Here’s what our students say about Draw Botanical!
Are you a Draw Botanical Student? Tell us about your experience here.
“I started botanical drawing with Wendy in 2010. For the next several years, I was only able to attend a few workshops a year. Some were at Wendy’s farm and several were at a nature center, a pavilion and an art center in the area. But, immediately, I discovered a few things. One, Wendy was a natural teacher. Full of enthusiasm, clear and precise, fun, totally available to every student, and made demonstrations thrilling. Seriously! I had never done any botanical drawing or any realistic drawing, but I loved looking so closely at whatever we were drawing: strawberries, cherry tomatoes, acorns, leaves. It was like being a scientist and artist all at the same time. To support my practice along the way while I was working full time, I referred to the books Wendy wrote and subscribed to The Practice of Botanical Drawing and Botanical Basics for several years. The videos, pdfs, ongoing feedback, and monthly meeting online really kept me going. I also treated myself to the experience of a lifetime: a drawing trip with Wendy and other students to the Pelion Peninsula of Greece.
Now it’s 2021 and I’m still studying with Wendy and her amazing team of teachers. I have a community subscription, receive ongoing feedback, attend the monthly meeting online, participate in Zoom drawing workshops, watch individual video lessons, and continue to refer to Wendy’s books. It’s exciting to be part of a drawing community, and to feel inspired and supported by everyone in the group (teachers and fellow students). In many ways, I am still a beginner and love that about the drawing process. It’s a challenge every time, something to wonder about and consider, but I can also see (and I’m told) that I have progressed steadily over the years. My pleasure in hunting for plants, fungi, fruits, flowers, weeds, and branches has only increased. Now, I can’t imagine not drawing. It’s become a habit that brings me a lot of joy, peace, and pleasure. And…I can’t wait to travel again with Wendy and the Draw Botanical team!”
“Just over two years ago I attended my first Draw Botanical workshop on Kauai, Hawaii. I had limited drawing experience and was searching for a new way to express my lifelong love of colour and pattern. The carefully crafted, step-by-step, group tutorials and the constructive encouragement I always received from Wendy, Vern and my fellow students opened my eyes to a new way of observing and drawing plants. I returned home to Australia with the basic skills I needed to continue practising and learning; the promise of some wonderful, new friendships; and an understanding of what it means to truly connect to a place by studying the natural world.
I cannot currently return to Hawaii to draw but I have continued my own practise of botanical illustration with the online support offered by the Draw Botanical team. At a time when face to face classes are not possible, the Art Feed and Zoom classes have expanded my knowledge of new techniques, reconnected me to old friends and introduced me to new, like-minded people who I hope to meet in the future. The team even rescheduled the time of some of the classes to accommodate students living in different time zones!
On a personal level, botanical drawing has allowed me to explore what really makes me happy and how I wish to live my life in the coming years. It has made me feel more connected to the world I live in by helping me to see things in a three-dimensional way; by looking closely at my surroundings; and by working in a methodical way to document nature’s diversity that I can then share with others.”
“My seeds to my botanical drawing journey started when I was enrolled in a master gardener course in the fall of 2019. My textbook said one of the best ways to learn about a plant is to draw it. That stuck with me, then Covid, then I retired from my job of 23 years because of covid clarity, then I read a book called Dream Big that challenged me to stop just thinking about things, but to just jump into life and try them. So I googled botanical drawing classes. I was on vacation in Steamboat as I read through the supplies list, and watched the first video. I was a little intimidated because I’m not an artist. There is nothing I’ve done in my life that would make you think I could draw. My last art class was in 8th grade in 1974.
The courses online instead of in-person took out some of the intimidation factor. The slow step, by step build of basic drawing skills gave me confidence. I liked that the lessons were short. I started working my way through them with the wrong paper, a bad pencil sharpener, random light sources, and enthusiasm. I kept learning. I noticed there was a “my portfolio” option. I thought that sounded like a great place to park my work. I had no idea it automatically went to the art feed until I got feedback from Doug about my sticks. I didn’t even understand that he was an instructor. I thought he was being very specific with suggestions for a fellow artist, but I learned from the feedback. I posted a couple of more times before I figured out it was instructors who were giving feedback. All of it was welcome, helpful, and encouraging to a beginner.
Webinars were my next source of anxiety. I didn’t really know what to expect but thought I should give it a try. I had no idea how much I could learn through seeing other’s art and hearing the discussion about it. That’s been my best resource for learning since I finished the basics course.
I tell people I’m learning to draw and drawing to learn. Both aspects of Draw Botanical have exceeded my expectations. I look at the world differently as I go on walks. I look forward to the intellectual challenge of drawing a new thing. I sometimes save work I’m unhappy with to remind me it’s a process. I sometimes rip up work I’m unhappy with into pieces and drive to different gas station trash cans to dispose of it so it can never be put back together. I’ve always liked words, quotes, music lyrics, etc so I almost can’t help myself from writing on my art. I’m glad the instructors, instead of telling me that’s not classic botanical art, have been encouraging to me.
It’s good for us to be beginners at something. It’s good for our brains and our humility. I’ve enjoyed the process of being a beginner. Interestingly, I grew up with some of my great-grandmother’s oil paintings in my house. I always heard stories about her from relatives. She took her first art class at age 65, 5 years older than I am now. The newspaper called her the Grandma Moses of Pittsburg Kansas. She hated that. I wasn’t consciously thinking of her when I signed up, but maybe she was there in my subconscious. Regardless, I’m on team old lady, and here to cheer on everyone who’s trying something new with a little silver in their hair.”
“I will go through the below one by one, but first off I want to tell you that for me, this has been absolutely life changing. You can ask my husband how many times a day I say how lucky I am that I stumbled on this program. I found myself with some extra time (just a few months before the pandemic hit); I always loved botanical drawings, and there was an art school nearby advertising botanical illustration classes–by the time I called, they were filled up and had a full waiting list. I found another class in our area, and they were only taking advanced students. I began looking online and I don’t know how it happened, but I stumbled on Wendy’s online classes. I was not sure how an online class would be, but I was inspired by what I saw and thought I would try. I loved the step-by-step and relaxed approach that did not so much focus on results but more on the process. For a variety of reasons, around this same time I began experiencing tremendous anxiety, and though I have tried sitting meditations without a ton of success, following Wendy’s direction I approached the simple branches and toning in that way– focusing just on what I was doing and allowing my mind to experience my thoughts without judgment—somehow it felt like a very safe space for me to draw and tolerate my feelings, regardless of the outcome of the picture.
After the pandemic shut-downs, I was still very much in the beginning process of learning to draw and, like everyone, my schedule was disrupted further. I was, and still am, at home pretty much all the time. I found myself dreaming about drawing, looking forward to waking up to draw and spent and continue spending most of my free time reading about plants, taking walks and looking at plants and for the first time, really feeling I am part of nature–and I am 62.
I definitely had a very limited ability to draw prior to this. I just was lousy at it; partly because I studied photography at Art Center College of Design and the illustration majors were so incredible that I didn’t feel I should or could even try. When in meetings with clients or art directors I was always ashamed of my cartoonish attempts at illustrating a concept, but it didn’t much get in the way. (I haven’t worked in that field for about 20 years, but that is part of my background.)
I never enjoyed photography the way I enjoy this kind of work. I did like printing, which is very hands on, but it is all such a mess with the chemicals etc. that I find the idea of going into a darkroom really unappealing now.
This botanical work helped me realize that the actual act of directly creating something with my own hand is so satisfying. I also love that all the materials are so pretty just to have and hold. It is true that I don’t feel the kind of control I would like; when I see some of the beautiful gentle toning and detail some of the students achieve, I hope one day I will get there, but in general, not sure if it is because of my age and stage in life, or the approach of the instructors, I don’t feel too self-critical during this process and just love actually doing it.
All the instructors give really careful critiques and I have benefited so much from their feedback. I almost feel like I got a new set of eyes–what I pay attention to in my visual and internal world is just so different from the time before I discovered this fantastic class and botanical world.
In a time when the world is shut down, my world has been opened up, so really I want to thank all of you for helping me experience this shift.”
“My journey with the Draw Botanical community began with my annual trek to the botanical gardens in Kauai. While visiting the gardens I would often see beautiful art work at the headquarters which had been done by artists attending Wendy’s workshops. On one of my visits I noticed that a workshop was in progress so was blessed with an opportunity to attend in the beautiful classroom setting. Wendy and Vern suggested that I enroll in “The Practice of Botanical Drawing” online classes which I started when I was back in Canada.
I began a daily morning practice of finding local plants to sketch and draw. I love the “slow” approach encouraged in Wendy’s lessons and how it encourages mindfulness and an inner peace which spills into other areas of life.
Before I began Wendy’s lessons my drawings were very one dimensional. I now have the knowledge and tools to help me capture the vibrancy I feel when witnessing nature’s beauty.
I love expressing the colour and light in plants as they move through the changing seasons.
“The Joy of Botanical Drawing” has helped me discover new ways to approach color theory, the easy to follow lessons allow me to put this theory into practice.
I am so grateful for the window of opportunity to share my artwork on the Art Feed and receive helpful tips in a non-judgmental manner. I look forward to many more years of discovering new ways to convey my love of nature through botanical drawing.”
“I didn’t really know that botanical drawing was a thing, existing outside of the scientific community, until, a few winters ago in Mexico, I met someone drawing the local flora. I was on a t’ai chi retreat, which was serendipitous because I was immediately attracted by botanical drawing’s meditation-like concentration, focus and slow pace. I went home and started to look for teachers and happened upon the Draw Botanical website.
I had always liked to draw but had lost a lot of the skill I’d had when I was younger. Now retired, it was the perfect time to rediscover a practice that I had always loved. I signed up for “The Practice of Botanical Drawing” course and started to work through the instructional videos and gradually saw my skills improve. Wendy is a wonderful teacher and her methodical approach to the realistic rendering of plants and fruits is very accessible. However, what really got me hooked was attending Wendy and Vern’s 2019 workshop in Lafkos, Greece.
This two-week intensive drawing workshop was excellent and Wendy and Vern were motivating and inspiring teachers. The participants came from around the world, and although we represented a wide range of drawing skills, everyone was enthusiastic and supportive and we all left encouraged to continue and develop our practice. I look forward to a post-Covid world when I can attend another workshop. In the meantime, the Draw Botanical team are offering regular zoom workshops on a variety of topics.
I would encourage anyone with an interest in botanical drawing to join the Draw Botanical community.
There is nothing you can see that is not a flower… Basho”
“I am so happy to have found Draw Botanical! I have always loved to draw and paint, but I had fallen into a rut and had not made time to create art for years. The Draw Botanical video lessons and community have given me the structure and encouragement that I needed to get back into a consistent drawing practice.
Learning Wendy’s botanical drawing techniques via the video lessons has enabled me to create beautiful artworks that I had not known I was capable of before. With the support of the Draw Botanical community via the Art Feed and the monthly Zoom webinars, I have found the confidence to share my art with others and have even sold one of my artworks in a gallery exhibition. This is a dream come true for me! But most importantly, I just get so much enjoyment from botanical drawing and I can’t imagine life without this daily practice now.
I would recommend the Draw Botanical program to anyone who loves nature and wants to develop their artistic skills and create beautiful works of art!”
Are you a Draw Botanical Student? Tell us about your experience here.