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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.

Bracts and Bromeliads: Perspective Lover's Dream Come True!

Bromeliads, a family of more than 3,300 species, provide the most amazing collection of foliage colors and patterns found in the plant world. The foliage takes many different shapes, from needle thin to broad and flat, symmetrical to bizarre, soft to spiky. Bromeliads provide a habitat for many thousands of species of other plants, as well as reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, insects and other creatures. The relationship is often symbiotic, with the plant supplying water and shelter and the other organism providing protein or nutrients. These fascinating ornamental plants offer an exciting challenge in perspective, pattern and value and an outstanding opportunity to take your pen and ink skills to a new level of sophistication.

Begin the class by practicing and refining perspective skills as you work in pencil to construct a botanically correct “linear scaffold” and value map. Next, using ink, discover advanced techniques that turn stipple patterns into color and mimic variegated leaf markings. Learn how to layer and manipulate lines and stipples to develop a full range of values and atmospheric perspective. Go one step further and add a surprise inhabitant! Build a new appreciation for what can be achieved using black and white as you develop an elaborate final pen and ink plate.


Prerequisites: Botanical Illustration in Pen and Ink I, Perfecting Perspective.


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


Date(s): Tue, Oct. 15, 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12, 6-9 p.m.

Instructor: Marjorie Leggitt

Color Mixing

The first step to watercolor painting is mixing colors. Learn a system for combining colors consistently to eliminate frustrating trial and error. Exercises, demonstrations and discussion will show you how to achieve the broadest possible spectrum. Learn about paint properties and important information about choosing pigments. Practice mixing colors to match a variety of plant material. You’ll gain confidence and skills to improve your color work.

No prerequisites.

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


Tue, Oct. 15, 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12, 1-4 p.m.

Instructor: Constance Sayas


Illustrated Recipe

Apple pie? Borscht? Herbed muffins? Choose a favorite recipe and create an illustration as the perfect companion. See how other artists have illustrated recipes in cookbooks old and new. Composition is key as you arrange fruits, vegetables, herbs and cooking tools to enhance the text. Working in the color medium of your choice, create a piece that would be a delicious holiday gift or card.


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


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



Date(s): Tue, Oct. 15, 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12, 9 a.m. – noon


Instructor: Susan DiMarchi

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