Inspiration, ideas and kindred spirits are what I found attending the annual conference of the American Society of Botanical Artists in late September! It is always a whirlwind 3 days of learning new things, trying new techniques, greeting old friends, and meeting new ones. There are idea exchanges and impromptu brainstorming sessions. As artists, we tend to work predominantly in isolation, in our own studios so the camaraderie  we experience during those jam-packed days fills us with inspiration, energy and a renewed sense of purpose towards our own art.

This years’ conference was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Every three years the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation holds an international show of the latest in Botanical art. The conference is held concurrently with the opening of the show at the Hunt. Pittsburgh is an incredible city, full of vitality and energy! It is the home of the Phipps Conservatory, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. I took advantage of the classes that were unique to Pittsburgh; choosing a behind the scenes tour of the Bug Collection at The Carnegie Museum of National History that also included a talk about artist and entomologist Andrey Avinoff (1884-1949). Avinoff, a former director of the Museum, created the plates for the very rare tome Wild Flowers of Western Pennsylvania and the Upper Ohio Basin, 1953.

The following day I went to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh – where we were treated to a talk about bird adaptation accompanied by the very funny Gonzo, a Yellow Naped Amazon Parrot, the Elegant Dumbledore, a Eurasian Eagle Owl and Elvis, a very cute African Penguin. We had an hour to wander around the Aviary, not enough time indeed. I could hang out with the birds for days! Enjoy this slide show of pics from my two very unique classes in the fun city of Pittsburgh. An inspirational weekend indeed!