By Kathlyn Powell, Tricia Powell, Lilly Linden and Crystal McCaughey (Kat’s scriptsit)
The first BAGSC meeting of 2020 at The Huntington was approaching. As membership chair, I noticed that there was a new member close by, so, for carpooling purposes, I contacted her. I was delighted to find that Lilly was a biology researcher! What luck, as I have a degree in biology and worked in the field. So, I scooped her up en route and we got on splendidly! Then, at the meeting, another lovely young illustrator and volunteer at The Huntington Botanic Gardens, Crystal (who also happened to live near us!), came over to discuss her membership. The three of us decided to sketch in the gardens after the meeting -- and what a blast we had! We got on like a house on fire, chatting, drawing, laughing, and munching our lunches.
We decided to get together as a drawing and painting circle, and had several get-togethers involving drawing, painting and delicious food. We met in person at my house for wonderful drawing sessions and we had planned more...
Then COVID hit.
Since Lilly had access and familiarity with zoom we decided to meet on a weekly basis to work on botanical art together. After some initial experimentation we found that our phones were decent stand-ins for document cameras. We started some botany discussions on plant families to familiarize ourselves with some new families.
On Crystal's suggestion we occasionally circulated our sketchbooks so each of us could grace each others’ sketchbooks and share other goodies with each other. I have included scans/photos of Lilly and Crystal’s beautiful work in my sketchbook. My niece, Trees, also joined our little group and has been part of our journey, and a photo of her first colored pencil piece is also included. Since March 2021, we have also been fortunate to be joined by artist Sally Jacobs.
When we started out back in March 2020, we needed a name! We decided upon VPIG, Valley Plant Immortalization Group. We have a whimsical logo that I designed (Photo at the top of blog) and painted as a visual joke on “carved in granite”; it resides on the first page of my sketchbook.
Currently, we meet at least once a week with cameras over our work areas so we can draw and paint together, giving each other feedback and encouragement, assisting productivity.
Most delightfully, we have become good friends.
I highly recommend the creation of virtual sketch parties wherever possible. This has been a highlight of our COVID isolation.
VPIG will keep having both virtual and in person sketch parties going forward.