Introduction to Botanical Watercolors

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Event Date

January 27, 2018, 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM


Botanical Arts and Crafts

Point of Contact

Laura Northern Venhaus

Director of the Libraries and Research Public Engagement

This  full day workshop is designed for those who would like to learn how to capture the beauty of nature in watercolor. It is especially designed for beginners who have never picked up a brush before. We will cover all the basics of watercolor painting, including papers, paints, basic techniques, lighting, staging your subject etc. Participants will paint at least one subject (flower, vegetable, fruit etc) from live material during the class. Those who have paints and brushes that have been sitting idle on a shelf for years are encouraged to bring them. We will provide paper, palettes, a limited selection of paints and brushes and other materials (pencils, erasers etc). Watercolor painting will give you new ways to view and observe nature. Even those who claim that they can't draw a stick-figure will be surprised at what they can really do.  Please bring a brown bag lunch and any snacks you might want as we'll be working through lunch!

Instructor Denis Benjamin practiced pediatric pathology at the children’s hospital in Seattle and later at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth.  Now retired from medical practice he devotes his energy to natural history and documenting wildflowers and mushrooms with photography and watercolors. The latter was inspired by a workshop with the noted Russian botanical artist (Alexander - Sasha - Viazmensky). He is the author of Mushrooms: Poisons and Panaceas (1995, WH Freeman and Co. NY, NY) and Musings of a Mushroom Hunter: A Natural History of Foraging (2010 Tembe Press, Cle Elum, WA) He now lives in Fort Worth and is a Research Associate at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. He is a member of the High Country Artists in Cle Elum, WA and the Society of Watercolor Artists in Fort Worth.

Please note: this class is SOLD OUT 

Suggested Materials List

If you would like to purchase your own supplies for class, the following are suggested:

  1. Bushes - rounds #2, #6, #8 and #10 or #12, synthetic or mixed synthetic/sable (Inexpensive or moderate grade. Don't spend a bundle at the beginning.)
  2. Paint - a 24 color pan set from Yarka (St. Petersburg). These are around $60.00 and my first box lasted almost five years and many dozens of paintings. I still have a number of the colors that I have never used. If you would prefer to buy tubes, which is really not necessary for botanicals, all you need is six - a cool red (eg alizarin crimson) and warm red (eg scarlet lake), a cool blue and warm blue and a cool yellow and warm yellow. Theoretically one can create any color with this set, although it is not as straightforward as it sounds. I don't recommend tubes for beginners.
  3. Paper - 140 lb cold press or hot press - 9x12 inch pads or blocks (eg Arches - expensive, Strathmore - cheap, Canson - cheap, Fabriano - average, Winston-Newton - average)
  4. A good attitude!


On-line art supplies; DIck Blick, Utrecht, Cheap Joes, Amazon

About Botanical Arts and Crafts

Get in touch with your inner artist by taking a class in botanical drawing, painting, or photography or by attending one of our hands-on, nature-inspired craft workshops. You will find options for all interests and skill levels. These classes, taught by accomplished, professional artists, will not only allow you to increase your skills but will also enhance your understanding of the natural world.