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Course Criteria & Guidelines

HomeCourse Criteria & Guidelines

Please Read The Following Carefully


The course consists of six modules based around the elements of good botanical art-



These elements are considered the building blocks in art and are used when evaluating paintings. By breaking the course down into these elements, I will show you how to evaluate and improve your work by understanding and mastering each element.


The course will also take you through the essential steps needed from setting up your studio to creating a fully finished painting. You will be given clear step-by-step explanations of the techniques needed to draw and paint accurately with printable documents and step-by-step photographs, Videos demonstrating the techniques will be available for streaming. The video library will be updated throughout the course.

Guidance and email support are a feature of this course.

If you have any questions about the assignment or the techniques, please do not hesitate to ask.


The modules are designed to be progressive, so you must start at the first module and work your way through the modules in order. Each assignment is a little more challenging as the course progresses.

A Certificate of Completion will be sent to you by post at the end of the course.

Each module has a set of exercises to allow you develop your skills, and an assignment to help you master each element. The exercises are for your own development. You will not be critiqued on the exercises but may send them to me along with your assignment if you feel that they help describe your process.

You will get a full written critique on the artwork completed for each assignment. I am a firm believer that positive encouragement, so the feedback will never be harsh, but may gently suggest changes in your technique or subject choice in order to improve. I often use technology to digitally alter your artwork to illustrate how my suggestions may be applied. I sometimes create small colour charts to show you how use and apply colour more effectively.

I want you to improve, so occasionally I may ask you to re-do an assignment if I feel that it would be in your best interest.

Please wait until you get your feedback before beginning the next module, as this will help you to build on your strengths and avoid repeating mistakes.


Critiques are based on the following criteria-

Botanical Accuracy

Brief Followed

Subject Choice





First and foremost, this is a botanical art course, so the artwork must be a scientifically accurate description of the plant. This means that you have identified the characteristics of the plant and have shown these characteristics in a way that is unambiguous. To help you, there is a section of Basic Botany for Artists.


Each assignment has a specific brief that focuses on that particular element of art. For example:

  • Line Module- I am looking for how well you have used Line to describe your subject.
  • Tone Module- I am looking for how well you have observed light and shadow on your subject.
  • Colour Module- I am looking for accuracy of colour and colour harmony.
  • Form Module- I am looking for the three-dimensional credibility of your image.
  • Texture Module- I am looking for your observations of surface texture, and your application of watercolour techniques to accurately describe the surface of your subject
  • Space Module- I am looking for both how well the subject fits on the page, your use of negative spaces and your ability to describe aerial perspective. In this final module I will also be looking to see how well you have applied all the elements of botanical art.


The subject must be suitable for the brief.

This course is designed to get you to ‘think’ as a botanical artist, so you will be encouraged to work from a subject of your own choosing. The subject choice can be as simple (e.g. one leaf, one flower) or as complex (e.g. a whole plant) as you wish, depending on your confidence and skill level.

It is better for a beginner to choose a simple subject and do it well, rather than choose a difficult subject and feel defeated by the complexity. For those who already have some experience, this is your chance to challenge yourself and to draw or paint something more complex.

I encourage you to work from life rather than from photographs.


The first thing that you see in a drawing or painting is the composition, so it is important to consider the overall design of the page from the very beginning, even when doing a simple study of leaves. How you arrange the elements on the paper can make a huge difference to the success of your artwork and is crucial in developing your style as an artist.


Throughout the course, you will be given advice on drawing and painting techniques with written explanations, step-by-step photographs and videos. The success of your artwork depends on how well you apply these techniques in each brief.


Botanical artwork should be clean and neatly presented. Botanical art is often viewed with a magnifier and so I will be zooming in to see the details and finishing.

I am looking at an image of your artwork so the image that you send me should be clear and in focus, photographed in good light or scanned, and large enough for me to view the work clearly.


Once you have completed your assignment, scan or photograph your work and email it to me. Advice on how to photograph or scan work is given in the next section.

The image must be sent by email as a JPG or PNG. A PDF is acceptable but not ideal. Please enclose a written note on how you have approached the assignment (e.g. subject chosen, materials used) and any difficulties that you may have encountered during the assignment. You may also include any questions about the assignment here.

Once you have emailed your completed assignment to me, I will give you detailed written feedback on the artwork submitted, pointing out your strengths and any areas that might need improvement.

I try to return the feedback as soon as possible, but sometimes due to other work commitments, this may take up to 21 days. If for some reason there is a longer delay, I will email you immediately to advise on the expected date.

Guidance and email support will be given throughout the course.


Areas Covered

  • Studio Set-up and Equipment
  • Basic Botany for Artists
  • Creating a Study Page
  • The Language of Line
  • Seeing Light and Shadow
  • Sculptural Form
  • Colour Theory
  • Elements of Design

Skills Learned:

  • Measured Drawing
  • Aerial Perspective
  • Tonal Studies (graphite & watercolour)
  • Watercolour Techniques (wet-in-wet, wet-in damp, glazing, dry-brush)
  • Accurate Colour mixing
  • Creating texture and details
  • Finishing and presenting your work
  • Correcting mistakes

Please note that the ‘Botanical Elements’ Course Notes, Images and Student Critiques are copyright of Shevaun Doherty Art and may not be used or shared without my written permission.

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