Yucca glauca


This is an example of a  scientific botanical illustration done in pen and ink on drafting film. It represents the complete life cycle of Yucca glauca developed from several months of study. Sketches from direct observation and photo references were used to depict the different stages of growth and individual parts of the plant. I was fortunate to accidentally obtain some  yucca moths which were in several of the blossoms I collected. This species of moth has evolved along with the yucca to be the only pollinator of this plant. It is one of only a few pollinators in the plant world to accomplish the fertilization process on purpose instead of as a result of collecting pollen or nectar for it’s own use.

GNSI member show in Boulder,CO

secratery bird blog

This year’s juried show will be exhibited at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the Museum of Natural History’s Anthropology Hall and will feature works by GNSI members in both traditional and digital, 2D and 3D media. My work Secretary Bird, graphite on paper, will be on display at this show, April 19 – September 25. The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators will hold this years conference and annual meeting in Boulder, CO on July 13 -19. I also supplied the guild with this year’s conference logo, depicting a Turkey Buzzard Soaring over the Flat Irons.

Botanical Landscapes

This is a class I’ll be teaching at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Essentially a plain air watercolor painting class focusing on garden scenes. Below are a series of photos I’ll be using as examples of my process for capturing this particular scene.


Starting with a simple line drawing in graphite on 9″ x 12″ Arches hot press watercolor block  –



I then lay in a light “ghost wash” making sure to leave the whites –


And continue to add darker areas until deciding I am done. About two and one half hours start to finish. The last thing to do is to add some white gauche to the pink watercolor paint which allowes me to use an opaque light color over the darker background suggesting the small phlox blossoms with out getting too fiddly.


Here’s what the camera saw when capturing the same scene.

By Randy Raak