Just a Leaf

Introduction to Botanical Art in Watercolor – Part 2, Fruit

Shiny Insects in Colored Pencil and Ink

I only recently became an artist myself, and can so clearly remember feeling completely flummoxed by the enormous challenge of trying to illustrate the natural world. Having come to this learning relatively late in life with almost no art background myself, I'm really convinced that with practice, truly hard work, resolve and patience, anybody can become a proficient artist. In fact, it's the only way it can happen. 

Paraphrasing what my very kind teacher Margaret Davidson (retired from the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle) used to say, "you have to make a lot of bad pictures before you can start making a good ones -- so let's get started on the bad ones!" Put a different way, those amazing artists whose work you admire so much had to put in a lot of time and effort to become great at their craft...


Of course, the most important part of your learning is sharing your work with me and your classmates, so we can give you ideas on how to improve. I expect participants to send me photographs of their work which will be shared during class.

Anyone registered in any of my classes is welcome to join my weekly – free! -- open studio/office hours on Wednesday evenings. In addition, we have a Facebook "private group" to share works-in-progress, ask questions, etc.

This is an odd time in our history, but I'm committed to making these Zoom-based workshops work so we can be together, learn new skills and grow as artists. 


Just a Leaf - Again!

Saturday, April 24, 1-4 p.m. Pacific


​(Please register by April 17 in order to allow time to receive supplies.)


By special request, I'm offering this workshop again for folks who weren't able to attend the first time. Leaves are surprisingly tricky in and of themselves. I had absolutely no idea what to do with them when I started out. I've since learned that you just keep layering on thin washes of greens and yellows until you get them to be the color and texture you want. You can use complimentary colors to indicate the depth and overlapping. 

This is a 3-hour class that will include lecture, demonstration and practice time. You probably won't finish your project during this time, but hopefully you'll have enough information to continue on your own. 

The class will be good for those with at least some experience with watercolor. You'll need a basic set of watercolors and brushes. Most botanical artists build their own greens mixing blues and yellows, so we'll work on that. You don't need to have any specific colors for this workshop, but if you are going to be shopping, these are some shades I like: new gamboge, lemon yellow, phthalo blue, ultramarine blue, permanent rose and alizarin crimson.​

I will send you a little bit of 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper, tracing paper and a couple sketches/photos of leaves.

Supplies​ - Basic watercolor supplies including paints, brushes, palette, water buckets, etc. You'll want a large, round brush, any size from 4 to 6 should work, and a smaller brush for details, size 0 or 1.​



Introduction to Botanical Art in Watercolor - Part 2, Fruit

Three consecutive Saturdays: May 8, 15, 29, 1-4 p.m. Pacific (note that there are two weeks between the 2nd and 3rd classes)



Delicious fruit can make wonderful subject matter for deepening your watercolor skills, offering lots of textures and shapes to master!

This workshop will be good for improvers with at least some experience with watercolor. You'll need a basic set of watercolors and brushes, and you will especially want to be sure you have basic primaries (red, blue, yellow) and secondaries (purple, green, orange). Some colors I like are alizarin crimson, scarlet lake, permanent rose, lemon yellow, new gamboge, winsor orange (red shade), phthalo blue (either green or red shade), winsor violet, sap green and Hooker's green. (I have tried the Winsor & Newton version of Hooker's green, but prefer the Graham's.) Please don't worry about buying specific paints for this workshop – you probably have perfectly good ones already! 


  • Sketch paper. For preliminary sketches

  • Clear ruler and/or divider for measuring your live subject(s). I like using a clear ruler, but you might like to try using a divider like this one

  • Tracing paper. This is optional, but I never want to spend the time to draw things twice, so once I have a good sketch, I trace it and transfer it to either another piece of sketch paper if I still need to work on the sketch, or to watercolor paper if I'm ready to start painting. If you are in the market for new tracing paper, I prefer the Canson brand.

  • Basic watercolor supplies including paints, brushes, palette, backing board, artist tape or 14-day release masking tape, water buckets, etc. You'll want a large, round brush, any size from 4 to 6 should work, and a smaller brush for details, size 0 or 1. 

  • Watercolor paper. One sheet of 22" x 30" 300 lb. hot-press watercolor paper (I'm using Arches), which should be plenty for the class. Because most of the work I do involves a lot of detail and layering, this is my go-to paper.  



Shiny Insects in Colored Pencil and Ink

Two consecutive Saturdays: June 5, 12, 1-4 p.m. Pacific



Please sign up by May 15 so I have time to order the beetles and send out to you


Colored pencils are great for portraying colorful, shiny exoskeletons, and the stunning world of beetles are full of them! Ink also plays a role in creating the illusion of high contrast. Each participant will be shipped two shiny, ethically sourced beetles. 


  • Basic set of 24 pencils. I would recommend the Prismacolor Premier 24 set if you are starting from scratch. Please don't feel obligated to use Prismacolors – it's just that they're fairly common in stores. Regardless of brand, you will need professional-grade colored pencils – the student-grade pencils have a lot more wax and less pigment, and can be pretty frustrating to use. 

  • Paper. Having good paper is important for colored pencil success. These are good choices: Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil Pad; Strathmore 500 Series Bristol pad, Canson XL Bristol pad vellum surface; or Canson XL Recycled Bristol pad (use top side, which is the vellum surface). Regardless of what type of paper you buy, I recommend you buy the smallest page size available, as we'll be working small.

  • Pencil sharpener (hand-held or electric if you want to splurge)

  • Optional: colorless blender


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