Photo Album of NCALSBA – 2019 Events

“Maison du Lac Estate and Gardens visit with Suhita Shirodkar, Urban Sketcher”, May 28, 2019

Los Gatos

What started the previous Tuesday with rain and blustery conditions turned into a fabulous, warm spring day 1 week later on Tuesday May 28th. Even with the postponement we had 10 artists present for the day.



Patti Hughes hosted us at her 30-acre home with gardens and ponds. Patti gave us a tour and talk about the various plants on the property. She gave us the overview of how the property has changed from it’s original overgrown and wild state to the beautiful Audubon designated retreat that we visited today with many plants and flowers to attract birds and pollinators. We viewed her redwood grove that was destroyed in the 1985 and is slowly being restored.



After Patti’s tour we settled in around tables and chairs to have our morning demo by Suhita. She discussed tools, sketch books, her palette and talked about creating energy of movement, shape, character and color using gestures of her brush as she studied her flower subjects. Her handout went over page layout tips to create a well-structured interesting format in a sketchbook or journal.



After lunch we had a 2nd demo covering how to create a scene in her loose and colorful style. She demonstrated how to put down a wet on wet wash to create the base for the details to carve out negative and positive shapes over her base wash. Foreground, middle ground and background areas are kept fresh, but distinct. We also took time out to feed the fish and turtles in the large pond with food for us by Patti. Turtle will come when called!



Suhita was very generous with her feedback and open to discussion and questions. We all discussed the various plantings and learned about Bread seed poppies that are harvested for their poppy seeds and opium. The variety of flowers growing here is just incredible. Everyone noted how magnificent a place Patti has created. I know we all hope to go back and visit again!

For more information on Suhita, her tools and to view her work, visit her blog at:

Photos and text by Elaine Goldstone
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“Cummins Iris Gardens Tour with Jim & Irene and Sketching Day with Maria Cecilia Freeman”, April 30, 2019

Scotts Valley

Although it was a cool, breezy day we were warmly welcomed by Irene and Jim Cummins to their gardens which are located on a gentle slope in Scotts Valley. The display of blooms was impressive as the gardens contain hundreds of irises representing numerous varieties and hybridizers. The property is the site of several homes, an old barn, a collection of antique farm implements, whimsical garden art and a display of bird houses.

We were fortunate that the American Iris Society had held its National Convention in San Ramon the previous week and that the Cummins gardens were one of five available to visit by the attendees. Therefore, there were in addition to the Cummins’ own collection of irises, beds of guest irises. These irises represented a selection of rhizomes that had been provided by hybridizers specifically to be grown for the Conference.



Both Irene and Jim shared their extensive knowledge of irises as we toured the gardens. We were introduced to the different varieties and hybridizers. Jim explained and then demonstrated how to break apart a clump of rhizomes, identifying which to retain and replant and which to discard. Jim is also experimenting with hybridizing but has not yet named or registered any of his plants. He showed us an example of a mature seed pod and seeds.



After the garden tour we gathered together in a garden tent, and Cissy provided us with several handouts, including one listing Iris flower parts and several on maintaining a journal or botanical sketchbook . Cissy explained that although the bearded iris is complex in appearance, it is relatively simple in its components. While Cissy identified the various flower parts on a bearded iris, we each followed along with our own samples. Cissy then shared several of her own sketchbooks as did other members of the group. At this point some of us remained in the tent drawing and painting irises while others returned to the garden to paint en plain aire. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to visit this unique garden and work with Cissy.



We were most appreciative of Irene and Jim’s generosity in sharing their time, knowledge and garden with us and their warm spirits. The garden is open to the public so take the opportunity to visit now while the irises are in full bloom. The address is: 165 Canham Road, Scotts Valley, CA. Email:


Photos by Elaine Goldstone and Celia Bakke and text by Celia Bakke
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Rogério Lupo “Pen Nib & Ink and Graphite Hybrid Workshop for Scientific Illustration in Botanical Art”, March 22-24, 2019




We were fortunate to have the opportunity to host Rogério Lupo, a well known scientific illustrator, as our visiting instructor for a 3 day workshop this past weekend in Orinda. This was his first time traveling outside of his native country, Brazil. Rogério is an extremely talented artist – his sense of time, ritual and respect for craftsmanship are practices we can only appreciate in a workshop, and few can articulate the respect and focus necessary for those who achieve such mastery.





15 students had the pleasure to learn from him. 8 students worked in graphite and 7 worked with pen nib and ink. The pen nib and ink appeared to have a steep learning curve.



We were provided with comprehensive workbooks and exercises several weeks prior to the workshop, to gain technique proficiency in order to maximize our time in the classroom. Rogério provided full assistance and guidance, including a guided meditation and posture recommendations. He juggled comfortably between students working in two separate mediums and all while speaking a second language.

Next stops for Mr Lupo are Pasadena, Denver and Virginia.



Photos by Walter Denn and Liz Stroh-Coughlin and text by Liz Stroh-Coughlin
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“Special Behind the Scenes Tour of the California Academy of Sciences”,
February 21, 2019

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

We had a fascinating and fun behind the scenes tour at the Academy of Sciences, starting with a walk onto the “living roof”.

We learned more about the institution’s 160-year history and what it takes to house nearly 46 million specimens. We were able to visit some research collections, focusing on the Herbarium where we saw a range of specimens (including a plant collected on Capt. Cook’s voyage) and several very rare local (Alameda/SF & Marin county) specimens.



In the entomology (insects) department we saw an amazing range of butterflies (the Dogface, our state butterfly), huge moths and iridescent beetles.



The breathtaking geology specimens in the private vault rounded out the tour. Member Walter Denn, who has assisted in the past with photographing specimens at the Academy, showed us more about using the special Leica camera in the project room.

Thanks to all for participating!



Photos by Mary Ann King, Elaine Wismer and Ruth Cox and text by Ruth Cox
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