Botanical Illustration Certificate Program

Designed to provide a certificate of competence in the classical approaches and disciplines of botanical illustration, this program teaches you to draw and paint plants in a technically detailed manner.   Drawing on the Garden’s mission to engage people with the natural world, our courses emphasize proper set-up of live specimens, accurate drawing, correct depiction of tone and value, and work in the traditional media of pencil, pen and ink and watercolor.

New certificate enrollments will resume in 2022; applications to join the certificate program will be accepted after completion of Introduction to Drawing for Botanical Illustration and Intermediate Drawing for Botanical Illustration.  

The Program:Judith Towers Botanical Illustration

Complete the Core Curriculum courses, participate in elective classes, mid-point review, and complete a final project.

Classes are offered once a year beginning with the introductory drawing classes in January.  View the current season’s available courses and link to online registration.


Curriculum updates are underway. Students follow the curriculum current the year they enroll in the program.

Core Classes (required)
  • Introduction to Drawing for Botanical Illustration (20 hrs.)
  • Intermediate Drawing for Botanical Illustration (20 hrs.)
  • Botany for Botanical Illustration (20 hrs.)
  • Introduction to Watercolor for Botanical Illustration (20 hrs.)
  • Intermediate Watercolor for Botanical Illustration (20 hrs.)
  • Introduction to Pen & Ink for Scientific Illustration (20 hrs.)

All classes except “Introduction to Drawing for Botanical Illustration” have pre-requisites. These are noted in the online class descriptions.

Midpoint Portfolio Review
Additional Required Classes
  • Color Mixing for Botanical Illustration (20 hrs.)
  • Composition for Botanical Illustration (20 hrs.)
  • Advanced Watercolor for Botanical Illustration (20 hrs.)
Electives (Minimum  of 60 hours)
Final Portfolio Review

View the program brochure for more information, including detailed class information, requirements and instructor bios.

Program Details:

Current hours required: Minimum 240

Cost: Enrollment in the certificate program is free.  Classes cost between $9-$12 per hour, plus materials, if provided. Per hour cost for guest artist instruction may run higher.

Advisor Program: As an enrollee, you are assigned an advisor who is available to guide you and act as a resource while you complete the work that will be reviewed both at the mid-point and final reviews.

Primary Instructors: Hazel Buys, Juliet Kirby, Judith Towers, Sheila Hayden, Christine Drake, Stephey Baker

To enroll: Complete and submit the GES Botanical Illustration enrollment form.
NOTE: Introduction to Drawing and Intermediate Drawing for Botanical Illustration must be completed before submitting an enrollment form.  Introductory drawing classes are offered in January of each year.  Registration for the next session of Introduction to Drawing opens in December 2021.

NOTE: Additional required core classes are under development and may be added to the program.  The total number of required hours will remain at 240.

Learn more about the Garden’s historic botanical illustration examples from the Garden’s collection of significant botanical paintings by A. Descubes, and the Imperial Edition of Reichenbachia:  Orchids Illustrated and Described.

Available Courses for the Current Season

View the current available schedule of classes for Botanical Illustration and link to online registration for all available classes.

View classes and Register

Not interested in this formal Botanical Illustration track?

Check out Art in the Garden for a variety of classes to enhance your understanding and appreciation for the natural world, learn new skills, and enjoy the company of like-minded artists!

Learn More