Botanical Watercolor Essentials

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Value: 160€ // Current Price: 75€

Online video course with Mira O’Brien

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Gain a solid foundation in the essentials of Botanical Watercolor. 

Would you like to learn how to paint botanical watercolors, starting at the beginning?
Are you looking for a meditative habit to deepen your relationship with nature?

Why Botanical Watercolor: Relationships with Plants

Botanical watercolor is a wonderful way to learn about color, painting and plants. The process of close observation creates a relationship between the painter and the specimen. By paying attention to overlooked subjects and taking the time for small details we create space for a shift in perspective. The specimens in this course are not the most showy florist flowers, but relatively common (in Northern Europe) plants that one might encounter during a walk through a derelict city path, or eventually a meadow or a park. We start by painting a blackberry leaf and end with a complete composition of a dog rose (Rosa canina), both hedgerow staples inhabiting both urban and wild places.

What to Expect: A Personal Guide

Learn the techniques that build a botanical watercolor foundation, step by step. During this course, Mira guides you through the process of creating layered watercolor painting. The focus is on learning the techniques behind the painting, not merely copying.

Each lesson includes an original photo reference of a specimen, a line drawing of the specimen (can be used for tracing) and a full length video of the painting process. Practice exercises at the start of many lessons help you gain confidence in a technique before applying it to you painting. Each painting of a specimen is broken up into manageable steps that you can revisit over time, applying the techniques learned to your own specimens.

This course includes:

  • Hours of step by step video tutorials covering 5 botanical specimens.
  • Original reference photos and line drawings of each specimen.
  • Practice exercises for techniques learned.
  • Lifetime access to the entire course.

Intro to Watercolor and Color Theory

At the start of this course you will learn foundation watercolor techniques through several short exercises. These techniques include different kind of watercolor washes, glazing, lifting and more. An introduction to color theory will focus on the practical application of mixing colors and knowing how to arrive at the color you need for any specimen. A deep exploration into mixing warm and cool greys, in order to paint a white magnolia flower, will provide an example of how to mix very subtle colors from just the primary colors.

Building a Watercolor Painting: Tonal Structure, Texture and Color

As the course progresses, we will gradually begin to layer our watercolor paintings with surprisingly complex results. By using the layering approach, we can build incredibly detailed paintings in a very manageable way because each individual layer can have a specific focus. So you don’t need to capture everything about your specimen in one go. We will build up our techniques as we build up our layerings, covering components such as: tonal structure, local color, texture, fine details and more.

Composition: Creating a Finished Botanical Painting

The final lesson in this course is a three part painting of the Rosa canina, including flower, leaves and rose hips. You will have the opportunity to create a botanical composition by arranging these different elements together in one painting. You can either use the line drawing provided or create your own composition using reference photos or your very own specimens.

By the end of the course, you will be well on your way to creating your own botanical watercolor paintings from the specimen of your choice. Let a walk outside or a pause in the garden be your inspiration for starting your next painting. You don’t need to go far to discover your next botanical specimen, as long as you are willing to slow down and observe.

Artist-Instructor Mira O’Brien

Mira O’Brien has been teaching botanical watercolor for the past 8 years and has explored the human relationship with nature through her own artwork for decades.

Mira O’Brien

Artist, Educator, & Founder of Berlin Drawing Room

Mira is an internationally exhibited artist as well as an experienced arts educator and the founder of the Berlin Drawing Room. She received her BA in Studio Art from UCLA (2004) and her MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale (2008). Her artistic practice explores the human relationship with nature on both a personal and a structural level. In her teaching, as well as in her art, Mira looks to the figure of the Naturalist through a critical lens, sometimes resulting in collaborations with scientists and other times leading to amateur botanizing, foraging and wonder seeking. Her work has been exhibited internationally in places like New York, Zurich, Los Angeles, Vienna, Spain, San Francisco, Berlin, Cologne and Kassel as a side project of Documenta (13).

Course Content

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Welcome to Botanical Watercolor
Introduction to Watercolor
Flat Wash: Blackberry Leaves
Tonal Structure: Succulents
Mixing Greys: Magnolia Flower
Texture and Details through Layering: Pulsatilla
Botanical Composition: Rosa canina