The Chemistry of Plants

© 2014 by Andy Brunning. All rights reserved.

© 2014 by Andy Brunning. All rights reserved.

We spend a lot of time talking about plants in response to the way they appear. We draw them and try to match their colors.

But what makes them appear they way they do? Smell the way they do? Behave the way they do?

Answers to these questions can be found at Compound Interest, a blog by chemistry teacher Andy Brunning dedicated to the chemistry of everyday life.

Brunning’s explanations of chemical properties and processes are extremely clear and easy to understand. He accomplishes this through the use of infographics he designs himself. His informative graphics have been featured by several media outlets and are organized into the following categories:

  • Elements
  • Food Chemistry
  • Alcohol Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Everyday Chemistry
  • Colourful Chemistry
  • Aroma Chemistry
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Underserved Reputations
  • Cosmetic Chemistry
  • Other Graphics

Of particular interest to our community of artists, naturalists and educators involved in plant-based and environmental education are the infographics about chilli, onion, coffee, tea, asparagus, chocolate, coriander, lemon, grapefruit, beet root, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, avocado, inorganic paint pigments, cut grass, the scent of the sea, the chemistry of catnip, the compounds of herbs and spices, and this week’s post about the chemicals behind the colors of autumn leaves.

Brunning’s infographics are available for educators to use for free. Packaged collections are available for purchase at the Compound Interest store, as are posters and Chemistry Spice Labels.

Add Chemical Interest to your teaching toolbox!

Visit CompoundChem.com

Literature Cited


A new ten-week class has been added to Classes Near You > England!

Lewisham Arthouse, London

The Lewisham Arthouse once served as the central library of Deptford. Designed by architect Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas (1868-1948) and funded by Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), this former library is now a public gallery and studio space for professional artists. Artist studios are open to the public once per year. Exhibitions in the gallery are open to the public year-round, free of charge. Botanical illustration classes are taught by Alison Day.

    Drawing from Plant Life
    September 29 – December 8, 2014
    Mondays, 1:00 – 2:30 PM

    This introductory ten-week course aims to provide an opportunity to explore the art and science of botanical Illustration. Students will have the opportunity to explore both drawing and painting plants while learning a range of graphic techniques used to represent plant material. Some basic theory is taught and, where relevant, historical and contemporary practice is referenced. The course is taught by a practicing artist who has a background in the science of botany and the practice of fine art.

    Students are asked to bring their own ideas and specimens to the course as well as drawing plants provided. Basic materials are provided, together with reference literature, students must provide their own sketch book pencils and colors. All are welcome, no experience needed. This is a small class and provides and supportive and relaxed environment in which to draw. Places are limited so booking is required.

    Cost: £95/90 concessions

    To register, contact Alison Day at Lewisham Arthouse.

    Transport :
    BR/Overground New Cross/New Cross Gate
    Bus 136, 21, 436, 321
    Disabled access

The School of Botanical Art and Illustration at Denver Botanic Gardens has launched a Kickstarter campaign!

The primary goal the campaign they launched earlier today is to raise money to publish Practice Makes Perfect: A Botanical Illustration Sketchbook.
This limited-edition hand bound sketchbook features 76 original illustrations by students and instructors in the botanical art program. Each artist had one week to draw and paint their entry. The sketchbook was passed by hand from one artist to the next.

The sketchbook includes the work of Jenny Phillips (Australia), Ann Swan (U.K.), Susan Rubin (U.S.), Libby Kyer (U.S.) and many other botanical artists.

The secondary goal of this Kickstarter campaign is to raise funds to establish an Illustrator/Artist in Residency Program at Denver Botanic Gardens. The six-week residency will enable three illustrators to become involved with daily operations at the garden, document the flora of the Rocky Mountains, contribute illustrations and articles to the program’s blog, and participate in open studio sessions and demonstrations for adults and children. The residency will provide $1,500 for housing and $1,000 for materials and other expenses if this Kickstarter campaign is funded.

Learn more about this project that, in just a few short hours, has raised $1,316 of its $20,000 goal!

View ‘Practice Makes Perfect: A Botanical Illustration Sketchbook’

iStock_TeachingPlants_ExtraSmall copy Welcome to a new school year at ArtPlantae!

New topics and new connections will be part of ArtPlantae’s programming for the 2014-2015 school year.

Join the mailing list to receive updates. You can also subscribe to this site (see the “Follow” tab in your browser window) or follow along through social media on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

Instructors of botanical art, botany and natural science illustration classes are invited to send information about the classes they’ve scheduled during the
2014-2015 school year. Please send updates so your listing in the Classes Near You section can be updated.

University of Bristol Botanic Garden

A four-acre garden founded in 1882 by Adolf Leipner, professor of botany at Bristol University College. Plant collections address the following subject areas: plant evolution, Mediterranean plants, local plants, rare native plants, and useful plants. This garden was founded on an initial budget of £104!

    Drawing in the Glasshouses
    Wednesdays, September 3 – November 26, 2014
    11 AM – 1 PM
    This group drawing class is led by Sheena Vallely in the glasshouses at the garden. The Pick Up a Pencil group (or Pupgroup) is open to artists of all abilities and is designed to enhance drawing awareness and overcome old habits. All materials provided. Limit: 8 students. Cost: £95.00
    Register online
    View Details/Register

    Traditional Botanical Drawing & Painting

    Mondays, October 6, 2014 – June 8, 2015
    1-4 PM
    A 21-week course for beginners and those wanting to improve their skills. Taught by Jenny Brooks, this foundation course in botanical illustration will focus on line, texture, tone, watercolor techniques and color mixing. Cost: £360.00 (payable in installments).
    Register online
    View Details/Register

    Beetles, Butterflies and Bees

    Saturday, October 22, 2014
    10 AM – 4 PM
    Wildlife and natural history artist, Cath Hodsman, leads this one-day workshop about drawing and painting insects. Participants will use microscopes and other magnifying tools to observe their subjects. Cost: £50.00
    Register online
    View Details/Register


    Saturday, November 22, 2014
    10 AM – 4 PM
    Learn about lettering and alphabets in this one-day workshop with Roma Widger. Participants will practice round hand and italic scripts and learn how to apply their new skills to greeting cards and bookmarks. Cost: £35.00
    Register online
    View Details/Register

This information can also be viewed at Classes Near You > England.

A fascinating exhibition will open at the Folger Shakespeare Library this November. Its focus will be 600 years worth of secret communication, from Shakespeare to Snowden. On view for the first time at the Folger Shakespeare Library will be the Voynich Manuscript, the mysterious text of botanical drawings, astronomical drawings and biological drawings dating back to the 15th or 16th century.

A discussion about the Voynich Manuscript will be held on November 11, 2014 at 7:30 PM. This panel discussion will be lead by Folger curator, Bill Sherman, who is also the Head of Research at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and a Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of York. Joining Professor Sherman is René Zandbergen, Voynich researcher and one of the developers of the European Voynich Alphabet and curator of www.voynich.nu.
Tickets are $15 non-members, $10 members.
View Details/Register

Decoding the Renaissance

Folger Shakespeare Library
Folger Great Hall
Washington, DC
November 11, 2014 – March 1, 2015

Visit the Folger Shakespeare Library

Friends of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens
Certificate Program in Botanical Art and Illustration

This program offers several weekly and two- or three-day classes on botanical art and scientific illustration with lead instructor and Education Director Sarah Roche as well as Carol Govan, Carrie Megan, Carol Ann Morley, Esther Klahne, Patricia Buchanan and other visiting instructors. The courses offered through this program cover all aspects of botanical art. Along with Sarah’s twice-yearly offerings, Foundations of Botanical Drawing and Painting (including the new (Half-
) and the more advanced Techniques of Botanical Drawing and Painting, here is a peek at the 2014-2015 schedule:

  • Carol Govan’s Introduction to Botany through Drawing
  • Esther Klahne’s Fruits of Fall: Painting on Vellum
  • Beverly Duncan’s small works class, Seasonal Treasures – Practical Uses and her 3-day winter class, Celebrating Similarities
  • Two art and technology classes, Sarah Roche’s The Tech-Enabled Artist and Patricia Buchanan’s Photoshop Demystified
  • Carol Ann Morley’s Drawing the Market: Graphite and From the Market: Colored Pencil
  • Martin J. Allen’s one-day Applying the Paint and his 3-day course Larger than Life
  • Sarah Roche’s 5-day class ON LOCATION: The Kampong in Coconut Grove, FL in January
  • Carrie Megan’s graphite classes: Dried Leaves, Branches, and Seed Pods and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
  • Susan Fisher’s Afraid of the Darks?, Watercolor Workout: Stretching Your Skills and Unlocking the Mystery: Composition
  • Bobbi Angell’s Scientific Illustration and the Microscopic View
  • Sarah Roche’s beginner class, Drawing and Painting for the Petrified
  • Sarah Roche’s studio focus classes: Painting Yellow and Plant Portraits on Vellum

Learn more about Wellesley’s certificate program

View current Programs, Courses, & Travel Schedule

This information can also be viewed at Classes Near You > Massachusetts.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,289 other followers

%d bloggers like this: