Project 200 image bank: Native Plants of Prairies and Woods Classes & Workshops Website

Friday, December 19, 2014

32. January & February Workshops in 2015

                           Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphylum, watercolor, ©Heeyoung Kim

Saturday Workshops at Brushwood Center at Ryersonwoods

January: Composition Study
Compelling composition turns an ordinary house plant into a stunning artwork.
In January workshop, we will study how to make unique and appealing composition in your botanical art. Students are recommended to select their own specimens, in pots preferably, because they need to be studied for long period of time.
The composition studies will be developed into watercolor paintings.

February: Bold & Modern Design in Ink
Composition studies from January will be further developed into more traditional ink study, but in modern design. Using unique features of crow quill pen nibs, students will be able to find this 'almost forgotten' medium truly aesthetic.

When: Jan.10 & 24, Feb. 21 & 28, 2015
Where: Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, 21850 N. Riverwoods Rd, Riverwoods, IL 60015
Specimen: Student's choice
Medium: Watercolor, Ink
Fee: $170 for per month
Registration: Call (847-903-7348)  or email Heeyoung (
More information with materials list will be sent with registration.

# There are Monday Classes every week with the same topics in longer and more relaxed environment, which are idea for those who develop drawing and painting skills in general through long, continuous learning process. Contact Heeyoung for more information, please.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

31. Holiday Wishes

Amma and Roses, ©Heeyoung Kim

My holiday wishes to all those who pray for loved ones. 

I was privileged to be at a beautiful ceremony of Amma, the hugging saint. Lots of rose petals, candle lights, chants.... It was absolutely beautiful and compassionate. Deeply moved, I painted this. 

Graphite pencil and watercolor were used on a full size paper, 22" x 30". 
Might be a beautiful holiday gift to those we cherish. 
Prints available.   

Friday, November 21, 2014

30. December Open Workshops

Artful Indulgence in Busy Holiday Season

Upon requests from my steady students, I am going to offer two open workshops at Ryerson Woods.
Anyone who is interested in botanical art is welcome to join. Registrants can start new works or bring in projects in progress. One day of drawing or painting will be a very pleasant and peaceful experience among busy holiday season, and in the middle of cold winter.You will be surprised how fast a day goes!

When: Mondays, December 8 and 15, 2014. 10 am - 4 pm
Specimen: Student's choice (bringing their own specimens)
What to bring: Specimen, all other art supplies, lunch
Fee: $85 per day
Where: Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods
            21850 N. Riverwoods Rd, Riverwoods, IL 60015
Register: Heeyoung Kim, Email: Call: 847-903-7348

Sunday, October 5, 2014

29. October Workshop: Paining Leaves - Study of Color Green

Green is Gorgeous, but Painting Green is Painful!

I believe you know what I mean when you are a botanical artist. "Made so many color charts, perfectly, but still scared by green leaves..." Sounds familiar?

Our goal of this month at Brushwood Center at Ryerson is getting confidence in painting green leaves. To achieve this goal, students will be guided to mix various green tones with transparent blues and yellows. Transparency of paints is tremendously important when many layers are applied. I will introduce transparent colors based on my experiments. After making their own green charts, students will paint green leaves of their choice and a couple of fall leaves to add some fun and charm.

I offer two options for the workshops.
1. 4 Mondays (Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27), 10am - 4pm
2. 2 Saturdays (Oct. 18, 25), 10am - 4pm
Saturday workshops are designed for people with busy workdays.  They are adjusted for shorter classes but still with the same subjects and instructions.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

28. Botanical Art Program 2014/2015 by Heeyoung Kim

I am glad that I can launch a year program for botanical art at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. Below is summary about it. If you are interested, please contact me for more information. Or if you have friends who want to learn botanical art, please share it.   Thank you!

One Year Courses: July 2014 ~ June 2015

1. Monday Botanical Art Workshops: Four Mondays Each Month
2. Saturday Botanical Art Workshops: 3rd & 4th Saturdays Each Month

Aim of the courses:
These courses are designed for botanical art students of all levels who are willing to make commitment to learn or improve drawing and painting skills. The most basic but most important techniques will be studied through the courses with continuity, so that students can truly absorb the techniques and apply them intuitively. No need to memorize or take notes all the time, and forget!  

How it operate:
Students are encouraged to register for the full year.
Monday Workshops-
1st & 2nd weeks: students will focus on honing techniques with instructor’s guide and demonstration.
3rd & 4th weeks: students will work on their own projects with instructor’s personal assistance.
In this way, students can create body of works with strategic plan along with the learning process.  
Saturday Workshops-
3rd & 4th Saturdays: the same teaching contents will be adapted for those who cannot make Mondays.

Benefits  for one- year registrants:
Discounts: 25% off for Monday Workshops, 10% off for Saturday Workshops
An exhibition opportunity at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods during Nov and Dec 2015  
When students miss Mondays, they can make up on Saturdays.

Fees & Time:
1. Monday Botanical Art Workshops:
Time: 10 am – 4 pm, four Mondays each month (except December), from July 2014 to June 2015
Fee: 25% off when register for the full year - Students pay for 3 Mondays and take 4 Mondays.)
        ($85 each day x 4 Mondays = $340 x 11 Months = $3,740  → 25% off= $2,805)

2. Saturday Botanical Art Workshops:
Time: 10 am – 4 pm, 3rd and 4th Saturdays each month (except December), from July 2014 to June 2015
Fee: 10% off when register for the full year
        ($85 each day x 2 Saturdays = $170 x 11 Months = $1,870. → 10% off = $1,683)
There are flexible payment options.

Syllabus for Monday Botanical Art Workshops 2014/2015

1. July (7, 14, 21, 28):  Highlight & shadow 1
2. August (4, 11, 18, 25): Highlight & shadow 2
3. September (8, 15, 22, 29, no class on Labor Day): Drawing and painting objects on clusters
4.  October (6, 13, 20, 27): Painting leaves -mixing greens
5. November (3, 10, 17, 24): Painting Poinsettia- focusing on cast shadows
6. January (5, 12, 19): Painting favorite house plant - focusing on composition
7. February (2, 9, 16, 23): Flower study- close-ups & dissections -bold & modern design
8. March (2, 9, 16, 23, 30): Painting bulbs with flowers- Tulip or Amaryllis - rich colors
9. April (6, 13, 20, 27): Bringing drawing skill to the next level - some secretes for elegant drawing
10. May (4, 11, 18, 25): Drawing sunflowers with graphite pencil or ink - study of flower structures
11. June (1, 8, 15, 22): Painting sunflower- focusing on hairy bracts on the back side - Get the details!

Syllabus for Saturday Botanical Art Workshops 2014/2015

The same contents adapted appropriately for shorter sessions.
See Monday syllabus for details!

Dates for the workshops
1. July 19, 26: Highlight & shadow 1
2. Aug 16, 23: Highlight & shadow 2
3. Sept 20, 27: Drawing and painting objects on clusters
4. Oct 4, 25: Painting leaves
5. Nov 8, 22: Painting Poinsettia
6. Jan 10. 24: : Painting favorite house plant
7. Feb 21, 28: Flower study- close-ups & dissections
8. Mar 21, 28: Painting bulbs with flowers- Tulip or Amaryllis
9. Apr 11, 25: Bringing drawing skill to the next level
10. May 9, 23: : Drawing lily with graphite pencil or ink
11. June 20, 27: Painting iris - focusing on hairy bracts on the back side

For registration or more information,  
Contact directly Heeyoung Kim - Email:    or Call: 847.903.7348

All classes are at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods
21850 N. Riverwoods Rd, Riverwoods, IL 60015     Phone: 847.968.3343

Heeyoung’s websites
For teaching and others:
For Images of artworks:

Paintings & Stories: 27. Illustration for Linda McCartney Foods

 Soy Bean, Ink, ©Heeyoung Kim

 Britain, country side, Ink, ©Heeyoung Kim

Soy Bean, Spinach and quinoa, Ink, ©Heeyoung Kim

This series of ink illustration was commissioned by a London based design company to create food packages for Linda McCartney Foods new frozen food line. They had very specific concept, so I had to do what they wanted, except the first one. I did the first one, which is more like my style, for their test before I got the assignment. But they decided to use it on one of the package. Their vegetarian frozen food are in the market in 5 countries in Europe with this image on the packages. 
At the very end of their TV ad, the packages are shown. 

Paintings & Stories: 26. Green Dragon

Green Dragon, Pinellia tripartita 'Polly Spout'

Green Dragon, a very peculiar plant! 
At the time I came across this curious plant, I was searching for a native Green Dragon in good shape. A few plants I was observing for a couple of years were not healthy enough to bloom. I started to draw, but could not finish it. Then one day of the early summer, this peculiar plant with a tongue, well, actually a spadix, caught my eyes in Sensory Garden at Chicago Botanic Garden. That was Green Dragon! A hybrid! I just loved the dragon tongues. So spent quite long time to compose the tongues to create good negative spaces and good relationship among the flower heads, hoods or spathes. 

Paintings & Stories: 25. Orchid, Phragmipedium 'Jason Fischer'

Orchid, Phragmipedium 'Jason Fischer'
©Heeyoung Kim

The rookie started a big painting! I started this one in my first watercolor class. I bought two pots from ts breeder who had given this orchid his son's name, Jason Fischer. The flowers were just adorable! In the next morning, the best flowers which I was drawing fell off! Luckily, with some research, I found out the next bud would bloom soon, and another after that and another after that..... So the blooming season would last for several months. What a monster! Well, I could finish the whole painting with fresh flowers right next to my painting table. That was easy!

Paintings & Stories: 24. Chocolate Cosmos- a Delicious Flower!

Chocolate Cosmos, Cosmos atrosanguineus
©Heeyoung Kim

Looks beautiful, and smells delicious, too! Chocolate Cosmos has reason for its name. It smells like chocolate, really! Compared with other Cosmos, this particular species is fairly small plant with astonishing flower with beautiful fragrance. Sadly, this beauty, a Mexican native, is considered as extinct in its native habitat. Never been found in nature over hundred years now. That is why I decided to paint it. 
In most photos the flowers appear very dark, and very commonly people believe it is dark chocolate color.
But, its common name is from its fragrance, not from its color. 
Also, the sunshine did magic when I painted this. The fresh flowers showed off bright red color under strong sunshine. So I decided to give them bright red, even though I can expect there could be some different ideas about the color. My heart followed the sunshine!  

Paintings & Stories: 23. Tulip- Watercolor

Tulip, ©Heeyoung Kim
Collection of Eileen Labarre

I painted this in the first year when I studied botanical art. And this one taught me a very valuable lesson. At that time, I had no idea about botany, or what facts need to be shown in botanical paintings. I bought a pot of tulips from Sunset Foods, local grocery store, just because the color was gorgeous. I waited until they fully bloomed because I wanted to show the inside of the flowers. After some diligent work, this painting was finished. Then I figured out it needed to be identified. The tag in the pot didn't show scientific name. I contacted the store, and its provider, and even the grower. The answer was unbelievable: nobody had record of this tulip. They said as soon as a better looking hybrid is created, the older ones most likely disappear. That was quite a surprising discovery to me: a fate of a hybrid. On top of that, this particular one had seven petals, on the contrary to six in normal tulips. Another good lesson! A muted one I painted!  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Paintings & Stories: 22. Cyclamen- Watercolor

Cyclamen- ©Heeyoung Kim
Watercolor on Paper
Collection of Gail R Harwood

Cyclamen is one of my favorite flowers, even though it is not native in Midwest. Its beauty is quite astonishing. No wonder people steal them whenever they see them in wild. As a result, they are mostly endangered in their natural habitat. Because of its popularity as a house plant, there are many varieties of hybrids available worldwide. In my first year of botanical art study, I loved to painted them.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

21. Campaign for My Painting Project

As most of you know, I have been drawing and painting native plants of prairies and woodlands for many years. At this point when more plants disappear faster (:( ) and I am getting older (:0), I am trying to make my documentation plan clearer and finish it in my life time.

"Project 200: Botanical Documentation of Tallgrass prairie" is my first plan. I will paint 200 plants first, then another 200, when the first part is finished. To accomplish this huge task, I need to get funded. So I launched Indiegogo Campaign! Please, allow your time to take a look at it, and support this project!

"Like" the post!
"Share" it!
Spread the words generously, please! Please, let your friends share it, too!

I am sure this botanical art collection of Midwest native plants would be valuable as a scientific and educational tool, as well as an art collection, IF it could ever be finished. Your support will help this project continued! 

No obligation for contribution! Repost it on Facebook, Twitter, or share it with Google + circle...  That will bring this campaign closer to home screen at Indiegogo website. (That is their operating system.) So my campaign can get better exposure, which will help to achieve my goal.

Huge Thanks,

Friday, February 7, 2014

20. Workshop - Chinese Calligraphy and Botanical Painting

Detail of Ohio Spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis, ©Heeyoung Kim

Ever been amazed by Chinese calligraphy brush strokes? 
Wouldn't it be nice when you can be that much confident with your brush?

During this very snowy winter, I tried some calligraphy, which is in my blood thanks to have master calligraphers as a father and a grandfather. As I know my brush handling skill comes from my calligraphy technique, I came up with the idea of having a workshop with this topic. 

Chinese calligraphy is all about brush handling. It looks very intimidating, but the basic is simple, 
believe or not. I trust everyone can learn just enough techniques to try for botanical painting. 

I am very excited with this totally new topic. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Paintings & Stories: 19. Brighten up your snow day, Chicagoans!

Royal Catchfly, Silene regia, ©Heeyoung Kim
Collection of Emily & Jason Ciaglo

"Red is rare on the prairie, and the Royal Catchfly wears its crimson blossoms well. It is a dangerous beauty for climbing insects unfortunate enough to be caught in the sticky hairs that line the base of the flower, but its nectar is a favorite treat of butterflies and hummingbirds. ........."
(Quote from an article on Feb, 2010.) 

ASBA exhibition Losing Paradise? Endangered Plant Here and Around the World 
at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, 2010

 Losing Paradise was shown as part of Plants in Peril exhibition 
at Shirley Sherwood Gallery at KEW, London, 2011

Red flowers make us happy! Well, not only us, humans, but also butterflies and humming birds! 

This winter in Chicago and broader area, we have extraordinary amount of snow. Long icy and snowy spell has made me feel not so happy. So I dug up this old image, hoping that it might brighten up me, and other people.  

I started to paint this rare beauty in 2007, the same year I started to learn botanical art, and finished in the next summer after I saw the plants in bloom once again. This painting screamed loudly enough to catch all the attention from the public and media. So it brought me a huge luck by being shown up on sign boards and invitation card. Most of all, I am very happy that my painting played its role to draw attention to plant conservation issue through Losing Paradise exhibition in four botanic gardens in US and Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Finally the exhibition was shown to broader public at Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Royal Botanic Garden KEW, London. 

This painting is not in my possession any more, but it always remains as an inspiration for my prairie plant painting project. It also remains on Smithsonian website exhibition page ever since the show was there. I am so pleased to see someone else wants to see it for long.

Monday, January 27, 2014

18. Following Bartram's Footstep-ASBA Travel Exhibition

Green Dragon, Arisaema dracontium, ©Heeyoung Kim

Green Dragon is a pretty rare native woodland plant and its shape is as peculiar as its name. This painting shows a fully matured plant in fall. It is traveling now with 44 other ASBA members' paintings in 5 venues throughout US from 2013 to 2015.

I focused on the shape and color of the fully grown leaves  in fall and the color of the berries, and where the flower stalk grows. More story is in my earlier post, "3. Fall is around the corner...".

Saturday, January 25, 2014

17. Painting White Flowers - After the Workshop

Working hard with specimens in pots 

All were very happy with their beautiful paintings!
at Brushwood Center, Ryerson Woods

Everyone wondered how the white flowers would be painted without background.
 However, all paintings turned out truly beautiful! 

Students started drawing with specimens of their choices before the actual workshop. By doing this, they could have enough time to observe their subjects, and of course create better drawings. 
The key points were thin layers of pale shadow color and smart composition. We all agreed with "Less is More" in painting white flowers. 

16. Painting Pink Cyclamens- After the Workshop

Pencil drawing process - ©Heeyoung Kim

Light application of watercolor -©Heeyoung Kim

Layering intenser color- ©Heeyoung Kim
at Brushwood Center, Ryerson Woods

Pink flowers including Cyclamens look so pure and light. And that is the beauty of them. In this workshop, we all were very careful not to add too dark shadow. Another thing we found was the petals were so thin and translucent that they didn't cast shadow on other petals behind or under them, in beautiful natural lighting condition. This was one more good reason not to add too dark shadow!

We also focused on creating fine gradation which should be the most basic technique in botanical watercolor, but not easy to get achieved. We tried it both with wet washes and dry brush technique. 
The result was beautiful! 

15. Painting Yellow Flowers - After the Workshop

                                                      Workshop attendees working with potted Daffodils



                                                            Painting process, ©Heeyoung Kim
                                                        at Brushwood Center, Ryerson Woods

Yellow flowers are often hated to be painted, maybe because they are too pure to add any shadows. Their brightness intimidated us in the beginning, but we could slowly build up the frilly petals. White paper was carefully saved by painting its negative spaces. Using lots of layering of Aureolin and just a bit of shadow color, we could keep the Daffodils very bright.

 We were all just amazed by the varieties of yellow hues created by just one kind of yellow tube. That is the beauty of transparent watercolor.

It was fun and informative to see buds open and show off the most gorgeous color and fragrance, and finally create even more intense color when they die. Is there any part of nature not beautiful?

Paintings & Stories: 14. Eleanor Wunderlich Award for Excellence - 16th International HSNY/ASBA 2013

Prairie Crabapple, Malus ioensis, watercolor, ©Heeyoung Kim

I am very happy and honored to receive this award from ASBA and the New York Hort. 

This painting is one of my favorites. It shows the beauty from every facet of nature; the new life, dying one, dead one .... all are beautiful! I tried to tell the story of death and rebirth, and that story is delivered through strong composition.   

More behind-the-painting-story can be found in the American Society of Botanical Artists website:

Giclee prints are available. 

Paintings & Stories: 13. Resurrection of Prairie Crabapple


                                   Prairie Crabapple or Iowa Crabapple, Malus ioensis, Watercolor ©Heeyoung Kim

I have been working with this painting for long. I have observed it through the full cycle from winter naked branches, new sprouts and buds, blossoms, and apples. And I chose buds and full blooms to give strong contrast to the dead tree trunks. 

Why dead trunks? Well, the purpose of this painting is to show how this native Crabapple  has been neglected in most areas, maybe because people believe other colorful  hybrids are more attractive. This specific tree was almost dead overshadowed by nonnative, invasive trees. When my plant scout took care of its surroundings by cutting the invasive trees, and let more sun shine on this beauty, it has slowly revived. New branches started to grow from the almost dead looking trunk. 

This painting is my tribute to this beautiful tree and the beautiful person who has taken care of it for many years only from concerns on nature. 

Paintings & Stories: 12. Simple Color Note

                          Horse Gentian or Wild Coffee, Triosteum perfoliatum,©Heeyoung Kim

I have been totally thrilled for a few weeks to draw this plant. The bright orange berries were beautiful enough to draw my eyes, but its common name appealed more to me, well, frankly, as I am a HEAVY coffee drinker! Midnight coffee was even tastier while I was drawing this.....

When I do pre sketches, I put heavy shadows almost always, unlike common advise. The shadows are the most critical guide for my next paintings or drawings. When I have this much drawing, I can convert it with any kind of medium later. However, color note on top of the heavy graphite is not ideal, of course. So I color only a small part of each segment. Sometimes I just put color right next to the drawing, not within the target space. It is perfectly fine when I have just this much exact colors ahead.  This will be good guide even when the plant color slightly changes or fades. I might finish this in watercolor.  

Paintings & Stories: 11. Inspired by Winter Wind

                         Indian Hemp in Winter, Apocynum cannabinum, Watercolor, ©Heeyoung Kim

Artists can find beauty from totally unexpected things. On a very windy winter day I was walking at a park in my neighborhood. All dry branches, twigs and empty seedpods were dancing to the wind, but all in one direction. Those lines that were set by wind caught my eyes. 

When I looked around carefully, I found some interesting twigs with seedpods in varied colors: some were more brown still with lots of yellow, but some others very gray, but with beautiful blue. I could see brown ones were from that year, and gray ones were from the previous year.  Of course I could not pass the bluish branch, as blue is my absolute favorite color. 

As soon as I came home, I started to draw the lines right on Strathmore Bristol board (plate finished), very spontaneously without pre-sketch. Basically, the whole painting was done with blue, gray, purple and yellow.  This 'simple' and spontaneous painting gave me great joy during the windy, cold and snowy Chicago winter.   

Paintings & Stories: 10. Hairy Plants in Pen-and-Ink


                        Compass Plant, Silphium laciniatum, Pen-and-Ink, ©Heeyoung Kim

I applied the same technique (shadowing, not drawing for hairy parts) in pen-and-ink drawing. Considering that ink is not forgiving at all, I had to be very, very careful from the beginning. Drawing guide lines very lightly with pencil was a huge help. It was more challenging in ink, however, the effect was much more dramatic with ink than with pencil.

Paintings & Stories: 9. Pencil, Pencil, Pencil..... Drawing Hairy Plants!


 Acorn, cattail & hairy stem drawing - ©Heeyoung Kim

Drawing hairy subjects with pencil is quite challenging, because it gets darker and darker as the pencil strokes are repeated. 
What is the solution?
                                 Do not draw! 
                                 Just shadow!

I started with simple lines. Then, I had to think in a completely reversed way. I mean, I started shadowing the  first lines instead of drawing more lines. At first it didn't look right, but with erasing and shadowing repeated, I finally could have the hairy effect. 
For the acorn, I had relatively big black negative space under each hair. Then I divided the space into a couple of more hairs, again by shadowing, not drawing.

8. Science of Watercolor Brushstrokes- watercolor demo at Morton Arboretum

                        Heeyoung showing watercolor technique, Oct.4 2012 at Morton Arboretum
Photo by Eileen Labarre

-Science of Watercolor Brush Strokes-

Painting watercolor botanicals on hot-pressed watercolor paper is quite different from other types of watercolor paintings. It requires extreme control over the amount of water and brush strokes. It is all about the interacting process of water, paint, and paper, which can be explained scientifically, but in a very simple way.

Brushes – Why Sable or Synthetic? – Comparison of hair surface
                Why does that affect painting?
                Which brush works for you?
Brushstrokes - Speed, time, size, angle….- All Matter, Critically!
Capillary Action and Paint Lift-off
              “Capillary Action Effect can be seen in the drawing up of liquids
                          between the hairs of a paint-brush” 

Paintings & Stories: 7. Best in Show Award, 15th International HSNY/ASBA 2012

                                                     Heeyoung and her Compass Plant.
                                                          Best in Show Award, 2012
                                      watercolor painting at Horticultural Society of New York

Compass Plant, Silphium laciniatum in watercolor and graphite pencil, ©Heeyoung Kim

Compass Plant is one of the iconic prairie plants. It shows off its tall and robust structure with abundant and complicated leaves, and beautiful yellow flowers along the stem. In early stage the young plant is very hairy and its complexity is just amazing. So I used the haunting graphite drawing as background of the color part. It took very long from detailed drawing to watercolor painting with all those leaves and hairy stems, bracts and "Yellow" flowers. You know, yellow color is another challenging topic......

However, all the efforts and time I put in this piece was well paid off with this very honorable award. 

For more story about this painting, go to the ASBA website:

Giclee prints are available.   

Paintings & Stories: 6. Color Diversity

Compass Plant, Silphium laciniatum,© Heeyoung Kim
Full image can be viewed at at Award section

We can easily say certain flower has certain color. And we try to judge if the artist matches the color successfully or not.

I am very often amazed at seeing  diverse colors in one specimen. Individual plants have different colors in their flowers, stems and leaves depending on their environment. Numerous factors affect their colors and shapes. 

In this painting I try to show different colors of disk flowers. Usually Compass Flowers in full bloom have yellow disks, and they turn into brown as they get withered. However, I found a group of them had intense purple from the beginning. They were at the spot where they had to endure harsher wind and stronger sunshine. I am sure the soil was different, even though I cannot explain it now. They had more texture, clearer veins and more saturated color on petals and leaves. Hairs on stem were even tougher. Of course, stems had exuberant colors. That is why the two front facing flowers in this painting show different colors. 

As  I studied this plant,  I was totally overwhelmed by the complexity of the leaf shape and hairy bracts. Sketching and coloring of  this plant was like testing my patience. However, its beauty compelled me to finish  it. I am very happy with the final work. 

Paintings & Stories: 5. Pencil, pencil, pencil.....

                   Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium, Detail, Graphite Pencil, ©Heeyoung Kim

full image can be viewed

This Rattlesnake Master was at the top of my long list of plants that I wanted to paint in my first year of botanical art study. However, I was so overwhelmed by the complexity of the flower head. I actually started drawing it long ago, and kept looking at it every year, adding or correcting bit by bit. Finally this year, I have been courageous enough to finish it, after long practice. I juxtaposed a dissected part and the flower in full bloom in perfect symmetry. 

You will be surprised to see how beautiful job a simple pencil does.  In the beginning, I just considered this as a study for my watercolor painting. As it got its shape, though, I just loved it as it is. So I decided to finish up. 

Paintings & Stories: 4. Showing Plant Life Cycle on One Piece of Art

 Detail of Fringed Gentian, Gentianopsis crinita, Heeyoung Kim 2012

"How long did it take to paint this?" This is the most common question I hear. Painting whole life cycle of a plant means at least 1 year, when I am lucky. Very often longer than that.

Then another question comes. "Does it worth that much time?" Of course, yes! No good artworks have been created in a day. Many artists in history struggled for many years with one painting.

One last question still comes. "Why don't you just take a photo?" You cannot capture four seasons in one photo. You would say, yes you can with computer manipulation. But that is a totally different story.

A botanical artist can create an artwork that transcends time and space, and that combines art and science.
Plant resources are decreasing from many reasons. This one painting could be the only or one of a few visual materials that would prove its existence to our next generations. Don't you think it is worth my time?

Paintings & Stories: 3. Fall is around the corner.....

                                                  Green Dragon, Arisaema dracontium, Watercolor, ©Heeyoung Kim

Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum and Green Dragon, Arisaema dracontium are quite eye-catching Midwest native plants. From early spring their unique flowers give us very pleasant story. Actually their flowers are almost not seen. The petal-like shape which we usually misunderstand as a flower, is spathe. I just call it 'hood'. Inside the spathe, there is spadix which I call 'tongue'. Flowers bloom around the spadix, and they develop berries in late summer when the plants are big and healthy enough. This may sound strange, but this unique plants are indecisive about their gender until they figure out if they are big enough to be female and bear berries. When they are not big enough, they just die out without fruiting.

At this time we can spot red, or orangish green berries on the ground in woodlands. They give sparkling color to the muted colored or yellow dominated fall garden. Jack... and Green Dragon berries look alike. You cannot even tell which is which, when you don't see leaves and stems. 

While I was working with this Green Dragon watercolor painting (well, this is part of the whole painting), I particularly tried to emphasize the berries. Every single berry has different shape and size, and all of them face different directions... They are just fascinatingly beautiful!  

Paintings & Stories: 2. Transition from Pencil to Watercolor

                                                           Pencil sketch of tree bark

                                            Thin watercolor added on top of pencil drawing

Should watercolor botanical always look clean, neat and flawless? 
Most of us believe so. That is why students have hard time to overcome their fear of adding color. I chose this loose tree bark painting as September theme of my open workshop at Brushwood Gallery, Ryerson Woods. 

After our intensive pencil drawing sessions in August, we will move towards watercolor gradually, but not separately. Our goal in September is having fun with watercolor, and enjoying watching how the two medium create interesting effects. 

Of course, the painting above doesn't look like a botanical! I will add some spring flowers later. Right now, I just want to feel free from fear, and play with watercolor.  

Paintings & Stories: 1. You think you are done! Well, too early?

 Study of Ohio Spiderwort - C Heeyoung Kim 2012

"Start From Finish" is my experimental watercolor botanical workshop at Chicago Botanic Garden. My idea started from the fact that students can hardly have a chance to see somebody doing final touch. The result: most students think they are done, too early.

Students brought in their 'finished painting'(?) to the workshop and tried to improve them. However, the hardest part was critique. We did open critique, but I could see some were not quite open to it. I could gradually convince everyone to see the room to be improved in their paintings. Every week all of us get happier and happier seeing the possibility that we actually can improve our works.

The image above is a sample painting of mine. I showed how I could make the middle part of the flower darker and make the details of pistil and stamens pop out. Compare the two front petals and the back one, please. Not finished yet, of course...........