Plant Prints & Earth Paintings
Tina Scopa
An Tobar
Isle of Mull, Scotland
March 3-30, 2018

This past summer we learned about edaphic plant art when we spoke with Scottish artist Tina Scopa. Working spontaneously with plants and soil, Tina gets plants to “draw” themselves in prints, photography, and ceramic work. Her current exhibition titled, Plant Prints & Earth Paintings, represents four years of exploring plants and soil. Images from this show are below.

During our conversation with Tina, we also learned she was working on her fine art degree at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design at the University of Dundee. I am happy to share that Tina has almost completed her studies and is working on her degree show.

While we wait for her degree show, we can learn more about Tina’s practice and about what motivates her to create edaphic plant art by reading her paper about environmental art (also called land art or ecological art).

In a living understanding of nature, Tina asks the question:

    Can a contemporary art practice reconnect society to the “rhythms, sights, sounds, and scents of the natural world”?

To answer this question, Tina researched experiential knowledge and experiential understanding through art. If you have an interest in learning how art might be used in environmental education, you will enjoy Tina’s paper.

The exhibition Plant Prints & Earth Paintings is now on view at An Tobar on the Isle of Mull. Click on the first image to begin a tour of the exhibition.

All photos are courtesy of Tina Scopa.


For the past fifteen years, I have encouraged an interest in plants through art, science, and interpretation as the full-time educator, bookseller, and editor at ArtPlantae. While art, science, and interpretation continue to be part of my practice, I am shifting my attention to issues related to the nature of work in informal environmental education.

My current project, The Freelance Condition & Lifelong Learning in Communities, is an investigation into the contributions informal educators make to lifelong learning. This research focuses specifically on the contributions of freelance informal educators who address plants, nature, and related topics in their work. I am focusing on freelance informal educators in particular because they are not bound to one location and have the opportunity to create change in many different settings.

Who are these freelance educators?

What do they do?

Where do they work?

How do they lead?

What do they need to be better leaders?

These are some of the questions I seek to answer.


Did you know the average American spends less than 5% of their life in the classroom (Falk & Dierking, 2010)?

Most learning throughout one’s life occurs outside of the classroom. This means that most people learn about plants, nature, and related topics outside of school. I suspect many people learn from independent professionals working in informal education. Where do they learn from these independent professionals? What do they learn? I hope to find answers to these questions.

If you are an independent professional whose work connects people with nature, please consider sharing your story. If you lead a program as an author, illustrator, poet, artist, photographer, basket weaver, book artist, scientist, designer, or interpreter in informal learning environments, please consider sharing your story.

Not sure if you are a “freelance informal educator”?

For this study, a “freelance informal educator” is defined as someone who does not receive income as an employee (W-2 income) for the programs, products, or learning experiences they create. Freelance educators, like other freelancers, work one project, one event, or one gig at a time. If this describes you, please consider sharing your story.

Over the years I have met many passionate, independent professionals who strive to connect people with nature through their work. I have often wondered how many other professionals like them (and me) are out there in the world. I have also wondered about how each educator contributes to the public’s understanding of nature. This survey represents the first step towards finding this out.

Are you a freelance informal educator whose work connects people with plants, nature, and related topics?

Share Your Story

Literature Cited

Falk, J.H., & Dierking, L.D. (2010). The 95 percent solution: School is not where most Americans learn most of their science. American Scientist, 98(6): 486-493

Page by page, illustrated journals recognize the interpretive encounters so foundational to worldmaking and, in doing so, cultivate the deep attention to, and experience of, the world that is our first step toward care.

— Lyn K. Baldwin

In Drawing Care: The Illustrated Journal’s “Path to Place”,
Lyn K. Baldwin explains how illustrated journals can reinvigorate peoples’ experience with “place”.

Baldwin is a plant ecologist at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. She researches how to use drawing as a learning tool to learn about nature and place. Baldwin’s research into this subject began when she realized the demand for care required tools she never learned while training to be an ecologist.

Baldwin believes humans have thought their way out of nature and that “there is no guarantee that thinking alone will lead us back” (Baldwin, 2018). She feels the most effective way people can change their relationship with place is by keeping a journal. Specifically, an illustrated resonant journal.

What is a resonant journal?

In her article, Baldwin discusses four types of journals people use to record the world around them. In her discussion, she refers to the “scale of journals” as defined by artist and author, Hannah Hinchman. Baldwin explains that at one end of Hinchman’s scale, we find informational journals (e.g., a biologist’s field notebook). Next along the scale are investigative journals, journals with observations accompanied by fewer details normally found in informational journals. Investigative journals are followed by resonant journals which are journals composed of a person’s outward observations intermingled with their inner thoughts. The last journal type on Hinchman’s scale are reflective journals (e.g., personal diaries).

Baldwin argues that illustrated resonant journals are the key tool capable of combating the “extinction of experience” (Baldwin, 2018), which refers the ever-increasing divide between people and nature. She says illustrated resonant journals are the best tool to use because they include a drawing component. She explains that it is the act of drawing that pushed informational journals towards becoming resonant journals and that drawing helped “resonant journals gain their footings as a creative practice capable of remaking the world” (Baldwin, 2018). Baldwin explains that drawing enhances a person’s experience with place because drawing:

  1. Makes seeing more important than looking.
  2. Allows more of the world to make an impression on one’s consciousness.
  3. Literally draws a person into a place and experience.

Baldwin believes illustrated resonant journals could “repopulate nature” (Baldwin, 2018) and create stronger connections to place than scientific observations and species lists could ever do on their own.

Baldwin concludes her article by describing five journaling exercises teachers can teach to their students. These exercises are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Baldwin emphasizes that with these exercises, the process is more important than the product. She shares these specific exercises because, during her lengthy career as a journaling instructor, she has seen these writing and drawing exercises enhance student experience of place in only a few hours. These exercises are a wonderful addition to your art and science file folder and are just in time for Earth Day 2018. Obtain a copy of Baldwin’s article to receive instructions for:

  • Illuminated contour drawings
  • Color swatches and sound tapestries
  • Landscape drawing
  • Odd Couples (a writing exercise that adds energy to sentences)
  • Titles (an exercise in lettering and writing titles)

Selected examples of these activities follows:

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Baldwin’s article Drawing Care is available on the website of the Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism. (Black & white illustrations, $42.50 for 24-hour access).

A color copy of Baldwin’s unpublished manuscript is available on the Thompson Rivers University’s repository for FREE. The link to this article is included here compliments of Lyn Baldwin.

Also courtesy of Lyn Baldwin is a link to free downloads of her published article. This publisher-supplied link allows for only 50 downloads. After fifty copies are downloaded, the article will cost $42.50 for 24-hour access or $154.00 for 30-day access.

I would like to thank Lyn for her generosity and for sharing these links with ArtPlantae readers.

Literature Cited

Baldwin, L. K. (2018). Drawing care: the illustrated journal’s “path to place”. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 18(1): 75-93

More from Lyn Baldwin

The Scientific Illustration Distance Program begins a new session next month. During this term, students have the opportunity to learn traditional and digital techniques.

Here is what’s new at Classes Near You > New York:

    Gretchen Kai Halpert

    Gretchen Kai Halpert is the founder and instructor of an online program in scientific illustration. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design/CE, Gretchen has many years of experience working as a scientific illustrator and teaching natural science illustration.

    Learn more about the distance learning program in scientific illustration at www.gretchenhalpert-distanceprogram.com. Check out her blog and enjoy the student artwork. Sign up for the SIDP newsletter to keep abreast of opportunities.

    Gretchen Kai Halpert
    Scientific Illustration, Session II, Pen and Ink

    March 27-May 29, 2018
    1:00-3:00 or 7:00-9:00 EST or email

    Pen and Ink is a staple for scientific illustrators. This class gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in proficiency. Pen and ink, crowquill, line and wash techniques, composition, scratchboard, working from life, professional practices, final projects, practice with preparing and sending artwork digitally. The course includes handouts; tutorials; weekly live video conferencing; small classes, individual attention. Beginning and intermediate students.

    Gretchen Kai Halpert
    Scientific Illustration, Session III, Color

    March 27-May 29, 2018
    1:00-3:00 or 7:00-9:00 EST or email

    Session III includes watercolor, colored pencil, digital options, advanced composition and projects, professional practices and preparation for internships/independent studies/or portfolio development. Live video conferencing, email, weekly critiques and assignments, recorded tutorials. Prerequisites: having completed Sessions I and II, or permission of the instructor.

To apply, complete the Registration Form or contact Gretchen.

Subscribe to the SIDP newsletter for program news
Sign up for the website or email Gretchen.

Follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.

Coral Guest, author, teacher, and fine artist launches a new website about her life and her career as a flower painter. The site features selected works representing Coral’s amazing 40-year career as a painter and draughtswoman.

In the very early days of the current renaissance of botanical art, Coral Guest’s book, Painting Flowers in Watercolor: A Naturalistic Approach, stood out from other books and became one of the classic references used in the field of botanical art. You can learn more about this book in a conversation Coral had with ArtPlantae readers in 2012.

While we may be most familiar with Coral’s watercolor paintings, Coral has worked in a variety of media throughout her career. On the new website, ​you will find examples of works created in oil, acrylic, carbon and watercolor, as well as pieces created with carbon, charcoal and watercolor. Coral’s online portfolio is composed of ten sections, each highlighting​ work from a particular time period or project. I recommend viewing each section of the portfolio (and website) in the order they appear because these sections are not merely a collection of images, but distinct chapters in Coral’s life. Within each section viewer’s are lead on a docent tour, if you will, by Coral Guest herself. You might want to wait until you have more than a few minutes to explore the new site. You will need time not only for the story Coral tells ​but for the opportunity to learn from her paintings. You won’t want to miss the story about light told by the chrysanthemums and butterhead lettuce. You’ll also not want to miss the lessons to be learned from Coral’s color studies.

This week, carve out a few moments for yourself and visit CoralGuestBotanic.com.

By Wohlfarth Galleries

Opuntia polyacantha (Prickly Pear) © 2001 Donald Davidson, all rights reserved

Botanical Field Illustrations in Watercolor II
Donald Davidson
Wohlfarth Galleries
Washington, DC
March 10 – April 6, 2018

Botanical illustrator Donald Davidson will launch a second solo show of dramatic watercolors of native botanicals at Wohlfarth Galleries in Washington, DC. This exhibition opens March 10 and continues through April 6, 2018. Last year’s show nearly sold out and focused on works from deserts and Vieques, Puerto Rico, as will this year’s show.

Viewers will find a return to the spare, unvarnished approach that seemingly belies Davidson’s devotion to neo-expressionism back in the 1980’s. In his depiction of the Puerto Rican native plant, Talinum fruticosum, an edible succulent related to portulaca found in many DC-area gardens, the artist captures this plant’s rooted, yet lively dance of nature with direct brush and pen strokes that reveal the anatomical elements key to its botanical identification.

Davidson received his first solo museum show as a painter of native flora from the Centennial Museum of El Paso in 2004. This exhibition became a traveling show displayed at visitor centers within the National Parks system. His work was on view in 2016 in the exhibition, Flora of the National Parks, at the US Botanical Garden on the Smithsonian Mall.

Awarded the Presidential Gold Medal for Volunteer Service, Davidson has created over 600 watercolors spanning 20 years, as an artist-in-the-park, under the auspices of the US Department of Interior in support of its mandate to monitor and preserve native species on public lands nationwide. Ten percent of sales will be donated to Friends Group of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge to help with Hurricane Maria recovery.

Meet Donald and ask questions about his work during the opening reception scheduled for Saturday, March 10, 2018, from 3-5pm. Wohlfarth Galleries is located in the Brookland Arts’ District, one block from Red Line Metro (map). Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 AM – 4 PM and by appointment.

Visit Wohlfarth Galleries

Kick-off the spring season with this class by Botanical Dimensions:

© Donna Torres, Brugmansia sanguinea

Botanical Illustration
The Art of Seeing, Drawing and Painting Plants

A 2-day workshop with artists Donna Torres and Kathleen Harrison
Occidental Center for the Arts
Botanical Dimensions
Occidental, CA
March 3-4, 2018
10 AM – 4 PM

This 2-day weekend workshop will focus on the accurate representation of plants in graphite and watercolor. Kathleen Harrison will lead the first day of drawing. We will introduce how to see the form of a plant, review tools and materials, and will each make a graphite drawing of a plant. Donna Torres will teach the second day, teaching specific watercolor techniques used in botanical art, color theory and special techniques to bring life into your plant illustration. You may register for the entire weekend, or choose one of the days, as space allows.

View additional information and registration options on the class website.

About Botanical Dimensions

Founded in 1985 by Kathleen Harrison and Terence McKenna, Botanical Dimensions collects and protects plants of ethnographic-medical significance and their lore, educates people about plants and mushrooms, and preserves ecosystems and traditions of ecological knowledge. Learn more at www.botanicaldimensions.org

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