About Draw Botanical
Draw Botanical is a community built on sharing a love of creating botanical art. We meet our students where they are to help them draw regularly in manageable chunks of time, with a variety of 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.
Draw Botanical’s mission is to inspire a passion for nature and art and to share the techniques of botanical drawing with students all over the world.
To 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 around them through an ongoing botanical drawing practice, and to facilitate growth in their level of skill and the quality of their work.
Wendy Hollender is a botanical artist, illustrator, author, and instructor, whose internationally-recognized career has spanned decades.
In 2014, she got the idea for Draw Botanical while running drawing demos and workshops for students in live settings.
“I got the idea because I had done a little bit of videoing to show my technique for presentations,” she says. “It turned out the videos were better for showing what I was doing close-up, better than when I was in a class. I found I was repeating myself a lot, doing the same thing over and over. I thought if I just do some videos, people could watch them and and learn from them.”
Although she wanted to say yes to anyone who invited her to teach, she couldn’t always get there. She thought that maybe an online program would work. The only barrier was thinking of a way to keep people motivated.
“I had tried a few online learning lessons, and they were good, but staying motivated was a big problem,” she says. “The piece of the puzzle that we added was a community aspect. It keeps people motivated and is very important.”
Wendy, after bringing Veronica Fannin onboard to help, launched the first iteration of Draw Botanical in early 2015.
“I sent out an email to my list, and I think one or two hundred people signed up in the first year,” she says. “That’s when I knew it would work. It was making people happy and it was fun to see the community growing together.”
Wendy says that lots of people have become friends through Draw Botanical, keeping each other motivated and encouraging each other from far-flung places like Australia, England, Canada and Asia.
She sees herself as the coach of the community.
“I’m here to cheer everyone on and give them ideas about what to do,” she says. “I give lots of help and support. I can pretty much tell anyone in two seconds what they need to do to improve your drawings. It’s not about trying to say what’s good or bad, I’m just showing very specific tips about technique.”
Building an online community has helped enable many in-person botanical drawing experiences, which provide another level of enjoyment.
Falling in Love With Botanical Drawings
“It’s fun to get to know people a bit and make them happy,” Wendy says. “Students will say that botanical drawing makes them feel like they just fell in love for the first time. In-person events can have a huge impact and it’s really gratifying to give that to people, to see them gain confidence and feel good about what they’re doing. I think the plants appreciate it too.”
As Draw Botanical continues iterating and evolving, Wendy sees the future as being even more digital.
“Who goes to galleries anymore?” she asks. “The most cool thing about technology is how people can find each other and discover talent. I still buy botanical books and go to American Society of Botanical Artist events, but I can find people’s work so easily online.”
- 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 Botanical Drawing in Color: A Basic Guide to Mastering Realistic Form and Naturalistic Color, and The Practice of Botanical Drawing
- Instructor of Botanical Art and Illustration at the New York Botanical Garden
Veronica Fannin is an illustrator and graphic designer who is as much of a part of the Draw Botanical community as Wendy is.
It all started with Vern doing some graphic design work for Foraging and Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook. Afterwards, Vern helped develop an online discussion board with Wendy where people began posting their work, a pre-cursor to today’s website. Vern started providing feedback to some of the users, and Wendy invited her to join Draw Botanical.
“I quickly realized that it was something I wanted to do, instead of just helping out,” Vern says. “When I got the supplies and started doing the lessons, I truly was having fun.”
Vern characterizes her drawing practice as the study of plants, and honoring them by drawing portraits of them.
“I seek out unusual-looking plants,” she says. “Anything unique or endangered really strikes my fancy. When we go to Hawaii, that’s the Garden of Eden of peculiar plants. I’m a science geek at heart.”
Building the Draw Botanical Community
Vern says that it’s been interesting to see the Draw Botanical community grow.
“We’ve had more international people join, which is fun, because they’re often in another season, and the language barrier can be an enjoyable challenge,” she says. “We’ve also seen students who have been with the community for a while, who gain confidence in giving more specific feedback.”
One of the biggest rewards has been seeing the growth of younger participants in the community, as well artists of all skill levels who have either already had a successful exhibition career or who are just getting started.
“It’s a very joyful, supportive community,” Vern says. “The things that we’re drawing, flowers, plants and fruits can be so beautiful. The comments, the feedback all creates a sense of that. Everyone is there to encourage everyone else.”
The Spirit of Camaraderie
Vern especially values the opportunity to spend in-person time with Draw Botanical community members.
“It’s great when someone from the online program shows up at an in-person workshop,” she says. “It’s so nice to see them and their drawings in person. There’s sort of an energy and magic that happens.”
“It’s very encouraging to work in that kind of an environment,” she adds. “We are all drawing, someone will sigh, or say ‘ugh,’ and everyone jumps in to help. It’s a nurturing, communal experience.”
- BA in Studio Art from New College of Florida
- MFA in Interior Design from Florida State University
- Artist, graphic designer
- Author of A is for Asparagoose
- Instructor at Draw Botanical and on-location workshops since 2016
- Member of the National Tropical Garden Florilegium of Artists
- Experience with graphic design, typography, hand-lettering, and illustration in marker, pen, colored pencil and digital brush