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Botanical Watercolor Workshop Series

A year-round online workshop series that follows the seasons.

A series of Botanical Watercolor Workshops that take place online and follow the changing of the seasons. Join at any point in the year for one or all four modules. 

Learn botanical watercolor techniques from your home. While instruction will take place through an interactive livestreaming format (Zoom), care will be taken to emphasize the individual sensual experience of drawing from living specimens and working with watercolors.

Specimens: Each class includes high quality original photo references that we can paint from together. Sometimes Mira also provides instructions for specimen collection, in case you want work from direct observation. Simple instructions provided days in advance direct you to pick up a green leaf from the sidewalk, grab a weed sprouting out from a crevice, purchase a piece of seasonal produce, and other actions intended to call attention to oft overlooked instances of nature. 

Watercolor Painting: The livestreaming classes introduce watercolor techniques through live demos and interactive instruction. You can follow live each brushstroke that makes up the finishes painting, with a close up view of Mira’s work table. Techniques include line drawing with watercolor tea wash, building up layers with washes, adding detail with special watercolor effects, mixing colors and more. All levels are welcome.

The paintings made in this workshop are inspired by the figure of the Naturalist, who was both artist and scientist. These recordings are just as much about the subjective process of observation as they are about the recording of scientific data.

Online Workshops

Join at the start of any workshop, no matter what level you are at. 

  • Also includes: recordings of every class, individual feedback on finished work, supplemental material.
  • 6 – 8 pm Tuesdays
  • Starting at 6pm in Berlin, 12pm in New York, 9am in San Francisco, 5pm in London…

Video Course

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Private Botanical Watercolor Workshop -in France!

A private group workshop at Mira's Atelier in Côte d'Azur, available at select times: August 2024, Easter break 2025, August 2025

Artwork

Mira O'Brien: artist, educator and founder

Mira O’Brien’s artistic research into topics such as the figure of the Naturalist and the conceptions of landscape and nature find expression not only through her paintings and installations but also through her teaching practice.  

Mira is an internationally exhibited artist and the founder of the Berlin Drawing Room. She studied art and philosophy at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and went on to received an MFA in Painting from Yale University School of Art.  

Her work has been exhibited internationally, notably in New York, Los Angeles, Spain, Berlin, and Kassel as an auxiliary project of Documenta (13). Solo-exhibitions have taken place at DD55 Galerie (Köln), General Public (Berlin), Vierter Stock Galerie supported by a grant from the US Embassy (Berlin), and as a solo-project at the historic Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz (Berlin), to name a few.

”I absolutely loved the Printmaking workshop! Not only did we get hands-on skills, but we also explored the fascinating history and context behind the art. The references were super helpful. The vibes were amazing and Alma created such a chill and supportive environment where we all helped each other out. She guided each of us so well, and thanks to her, I was able to create the prints I had imagined.”

Muj ( Printmaking Workshop )

The course about anatomy was great! It’s amazing how much you can learn in such a short time and G is a very precise and nice instructor. Thank you for that!

Nathalie Frank (Anatomy Drawing Workshop, 2017)

Out of all of the art classes that I’ve taken this was the one that I see my skills progress the fastest. My instructor taught at a great pace, had such care for their students, and patience. You guys rule!! Portrait Painting Workshop.

This class was a real eye opener in every respect – I never thought I could draw and then the magic happens with the help of the calm professional inspired guidance by Mira O’Brien. This sounds exaggerated I’m sure, but to me the whole drawing course was a real life changing experience!!! I recommend to everybody to dive in there and come out feeling like a talented artistic person with loads of new skills : ))) Drawing Workshop

Hannelore (Drawing from Observation)

I took the Drawing Workshop and can highly recommend it. This is a great class for learning to observe and draw in a structured, yet playful and creative way. I was familiar with some of the ideas from Betty Edwards ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’, and I also met many new exercises and ways of approaching drawing. Mira is a gentle and supportive teacher, at the same time she is always stretching her students to try different methods and get beyond their self-imposed limits. By the end of the class, I noticed that my drawing had improved in ways that I hadn’t even realised!

Catherine Lupton (Drawing Workshop, 2013)

Had a wonderful experience at the Anatomy Drawing Online Workshop. The technical side of it was well organised and all the details before, during and after the course were excellently communicated by the tutor via email/dropbox! Overall a great experience. Would definitely recommend it to others! Liked it so much I’m taking another course there this month!

Heidy Wein

I really recommend these classes to open minded people. Here you will learn basics or enhance your already established skills in a non academic way. You can always grab a book and learn about how you “should” draw lights and shadows, but this is different. This is about approaching reality, breaking through your “standards” and creating something that, sometimes surprisingly, is always definitely interesting. If you are not afraid of what can get out of your pencil when you let it go, just come to this workshop: it is the right place for you!

Simone Brizzi

I recently finished Mira’s online Winter Botanical Watercolour series and it’s been a very special experience, not only because the class was wonderful, but also because I signed up together with my eleven-year-old daughter and my mum. I think it’s the first time the Berlin Drawing Room has seen three generations of one family in a class!

I wanted to learn how to draw comics or create a graphic novel. Books and classes I found and did so far, had quite a conventional approach. When I found Ali’s course, I had the feeling this is a bit different from the others. I wasn’t sure at the beginning, if it would be worth to book all 5 classes at once, but I absolutely didn’t regret that I did. Over 5 months I participated nearly every week in the online class. Ali offered a nice mix of warm up exercised, theoretical input, feedback, answering questions, sharing own experiences and several drawing exercises. She encouraged the participants to create and stick with a character. Since the course happened over a long period and I got feedback and input every week, it was possible to get into a process and develop something. I didn’t had any specific in mind, but over the time I created a wolf character, who is now part of several comics I’ve made and still make. I also liked Ali’s political awareness and openness. I didn’t have a favourite exercise, but I liked a lot, that we started with a short warm up, did another longer exercise and did a long exercise in the end of each class.

Maria Preußmann (Visual Storytelling Workshop Series with Ali Fitzgerald, 2021)

Great drawing and painting courses. Teachers have a professional background and outstanding social skills – to make a group feel comfortable. Even beginners and people who feel insecure about their creativity are taken care of here. Definitely recommend! I’m currently participating in an online course and enjoy being creative in a group from the comfort of my home.

Pat Re

I recently took a workshop with Ali Fitzgerald and it was absolutely wonderful! I am an illustrator, meaning I am used to working with single images, but I have always admired comic artists who work with multiple panels. Ali’s lessons were super insightful and she had so many simple and efficient tips that helped me actually put my single images together and tell a story with real emotional expressions and a storyline. Highly recommend it to any artists out there who are trying to take a leap into making comics or bringing their stories to life! But if you are a beginner this workshop will also be perfect for you 🙂 Ali is super patient, kind and willing to help with everything you might need.

Julia Mota Albuquerque

Mira’s Botanical watercolor classes are wonderful on many levels! Not only does one learn watercolor techniques, but also the skills of observation and recording the natural world. Mira is very knowledgeable, inclusive and accepting of all skill levels. It was fun!

Michelle Soule

Best art workshops I’ve ever attended! I really enjoyed a botanical watercolour workshop with Mira, and have attended the Sketchbook Workshop series monthly for the past year. It’s changed my artistic life by keeping me motivated to create art daily, and I learn so much from the instructor and the other students each class. Best of all, the sketchbook series is completely online right now, so students from around the world can join in! I highly recommend classes from Berlin Drawing Room for students who are beginners, advanced, or anywhere in between 🙂

Lindsey Gould

I loved the specimens that she chose for the winter botanical series. Mira is an excellent teacher. She was gentle and kind with her appraisals of my work (I was a beginner) and she was open to the needs of her students. I highly recommend this class!

Michele Villeneuve

I took the Summer Botanical Watercolor Workshop with Mira O’Brien. It was a such a marvelous experience; clear, precise, informative and wonderful. Although initially slightly hesitant about taking an online class, I was especially impressed! The online nature of the class gave us up close access to watching Mira do demos which was a huge highlight! I would recommend this class to anyone who is either interested in learning about watercolor techniques as a beginner or as someone who has watercolor experience. Mira’s enthusiasm for botanical watercolors comes through in so many ways! For each class she prepared wonderful slide shows about plants and techniques – always giving us a context with which to understand that day’s class! Take this class! It’s marvelous!

April Gertler

The watercolor workshop was excellent and my first online art workshop. I hadn’t worked with watercolor for many years and I was able to refresh my memory and learn new techniques each week. Each session was recorded so I was able to reinforce my learning. Each participant was able to upload their projects and get positive feedback and suggestions. The instructor is an organized, very experienced water-colorist and teacher who shares her passion for the medium. She cares about each student and their progress. The sense of community that developed was such a treat. I live in the USA and worked from my studio. There were students from four other countries. I signed up for another class immediately and hope online classes will continue to be offered.

Norma Bradley (Sketchbook Practice Workshop, 2020)

I’ve been taking drawing workshops all year online from California. They have been fantastic! I’ve notice huge improvements in my technical abilities, confidence, and overall passion for drawing. I highly recommend.

Derek Chan

Mira celebrates her wonder of nature with her students. Whether for beginners or for more advanced participants, her classes provide technical instruction from the blank page and fresh paints to the finished work. Participants gain tips from her meticulous drawings, as well as courage from each other as we each develop our skills. Emotionally soothing and intellectually captivating, these drawing classes are a great investment for developing a new skill or honing an old one!

Wendy M K Shaw

Starting in January, I began a course in Writing and Illustrating Graphic Novels with Ali Fitzgerald through Berlin Drawing Room.  Ali is a fantastic instructor. She helps you find ways into your work: generative exercises, critical examples, interviews with artists about methods and materials. She also encourages you to find the ways to have fun. I was really intimidated by the idea of graphic novels – the undertaking seemed too daunting- but working with Ali and alongside artists with widely different approaches has been so helpful and inspiring.

For further backstory: My cousin Jessica had found Berlin Drawing Room classes in the height of lockdown and recommended I check them out. The recommendation proved incredibly fruitful. After I defended my dissertation in 2020 and my drawing practice turned mostly into Zoom conference sketching (still very useful!), I felt a little lost. Starting with Mira O’Brien technical instruction in botanical watercolor, then G’s figure drawing classes, I had a new place to go every week that helped me get out of my head about academia and work and job prospects. I am so grateful for this community of artists. Something about the global span is reassuring. I know I could find regular classes in New York (and should, perhaps), but I’ve paradoxically appreciated the distance.

How to Paint Leaves: Alchemilla vulgaris

Learn how to paint a leaves in botanical watercolor style. How does one paint a leaf that has both light and dark veins? Paint along in real time with artist instructor Mira O’Brien as she works from the reference photo here. Learn how to easily add details such a serrated edged to your leaf drawing, how to preserve the light of the paper so that lighter veins stand out, and how to add textural details.

This botanical watercolor class was part of our monthly FREE livestreaming series. We offer a free live class on a different drawing or painting topic every month. All are welcome to join! We send out the details for the classes and the livestreaming join link via our newsletter, every month. Sign up for our newsletter if you want to participate next time live.

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More Naturalist Themed Workshops

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Learn to create and use paints and inks made from plants, fruits and soil.

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Wunderkammer Watercolor