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Adult Programs

Adkins Arboretum Botanical Arts Certificate Program

Botanical Art and Illustration is the well-established tradition of bringing together fine art and scientific accuracy in an integrated course of study with three levels: foundations, techniques, and applications. 

The Adkins Arboretum Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration Program will offer a comprehensive series of classes in botanical art. Participants will gain the drawing and painting skills required to render accurate, detailed, and artistic depictions of the natural world.

This program is for the experienced artist as well as the devoted amateur. It culminates in a certificate for those students choosing that goal and offers an ongoing program of botanical classes for those who are not. The certificate will be available annually for those who have completed the required work by June. 

Required Courses: 

The following courses are required to receive a Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration, preferably at the Arboretum. If extensive prior art class experience is obtained elsewhere, exceptions will be considered with a portfolio review. Courses consist of exercises, critiques, demonstrations, and homework assignments. These courses are listed in a recommended sequence and this succession is appropriate for both the certificate and the non-certificate student. Botanical Drawing in Graphite I & II are prerequisite courses for color classes and the Pen & Ink elective. 

Each course's supplies list will be available on the Adkins Arboretum program registration page.

1) Botanical Drawing in Graphite I – prerequisite 
2) Botanical Drawing in Graphite II – prerequisite 
3) Composition 
4) Botanical Art using Colored Pencil I – Color Layering 
5) Botanical Art using Colored Pencil II 
6) Botanical Art using Watercolor I – Color Mixing 
7) Botanical Art using Watercolor II 
8) Botany Science and Field Sketching for the Artist 
9) Botanical Art using Colored Pencil III 


10) Botanical Art using Watercolor III 
11) Final Portfolio: Minimum five pieces, maximum matte size 16”x 20”
12) Open Studio: Available 2x/year. Instructor critique and consultation concerning the ongoing process of the portfolio. 

Please note: Certificate students must attend the first and 75% of all classes or the instructor's assessment to receive credit for any course. 

For classes with no current session available, please check back when we announce the next season of classes. 

Elective Courses: 

Elective courses serve a variety of purposes. They are designed to increase students' knowledge, ability, and experience in botanical art and natural science illustration. Those students pursuing a certificate and the required courses must complete at least eight electives. The number of elective classes offered in any one year may vary and new courses will be added as the program develops and new teachers and their specialties are available. Guest instructor workshops may be taken as electives. Some electives may be taught using watercolor, colored pencils, or both, depending on the course's instructor. The elective subject matter will focus on the unique biodiversity of the Arboretum throughout the seasons. 

Some possible elective offerings include: 

Pen and Ink 
Trompe L’oeil 
Gold Illuminated Letters
Illustrated Phenology Wheel 
Butterflies and Insects 
Birds of the Arboretum 
Colored Pencil on Toned Paper with Gouache 
Fungi and Lichens of the Arboretum
Nuts, berries, pods, and seeds of the Arboretum 
Egg Tempera 
Watercolor Pencils for Botanical Art
Nature Journaling 
Fish, Amphibians and Reptiles in Watercolor 
Nature Compositions in Graphite using a full tonal range 
Bird Nests 
Mixed Media for Botanical Art using Watercolor and Colored Pencil 
Field Trip to the Hunt Institute of Botanical Art 
Matting, Framing, and Wiring Your Art 


The complete portfolio will contain a minimum of 5 finished botanical pieces in any media taught within the program or a combination of them with a matte size of a maximum of 16” x 20”. The portfolio should consist of newly created work; works completed in a class are not eligible for portfolio submission. Those receiving a certificate will participate in a show displaying selected works from their portfolios.



Founded in 2021, the Botanical Art League of the Eastern Shore (BALES) is a thriving arts league that meets bi-monthly at Adkins Arboretum.

BALES' intention is to promote botanical art by presenting speakers and educational opportunities to its members.

BALES is dedicated to raising public awareness about botanical art and its profound connection to environmental issues, while also fostering an appreciation for native and other plants.

Its members benefit from staying connected to each other as they develop their skills and share conversations about their artwork, media, and creative processes.

Coordinator: Anna Harding
Treasurer: Marie Davis
Recording Secretary: Carol Smith
Program chair: Robin Herman
Exhibit chair: Betty Ward

For further information:

2024 meetings: 10 a.m.–11:30 a.m., Wednesdays, August 14; October 9; December 11, 2024

Membership dues:$30 year

Guests welcome