Tuesday, 2 January 2018

How do I know which course is suitable for me ??

There have been discussions on social media recently about the availability of accredited courses in botanical art. There are many courses of varying levels out there but virtually none are accredited.

By 'accredited' we mean those that are assessed and quality controlled by and an educational institution, such as a university.  Such courses usually carry points that can be used to put towards the application process of further courses at degree or masters degree level.

In the distant past I had looked at several illustration courses that had a good modular focus on natural science education, but at the time attending a course like this was not an option for me.  Instead I went down the route of studying for a science degree in ecology and conservation biology.

This in turn I have been able to combine with my art to become a full-time professional artist, tutor and illustrator.

All of the above has led me to review how information about courses is provided to perspective students, particularly those courses that I teach as part of Natures Details.

I consider myself very fortunate in that I can teach and share my passion of botanical art and natural science illustration at a variety of venues.  This has enabled me to create a range of course types and I thought now would be a good time to give an overview of each format of course, workshop and learning opportunity that I and Natures Details can provide.

I hope that this open approach will help everybody when they are considering taking a course or workshop and give you some points that may apply to other classes as well as my own.

Weekly classes at Peter Symonds College AHED, Winchester.
Botanical Art - An Introduction to Techniques x1 class 2.5 hrs
Botanical Art - Further Exploration of Techniques x2 classes 2.5 hrs and 2 hrs

  • These classes take place once a week and last for 6-10 weeks according to the confirmed term length.
  • They suit learners that may have limited time available, but also those that have more flexibility and would like a regular learning experience.
  • Each course is carefully written to ensure that there is opportunity for progression at what ever skill level. 
  • If somebody wishes to attend for each term of the academic year no subjects will be repeated, but a variety of techniques can be learnt that can then be applied to numerous subject matter.
  • In the Introductory class, the fundamentals in botanical drawing are covered at the beginning of each term.
  • Due to the above it is advised that the first 3 classes should not be missed, as individual catch-up time is not available within the class.
  • Learners can attend the class each week and only work during the class if they wish.  Alternatively, if further practice is completed between classes at home then individual progression is likely to be at a different pace.
  • Techniques are demonstrated within the group and there is also individual guidance given through each class.
  • Handouts to support learning activities are provided.
  • No formal written assessment is given although verbal feedback and review is available on an individual basis.
  • Due to being in a college environment there other resources available to support teaching and learning.
  • Enrolments can be throughout the year for the forthcoming term if space is available.
  • Some of the course attendees also attend the longer workshops below to enable further exploration of the techniques learnt during the shorter weekly sessions.

1 & 2 day workshops Natures Details Hampshire Courses, The Holt Estate near Winchester. 6 hrs each day.

  • These take place throughout the year from March until October.
  • They suit learners who are beginners and those at other skill levels.
  • These workshops are also about the overall experience as The Holt is in a beautiful countryside setting on the South Downs, providing rural inspiration for some of the classes.  There is also no mobile or internet access, so most course attendees relish in having this chance to be away from everyday technology, I know I certainly do !
  • Individual themes are covered in each workshop and will include botanical and natural science subjects.
  • Suitable for those that cannot commit to a weekly class but would still like a concentrated length of time to focus on their art.
  • Some of the workshops are available as a one day option but those that are two days long give more time and opportunity for everybody to focus on potentially a more complex subject.
  • Attending a 1 or 2 day workshop will also give more time to possibly complete a painting.
  • Handouts to support learning activities are provided.

  • Techniques are demonstrated within the group and there is also individual guidance given through each class.
  • There is more time available to get to know your classmates, particularly over the lunch break and afternoon tea, enabling you to share learning experiences, and to learn from each other as well as me.
  • During these workshops there are also chance to try materials and resources that may be new to you and see these in action demonstrated by the tutor.
  • No formal written assessment is given although verbal feedback and review is available on an individual and group basis.
  • Themes of workshops are reviewed each year and requests for repeats are taken into consideration.  

Residential courses at the Kingcombe Centre, Dorset (all of the courses are available for those wanting to attend on a daily basis)

  • Many of the above points for 1 & 2 day workshops also apply to the residential/longer course options at the Kingcombe Centre.
  • Courses with a residential option are an advantage to those that may have to travel some distance.
  • They provide an option for those that work full-time and may want to attend a course as part of their holiday allowance.
  • Having meals together provides an additional enjoyable social experience.
  • The Centre is situated adjacent to the Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve and therefore there is direct access to the reserve, with many elements being included within courses.
  • There is also staff on hand from the Dorset Wildlife Trust who can advise on species information if needed.
  • There is a purpose built well-lit teaching secure space where materials and equipment can be left in place for the duration of the course.
  • Being on a longer course gives the learner the chance to really get to know the tutor's work and their methods too, with the opportunity for techniques to be shown more than once.
  • Handouts to support learning activities are provided.
  • Evening sessions are often included as part of the courses and can provide additional painting time or a time slot to learn more about the course subject and other associated artists or other activities e.g presentations / videos / using the moth trap / quizzes.

New 2 day course at Nature in Art, Gloucestershire

  • This is in a similar format of the 1 and 2 day courses provided in Hampshire.
  • The difference is that the focus will be on a more in-depth aspect of botanical art.
  • A detailed handbook is available specifically on the course subject.
  • The surroundings are very inspirational as it is the only venue in the UK dedicated to art in the natural world as a permanent collection.

Online Tuition Drawing Nature Courses - Parts 1 & 2
  • The online courses that I have written are very much designed to try and include some of the learning experience that you would have if attending a course in person.
  • Ideal if you are in a more rural location or need to be based at home.
  • If you are considering  enrolling on an online course, you do have to have good self-motivation.
  • The Drawing Nature courses are modular in structure and are a progressive learning experience, designed to increase your confidence in drawing.
  • Assignments are set throughout the course and are assessed individually.
  • Individual feedback is given for each assignment completed.
  • Additional support is available via email and a private Facebook group.
  • A course handbook is provided and is written to be used alongside the tutorial videos.  Each of these are not intended to be used as individual learning resources, as each reinforces the other.
  • Rather than me setting specific subject matter there is the option for you to choose your own.
  • Remember that there are a variety of online learning options out there and take time to decide what format may be best for you.  
  • Don't be afraid to ask the tutor for further information and a course outline and/or an example of a tutorial video/or an example page from the course handbook.
  • For structured courses such as Drawing Nature there may be a set time for the course to be completed in. 
  • The set time that I give is if the learner requires individual feedback.  As the course handbook can be downloaded, the course can be completed without feedback given. But it is very much considered an important part of the learning process.

Personal tuition / Individual coaching

  • This type of learning experience is very much tailored to the individual and their needs.
  • It can take the form of a themed day or can cover specific techniques and approaches to both botanical art and natural science illustration
  • It can suit any level of experience and is particularly useful if you require a coaching experience to cover project management, from choosing a theme, moving to research, onto planning, and onwards to planning the final exhibit.
  • This format suits 1 or 2 people.
For further information email Sarah at: info@illustratingnaturesdetails.com

For all information about courses and workshops please see the Illustrating Natures Details tuition website

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