North Carolina Botanical Garden
  Create Account

Botanical Art Fundamentals Program

Our Botanical Art Fundamentals Program is designed to provide students a foundational level curriculum combining basic scientific background, visual arts theory, and a basic level of experience using various media. This program has a unique focus on plants native to the Southeastern U.S. that enables students to explore the relationship of nature and art through introductory botany courses and beginning and intermediate art classes in a variety of media.


Classes are taught by North Carolina art professionals and botany professionals. Many art classes require homework assignments. The amount of time students need to spend on homework varies and usually ranges from five to 15 hours per week for each course. Actual practice time in class is limited, so additional hours spent at home are both necessary and beneficial. Time invested in homework will result in personal artistic growth, and satisfactory achievement in any course requires both time and commitment.


Successful completion of the program requires a rating of Credit in each of six (6) core courses and three (3) elective courses. The program can be completed 100% in the virtual format, although individuals may choose to take courses in-person when available. Course offerings and scheduling are designed for completion within a one-and-one-half to two-year period


The Fundamentals Program is geared toward new art students or naturalists (amateur or professional) who wish to develop skills in drawing and/or painting plants, with a focus on plants native to the Southeastern U.S. This program is aligned with the NCBG Certificate in Botanical Art & Illustration and the Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Native Plants program, with which it shares some courses.



For more information about the program, see the Botanical Art Fundamentals Program web page linked below. Questions? Contact the Registrar at


Program Details

Click here to view the Botanical Art & Illustration program handbook.


Click here to view upcoming Botanical Art & Illustration courses.


Core Courses (six)

Beginning Drawing

Composition: The Bones of the Painting


Botany for the Artist

Botanical Sketchbook

Flowering Plant Families

Electives (choose three)

Beginning Colored Pencil

Beginning Watercolor

Intermediate Drawing

Intermediate Colored Pencil

Intermediate Watercolor (Traditional or Expressive)

Up to one (1) elective course only can be selected from the media exploration topics below


Botanicals in Watercolor, Colored Pencil, and Pen and Ink


Pen and Ink


For current students:

Share This


FEE: $50 enrollment fee supports program administrative costs for three years; courses will entail additional fees. Students must be at least 18 years of age to enroll. Non-refundable.



Registration is open continuously.



What is Botanical Illustration?

The constant interplay between art and science appeals to many students in the NCBG botanical art programs. Renderings of plants are grouped into three main genres: botanical illustration, botanical art, and floral art. The first two can be said to exist along a continuum rather than in separate camps, because both botanical illustrators and botanical artists are challenged with trying to integrate the utilitarian, scientific function of an image (identification, education, information) with aesthetic and visual considerations.


For the Botanical Art Fundamentals Program and the Garden's Certificate in Botanical Art & Illustration program, botanical art and illustration have been teased apart to help clarify the differences between the two. Most works created by botanical artists and illustrators include some aspects of each.


In brief, scientific botanical illustrations are usually created to accompany descriptive texts such as journal articles, textbooks, field guides, and popular magazines, where the image functions primarily to provide information and educate the viewer. Accuracy of form, color, and size is imperative, because both professionals and novices need to be able to identify the plant or plant parts from the illustration. The plant is traditionally drawn to scale so that all the parts correctly relate to one another in size.


In botanical art, more emphasis may be placed on aesthetic considerations, and the artist has more freedom to make personal visual choices, to draw the viewer in and evoke an emotional response. Although the plant parts in the image may be arranged more pleasingly for compositional reasons, the draftsmanship and final artistic representation must remain true to the character and growth habit of the plant. In botanical art the plant traditionally is still drawn to scale, and a botanical professional examining the image should be able to identify the species and find no anatomical inaccuracies.