My big news: Studying botanical illustration with the RBGE

Botanical art pencil drawing of a dying tulip, by Wren M Allen

This detail of a pencil drawing was part of my application portfolio to the RBGE program


In April, I received notice from the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh that I was accepted into their long-distance diploma program in botanical illustration!

The program began on June 22, and there are about 15 of us botanical ladies enrolled. Most are British, but there are students from Thailand, Japan, Turkey, the Netherlands, Canada, and 3 of us Yankees. So quite a good representation of the world’s botanical illustration community!

The course will take 3 years to complete. It consists of 10 modules, including drawing and painting techniques, botany and art history units, and 2 long-term portfolio projects–a 2-year study of an individual native tree, and the year-long final graduation portfolio project. Acceptance to the final year is based on passing the earlier modules with a high enough score and having one’s project proposal accepted by the tutors.

So far, I’ve been researching my native tree, and working on the introductory drawing module. As someone who is a colorist rather than a line-artist, this has been quite a challenge!

What’s it like to take a long-distance course in botanical illustration? How did I select the Royal Botanical Garden of Edinburgh’s program? Why would a botanical artist want to take an online distance diploma?

Please join me in the months ahead as I’ll be sending back “reports from the field” to answer these questions and share my progress! 🙂


Some big changes afoot in my life

Just a quick update to let you know that there are some exciting events occuring over here in my little corner of the Land of Enchantment!

I’ll be making an official announcement this week or next, once some details are finalized.

In the meantime, it’s back to physical rehab and stuccoing walls and roofs.

Até prossimo! xo


Watercolor of a tulip, loose and free

A watercolor sketch of a fading tulip by Wren M. Allen

Observational art doesn’t have to be tight and detailed! This loose, gestural watercolor sketch offers a strong impression of a dying tulip flower.

I painted this rough sketch of a fading tulip on Tuesday in Lisa Coddington’s class at Santa Fe Community College.

Loose, gestural painting is fun and relaxing, a nice break from the tight and tiny markmaking common to botanical illustration style.

I selected a limited palette for this watercolor: Winsor-Newton’s Permanent Magenta and Rose; Ultramarine Blue (W-N and Daniel Smith), Daniel Smith’s Hansa Yellow Light, and a few touches of Holbein’s Opera and Alizarin Crimson.

Fortunately, I took a few snaps on my phone, so I can have the option to work with this faded beauty in a more detailed fashion at a later date.

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