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Established in 1670, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is comprised of four gardens that collectively represent one of the largest plant collections in the world. The garden is also home to the RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration. The diploma course is a two-year program emphasizing observational drawing and the creation of artwork in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor.

Blended Learning Begins June 2013
The RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration has run successfully for five years as a weekly course in Edinburgh. Beginning this summer, those involved with the program will be able to share their knowledge and expertise with a worldwide audience. The RBGE program has developed an exciting new Blended Learning option – which means there are block study weeks in Edinburgh (two in Year 1, one in Year 2) and the rest of the course is delivered online through their new online system called PropaGate.

Applications are now being accepted for the inaugural class of this new long-distance learning opportunity. This new program begins June 2013.

Get the Applicant Handbook

This information has also been posted to Classes Near You > Scotland.

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When we last spoke with botanical artist Anna Knights in August 2011, there was a lot of conversation about online classes, specifically learning botanical art from Anna through this medium. I am happy to help Anna announce that she will launch a new online learning community next year.

Botanical Painting: An Online Workshop with Anna Knights will be a free-to-join online community for people at all levels of experience. This new workshop will begin next summer.

Community members will have their own profile pages and have access to a discussion forum, video demonstrations and written tips from Anna. Members will be able to learn at their own pace through the completion of special projects. These projects will be available for purchase through the program’s website. Personalized one-on-one instruction from Anna will be available at an additional cost.

To learn more about this exciting new learning opportunity,
join Anna’s mailing list for more information.

This information and a link to Anna’s 2013 course schedule can be viewed at Classes Near You > England.

Also See

Anna Knights Creates Botanical Paintings with Captivating Detail

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A new course about advanced techniques in botanical illustration has been added to the new certificate program now offered through the Cornell University Department of Horticulture. This new course has a special introductory price of $400 for the upcoming six-week term.

Read more below and at Classes Near You > New York.

Cornell University Department of Horticulture

The Department of Horticulture at Cornell University has expanded their schedule of online courses to include an advanced techniques course in botanical illustration. The Cornell University Department of Horticulture now offers a certificate in botanical illustration through the Office of Continuing Education. This certificate program is composed of the following courses: Botanical Illustration I: Basic Drawing Techniques, Botanical Illustration II: Working with Watercolor and Botanical Illustration III: Advanced Techniques.

    Botanical Illustration I: Basic Drawing Techniques
    January 23 – March 10, 2012. Students will work in pencil and pen-and-ink. Topics include: observing nature, drawing, composition, perspective, foreshortening, and how to use light to give botanical drawings three-dimensional form. Cost: $500. Limit: 15 students.
    View syllabus and register

    Botanical Illustration II: Working with Watercolor

    January 23 – March 10, 2012. In this introductory course about color, students will continue their study of plants. Emphasis will be on simpler subjects such as a single-stem flower, fruit, and vegetables. Cost: $500. Limit: 15 students. View syllabus and register

    Botanical Illustration III: Advanced Techniques

    January 23 – March 10, 2012. In this class, students will explore various media and develop a portfolio of work. Students will develop a proficiency in botanical drawing using pastels, colored pencil, pen and ink, pencil and chalk. Cost: $400. Limit: 15 students. View syllabus and register

After you register, you will receive enrollment guidance within 2 – 3 weeks, enabling you to get access to the site. Courses do not begin formally until January 23rd.

A Botanical Illustration Certificate of Completion from the Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, will be awarded upon the successful completion of all three botanical illustration courses.

View Cornell University’s horticulture distance learning courses

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Welcome to Ask The Artist with Anna Knights. Unlike past sessions in which readers submitted questions to visiting artists, this time readers mostly shared their experiences and thoughts about distance learning programs in botanical art.

One reader asked Anna about how she enlarges her painting subjects. We will begin with this question and then jump into the topic of distance learning.

Sincere thanks to the readers who so openly shared their thoughts about learning botanical art outside of the classroom. This conversation would not be possible without your thoughtful comments.

Thank you to Anna Knights for sharing her work with us this month and for participating in the dialogue below.

Learn more about Anna in this interview from earlier this month. Also, be sure to visit Anna’s Facebook page to see Anna at work at a recent event.

A reader asks Anna…

    Most botanical artists’ work is true to actual size. Is yours done larger to achieve such magnificent detail? And if so, how do you so accurately enlarge it?

    AK: I like to enlarge to capture that magnificent detail but also to give the work much more impact than traditional life-sized work. I scale up using just a ruler and calculator. I work out the scale I’m enlarging to and then take a few measurements of key reference points in the composition and then freehand draw from there. This is made a lot easier when scaling up from photographs – which I make extensive use of.

Readers’ thoughts about distance learning options in botanical art…

    Reader #1

    I have had mixed results from distance learning courses. (In) my first attempt, I found the feedback to be inadequate and I kept getting graded down for stupid things like size of paper and other things that normally would have been inconsequential. It really shook my confidence and I can’t say that I learned any more than I might have just using the course book, which is not very detailed and sometimes confusing. There is no flexibility for lesson deadlines, which sometimes makes it difficult for those of us with other responsibilities. It (was) also a VERY expensive course. You pay the full amount (over $3000) in advance, and you don’t get any of your money back if you drop out.

    My second and ongoing experience has been completely different and truly wonderful. It is with the Academy of Botanical Art in Sarasota, FL. The instructors there understand that we are at all different levels and that we each have strong and weak areas. They are nurturing and confidence building and meet each student where they are rather than trying to force us all into one mold. The lesson materials for each class are very detailed and complete. Everything is spelled out and there is no need to try and guess what the instructor wants. It is also on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than having to pay the full amount up front. It is a much more personalized and less regimented program. It keeps me motivated to paint and learn rather than dreading the next assignment.

    I think that people should be able to research different possibilities before they sign up and commit big bucks toward an experience that may not meet their needs.

    Reader #2

    In answer to your questions about the distance-ed courses :

    I have taken one dist. ed. course and found that I was encouraged to keep working on the art while I learned. One my own, I have the tendency to drift to other things and don’t keep to a schedule.

    I would like to have a dist. ed. course so that I have a mentor who gives critiques, a schedule, a group of fellow students that I might be able to confer with, so basically I guess I need someone to give me a push and keep me interested.

    As to what type of format I would find ideal, I have to admit that I don’t know what this means. Presumably it means that I would like to have my work followed on-line. I have all of the botanical art books but need more confidence and someone to give me guidance. I would appreciate other students being able to contact me and vice versa for more support.

    Reader #3

    Sounds like a great idea, it will be an alternative to students, who for any number of reasons, cannot use the classroom style of learning. I live in Australia, and I have been using the distance learning system in the past, and also now, I am doing an art subject in Fine Arts, at the Open Universities Australia. I am enjoying the study but it is also very challenging. I am an emerging artist and I may be interested in the botanical course. How much does it cost?

    Reader #4

    I would be very interested in taking the Distance Learning Course in Botanical Illustration, with these provisos:

    Payment for the course should be in installments clearly pre-defined. Total payment up front does not generate confidence in prospective students for distance learning, sorry. The instructor should list his/her curriculum so distance students would know what to expect.

    A basic list of art materials should be given before enrollment, so that prospective students know what art materials are needed and can estimate cost. Good materials are expensive. Paper, paints and brushes represent an investment that all watercolor artists should have.

    Under these conditions I would be very interested in taking the course. I also think that the instructor(s) should tell us how they will conduct the course, that is how they will grade the lessons after they are mailed in. Will they make corrections or make suggestions on tracing paper over the sent-in lessons?

    I am a retired businessman from California, now living in Arizona. I am a self-taught amateur artist who loves botanical illustration, though I have never taken any live lessons, only from books.

    The instructor(s) have to make a commitment to the course, so I understand that they will require a certain number of students; I hope you get them. Also, after some time, will you stimulate students to exchange ideas and make this exchange possible?

    Reader #5

    I assume these are like the classroom classes with the regular demonstrations and how to do things plus an equipment list? I think it would be interesting to do this as I have never done it via computer.

    Reader #6

    I’d be very interested in a formal distance-learning program for botanical art/natural history illustration. Workshops and short courses offered by individual artists are also a good training option.

    The type of formal program I would be most interested in would be a certificate program and be offered by an accredited institution of some kind, whether a botanical garden, an extension division of a university, etc. It would be most practical to have the majority of the coursework handled online, with concentrated residency periods punctuating the course, say 1-2 weeks at the start, middle and end of the program. Certainly a 1-2 week workshop in residence midway would be needed.

    I was rather disappointed to read the details of the Denver Botanical Gardens’ distance program. That course would have required distance students to go to Denver nearly every weekend over the learning period–simply not practical for most people living outside of Colorado.

    For distance training offered by individual artists, I’d prefer a workshop of 1-2 weeks. This would allow a concentrated period to really make some progress. Weekend workshops would be excellent for a student who lives nearby. Certificates aren’t necessary for this type of course option.

    Reader #7

    Yes, I would take a distance learning class. I have taken many. Some use Nicenet, some used Dashboard, others used email. If you teach one online, I would attend.

    Reader #8

    I would like to know how distance educators feel about the progress of technology and the ability to enhance an art-based course by using either a Group Facebook page where photos of subjects can be discussed, video demonstrations can be posted, ideas exchanged or via email where attachments can show problem areas and be addressed more accurately. Botanical art has a chance to really shine in this format but it seems many distance educators are not as comfortable with email and Internet as their students are.

    Reader #9

    I would love to take a distance learning course but for real beginners…Even more with Anna.

    I don’t know if we can really learn by distance without, once in a while, (being) in real contact with the teacher. I am wondering if it could be a good idea to meet students first for at least ”2 weeks in a row” (why not during the summer? a great way to learn in a nice country and visit in the same time).

    I strongly believe that we should first get some basic knowledge with teacher and then start the distance program. The problems are: the distance and the cost. I guess we all want to get in a program like this because we would not have to travel. It saves time and money.

    All students don’t have the same goals. Some would like to paint for pleasure and some may think about a career. Some have already knowledge in painting, some don’t. So how (to) create a program for everyone? Maybe separated modules, or sessions. Like: drawing no1- watercolors 1- 2 etc. So everyone would be able to get into a course at their levels..Probably more work for the teacher.

    For myself, I am really interested to get in a program, well-structured with an ”available” teacher. The program, I would love, would be one where I can learn (from) the beginning. Learn how to sketch, learn about pigments in watercolors to be able to mix colors properly, etc. Project painting can be done after.

    Contact with students may be done by emails. Pictures of the works sent also by email and, further in the program, works may be sent by post. Internet is a great way to communicate, it is fast and ”free”.

    Voilà! I hope my English writing is OK. I am a French Canadian. Could add more but writing in English for me is work!

    Looking to hear from you. I am in love with your work and would be honored to be one of (your) distance students.

    Reader #10

    I most definitely would take an online botanical art class!

Anna’s reply to comments about distance learning

Thanks to everyone for your comments about the online course. They were really sensible and in line with my own thoughts about it. Having thought about it a bit more, what I am really proposing is to create a private online social network – along Facebook lines for those enrolled on the course. It would mean that students could also share work with each other as well as with me and interact as a group. Crucially my teaching style is all about instilling confidence and to that end is supportive and relaxed – so no harsh grading or anything like that – just constructive feedback to help students develop their own style and way of painting.

I would probably run it as a series of structured step-by-step exercises which people could pay per exercise or series of exercises – therefore allowing each student to tailor their learning and address the issues of different students having very different objectives. Then in terms of the content – I’d use video clips mainly to demo what I’m doing – along with stage-by-stage photographs – very much along the lines of the description by Reader 8. The whole course would be delivered online, so I would ask students to scan or photograph their work and email it. There may be some limitations to this but actually with the macro function on everyone’s digital camera it is perfectly possible for me to see close up the brush work, etc. I think there are huge possibilities for this and I plan to start work on the content to make sure I have a really comprehensive offering.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts about it. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when I launch the online course you can do so via my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AnnaKnightsArtist or the contact page of my website at www.annaknights.co.uk.

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According to reader response to news about distance learning courses in botanical art and direct inquiries I receive from readers, it is clear that there is a lot of interest in distance learning classes. This month, you have the opportunity to voice an opinion about distance learning classes and to participate in a conversation with an instructor who wants to know what you think about this style of learning.

    What is your impression of distance learning courses?
    What do you want a distance learning course to do for you?
    What type of format would be ideal for your style of learning?

Join the Conversation

You have until this Friday to send questions/comments about this topic to Anna Knights. All questions to Anna will be submitted and posted anonymously. Anna’s replies to your questions will be posted on August 22, 2011. To participate in Ask The Artist with Anna Knights, send your question(s) to education@artplantae.com.

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The Department of Horticulture at Cornell University is expanding their schedule of online courses to include an advanced techniques course in botanical illustration. Cornell’s objective is to offer a certificate program comprised of Botanical Illustration I: Basic Drawing Techniques, Botanical Illustration II: Working with Watercolor and the third course in advanced techniques.

Botanical Illustration I & II will be taught again in January 2012. If you are interested in taking these classes and would like to be notified when registration opens in December 2011, please notify the distance learning program or watch for announcements on this site.

Cornell University Department of Horticulture

Two six-week botanical illustration classes are taught online through this department. A course syllabus for each class is available online. Click on the links below for complete details.

  • Botanical Illustration I: Basic Drawing Techniques
    Coming January 2012. Students will work in pencil and pen-and-ink. Topics include: observing nature, drawing, composition, perspective, shading. Cost: $500. Limit: 15 students. View the syllabus for this course. Register
  • Botanical Illustration II: Working with Watercolor
    Coming January 2012. In this introductory course about color, students are encouraged to continue their discovery of plants. Emphasis will be on simpler subjects such as a single-stem flower, fruit, and vegetables. Limit: 15 students. View syllabus & register

View Cornell University’s horticulture distance learning courses

This information has been posted to Classes Near You > New York.

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Distance learning comes to Denver Botanic Gardens’ Botanical Art Program!

If you have always wanted to enroll in a certificate program in botanical art, but live too far away from existing programs, here is a new option to consider. The Denver Botanic Gardens has created a distance learning program that combines in-class instruction with weekly sessions taught over the Internet.

Students are still required to put in some on-site class time for the program, however the classes are not spread out over several weeks like they are in the traditional certificate program. The new program is comprised of weekend classes during which students receive intensive instruction, learn new techniques, and receive one-on-one tutoring.

The following on-site courses are required and are taught entirely in the classroom (Friday through Sunday):

    Botanical Illustration in Pencil I
    Botany for the Botanical Illustrator
    Composition for Botanical Illustration
    Perfecting Perspective
    Color Layering for Colored Pencil

The courses below are also required and are taught both on-site and online (two days of in-class instruction followed by three weekly Internet sessions):

    Botanical Illustration in Pencil II
    Botanical Illustration in Colored Pencil I
    Botanical Illustration in Colored Pencil II
    Color Mixing for Artists
    Botanical Illustration in Pen and Ink I
    Botanical Illustration in Pen and Ink II
    Botanical Illustration in Watercolor I
    Botanical Illustration in Watercolor II

When completing a course with an online component, students must use a scanner or digital camera to record their work. All correspondence between student and instructor occurs by e-mail. To receive credit for an online course, a student must send a Giclée print of final artwork to their instructor and to the program’s manager within 30 days of the conclusion of the on-site portion of a class in order to receive credit for a course. The completion of a final piece marks the end of each distance learning course.

Students accepted into this new program must live more than 150 miles away from Denver Botanic Gardens.

There is much more to learn about this new option in distance learning. Please download the Spring 2011 catalog to read descriptions of all required courses.

Information about this program has been added to
Classes Near You > Colorado.

Do you have a question about this new program?

You are invited to write your question in the comment box below. Please submit your questions by Friday. Program Manager, Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski, has offered to stop by to answer your questions.

You only need to use your first name (or a screen name). Last names are not necessary.

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