HM 255 - Studio Art: Natural History Illustration     




In this class, students will explore a variety of media including: colored pencil, watercolor and egg tempera painting in illustrating plant and animal forms and cultural objects. We will visit a variety of collections in Vermont and sketch and photograph subjects in order to create finished works in the studio. We will also make local fieldtrips to develop sketches from the local landscape. In addition to developing an individual portfolio of work, students will contribute toward a group project in making a mural of a local microlandscape.  By the end of the course, students should gain proficiency in drawing and painting, gain new understanding of how to use art materials and develop knowledge about the field of natural history illustration.

Materials and Techniques in Natural History Illustration
Spring 2013
Instructor: Leland Peterson

Drawing like most skills, requires practice. The more practice the greater the eye hand coordination and ability to discern detail and form. Students who practice drawing and painting several times a week outside of class will generally make the greatest progress. 

  • February 15- go over syllabus, introduction and further discussion about the direction of our study Botanical Illustration The Sterling Herbarium or collecting winter vestiges of plants 
  • February 22- Botanical Illustration – using pencil, understanding light and shading March 1- Botannical Illustration using watercolor, what to sketch to prepare for a finished painting 
  • March 8 -Fairbanks Museum Trip- sketches of birds or animals 
  • March 15- Spring Break March 22 –Midterm review- finished painting of sketch. 
  • March 29 Vertebrate illustration , birds, mammals, guest speaker
  • April 5 Microlandscape project 
  • April 12-Microlandscape project 
  • April 19- Trip to Audubon /Birds of Vermont 
  • April 26- Microlandscape project 
  • May 1 or 2 –Final Reviews 

Class Format: The class is taught in a studio format. We will generally review work in a group discussion at the start of class, then look at slides or illustrations. The instructor will explain the task for the day and provide feedback as students are working. The class will wrap up with a remainder about the following week’s activity and assignment. 

Supplies needed not furnished for class, You should supply: sketchbook Digital camera Bag or box to keep supplies in. A canvas bag or small book bag or backpack works well. Small (Tupperware) container to hold brushes Water bottle 2 plastic cups or small cans Hand lens (optional) Portfolio for paper- Something to keep your in-progress and finished work in. 

Students will be evaluated on the following criteria: 
  • Attendance and punctuality.
  • Contributions to class discussions.
  • Progress in learning materials and techniques over the semester.
  • Completed paintings and sketchbook, contribution to the microlandscape.
  • Portfolio- You should have an example of work produced from each class, as well as field sketches done outside of class. 
  • Individual meetings will be scheduled at midterm and at the end of the semester to review work in the class.