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School of Botanical Art and Illustration

Inspiring people to explore a world where art and plants intertwine creating an atmosphere of shared interest in all things botanical, while nurturing the artist within – all in beautiful garden surrounds.

A message from School Director, Margaret Saul

BOTANICA 2015, June 6 – July 11 is sure to be another beautiful exhibition of botanical art, featuring work produced by faculty, school associates and members of the Botanical Art Society of the National Capital Region.  Included will be three themed walls: a “Pansy Wall”, “Certificate Projects”, and “Variable Viewpoints” - for those who like to explore fresh approaches to botanical art.  Curious?  More information at, including exhibition guidelines and entry form.  Entries must be received by April 20. 

Workshops and core classes continue to follow our approach to learning that facilitates the progressive development of drawing and painting skills through core curriculum classes and with workshops to suit a specific level of ability.  Students who have completed the introductory drawing courses are nicely placed to start classes in botanical painting and then gain further opportunity to paint at class using the school method at the daffodil workshop. Open to all and a required course if wishing to start advanced level core classes in the fall is the botany course enjoyed by both gardeners and artists alike, and a two-day pansy workshop focusing on colored pencil techniques could see participants with a piece well on the way as an entry for BOTANICA 2015.  Next, take the opportunity for full immersion in botanical art, an inspiring four-day workshop with this year’s Guest Teacher, Kelly Radding.  Register early for this one as places are limited!  Newcomers, will enjoy our annual short, summer course Start Drawing & Painting for adults wishing to pick up some very useful drawing and botanical painting know-how culminating with painting a page of small botanical subjects.  It is also an excellent way to learn more about the school’s core curriculum with classes starting in September.    

Margaret Saul

BOTANICA 2015: The Art & Science of Plants

June 6 to July 10 (Take-down: Saturday July 11)
Brookside Gardens Visitors Center, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton MD 20902

School associates and members of the Botanical Art Society of the National Capital Region are invited to enter their botanical art for selection into this juried exhibition. For information, please refer to the Exhibition Information & Guidelines and the editable Entry Form.

In addition to traditional works exhibited two themed exhibition walls as described in the show guidelines PDF have been planned for. Additional information for these two specific themes –

  1. Pansy Wall – has the potential to be an eye catching exhibition space presenting a “wall mosaic” of pansy faces interspersed with flowering sprigs and providing a delightful comparative study. Such small pictures can be exquisite and as they are usually less expensive than larger botanicals they are more likely to attract buyers looking to start a private collection.
  2. Variable Viewpoints – here the school is again at the forefront providing opportunity to exhibit novel approaches to botanical art, this time one based upon exploration of a single piece of subject matter viewed as stimulus for an informative yet aesthetically pleasing picture, either primarily from a botanical viewpoint, or by viewing the subject matter as a means of stimulating artistic sensibilities stirred by the discovery of fascinating design elements. Consider any of the following that could be applied to either a traditional or an innovative style
  • Magnified views, longitudinal or cross sections that focus on the botanical but where also, the design elements discovered might influence the approach to background treatment etc.
  • Drawing or painting media seldom used in botanical art may better portray what inspires.
  • Innovative composition through arrangement of varied views; consider expressing a certain mood or atmosphere using structural and tonal composition considerations, e.g. plan for a picture of predominantly minor or major contrasts.
  • Viewpoints in the context of placement and perspective (varied eyelevel, planes, distances)
  • An artistically designed page exhibiting a variety of drawing or coloring techniques.
  • Various stages of development in the growth of a bud or leaf; might include magnified views etc.
  • A picture exhibiting the piece studied as a series of images with developing complexity.

NB: All artwork entered will be judged using the three criteria for botanical art – (i) botanical accuracy, (ii) proficiency in drawing and rendering techniques (iii) artistic sensibility.

Margaret Saul (Director, BGSBAI), 12/15/2014

Course Calendar

The new Xperience is coming soon! Registration for spring & summer programs opens February 14th for residents of Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties and February 15th for all others. Be sure to investigate and register for classes starting in March. Don't miss the opportunity to learn from experienced artists and network with other students. Enjoy the small class size and the beautiful garden setting for inspiration. Encourage your fellow artists to register with you.

Current SBAI classes

Have you signed up for a class? Look for materials to bring in one of the following lists:
Required Class Materials - Fall & Winter 2014/2015

Required Class Materials - Spring & Summer 2015

Check the calendar below for detailed program and event information by date. Register for our botanical art and illustration classes online through ParkPASS or by calling 301-962-1451. The calendar is interactive so that you can modify the view to your preference by clicking the tabs at the top right, but in order to register online for any of the programs or events listed, you must visit ParkPASS. If you don't already have a ParkPASS account, visit the sign in page to create one.


Want to learn more?

The Brookside Gardens School of Botanical Art and Illustration (SBAI) is located at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. Botanical art class offerings are listed in the current issue of the Xperience Guide to Programs and Events. For more information, contact Laura Vogel at 301-962-1470.

Subscribe to the Brookside Gardens E-Newsletter to recieve notice when Xperience Guide to Programs and Events is published, along with other Garden news and updates. To receive the SBAI E-Newsletter, check the box to indicate your interest in the School of Botanical Art and Illustration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

For information on individual classes, browse programs online at:
ParkPass, School of Botanical Art.

Congratulations to our 2013 Certificate Recipients!

Congratulations to Kelly Mills Sverduk and Kathy Lutter, this year’s recipients of the prestigious Brookside Gardens School of Botanical Art& Illustration Certificate. The certificate course requires course credit for core curriculum classes, electives and workshops and culminates in the compilation of a final portfolio that includes a selection of practical assignments, (submitted earlier for regular evaluation over a period of two calendar years), and a Certificate Project – begun in a student’s third year that includes an artist statement and description of their creative process. Many thanks to Susan Fisher, Leonie Norton and Alice Tangerini for assessing their final projects. You can view their portfolios, which were submitted to our three external examiners, on the walls of our Online Gallery.

Sites of Interest

If you are interested in learning more about the field of botanical artistry or botanical art classes in your area, visit the other websites listed below:

Online Galleries and Art Societies
Other Schools of Botanical Art & Illustration