"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined."
~Henry David Thoreau
Five years ago I read something that changed the course of my life.
It was an interview given by Margaret Stevens, former President of the Society of Botanical Artists, to Katherine Tyrrell for her excellent Making a Mark blog. In the interview, they discussed the SBA Distance learning Diploma Course that Margaret was running. You can read the full interview here
I remember feeling very excited reading about this course. I have always painted but never had any formal training. Inspired by a visit to the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, I had been dreaming of taking up botanical art, but didn’t know how to begin. As I was living in Egypt at the time, this really seemed like the perfect solution- a botanical art course from the comfort of my own home.
To apply for the course, you need to submit a sample of your work. They do state that this is not a course for beginners, so I really wasn't sure if my work would be good enough to be accepted.
However nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Encouraged by a friend, I sent off my application form, daring at my own audacity to dream so big.
|A clementine (Citrus ×clementina) done before the SBA course|
|Clementine studies done during the course. I had started to learn about disappearing edges here.|
|A recent study of a calamondin fruit (× Citrofortunella microcarpa)|
Fortunately my application was successful, and I took to my studies like a duck to water. I loved doing the course. The feedback from the tutors was informative and insightful, and very quickly I could see improvements in my work. I cringe now when I look back at my submission efforts, but sometimes it’s good to look back and realise how far you have progressed.
|The SBA DLDC course taught me to me methodical, observant and patient. These are preparatory studies for one of the assignments (mixed flowers)|
|Studies of red and yellow dates (Phoenix dactylifera) done before the course|
|Red dates (Phoenix dactylifera) 2013 It's quite gratifying to see the improvement!|
I finished the course in 2012 with a distinction, a wealth of botanical knowledge and best of all, a circle of friends who shared my passion for art and the natural world.
I could have stopped there, but still I dreamed. The SBA have been both encouraging and supportive to me, and I really wanted to become a full member. It isn’t easy to do. Getting a distinction meant that I needed to submit six paintings to become an associate member, and then a further five the following year.
Starting out, this seemed like an impossible ambition, but this week, my dreams came true.
I flew to London and was presented with my Society of Botanical Artists Certificate of Membership!
It was fantastic to meet my fellow students who also became full members, Janet Pope and Sarah Wood. Both of these women are wonderful artists who have already begun to win prizes for their work, so I felt really honoured to be standing beside them.
I stood for a moment looking around the room at all the amazing artists who had come to London for the AGM- artists whose work I have long admired, artists whose names are now as familiar to me as the colours in my paintbox, artists whose work fills me with both inspiration and awe… they are all SBA members. I dared to dream, and it came true.
If you are interested in studying botanical art, the SBA Distance Learning Diploma Course might be the right course for you. Applications close on September 30th 2014, so application forms and a sample of work must be received by the Course Director by then. You can read more about the course here-
"Four steps to achievement:
Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently."
~William Arthur Ward