Artist-In-Residency at Denver Botanic Gardens:

There aren’t that many opportunities to be an artist-in-residence in scientific illustration at a renowned botanical garden. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the two artists at the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG) in March of 2015.

Denver Botanic Gardens is home to one of the best botanical illustration certificate and diploma programs in the world. People come from all over to take courses. The structure is very open and the students can take as little time or as much time as they want towards a certificate (if they choose to pursue). I’ve met some artists who have been taking classes for number of years but aren’t seeking to be certified. I’ve also met artists who are determined to finish the courses so they can start working as a professional botanical illustrator. I love the range of students and their experiences.

The funding for the residency came from their very successful kickstarter campaign last year selling books and prints of sketches by artists teaching and studying botanical illustration at the Gardens. The book is magnificent. You can still buy copies! They make great gifts.

The program is pretty short; it’s six weeks long, but Dr. Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski has filled the weeks with exciting events.


1. Working closely with researchers to create species identification illustration plates for academic journal publications and for the general public.

-Project 1: Diversity of Riparian ecosystem in Denver Botanic Gardens in Chatfield
-Project 2: Investigation of three species of Corispermum (bugweed, tumbleweed) in northern Colorado

2. Teaching a three-day scientific illustration techniques workshop — which is almost full, but there’s one more space left! Friday-Sunday August 28-30

3. Giving a short presentation lecture about botanical illustration and techniques at the Denver Museum of Art as part of Untitled: Cross-Pollinate, August 28 on Friday, August 28.

4. Demonstrating scientific illustration techniques to the general public at the brand new Science Pyramid at DBG on Wednesday, August 19

5. Document the blooming of rare Titan Arum aka Corpse Flower in the Orangery section of the Gardens.

6. I’m open for adventures! Paint a botanical specimen a day? What do you think?


Plus, if there is a botanical illustration class, I’m free to audit the class as long as I get the teacher’s permission and there is space. I’ve always admired the work by the teachers and the students at DBG, so I’m very very excited.

There are so many activities to enjoy in Denver too–hiking, running/biking, visiting museums, zoos, and going to theater productions. I found a fairly large birding group called Denver Field Ornithologists and see if I can go to a field trip or two and attend their monthly meetings at Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Last but not least, I couldn’t have done this without the wonderful hosts, Irene and Gerry, who are letting me stay at their lovely house very close to the gardens.

I feel very spoiled.

What should I check out while I’m in Denver? Where should I go on hikes/camping trips? What plants should I look up?