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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…

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 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 (Drawing Workshop, 2013)

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)

G Caruso’s 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 on dropbox so I was able to reinforce my learning. Each participant was able to upload their projects and get positive feedback and suggestions. G 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)

The course about anatomy with G 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)

I took the Spring 2013 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)

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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