"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home" (Twyla Tharp)

Getting started ....

I can't believe it's 2012 already ... seems like yesterday I started the course and really have come so far, not only in learning but also awareness of some of the pitfalls when commencing a course of study.  I found that one of the most important things to avoid having too many disasters is to be really well organised.  Most of us work full time, are raising families and already have a full enough life before we include studying for 27 months for a Diploma in Botanical Art.  It's a lot tougher than we think it's going to be ... nobody embarks on this course just to paint a pretty picture - it costs money, takes a lot of time and an awful lot of self discipline to learn on your own.

I've refined my study environment so that everything I need  is close by.  After picking up tips from other artists I'm happy with my workspace now ... I found a quiet room in the house where I was able to put all the 'stuff' (and there's a lot of stuff!) and set up my table so the dayight source was correct.  Sometimes you have to paint when the opportunity is there and one of the biggest benefits was a great lamp with a natural daylight bulb so that I can work any time day or night.

Acrylic board with artwork taped down
 I also use an acrylic board - cut to size for the paper we use .. tape the artwork on to the acrylic with painter's tape which peels off easily ...it's a lightweight board which won't stain your artwork.   Being taped down also helps to stop your paper from warping with the watercolours if you work quite wet - which I do!  This was an idea given to me by a fellow student ...

Angled board on non slip mat

Non slip mat to work on

I used to work completely flat but it's really not the best for either your artwork perspective or your neck and shoulders.  I found a melamine shelf out in my cupboard and placed it on a box to elevate the angle slightly.  To keep it from slipping I used the non-slip webbing you buy to use under rugs ...it doesn't move at all ...a great way to get used to working on an angle... I also bought a table top easel which works just as well and you can adjust the height easily.... also works as a good display piece for showing your artworks or anything else ...

Adjustable angled table top easel

There are so many tips and tricks you learn as you go ... I'm just posting what works for me .. knowing of course we enjoy different techniques to achieve results.  Many of these tips were passed on to me by other artists .... I joined Facebook just over a year ago purely to look at botanical art - there is a wonderful forum where ideas, artworks and resources are exchanged.  If you are sincerely interested in learning more about botanical art and have a Facebook identity, please ask to join ....

Currently I am working on Assignment 7 - the Fruit Assignment - I am painting a Cape Gooseberry and really enjoying this one!  I love hearing from you and what you're up to ....


  1. Sounds like you have come a long way since starting the course. Good luck with the Fruit assignment, I'll be with you for 'working in the field' and am getting nervous already. Must join Facebook!

  2. Great article Vicki, you have such way with words. I feel just like you :) Can't believe we are now the 'senior' year :) Don't how I would have survived without our lively FB group :)

  3. I can't believe that I am finishing soon... I have learned so much on this course about plants and painting, and feel that the course has also helped me define who I am as an artist. Good luck! X Shevaun

  4. wonderful studio and great tips Vicki...off to a great start in 2012 :)

  5. Beautiful story, your story..

  6. Happy New Year Vicki - best of luck with your studies. I did some part time university papers a couple of years ago (after a long break) and it was hard work!! You're absolutely right re. being organised and I love the look of your workspace... :)

  7. Hi Vicki, thanks for this wonderful post with tips. Good luck with your course. Your work is an inspiration, love it!!
    Take care and hugs :)

  8. Thanks Vicki it is great to read how other people manage to organise their time and work space. I sent for both the lamp and the board but at present they are stuck with Doreen as they are so heavy. Look forward to reading more during 2012

  9. Thank you Jarnie, Alena, Shevaun, Laura, Manon, Hedera, Heidi and Frances ... your comments are much appreciated and look forward to hearing from you xx

  10. Great post! Where do yo sign up for the course and how much does it cost?

    1. Thanks for your comment Karien. All information available here: