Friday, June 5, 2020

Where can you learn how to do botanical art from life?

When I dropped out of art school, my learning curve accelerated, because I gave myself the kind of assignments I really wanted, such as trying to understand botanical forms by painting them from direct observation on living plants.

As far as I knew around 1980 in Los Angeles, no art school was teaching botanical painting from life, so I had to figure it out on my own.

(Link to Instagram post) These studies became part of the book "The Artist's Guide to Sketching, 1982.

Other resources
Now there actually are a couple of schools devoted to the artistic study of plants, though of course at the moment they're closed with the Covid-19 precautions. One of them is in New York at the NY Botanical Garden, and another is in Denver at the Botanic Gardens. The Rhode Island School of Design has a Nature Lab, from which students can borrow specimens to study.

Video tutorials
"Gouache in the Wild" (Download on Gumroad)
How to Make a Sketch Easel” (DVD)
Flower Painting in the Wild
More info on gouache gear
Gouache Materials List
Watercolor Materials
Color and Light: A Guide for Realist Painters:
Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist
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Amanda said...

If you are anywhere near an arboretum, check with them. Many of them, such as the Morton Arboretum, the Holden Arboretum outside of Cleveland, the New York Botanic Gardens, have Botanical Art & Illustration programs. I'd taken art classes in other places, including college, but the Morton was where I learned to draw not just plants but whatever I was observing, accurately and clearly.

D Angela said...

Botanical Illustration Course with the Eden Project ISBN 978071349053 might be a good resource as well

D Angela said...

Botanical Illustration Course with the Eden Project might be a good resource as well ISBN 9780713490053

Kia said...

Cornell Continuing Education has a three-part course.

There are lots of organizations, worldwide, if you’re in the US the ASBA is good to know about, and there are regional ones as well

If you are on Facebook there are several groups where some of the pros offer courses. botanical Art for Beginners is one of those but it’s fscebook so it can get fraught. Another group called Botanical Artists split off from it because the beginners were feeling intimidated by the skill of the pros. Those are the two that are not too silly.

James Gurney said...

D Angela and Kia, thanks for sharing those resources for learning botanical art. I would add the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, which goes beyond plants to include insects and dinosaurs and such, but it's a very nice and talented and helpful group of people.

And thanks, Amanda. And the Denver Botanic Gardens have a really great set of classes for all levels.