The Intimacy of the Botanical Arts


Contemporary botanical art captures the beauty of the natural world in a way that’s intimate, personal, and perspective-shifting.

Many people think you need to be a fine artist or interested in scientific illustration in order to participate in botanical art, and perhaps the level of precision involved does give that impression. But it’s such a fulfilling way to view nature AND increase your artistic skills that it’s absolutely worth a try.

Our Arts Coordinator, Caroline Davis, is a passionate artist, naturalist, and teacher. The classes she cultivates merge that love for art and nature. Yes, you can learn all about the accurate rendering of a plant, flower, bird, or insect, but even if your desire is to make loose, impressionistic flower paintings, this course of study is still so valuable.

“I am a painter,” Caroline says, “but my works are not scientific. But learning how many legs a particular insect has, or which tree a certain bird nests in has made my work so much better. The more I learn about and draw/paint nature, the more my mind is blown! It feels good to know what I’m doing, even though there is so much more to learn. Nature knocks my socks off every day!”

Beetle by Mindy Lighthipe
A still life by Susan Bartlett Rice.
A still life by Susan Bartlett Rice.

One of the best entrees into botanical arts—especially if you’re a flower arranger or just a flower lover—is our upcoming Floral Arrangements in Acrylic on May 8. The class will start with a tour of several large, extraordinary arrangements that will serve as models for students to paint from, and students can pick up arranging tips while they’re at it, including a few tricks to make flowers appear open and showy. 

Or if the creatures found in nature are more your thing? We have another workshop in which students will spend five full days exploring insects and pollination, learning the anatomy of insects like beetles, butterflies, and dragonflies. This is about translating nature from life to art—and that’s an amazing act of alchemy.

But then again, almost any artist will tell you that life IS art. And what’s more life-affirming than getting up close and personal to flowers—the ultimate expression of a plant’s life cycle—or the tiniest residents of our gardens before creating a very personal interpretation and vision? This is your chance to be moved by nature in an entirely new way.

Check out the Botanical Arts program here.