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Botanical Illustration

Denver Botanic Gardens' School of Botanical Art and Illustration program is designed to offer a comprehensive series of classes in botanical illustration, providing participants the drawing and painting skills required to render accurate and useful depictions of the plant world with a focus on detail. This program is for the dedicated illustrator, as well as the devoted amateur. It culminates in a portfolio and certificate for some students and offers an ongoing program of botanical illustration classes for others.


Attendance is required at the first class for all required courses. Please contact the program manager for the attendance policy on elective courses.


Please make sure that you have completed all the pre-requisites for this class by the time of the first session. Materials list for each course is attached to your registration confirmation.


Cancellation Policy: Cancellations more than one week prior to a class are subject to a 15% cancellation fee. Cancellations with less than one weeks notice are non-refundable; please consider your payment a donation to the Gardens.

Sacred Doorways- Byzantine Iconography

More than a decorative element, color plays a very important role in Byzantine iconography, which is one of the oldest art forms to survive unchanged for the past 2,000 years. Students are introduced to both the practical and the theoretical part of the iconographic tradition (iconology). You’ll use natural materials: wood panels gessoed with naturally ground, genuine gold leaf and egg tempera made from natural pigments. You’ll learn the language of light, color, image and symbol, with the iconic symbolism explained alongside the technical instruction.


Prerequisite: Open for beginners as well as more experienced icon painters.


Fee: $260 member, $310 non-member.



Mon, Aug. 26, Sep. 9, 16, 23, 30, 6-9 p.m.

Instructor: Laurence Pierson



Scratchboard for Fine Details

Pen and ink on clayboard surface is one of the most adaptable and forgiving combinations of pigment, medium and surface. All fear of using ink is gone! Discover the excitement of scratchboard, where contrasts in textures and values produce dramatic and luminous effects. Choose your favorite subject matter, either a conifer cone or another subject with plenty of details, and create a stunning composition. Learn the techniques to convey form, shading, textures and spatial perspective in your composition. The beautiful dried or dormant fruits of winter will provide inspiration for your finished plate in this inspiring weekend workshop. Fee: $240 member, $290 non-member. Prerequisites: Botanical Illustration in Pen and Ink I, Perfecting Perspective, Light on Form.

• Fri-Sun, Nov. 1-3, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Instructor: Charlotte Ricker



Textures in Watercolor Pencil

Explore the versatility of watercolor pencils. Begin with color studies to explore the qualities of watercolor pencils as they translate from pencil into liquid color. Experiment with graphite, ink and colored pencil as complementary media. These new skills are used to create a finished botanical plate in this fresh and fluid medium.


Prerequisites: Light on Form, Color Mixing, Color Layering for Colored Pencil.


Fee: $260 member, $310 non-member.


Date(s): Mon, Oct. 28, Nov. 4, 11, 18, 25, 9 a.m. – noon


Instructor: Renee Jorgensen

Virginia Woolf and Flowers

“Our Orchard is the very place to sit and talk for hours.” —Virginia Woolf about the Monk’s House garden and orchard


Adeline Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) often reflected on plants and flowers in her writings and was greatly inspired by the beautiful garden, with flowers and fruit trees, of the Monk’s House, managed by her husband. Learn about the symbolism in Woolf’s writings and how she used flowers to express her emotions. Demonstrations and individual help guide you toward a finished plate that tells your own story using flowers to express ideas, feelings and emotions.


Prerequisite: Botanical Illustration in Watercolor I.


Fee: $260 member, $310 non-member.


Date(s): Thu, Oct. 17, 24, 31, Nov. 7, 14, 6-9 p.m.


Instructor: Laurence Pierson

Virtual Teaching: This Is How We Do It!- Introduction to Botanical Illustration One on One

Whether you have no experience with drawing or have forgotten what you learned way back when, this overview is the class for you. Learn scientific illustration techniques so you can draw what you see. Learn about contour drawing, foreshortening, positive/negative space and value to help you build a foundation and give you the confidence to enter the world of botanical illustration.


Available on request. For more information, contact sbai@botanicgardens.org.

Duration: 1.5 hours.

Fee: $150/one-on-one session ($110/session/person for groups of 2-6).

No prerequisites.

Instructor: Meredith Feniak




1. The program begins with an introduction to drawing techniques.

2. Students learn about the applications of observational drawing in scientific studies.

3. Students have time to practice observational drawings.

4. Time is allowed for questions and answers.


-Increase accuracy of student drawings for note-taking and projects

-Improve observational skills

-Deepen understanding of structure and function

-Help more effectively communicate scientific findings

-For school groups, highlight information important in the science curriculum


Wall as Canvas: The Basics of Painting Murals

Learn how to paint interior and exterior walls with your own designs in this introduction to mural painting. The process, tools and techniques (as well as a few trade secrets) are discussed, but this is also a hands-on course. Experience going large by painting our classroom wall, which will be removed for repairs. Have a go!

No prerequisites


Fee: $275 member, $325 non-member. Includes fee for supplies provided (specified in the materials list). .


Date(s): Fri-Sun, July 26-28, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Instructor: Meredith Feniak


Winged Victory: Insects and Plants in Watercolor

Pollination is the preeminent association between flowering plants and insects. There is, however, many other important plant-insect interactions, both beneficial and harmful. Knowledge of these relationships can help us better comprehend the forces of ecological balance. During this workshop, learn more about both beneficial and harmful relationships between local insects and plants. Learn about insect anatomy and use this knowledge to create an illustration of a combination of a host plant and the insect. Work with watercolor and develop the fine details and texture using a nib with the water media. Your plate will tell an interpretative story from your neighborhood.

Prerequisite: Botanical Illustration in Watercolor I.

Fee: $260 member, $310 non-member

Date(s): Fri, Sep 20, 27, Oct. 4, 18, 25, 3-6 p.m.

Instructor: Alifie Rojas, Mexico

Alifie Rojas is a Mexican illustrator visiting Denver Botanic Gardens to study and illustrate Colorado’s regional insects. She began practicing watercolor techniques in the early 1990s and by 1999, began specializing in scientific illustration. Her work has been presented in individual and collective exhibitions, and has been published in Mexico and the U.S. She also illustrated the book “Medicinal Plants” by Rosita Arvigo.


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