My RBGE Certificate Course Review

Reflection & Review


I wanted to take some time as I come to the end of the RBGE Online Certificate Course to reflect and give a brief review. Many of you have considered taking this course and others have already applied and have been accepted into the course as a result of following me through RBGE Certificate Course and I think this review will be of benefit to you and others who are still to come.

Benefits of The Course

First, the RBGE Certificate Course has delivered for me personally, at every level of expectation.  I was aware going into the course that we were the first class to be online for the Certificate Course and so I knew the RBGE would be figuring things out along the way. I also knew going into it that it was not for total beginners. As students were expected to come in having some knowledge of technique in botanical illustration.

Secondly, the RBGE Certificate Course has allowed me the pleasure of many new friendships from all over the world!  This has been a blessing that I cannot even put a price on and is probably one of the greatest highlights of this course and in fact, any online art course! If you have never taken an online art course - I highly recommend you do so right away. Make it a personal goal for the year of 2018 to take a course - you will not regret it if you put your all into it and reach out to others doing the same.

Graphite Work

Although I do not claim to be a professional, I would say that graphite is my strongest medium in art - and through this course it has gotten even better. I ended the graphite section with the production of one of my favorite pieces of art! 

AUnit2WallShot3 (1).jpeg

If I could offer any advice here - it would be that as the RBGE encourages you to make notes of your work, keep in mind that you never know if you might make a masterpiece! So you may consider making your notes on a separate sheet of paper to hand in along with your art rather than on the art itself, like I did.  It makes it very difficult to frame.  As you can see, that didn't stop me and I simply cut out my work and placed it in one of these handy dandy floating frames!

Watercolor Work

We spent a lot of time in watercolor and this was the medium I was hoping to get the most out of because it's the medium I find the most difficult.  I've learned along the way, I'm not the only one who feels that way! :)

I had a roller coaster of emotions every time I put paintbrush to paper!  For that reason, this has not been an easy course at all for me. I have struggled my way through and sometimes all I could do to keep going was to... Well, keep going!  It took lots of prayer and commitment on my part with many times of crying out to God for help - and I honestly believe it is by His help alone that I have finished!

Here is one of my first assignments in watercolor - so you can see where I began... (Well, actually this is about the 7th practice page and I still messed up the sphere!)

Unit 3, Activity 1.3Final.jpeg

and here is the final composition of the Cyclamen persicum...


The biggest things I have learned in working with watercolor is to put on your washes and layers lightly.  Alway, always, always allow your work to dry completely before adding more layers.  Try to keep your layers to 3 maximum and then begin your detail dry brush work.

Don't mix more than three colors as they tend to muddy and look dull.

Practicing over and over again before actually doing a piece for submission is imperative and above all - BE PATIENT with yourself and DO NOT QUIT! Or if you do - don't tell anyone, so you can change your mind later and get back to work! Ha Ha :)

I have learned my favorite watercolor paper is:  Moulin du Roy by Canson, 140lb, hot pressed and my favorite graphite paper is Bristol by Strathmore.

My favorite watercolors are: Winsor & Newton Professional 1/2 pans.

My favorite graphites are: Faber & Castell 9000 Series - full range.

My favorite two brushes are: Billy Showell #2 Watercolor brush and her Eradicator brush.

During this course it is imperative to ask lots of questions. The tutor is there to help, but this is very much a do it yourself course, so if you don't reach out to them,  you probably won't hear much from them.

I am pleasantly surprised as I work on this final piece of how I am beginning to see a distinct look to my work that I did not see before.  As a result, it is beginning to come alive for me and it is touching my heart.  I am reaching a place where there is a new drive to do botanical illustration and I did not feel that way in the beginning.  A real desire to press on is being birthed and it feels good!

My plans for after this course are to complete my "Drawing and Painting Leaves" course with Dianne Sutherland and meet with a local experienced botanical illustrator in April to discuss a plan for the next year. I have learned so much in techniques over the past 6 months that I really need to devise a plan to practice, practice, practice all that I've learned.

So that's my review of this course. I hope it is helpful to you and I hope it encourages you to start a journey of your own or enhance the one you are already on by practicing more often and taking online art courses!  



Constance Reeder