I have been
teaching botanical painting since 2009, and I think the one thread
that has been in everyone is a reverence for nature.
As a beginner,
Miller suggests you start with a flat subject "such as a leaf or
woody stem " that can be placed on a table. For that, she loves
magnolia leaves because their branches are exquisitely designed. After
you find your favorite budding flower or leaf, lay it on a piece of
white paper, trace its outline and then fill in the details. If you
draw it on tracing paper, corrections are easy to make, Miller adds,
and it will be easy to transfer your drawing to watercolor paper.
Have fun, itís
like completing a puzzle, she says.
outdoor plein air sessions she offers during spring, summer and fall,
Miller starts with a botany overview and a sketching demonstration.
Then you head into the garden to paint or sketch, and Miller walks
around to see who needs help or has questions.
For anyone who
needs help with drawing, she will sit with them and draw their
subject, so they can see how she starts and how they can proceed, she
If they come to
paint, she can help them with narrowing their picture frame and mixing
Keep in mind,
she says, a botanical drawing aims to show the plantís structure and
how all its parts connect. Some subjects, like leaves, can be placed
on paper and traced, while others, such as buds, require a vase to
hold it steady.
When drawing a
tree cutting, she draws the branch first then the flowers or fruits
and the leaves last, she says.
out, itís important to take breaks, breathe and have a cup of tea at
drawing is done, put it on the refrigerator and walk away. Take a look
at it nine feet away. Does it please you? If not, take out your eraser
and make your changes.
is the goal of any botanical drawing or painting, your first attempts
make not get your there totally. But as you continue and get to know
the botany of plants and notice the fine details, like delicate veins
in a lone leaf, you will be surprised at how your drawings progress,
"I am a
life learner and botanical art is something that came to me in
midlife," she says, adding that she doesnít have time to garden
but loves to be outdoors. She says sheís both left and right
brained, so botanical painting fits perfectly.
2007, she drew my first subject from life, a slender dayflower.
"I still have that first painting and take it to my workshops.
Naivety is a gift and we all have to start somewhere," she says.
allow us to touch and look into the miracle of life. Drawing and
painting from life allows us to get back to our natural sense of self,
our natural sense of rhythm, and slow down to in some cases, to smell