The Ruskin School of Art will host three summer classes with artist and author Sarah Simblet that will change how you observe and capture Nature in all your creative endeavors.

The following classes offer immersive drawing experiences. Participants will receive instruction both in the studio and in the field.

    Botanical Drawing

    August 6-12, 2018

    A seven-day intensive in botanical illustration based on the best-selling book, Botany for the Artist: An Inspirational Guide to Drawing Plants. Participants will immerse themselves in plant morphology and the techniques of botanical illustration to produce drawings featuring the plants at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Christ Church Meadows. This course will inspire confidence in the beginner and refresh the work of experienced artists. No previous experience needed. View course itinerary online.

    The New Sylva: Drawing Trees with Sarah Simblet

    August 20-24, 2018

    Based on the book The New Sylva: A Discourse of Forest and Orchard Trees for the Twenty-First Century by Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet, this course will be held in the studio at the Ruskin School of Art and in the beautiful gardens of Rousham House in West Oxfordshire. Beginning and experienced students will learn about the morphology of trees and fill their handmade sketchbooks with observations. When reviewing the course itinerary, be sure to watch the short video in which Sarah discusses how she studies trees and prepares to draw them.

    The Drawing Book with Sarah Simblet

    September 3-9, 2018

    No experience is necessary to participate in this in-depth course about drawing. Participants will engage in practical drawing lessons, visit museums, and learn about the history, contemporary practice, and diverse role drawing plays in our lives. Elements of drawing to be discussed include frame, plane, shape, space, line, mark, gesture, time, rhythm, speed, form, surface, texture, lighting, illusion, and perspective. View the course itinerary here.


The Ruskin School of Art offers a range of short courses that may also be of interest to you. View the current schedule for details.

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord is an award-winning artist, author, and speaker. Her stunning handmade books and calligraphy work have been shown in exhibitions throughout the United States. Susan has authored seven books and has served as a contributing artist to several publications. Her current exhibition,
The Spirit Books is now on view at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.

Susan’s Spirit Books series began in 1992. It represents an ongoing exploration of her love of books and her response to the natural world. Using branches, stems, roots, more than 22 types of media, and handmade paper from nine countries, Susan creates wordless books that speak volumes. Each book is placed in a cradle of natural material to produce a sculpture leading to “a contemplative experience that takes the reader out of the everyday world and into a state of gratitude and reverence.”

Spirit Book #82: Soaring Serenity (cradle from a butterfly bush), © Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, all rights reserved

Spirit Book #43: Renewed Wisdom (cradle from lilac and blackberry vines), © Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, all rights reserved

Spirit Book #99: Chambered Congruity (with a cradle made from sweetgum pods), © Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, all rights reserved

Additional Spirit Books can be viewed in Susan’s online gallery. I am confident you will find these sculptures beautiful, emotional, and peaceful and that they will pique your curiosity about the countries and cultures behind the materials Susan uses.

To learn more about the Spirit Books on view at the Arnold Arboretum, follow Susan on her blog where she writes about the fourteen books in the exhibition.

If you live in the Boston area, you have the opportunity to learn from Susan personally during her artist’s talk scheduled for Saturday, June 2, 2018 (3-4 pm).

Visit The Arnold Arboretum

BONUS: Make Your Own Books!

Susan is not only a busy artist, but she is also the generous force behind MakingBooks.com, a resource for teachers and parents interested in sharing the book arts with students of all ages.

Visit MakingBooks.com and you’ll find:

  • Free projects
  • Tips & Tools for Teachers
  • Tips & Tools for Families
  • Videos
  • Downloadable projects and other resources in the eBookstore.

Of particular interest to botanical and scientific illustrators are Susan’s videos about how to make and use a Plant Tag Fan Book, a Step Book, and a Stick & Elastic Book.

Attention readers near Cambridge, MA!

Scientific illustrator Erica Beade will teach four outdoor sketching workshops at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Here’s what’s new at Classes Near You > Massachusetts.

Erica Beade, Scientific Illustrator

Erica Beade is an illustrator specializing in science, health and nature subjects and has taught observational drawing for many years, with a particular focus on the natural world. She offers independent workshops and more formal classes through the Harvard Museum of Natural History (and occasionally other venues). She also offers private classes and workshops for individuals and groups. Information about upcoming classes can be found on her teaching website, Observational Drawing.

View portfolios of Erica’s work at www.mbcgraphics.com, Science-Art.com, and www.cafepress.com/mbcgraphics.

    Outdoor sketching workshops will be held at Mt. Auburn Cemetery and indoor workshops primarily at the Harvard Museum of Natural HIstory or the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, unless otherwise noted. I am offering these workshops independently, so please contact me directly if you’re interested in signing up or learning more.

    • Sketching Plants & Flowers: Thursday, May 24 from 9:00am to 11:00am
    • Sketching Trees: Wednesday, June 6 from from 9:00am to 11:00am
    • Landscape Sketching: Thursday, June 21 from from 9:00am to 11:00am
    • Sketching with Colored Pencils: Saturday, June 30 from from 9:00am to 11:00am

Workshop Fee: $40 each

To register, please contact Erica via email.

To receive information about future workshops, please join Erica’s email list at ObservationalDrawing.com.

Follow Observational Drawing on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/observationaldrawing.

Botanical Dimensions is a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring plants and the cultural knowledge surrounding them.

Next month Botanical Dimensions will host Picturing Plants: Cyanotype and Botanical Drawing as Tools for Depicting Nature. This workshop will be taught by visual artist Klea McKenna and Kathleen Harrison, Director of the Ethnobotany Library in Occidental, CA.

In this weekend workshop, participants will learn how to create botanical illustrations using graphite, pen and ink, and colored pencil. Participants will also learn about cyanotype printing and the history of botanical illustration. Also scheduled is a Saturday evening talk with artist Klea McKenna.

    Picturing Plants: Cyanotype and Botanical Drawing as Tools for Depicting Nature
    Klea McKenna and Kathleen Harrison
    Occidental Center for the Arts
    June 2-3, 2018
    10 am – 4 pm
    Cost: $350
    View Details/Register

By Taina Litwak, Program Co-coordinator, GNSI Conference

The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators would like to invite you to join us at the 50th Anniversary GNSI Conference in Washington, D.C., July 15-21, 2018. Illustrators, artists, scientists and educators will gather to showcase award-winning work and new techniques that shape diverse fields of inquiry where science and art converge. We hope you will join fellow artists and science communicators this summer at this historic gathering in Washington D.C., where the GNSI began back in 1968.

Conference registration is now open.

View the conference website at http://2018.conf.gnsi.org.

For more information, please contact Shannon Russell, Local Expert, GNSI Conference 2018.

See inside

Welcome to New Zealand: A Nature Journal is a bright and colorful introduction to documenting the natural world.

Author and illustrator Sandra Morris filled this 48-page book with many inspiring ideas. It is a great resource to use this week during
National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), not to mention that fast-approaching summer vacation!

Included in the colorful pages of her book are ideas not usually found in journaling books.

These ideas include:

  • How to create a seasonal color wheel.
  • How to create a garden food chain.
  • How to sketch a forest ecosystem.
  • How to create a habitat study.
  • How to create a layered map of shore birds.
  • How to create a moon log.
  • How to track cloud formations during the day.
  • How to create a zoo trail map.

An idea I especially like is Morris’ approach to comparing two species of swamp birds. This smart idea will appeal to someone who is learning about birds and who is just now beginning a practice of sketching birds.

Selected pages of this book are viewable online.

Welcome to New Zealand can be purchased from your local bookseller through IndieBound. Better yet, stop by your local bookstore this weekend and help them celebrate Independent Bookstore Day, an annual event occurring on the fourth Saturday of April (learn more).

Courtesy Nomade Aventure, © Agathe and Thomas Haevermans

If you’ve ever wanted to go somewhere less traveled to draw and paint plants like the botanists and artists of past centuries, here is your opportunity.

Scientific illustrator Agathe Haevermans and botanist Thomas Haevermans have announced they will lead a botany and illustration tour of Madagascar in the fall.

This tour is a 14-day adventure that includes travel by foot, bus, boat and dug-out canoe. Travelers will visit national parks and marine reserves, seaside villages, local markets, pristine forests, and meet with Malagasy botanical artists. Travelers will fill their sketchbooks with images daily while learning about Madagascar’s flora and fauna. Madagascar is home to thousands of species believed not to exist anywhere else on earth.

Here is a brief look at the itinerary:

    Day 1
    Arrival in the Malagasy capital, visit a botanical and zoological park, meet Malagasy botanical artists.

    Day 3
    Hike to the top of Montagne des Français, visit the Orangea forest, sketch the Baobabs, pachypodiums, and other succulent plants.

    Day 4
    Visit a dense rainforest.

    Day 5
    Visit geological features, go on a hike and add images to your sketchbook.

    Day 6
    Visit Ankarana National Park, sketch the botanical curiosities you encounter.

    Day 7
    Visit an uninhabited island and explore the lagoon.

    Day 8
    Visit one of the last primary forests where you can find almost all the endemic flora and fauna in northern Madagascar. Travel by cut-out canoe.

    Day 9
    Morning drawing workshop with Agathe at the hotel. Afternoon on your own.

    Day 10
    Visit local markets in a seaside village.

    Day 11
    Visit Ankarafantsika National Park.

    Day 12
    Explore Ankarafantsika National Park.

    Day 13
    Walking tour of the City of Flowers.

    Day 14
    Botanical drawing workshop and other options available on this day.

The full itinerary of this adventure can be viewed on the website of Nomade Aventure, the travel company organizing this trip.

More About Your Experienced Guides

Agathe and Thomas Haevermans are both members of the Société des Explorateurs Français (Society of French Explorers).

Agathe Haevermans is the scientific illustrator at the Muséum National Histoire Naturelle (Museum of Natural History) in Paris. She is also the president of the Société Française d’Illustration Botanique (French Society of Botanical Illustration), and the author of several books, including The Art of Botanical Drawing: An Introductory Guide (2009).

Thomas Haevermans is a botanist who has conducted research throughout Asia and Madagascar. He now manages the botanical team at the Institute of Systemics, Evolution, and Biodiversity at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.

Accompanying the Haevermans will be a team of local French-speaking guides and local park guides.

This adventure begins on October 20, 2018, in the capital city of Antananarivo.

Cost: 2929 €

(Note: The duration and price shown in the itinerary does not include an international return flight so to allow travelers to book a return trip most appropriate for their situation)

View map and itinerary

More Images

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