Botanical Arts and Crafts

Botanical Arts and Crafts

The Art of Science. The Science of Art.

Get in touch with your inner artist by taking a class in botanical drawing, painting, or photography or by attending one of our hands-on, nature-inspired craft workshops. You will find options for all interests and skill levels. These classes, taught by accomplished, professional artists, will not only allow you to increase your skills but will also enhance your understanding of the natural world.

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Point of Contact

Laura Northern Venhaus

Director of the Libraries and Research Public Engagement

Get in touch with your inner artist by taking a class in botanical drawing, painting, or photography or by attending one of our hands-on, nature-inspired craft workshops. You will find options for all interests and skill levels. These classes, taught by accomplished, professional artists, will not only allow you to increase your skills but will also enhance your understanding of the natural world.

Upcoming Events

Introduction to Botanical Watercolors

Perfect for beginners!

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This  full day workshop is designed for those who would like to learn how to capture the beauty of nature in watercolor. It is especially designed for beginners who have never picked up a brush before. We will cover all the basics of watercolor painting, including papers, paints, basic techniques, lighting, staging your subject etc. Participants will paint at least one subject (flower, vegetable, fruit etc) from live material during the class. Those who have paints and brushes that have been sitting idle on a shelf for years are encouraged to bring them. We will provide paper, palettes, a limited selection of paints and brushes and other materials (pencils, erasers etc). Watercolor painting will give you new ways to view and observe nature. Even those who claim that they can't draw a stick-figure will be surprised at what they can really do.  Please bring a brown bag lunch and any snacks you might want as we'll be working through lunch!

Instructor Denis Benjamin practiced pediatric pathology at the children’s hospital in Seattle and later at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth.  Now retired from medical practice he devotes his energy to natural history and documenting wildflowers and mushrooms with photography and watercolors. The latter was inspired by a workshop with the noted Russian botanical artist (Alexander - Sasha - Viazmensky). He is the author of Mushrooms: Poisons and Panaceas (1995, WH Freeman and Co. NY, NY) and Musings of a Mushroom Hunter: A Natural History of Foraging (2010 Tembe Press, Cle Elum, WA) He now lives in Fort Worth and is a Research Associate at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. He is a member of the High Country Artists in Cle Elum, WA and the Society of Watercolor Artists in Fort Worth.

$85 members/$95 non-members

Botanical Watercolors: Next Steps

Develop your watercolor skills.

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This one day intensive workshop will build on the skills learned in Introduction to Botanical Watercolor. Students will learn tips for composition and watercolor techniques emphasizing realism of botanical subjects, and will create their own unique botanical piece. Please bring a brown bag lunch and any snacks you might want as we'll be working through lunch!

Instructor Samantha Peters is a science illustrator based in Dallas, Texas. She received her B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Neurobiology from the University of Texas at Austin and attended the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, leaving once she realized illustrating her study guides was more fun than actually studying them. Afterwards, while living in New York City, she discovered a love of botanical art through classes at the New York Botanical Garden, and decided to pursue science illustration full time, attending the graduate program in Science Illustration at California State University, Monterey Bay. Samantha currently works in the graphics department at the Dallas Zoo and is the President of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Texas Group. Member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators and the American Society of Botanical Artists.

$85 members/$95 non-members

Required Materials List

Please bring the following items to class with you:

  • Paints: Look for professional grade watercolors. Winsor Newton and Daniel Smith are good brands. I prefer tubes, but half pan kits are also very good. Avoid student-grade watercolors like Cotman brand.
    • Basic/Primary Palette: Lemon or Winsor yellow, Cadmium yellow medium, scarlet lake, quinacridone rose, french ultramarine, prussian blue, burnt sienna, neutral tint
    • Also useful: sap green, quinacridone gold, quinacridone magenta
  • Brushes: Round watercolor brushes with good points. Size 0 and 6 are good sizes, but this depends on your preference. Windsor Newton, Daniel Smith, Sceptre Gold, and Princeton are good brands. Look for a sable or synthetic/sable blend with a good point.
  • Hot pressed watercolor paper (at least 9” x 12” sheet, 140lb or 300lb): recommend Fabriano Artistico or Arches brand
  • Optional supplies (useful but not required): masking fluid, lifting preparation, permanent white gouache, ox gall fluid, white cotton gloves
  • BRIT will provide other incidental supplies.

Introduction to Botanical Illustration with Colored Pencils

Take your botanical illustrations in a new direction.

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Take your botanical illustrations in a new direction and learn how to work with colored pencils - a fun, versatile medium. The class will start with an introduction to some basic drawing techniques, making this an ideal class for individuals of all skill levels. Learn how to use colored pencils to portray perspective and plant structure, create texture, detail, and depth, and to accurately reproduce realistic color. Instructor Betsy Barry will help you experiment with different paper surfaces, learn techniques for blending and shading, and learn finishing techniques that will make your drawings stand out. Individual attention will put you on the path to create a finished botanical piece. Please bring a brown bag lunch and any snacks you might want as we'll be working through lunch!

Instructor Betsy Barry is originally from New England but she is currently living and creating in Kingwood, Texas. Her artistic process includes observing the small things around her that she finds interesting and beautiful, then studying the subject and drawing directly from life, striving to capture its beauty in colored pencil, graphite pencil or pen & ink.

In 2015, Barry completed the Distance Learning Diploma Course with the Society of Botanical Artists London, graduating with Distinction. You can see her work at her website: https://www.betsybarry.com/ 

Member ASBA, American Society of Botanic Artists, Member CPSA, Colored Pencil Society of America, Member GNSI, Guild of Natural Science Illustrator

$85 members/$95 non-members

Required Materials List

Please bring the following items to class with you:

  • Graphite pencils - one each (2B, 4B, HB, 2H, 4H)
  • Hand held pencil sharpener
  • White eraser
  • Assortment of colored pencils: Faber-Castell Polychromos is my preferred brand and can be purchased online through quality art supply stores, ie: Dick Blick etc.. Colors should include a variety of greens, browns, grays and any other colors on hand.
  • Sketchbook : Canson Mixed Media sketch, minimum size 7x10. This is a great all around paper that works well for colored pencil work
  • Finish quality paper: Bristol 500 Plate surface and Stonehenge paper are good choices. A good quality, HOT Press watercolor paper or Bristol Paper are preferred, but it is a very individual choice! Can be purchased in a pad or as individual sheets.
  • BRIT will provide other incidental supplies.