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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.

Embossed Botanicals

Embossing is an art form used to raise a shape from the surface of paper. The embossed shape casts a delicate shadow and, when combined with color, creates an elegant effect. We provide decorative letter and flower patterns, and you learn how to design, cut a stencil and choose the best paper surfaces for embossed subjects. Finish your project with ink or colored pencil accents and leave the class with an elegantly embossed design.

No prerequisites.

Fee: $$290 member, $$340 non-member.

Date(s):

Wed, April 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20, 6-9 p.m.

Instructor: Renee Jorgensen

 

Explore the Galleries and Living Collections (Charcoal)

Drawing at a large scale can be daunting, but with charcoal it is surprisingly quick! Charcoal is easier to control than most media, and in this class you will get your hands dirty while we complete four large, loose drawings. Modeled after a classic figure drawing class, we will work at standing easels (perhaps working up to 22” x 30”) and focus on single central subjects in the newly opened Freyer-Newman Center galleries. Afterward, we will go outside and concentrate on the Gardens’ conifers.

Note: We will be standing for the entirety of each three-hour class (no drawing horses are available for seated drawing).

No prerequisites.

Fee: $275 member, $325 non-member.

Date(s):

Wed, Sep. 9, 16, 23, 30, Oct. 7, 9 a.m. – noon

Instructor: Meredith Feniak

 

Ferns Uncovered

Ferns predate most other plant species on Earth, and the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory is home to specimens of many varieties that continue to thrive today. Their delicate structures and textures are fascinating to study and a pleasure to illustrate—in fact, ferns have been illustrated for more than 1,500 years! Working in pencil and brush, you’ll develop pigment-free values and master seamless gradations from lightest light to darkest dark without the usual graphite sheen. Concentrate on the stem-like rhizomes, leafy fronds and sporangia underneath the leaves. Learn to draw complex detail without losing overall form. All the skills that you learn in this class can be transferred to any other medium, improving your overall confidence in your artistic skills.

Prerequisite: Botanical Illustration in Pencil II.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Tue, March 24, 31, April 14, 21, 28, 9 a.m. – noon

Instructor: Randy Raak

 

From Seed to Plant

We are fascinated by process, so let’s start at the beginning and illustrate the seed first. Learn how to sprout a bean seed for observation and document its development week by week as the sprout adds roots and foliage. The process begins with a talk by a Gardens’ expert on seed selection and development as well as directions for scientific observation. In weekly color illustrations, you’ll note changes as the plant begins to grow. In the meantime, you’ll have a mature plant to illustrate in graphite as a backdrop for your weekly botanical snapshots. Learn how to integrate two compositions in different media for an effective presentation. Over the course of five weeks, you’ll see your plant change from seed to shoot to seedling, and you’ll gain a better understanding of germination and growth to share through your own botanical plate in colored pencil and graphite.

Prerequisites: Botanical Illustration in Colored Pencil I, Composition for Boatnical illustration, Botany for the Botanical Illustrator.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Mon, April 27, May 4, 11, 18, June 1, 6-9 p.m.

Instructor: Susan DiMarchi

 

Improve Your Handwriting

Handwriting is becoming a lost art since email and text messaging are now our primary written communication methods. Researchers suggest that developing writing skills will aid in the visual identification of graphic shapes. This workshop will teach you how to develop and improve your handwriting skills using simple methods. With practice, you will be able to make neater writing a habit.

No prerequisites.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Mon, April 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, 9 a.m. - noon

Instructor: Renee Jorgensen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light on Form

Take your drawings from flat to fabulous. The secret to portraying light and shadow on your subjects lies in understanding the scientific method of lighting as it applies to different forms. Beginning with basic geometric shapes, refine your skills in showing light and volume on any subject. The class will work entirely in graphite pencil, but the principles apply to all other media. As you progress from fruits and vegetables to leaves and flowers to entire plants with complex shapes, you will overcome the obstacles in creating three-dimensional drawings.

Prerequisite: Botanical Illustration in Pencil I.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Tue, Jan. 14, 21, 28, Feb. 4, 11, 9 a.m. – noon

Instructor: Constance Sayas

 

Fri-Sun, March 13-15, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Instructor: Randy Raak

 

Tue, Oct. 20, 27, Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24, 6-9 p.m.

Instructor: Constance Sayas

 

Thu, Oct. 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12, 19, 1-4 p.m.

Instructor: Laurence Pierson

 

Fri-Sun, Dec. 4-6, 9 a.m.  2:30 p.m.

Instructor: TBA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old and Original: Focus on Jurassic Flora

The Jurassic period began over 200 million years ago. When you think of the Jurassic, you might think of plant-eating brachiosaurs and diplodocus ... most people do. But these massive plant-eating dinosaurs could not have survived without a food source. In this class, learn about the flora that covered the subtropical Earth during this period, then select and illustrate one of its modern relatives. Whether defining the fine detail of ginkgo leaves or the complexity of cycads and yews, combine line techniques acquired in Botanical Illustration in Pen and Ink I and II with newly mastered quill pen finesse to create a pen and ink illustration you’re sure to frame.

Prerequisite: Botanical Illustration in Pen and Ink II.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Mon, March 16, 23, 30, April 6, 13, 9 a.m. – noon

Instructor: Marjorie Leggitt

 

Perfecting Perspective

Do you shy away from complicated plants? Even experienced illustrators sometimes struggle with foreshortening and simplify their subjects to eliminate difficult elements. Work with botanical subjects that demonstrate each aspect of perspective and learn techniques for seeing and depicting perspective accurately. The class will work entirely in graphite pencil, but the principles apply to all art media. Gain confidence in your drafting skills and improve your drawings from this class forward.

Prerequisite: Light on Form.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Mon, Jan. 13, 20, 27, Feb. 10, 17, 9 a.m. – noon

Instructor: Marjorie Leggitt

 

Fri-Sun, Sep. 25-27, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Instructor: Marjorie Leggitt

 

Roses in Reality

Native to the Northern Hemisphere, roses evolved millions of years ago, before North America separated from Eurasia. Of the estimated 159 species of wild roses, more than half are endemic to China. Ever since the Greek and Roman Empires, no flower has captured the human imagination in quite the same way. Start by studying rose paintings from masters of the past such as Alfred Parsons and Pierre-Joseph Redouté. Learn how to draw the complex petal configurations, contrasting luminous and velvety petal textures, prickles and thorns. Practice techniques from wet-on-wet to drybrush and learn how to use them appropriately. You will leave this class with a finished, exquisite rose painting!

Prerequisite: Botanical Illustration in Watercolor I.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Wed, Nov. 11, 18, 25, Dec. 2, 9, 1-4 p.m.

Instructor: Constance Sayas

 

 

 

 

Scratching the Surface

Discover the potential and excitement of scratchboard, where contrasts in textures and values produce dramatic, luminous effects. Unlike any other medium, ink is correctible and, by using a blade, you can combine black-and-white lines and dots, which are the basis of ink textures. Students will add color as an accent to highlight areas of specific botanical interest or to create a compositional element. Demonstrations and examples show you how to create a vast range of textures to portray subjects with detail and accuracy. Choose favorite subjects from nature to create a composition, then sketch, transfer and render them in ink or pencil on white scratchboard using techniques to convey form, shading, textures and spatial placement. Students will work toward completing at least one final illustration.

Prerequisites: Botanical Illustration in Pen and Ink I, entry-level color media.

Fee: $280 member, $330 non-member.

Date(s):

Fri-Sun, April 24-26, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Instructor: Randy Raak

Sculpt a Paper Bouquet - ONLINE

Learn how to make paper flowers and leaves by cutting, coloring and shaping paper. These paper flowers can also serve as specimen models for your botanical illustration classes. Each of the weekly 2-hour zoom sessions will be different:

Week One: Phalaenopsis Orchids in Colored Pencil

Week Two: Roses in Watercolor

Week Three: Tropical Leaves in Mixed Media

 

No pre-requisites - open to all.

Fee: $130 member, $165 non-member.

Dates and Times: Thu, July 30, Aug. 6, 13, 9-11AM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Instructor: Meredith Feniak

 

Spines and Shadows: The Magic is in Perspective

Cacti are botanical subjects that present all kinds of fun perspective challenges! In this class, discover how cacti conform to basic geometric forms. Practice building a realistic linear model using the three-step perspective method. Learn about the principles of cast shadows through observing the effects of light falling on spines. Experiment with combining watercolor, graphite and hints of colored pencil to create a colorful composition of a cactus of your choice.

Prerequisites: Color Layering for Colored Pencil, Color Mixing, Perfecting Perspective.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Tue, May 5, 12, 19, 26, June 2, 1-4 p.m.

Instructor: Marjorie Leggitt

 

Spring Bouquet with Graphite and Watercolor

Challenge your drawing skills and merge them with your watercolor expertise. Your favorite flowers and botanical subjects will be analyzed for the best approach to drawing strategies. Focus on developing a delicate hand with a smooth graphite tone. You will start with a pale pencil underdrawing, or grisaille, which will allow you to tackle a watercolor painting with confidence. You’ll achieve continuous tone both in your graphite and watercolor washes. Demonstrations and individual help will guide you toward a finished work as you discover a set of new skills and tricks ready for use in your future illustrations.

Prerequisite: Botanical Illustration in Watercolor Pencil I.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Thu, May 7, 14, 21, 28, June 4, 1-4 p.m.

Instructor: Laurence Pierson

 

Textures in Colored Pencils on Mylar

Beauty is in the details: fuzzy, thorny, smooth, matte, shiny, crinkly or translucent. Learn to see detail in a new way that allows you to create realistic textures using a variety of colored pencil techniques. Through guided exercise and practice, assemble a collection of texture technique studies that you can reference for all future drawings. As you learn to interpret the surface of your specimen more intuitively, new methods for producing that texture in colored pencil will become rewarding and fun.

Prerequisite: Botanical Illustration in Colored Pencil II.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Mon, April 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, 1-4 p.m.

Instructor: Susan DiMarchi

 

The Magic of Moths in Ink and Color

William H. Lizars (1788-1859) of Edinburgh was an established portrait and genre painter who went to work in the book trade and created plates for “British Butterflies” and J.J. Audubon's “The Birds of America.” Lizars experimented with new techniques and is perhaps best known for his colored insect and bird illustrations on monochromatic habitat backgrounds. During this class we concentrate on moths. Moths are masters of disguise. They can camouflage to hide from predators, and, because of their large numbers, moths are a significant source of food to other species in the ecosystem. These nocturnal insects are as beautiful as butterflies but are hidden from us in the dark. Working in ink and your choice of color media, design a final plate in the scientific style of Lizars.

Prerequisites: Botanical Illustration in Pen and Ink I, Botanical Illustration in Colored Pencil I or Botanical Illustration in Watercolor I.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Mon, Oct. 26, Nov. 2, 9, 16, 23, 6-9 p.m.

Instructor: Susan DiMarchi

 

The Skin of Trees: Expressive Ink Textures in Bark on Mylar

We often overlook bark, the structured and always important part of the plant, and only focus on leaves and flowers. You will discover the diversity of tree bark while stepping away from tradition to try new techniques and learn about this essential protective element of the tree. Trade your technical pen for a quill and brush and learn to express ink lines in a relaxed and painterly fashion. Begin with a look at how other artists have used ink expressively. Demonstration and practice with the new tools and colored inks prepares you to start your own drawing. Choose a botanical subject and experiment with techniques for successfully depicting line, form and texture. Make a mistake? No problem! You can erase ink from Mylar and try again. Complete a botanical study and enjoy a fresh, fun way to approach this time-honored medium.

Prerequisite: Botanical Illustration in Colored Pencil II.

Fee: $265 member, $315 non-member.

Date(s):

Wed, May 13, 20, 27, June 3, 10, 9 a.m. – noon

Instructor: Susan DiMarchi

 

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