How To Draw Plants – Learn About Making Botanical Drawings


By: Teo Spengler

Botanical illustration has a long history and dates backlong before cameras were developed. At that time, making these hand drawingswas the only way to convey to someone in a different location what a plantlooked like.

Even today, when it’s easier than ever to take photos thanksto cell phones, botanical images have a role to play and many find sketchingplants a relaxing hobby. Read on for botanical drawing information, includingtips on how to draw plants yourself.

Botanical Drawing Information

Photographs cannot take the place of botanicalillustrations. Artists making drawings of plants can provide detail that aphotograph may not reveal. This is especially true for cross section drawingsthat include many layers of detail in a plant.

Whether you want to be a botanical artist or just want tolearn how to draw plants in general, it’s useful to get advice and informationfrom those who do it for a living.

Making Botanical Drawings

You don’t have to be a botanical artist professionally inorder to want to know how to draw a plant. It’s useful for anyone who may bekeeping a plantjournal and wants to draw the various stagesof growth of garden plants or record different plants encountered on ahike.

To get started, you will need drawing pencils, watercolor orcolored pencils, watercolor paper and/or a sketch book. Buy the best drawingsupplies you can afford since better products make drawing easier.

If you are wondering exactly how to draw plants, the firststep is to acquire basic knowledge about plant anatomy. A plant is more thanpetals and leaves, and the more information you have about the different plantparts, the better you will be at making botanical drawings.

It’s useful to have some help when you get started. Goonline and find resources or videos created by those in the field, like John Muir Laws, for example.These will give you basic techniques that will assist you to draw plantsaccurately for field sketching or careful botanical illustrations.

Advice on Botanical Illustration

Artists who create botanical drawings offer tips for peoplejust getting started. They suggest that you don’t worry about producing aperfect image when you are starting out, just draw many different plants todevelop confidence.

Make a rough draft first, then try to refine it. Don’t beimpatient. It is a practice that improves your skills over time. Keep tryingand don’t rush. Take as long as you need to capture the look of a plant.Patience and practice are key factors to keep in mind and soon even you can bea botanical artist.

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About

Draw Botanical is a community built on sharing a love of creating botanical art. We teach students at all levels of experience from beginner to advanced to help them draw regularly in manageable chunks of time. Our program combines extensive step-by-step videos, PDFs, livestreams, and community participation and feedback. Join us and be rewarded with an experience unlike any other for if you slow down and practice these techniques, not only will you learn to draw, but you will experience a close and personal relationship with the cycle of life, exploring plants and flowers on a micro level, almost the way an insect does.

Our Mission

We teach confident self-expression through botanical art.

Here’s How We Do It!

Create and build a community of students around the world, at all skill levels, with a life-changing experience that will foster the art of slowing down to observe and capture the natural world through an ongoing botanical drawing practice, and facilitate growth in the level of skill and the quality of our students’ work.

Botanical Drawing Education

As far as we can tell, the act of botanical drawing is enriching for everyone who tries it. You may find that slowing down your mind to attune to the exquisite beauty of nature can have healing properties. Some people compare it to falling in love. We believe that everyone can benefit from a little botanical drawing, and so we make it our job to teach it to you in a way that is inclusive and fun.

The Draw Botanical Method

The Draw Botanical Method is centered around the teachings of Wendy Hollender, renowned botanical illustrator. We use colored pencil and watercolor to create realistic, three-dimensional plant illustrations.

Our lessons and content are based on the following books:
The Joy of Botanical Drawing by Wendy Hollender
Botanical Drawing: A Beginner’s Guide by Wendy Hollender
Botanical Drawing in Color by Wendy Hollender
The Practice of Botanical Drawing by Wendy Hollender

If you attend an in-person workshop with one of our instructors, you can expect expertise in the Draw Botanical Method, as well as a supportive environment to grow your practice. We teach using a combination of hands-on demonstrations and lectures. You’ll have plenty of individualized feedback, quiet drawing time, and we’ll often lead you on an adventure to hunt plant specimens!

Over many years of teaching in-person drawing workshops, we know that it can sometimes be hard to stay motivated. We strive to bring you the camaraderie and connection of an on-site workshop in a digital environment. We have created an image-focused forum (Art Feed) where you can receive feedback, motivation, connect with students, and build a botanical drawing portfolio. Join our vibrant, supportive community to make friends, share ideas, and get feedback from artists around the globe.

Our Instructors

Wendy Hollender is a botanical artist, illustrator, instructor, and author whose internationally-recognized career has spanned decades. She is a leading expert in using colored pencils and watercolor pencils to create detailed botanical drawings and paintings. Her illustrations have been published in the New York Times O, The Oprah Magazine Real Simple Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart Living magazine. She is currently an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and leads workshops at her farm in Accord, New York, at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, and Greece. View Wendy’s Draw Botanical Portfolio.

– BFA in Textile Design from the Rhode Island School of Design
– Certified by the New York Botanical Garden in Botanical Art and Illustration
– Featured in the 13th International Exhibition at Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation
– Exhibited by Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, the Smithsonian National Museum for Natural History and the US Botanic Garden
– Author of The Joy of Botanical Drawing, Botanical Drawing in Color and the self-published Botanical Drawing, A Beginner’s Guide, and she is the illustrator of Foraging and Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi.
– Member of the National Tropical Botanical Garden Florilegium of Artists

Veronica (Vern) Fannin is an artist and graphic designer. She has been drawing botanicals since 2015, honing her skills under the guidance of Wendy’s teachings. She first became familiar with Draw Botanical techniques when Wendy hired her to do graphic design for her online classes and book projects. Vern was a quick study and is now a talented botanical illustrator and instructor. She has experience with graphic design, typography, hand-lettering, and illustration in marker, pen, colored pencil, and digital brush. View Vern’s Draw Botanical Portfolio.
vernfannin.com

– BA in Studio Art from New College of Florida
– MFA in Interior Design from Florida State University
– Author of A is for Asparagoose
– Instructor at Draw Botanical and on-location workshops since 2016
– Member of the National Tropical Botanical Garden Florilegium of Artists

Doug Milne trained as a residential interior designer and architectural draftsperson in New York City. He began to study with Wendy in 2008 at the New York Botanical Garden. Doug, a resident of the Hudson Valley, continued his studies with Wendy at Hollengold Farm when she established her program there in 2009. For the past 4 years, Doug has led a Botanical Drawing Class at Cornell Cooperative Extension as part of the Master Gardener Workshop Series. View Doug’s Draw Botanical Portfolio.

– New York Botanical Garden Horticulture Certificate
– Several botanical solo exhibitions
– Member of the National Tropical Botanical Garden Florilegium of Artists

Sam (Samantha) McWilliams is an artist from San Francisco, CA, with a BFA in painting and drawing from California College of the Arts. Since 2002 she has worked as a tattoo artist with a focus on precise lines and botanicals. She has a background in organic farming and gardening through Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center in Marin, CA, and worked with youth to integrate art and gardening into San Francisco’s public schools. Sam joined the Draw Botanical community in 2018, in her first course with Wendy and Vern on Kauai. She is dedicated to the ocean as a surfer and outrigger canoe paddler, and has resided with her wife in Vancouver, BC, Canada since 2015. View Sam’s Draw Botanical Portfolio.
sammcwilliams.com

Katy Lyness was born in Pittsburgh, PA and raised in the American south and midwest. She moved to Manhattan in 1984, where she studied at the Art Student’s League and Columbia University Teachers College. While living in NYC she used her artistic skills in various ways, including printmaking, mural painting, and photo retouching. In 2000 she moved from her small New York apartment to a house in Jersey City with a backyard. There she was able to create her own version of Eden: a beautiful urban garden, which now features flowers, berries, fruit, vegetables, and two thriving beehives. Initially, botanical art was just an excuse to linger in the garden, however, several years and many sketchbooks later, she enrolled in the Botanical Illustration Program at the New York Botanical Garden. She now teaches botanical drawing there. She also teaches classes at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ. Her Work has been represented in the ASBA Annual international Exhibition. View Katy’s Draw Botanical Portfolio.

– MA , Columbia University Teachers College
– Member of the American Society of Botanical Artists
– Member of Tri-State Botanical Artists


How to make DIY botanical wall art

What you will need

Image credit: Furniture & Choice

  • Four square wood boards
  • Wood wax
  • Picture hooks and wire
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Four staghorn ferns
  • Fishing wire
  • Hessian fabric
  • Upholstery nails

1. Prepare the wood

Image credit: Furniture & Choice

Seal your four wooden boards with wax. This helps to protect the surface of the wood and achieves an even finish.

Attach the picture hooks and wire to the back of the wooden boards.

2. Draw around the plant pot

Image credit: Furniture & Choice

Use a pencil to trace around the bottom of the plant pot on the front part of the wooden boards. The outline should be around 2.5cm wider than the plant’s circumference.

3. Hammer in the nails

Image credit: Furniture & Choice

Hammer eight nails along the pencilled outline. Leave approximately 1cm between each nail.

Related: Garden trellis ideas to add planting screens to garden fences, walls and more

4. Prepare your plants

Image credit: Furniture & Choice

Decant the plants from their pots, ready for mounting. Dip the ferns into water to hydrate before assembling.

5. Secure your ferns

Image credit: Furniture & Choice

Keep the potting soil at the base of your plants. Place the staghorn fern on the wooden board within the circle of nails. Pack wet sphagnum moss around the base of the fern. Make sure it stays within the circle.

Wrap fishing wire around the nails to secure the moss. Try also wrapping it diagonally across the fern leaves.

6. Protect with hessian

Image credit: Furniture & Choice

Cut hessian fabric slightly larger than the plant. Wrap it around the moss and soil to stop it spilling out. Fasten with upholstery nails. Repeat for the rest of the stag horn ferns and wooden boards.

7. Hang your DIY botanical wall art

Image credit: Furniture & Choice


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School of Botanical Art & Illustration

Learn the skills to render plants in remarkable scientific detail and the artistic techniques needed to create beautiful and lasting plant portraits.

Botanical art and illustration is the centuries­-old tradition of portraying plants for scientific purposes, recording vanishing species for historical record, and capturing the beauty and inspiration we experience in the flora of our world.

In our School of Botanical Art & Illustration, the core curriculum provides comprehensive instruction in the artistic techniques aesthetic vision you’ll need to render plants in remarkable scientific detail, creating beautiful and lasting plant portraits.

  • Beginners acquire new knowledge and skills, and experienced artists refine their techniques and find fresh directions for their work. Instructors meet participants where they are in the botanical art and illustration journey. All students enjoy small classes in a positive and encouraging atmosphere.
  • Nearly 200 courses and workshops are offered each year. Those interested are encouraged to sample the program with an introductory course or jump right into the core curriculum.

Refund and Cancellation Policy
Cancellations more than one week prior to a class are subject to a 15 percent cancellation fee. Cancellations less than one week prior to class are non-refundable.

Requirements for Individual Courses
Attendance is required at the first class for all courses.

Helpful Links

  • Spring 2021 Course Preview
  • Foundational Certificate Program Overview
  • Registration opened Monday, March 1 at 10 a.m. for a variety of April 1 - June 30, 2021 online courses as well as limited in-person classes
  • Application for Diploma in Botanical Illustration
  • 2020 Illustrator / Artist-in-Residence Program information and application
  • Botanical Illustration Foundational Certificate Program Self-Tracking Form
  • Scholarship Programinformation and application (2021 application deadline was Nov. 15, 2020)
  • Sign up for our Art & Exhibitions and School of Botanical Art & Illustration e-newsletters
  • Follow us on Facebook to get the latest scoop on new courses, fresh faces and fun art activities, including new ways to share your artwork
  • Email the School of Botanical Art & Illustration

Weather Advisory Line
720-865-3620
In the event of inclement weather, please call this number for information on program cancellations.

Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art & Illustration celebrates 40 years of beautiful, scientific art education. The school also celebrates the 30th anniversary of its certificate program.

In the coming years, the school looks forward to continuing its renowned scientific illustration courses while broadening the scope to include many other forms of botanical art.


Watch the video: How to Draw Trees


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