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About ALE 1360 A

Training in the skills required to produce aesthetically pleasing visual representations of botanical subjects grounded in technically correct plant morphology and anatomy. Use of line, shading, and color explored in depth. Media include graphite, pen and ink, colored pencils and watercolor. Includes a final project. Prerequisite: Junior/Senior Standing.


Open to PACE and degree students; Complete form at to be added to waitlist; Instructor permission required

Section Description

Throughout history artists have produced botanical drawings and paintings that are appealing not only for their beauty, but also for the scientific information they convey. This course focuses on the skills required to produce botanically accurate and aesthetically pleasing visual representations of a wide range of botanical subjects. Students learn plant anatomy and practice drawing a variety of live plants in the studio, the field, and in the greenhouse. The use of line, shading, composition, and color are explored in depth. Students are introduced to media that include graphite, pen and ink, colored pencils, and watercolor. Design is presented as a tool to clarify concepts and visual ideas. Participants leave the course with enhanced drawing and observational skills, a firm foundation in color theory (and an understanding of how to apply it), knowledge of basic plant morphology, and a final project that is a culmination of all of the above.

Section Expectation

Unless reasons for excused absences are present (and ideally communicated to the instructor before the start of class) all students are expected to come to every class, be on time, and be present. This includes participating in class critiques, completing all class work and homework assignments, reading the day’s handouts, and taking notes when necessary. Critiques are a regular part of the class routine and are meant to be a positive learning experience - be an active participant during critiques, make an effort to look at all student work, and give meaningful, supportive feedback. Bring all necessary materials to every class. ATTENDANCE & LATENESS Please come to class on time; lateness disrupts the class and makes it difficult for you to catch up during class. One point will be deducted from your grade for every two classes that you are late for. Excused absences should be communicated to the instructor via email, before the date of absence; detailed homework assignments for each class can be found on Brightspace the day of class, along with handouts, exercises, and presentations given that day. Homework will still be due the next class you attend, unless arrangements are made for further extension. Extenuating circumstances happen, please attend class even if you have not done your homework (homework can be made up, but you will not be able to retake the classtime you missed). HOMEWORK & FIELDWORK Homework is assigned at each class meeting, in addition to short weekly reading assignments most weeks. A minimum of six hours of homework time a week is expected. Be prepared to seek out drawing subjects in order to fulfill assignment requirements - the UVM Greenhouse, university buildings with atrium or lobby plantings, outdoor gardens (in season), and local plant nurseries are all resources for fieldwork. Develop good work habits. Plan to put in more time towards the beginning of the semester, especially if you have had little experience drawing. Your “eyes” and “hand” will learn best if you spread your working time out over the week. You are expected to learn botanical terms and concepts relevant to the ideas and techniques that we are exploring and you will be asked to demonstrate that you understand these terms and concepts during class - and on a mid-term exam. A final project is assigned during the last quarter of the semester. You should plan on allowing extra time at the end of the semester to complete the final project. Presentation of this final project will take the place of a final exam. LATE WORK Homework is expected to be handed in each week and completing it is crucial to the progression of your skills. It is your responsibility to make special arrangements with me regarding late work, otherwise grades for homework and final projects will be lowered - special arrangements can be made but they must be negotiated before the work is due to avoid penalty. FINAL PROJECT The final project will ask you to conceive of, design, and complete a botanical plant portrait that reflects what you have learned in class. The work can be executed in any media, or mixed media, that has been covered in class. A detailed handout, with instructions and suggestions describing this project, will be distributed at the appropriate time. You will collaborate with the instructor when selecting a final project, and periodically throughout the project. COURSE MATERIALS Students will be required to source their own drawing and painting materials based on a list supplied before the start of the semester.


GRADING Weekly assignments are graded on a 10-point scale; the mid-term exam and the final project will be graded on a 100 point scale. Collectively, homework will account for 60% of your final grade; the mid-semester exam will account for 10% of your final grade; the final project will account for 25% of your final grade; and overall class participation (graded on a scale of 10) will account for 5% of your final grade. If you get a 6 or below on weekly assignments, you will need to redo the assignment (in part or in full). After you redo the assignment the new grade will be the final grade for that work. With the exception of the final project, you can redo any assignment for a higher grade, if you wish. Late assignments (without extenuating circumstances that I should have been notified of early in the week the assignment is due) may be lowered up to one grading step for each week that they are late. WHAT DO YOUR MARKS REFLECT? • Did you do all of the work outlined in the assignment? • Does your work indicate an understanding of relevant botany and botanical terms? • Is it obvious that you took the time to study, examine, and measure the plant carefully before you started to draw? If you had problems with shape, proportion, and/or gesture, did you make an effort to correct them by redrawing the plant? Is your line unlabored? • Are your drawings large enough to be able to create clear shapes, values, and well-delineated small structures? Are they reflective of the actual size of your subject? • Does your work reflect adequate variety? • Are your drawing tools kept in optimal condition (pencils sharpened, brushes clean, etc)? • Have you planned for a successful drawing or painting by starting with thumbnail sketches that experiment with various compositions, lighting set-ups, and color palettes (where applicable)? • Have you continued to apply and build on lessons from earlier in this class? - Outer and inner contours sensitively observed and drawn - Negative spaces carefully observed - Accurate proportions (through use of sighting, etc) - Well-conceived compositions and carefully thought out value schemes • Does your body of work reflect that you are putting in the time necessary to grow as an artist?

Important Dates

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