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More from the ASBA Conference: Carol Govan’s Botany Workshop

by Gayle Uyehara, posted by Deb Shaw

Carol Govan delivered a fast-paced, exciting lecture about botany. Photo by Gayle Uyehara.

Carol Govan delivered a fast-paced, exciting lecture about botany. Photo by Gayle Uyehara.

Carol Govan’s Thursday “Wow, Botany Is Exciting” workshop really was that, WOW!

Carol contacted the class participants a few weeks earlier and sent us a very informative email and handout with all the technical terms we would learn so we wouldn’t have to stop and look them up during class. She also told us to relax but hang on tight because the workshop was structured from her 8-week course at Wellesley College Botanic Gardens. In three hours we learned the parts of a plant and their function in a humorous, informative manner that only Carol can deliver.

After we learned the names of the plant parts, we quickly sketched the specimen before us and labeled them. “Quick” being the emphasis and it was amazing how many things we had captured in our short observation. What a treat this class was!

Learning the plant parts. Photo by Gayle Uyehara.

Learning the plant parts. Photo by Gayle Uyehara.

Carol’s botany workshop built on this newbie’s vocabulary in a manner that will allow me to pick up a book and know what to look for in the field. She pointed out several older reference books because of their descriptive words of the plant rather than their non-visual clues like DNA and chemical properties.

Toward the end of class, Carol demonstrated how she uses sketch paper, hard pencil and grid frame to capture a quick but accurate gesture composition of a plant; keeping in mind the negative spaces she creates. The grid was only a few marks on paper and frame but gave her a visual clue about placement on the paper.  From there she does a quick contour drawing which she will work with the rest of the time—while making any corrections to her gesture drawing. The color she adds as part of her sketch is made from a three-color palette made up of the primaries. She mixes up her watercolor swatch on a white plate to include the shadow and highlights.

Carol finished up this delightful workshop by telling us how she uses her sketches to create a composition and showed us examples of her finished pieces.

Let me mention again what a treat this class was!

I am sure that I will think of her many times as I  continue on my botanical art journey. Thank you Carol!

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