bonsai to draw! Gordon had 100’s from which to choose!

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After Gordon talked to us about how Bonsai is groomed, cared for and his background, we jumped into drawing. No pencil sketch allowed! We started off with pen and finished with pen…out of the box for all of us, but a great learning experience! Lee’s technique brought to light ‘negative space’, trust in your vision/hand to accomplish your work and increased observation skills.

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Everyone completed one drawing and many jumped on to their second! We all agreed we would DO IT AGAIN!!!

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Photos by Lee McCaffree and Dorothy Hunter & text by Dorothy Hunter
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“Rose Delight at the Russian River Rose Company – A Sketching Day”,
May 5, 2018

Healdsburg, CA

On May 5, 2018, a warm, sunny spring day, eight people joined Bernard Halliwell for a day of sketching in the beautiful gardens of the Russian River Rose Garden just outside of Healdsburg. The roses, many of them aromatic heirloom varieties, were at peak bloom. We each sat somewhere in a sea of blossoms as visitors strolled the gardens. The purpose of a sketching day is not to create a finished painting but to practice various skills in an effort to achieve fluency. One may work on color mixing, for example, or values, or simply on drawing the lines of an image. Roses are not the easiest flowers to paint, but as one spends time with them the secrets of painting them begin to reveal themselves. People visiting the garden were interested in our work. Two artists sold what they produced, and one received an inquiry for a commission. All in all, we passed a lovely day, and came away stimulated and we turned our thoughts again to Pierre-Joseph Redoubté, Alfred Parsons, and Paul de Longpré, and other painters of roses.

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Photos and text by Bernard Halliwell
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“Spring Blossoms – Fruit Trees and Flowers with Catherine Watters”,
April 27-29, 2018

American River Inn, Georgetown, CA

I was very delighted to read our NCALSBA letter announcing our upcoming weekend trip to Georgetown, CA, and the American River Inn. The magic words for me were “Catherine Watters,” “Two Day Workshop,” and “Weekend Inn.” I immediately signed up for this wonderful opportunity. I made the journey north, riding with our most gracious driver Sally De Maria and Diana Tretor. They are two wonderful botanical artist friends. We left the East Bay with Sally’s car laden with many artist supplies. They were both excellent companions on the three and one half hour trip.

It was great to arrive in the quaint town of Georgetown, located in Gold Country. The beautiful American River Inn held many surprises for us. We were able to take over the entire B&B for the workshop which provided a homey, intimate and relaxing atmosphere. The inn was filled with numerous antiques on every floor in every room. Once we walked in the front door we were immediately greeted by new and old friends. The first room to our left had three students who arrived earlier, setting up for the workshop. The next thing I spotted were our specimens, the Dogwoods and other blossoms set up on an antique console. Thank you to Catherine and Kaye for finding such amazing dogwood specimens to inspire our work. The late afternoon sun highlighted the Inn’s paintings that hung on the walls. This room seemed to have a special “glow” to it.

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The second front room was a lovely sitting area where pairs of students had tables to share. It included a very inviting fireplace. The Inn offered us a wide variety of very comfortable room choices, some private, some shared, for our sixteen students. I was fortunate to share two connecting rooms with Kaye Herbranson, our President. She was truly a wonderful roommate.

The Inn offered us a Social Hour with appetizers upon arriving, a great way to greet and meet. Friday evening, we were treated to a wonderful catered dinner at the Inn.

Saturday morning began with the smell of delicious coffee and a gourmet breakfast. And then on to our painting session. We were so very fortunate to have Catherine Watters lead us on our weekend adventure of botanical art and science. Catherine shared so much instruction with us relating to our specimens. She led our discussions on setting up for our best composition followed by pencil drawings and watercolor washes. The most interesting part for me was Dry Brushing for details and finishing techniques.

Saturday afternoon our hostesses provided us with another wonderful meal, our lunch, and several beverages. We could not wait to get back to painting for the rest of the day.

Saturday evening was our trip in several cars to Georgetown’s local famous steakhouse, Buckeye Restaurant. We were treated to a great menu with many choices, followed by tempting desserts. This was our chance to relax and have fun. Then it was back to the Inn where we could mingle around the fireplace or retreat to our rooms. Botanical Artists need their sleep!

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Sunday we were once more greeted by a gourmet breakfast and wonderful coffee. This was our last day to have Catherine’s guidance. She gave each of us so much personal attention as she rotated among us providing her expert skills. I felt happy to sit in close proximity to others and listen while she instructed each student. This was an opportunity to hear new information or review past lessons. This was followed by a wonderful casual lunch, and the remaining painting session.

All good things must come to an end. Thank you Catherine Watters for making this weekend a most memorable one. And thank you botanical art friends for allowing me to share this special time with you.

A very special thank you to Beatrice Bergemont for the many hours spent organizing and planning this most amazing weekend. We missed you at the workshop but your planning and coordination with the caterers, inn staff and restaurant was evident and made our experience effortless and provided maximum enjoyment. Thank you to Liz Stroh-Coughlin for finding the American River Inn and thank you to the American River Inn staff for catering to our every need. It was months of work to make this weekend happen. I know it is one I will never forget.

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Photos and text by Elaine Wismer
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“Ruth Bancroft Garden Tour and Sketching”, April 14, 2018

Walnut Creek, CA

The weather was perfect at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek on Saturday, April 14, where members of NCalSBA and guests toured the 2.5 acre public dry garden. Docent George Jardim kindly led us for an hour and a half on the meandering trails, pointing out highlights amongst the 2,000 cactus, succulents, trees, and shrubs.

Established by Ruth Bancroft in 1972, the Garden was opened to the public in the early ’90s. Of special interest were the blooming varieties of aloe and yucca, native to regions around the world.

After lunch we took the opportunity to draw and paint. Seating is scattered throughout the garden, offering comfortable vantage points for observation, and to enjoy each other’s company.

We want to offer a special thank you to Anna Halverson for making arrangements for this pleasant opportunity.

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Photo by Anthony Petru and text by Walter Denn
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“Jasper Ridge Wildflower Guided Tour with Eliza Jewett”, March 24, 2018

Woodside, CA

A big thanks to Eliza Jewett-Hall for staying flexible about weather changes and taking a smaller group of members on 3/24 on the Jasper Ridge hike. Those able to attend reported enjoying the the beautiful wildflowers, plants, birds, and trees.

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A reminder to all members (especially those of us disappointed the week before by rain cancellation): You can sign up on your own anytime for a docent led tour through the Jasper Ridge website.

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There is also a free Open House at Jasper Ridge on May 12! Or you can walk anytime at Edgewood Preserve, which has many of the same plants/flowers/geology.

Photos by Eliza Jewett and text by Ruth Cox
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“Pen and Ink Workshop with Kristin Jakob”, February 10, 2018

Monte Sereno, CA

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Workshop attendees gathered at Margi Connelly’s home in Monte Sereno to create pen and ink drawings under Kristin’s guidance.

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Initially, Kristin shared examples of her work ranging from individual drawings to illustrations appearing in several publications, including a book on native plants published by the UC Press. She then proceeded to demonstrate her pen and ink drawing techniques, such as short dashes, lines and stipples.

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Kristin provided a wide array of plant materials including cyclamen leaves, Dutchman’s pipe, Cape Rush and rose hips.

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She also had available for purchase finest-tip Micron Pigma pens and mounted vellum finish bristol paper. As each participant focused on her work, Kristin provided one-on-one coaching.

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The workshop was relaxed yet intense, and at the end of the day the eight participants had gained additional insight into and experience with pen and ink techniques.

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Photos by Celia Bakke and Margi Connelly and text by Celia Bakke
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“UCBGB Plants Illustrated Exhibit “Celebrating Trees” Reception”, January 13, 2018

Julia Morgan Building, UC Botanical Gardens Berkeley, CA

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Photos by Susan McEntee, Sally Petru, and Lynne Finley
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