Botany for Botanical Artists

Tanya Scharaschkin

Tanya Scharaschkin

Post-conference workshop—Botany for Botanical Artists

The objectives of this workshop are to develop a greater appreciation for plant diversity and plant biology.  Participants will gain an understanding of the structure and function of different parts of a plant so as to improve observational and drawing skills. The workshop leader, Tanya Scharaschkin (see below), will be assisted by local botanical artists Jane Humble and Eleanor Burton on the day.

You will learn about the following:

  • major features of different groups of land plants (mosses, liverworts, ferns, flowering plants)
  • the structure and function of reproductive structures (flowers and fruits)
  • the structure and function of vegetative structures (leaves, stems and roots)
  • techniques for accurately observing, dissecting and documenting key features of plants
  • an overview of the basic terminology associated with plant descriptions
  • botanical conventions involved in naming plants and why names change

Goals for Day 1: Appreciate the diversity of land plants-part 1. Understand the basic structure of flowers and fruits.

Goals for Day 2: Appreciate the diversity of land plants-part 2. Understand the basic structure of leaves, stems and roots

Draft programme – Day 1 – Saturday 30 November 2019
8:45 Meet and greet
9:00 Introduction—scope and aims of workshop
9:30 Theory—overview of plant diversity
10:00 Practical—examine specimens
10:30 Morning tea break
11:00 Practical—floral structure
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Theory—flowering plant life cycle
14:30 Practical—fruit structure
15:30 Wrap up—questions and plans for Day 2
16:00 End of Day 1
Draft programme – Day 2 – Sunday 1 December 2019
8:45 Meet and greet
9:00 Theory—mosses and ferns
9:30 Practical—examine specimens
10:30 Morning tea break
11:00 Practical—leaf and stem structure
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Theory—taxonomy, scientific names, botanical conventions
14:30 Practical—weird and unusual plants
15:30 Wrap up—questions and feedback
16:00 End of workshop

This two-day workshop will take place on the weekend of 30 November – 1 December, 2019 at the Leonard Cockayne Centre at Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve (Otari). This workshop will be open to anyone, regardless of conference participation, and is aimed at botanical artists wanting to further develop their observational skills and enhance their understanding of plants. It will be strictly limited to 12 participants.

The workshop will be led by Tanya Scharaschkin, who is a botanist (plant systematist) by training. She was a full-time research and teaching academic until mid-2017, after which she became a self-employed scientist and artist, now based in Tasmania, Australia. Her research and teaching focuses on the structure, evolutionary relationships and geographic history of plants. From an early age she has been fascinated by natural history and has had an artistic and scientific interest in plants.  Tanya draws both Australian native plants as well non-native plants commonly grown in public spaces. She often represents plants from an angle not commonly observed by the general public, but that botanists usually find fascinating and informative. The absence of colour in her graphite and ink artwork enables her to focus solely on structural and textural details. Tanya conducts a variety of workshops for scientists (including a one-day conference workshop happening on Sunday 24 November), non-scientists (e.g. Botanical Sketching, The Nature of Plants) and artists (like this one!) as a way of sharing her enthusiasm for plants and exposing people to the sheer beauty of plants. She especially enjoys communicating with the general public about scientific topics. She hopes her art will inspire others to not only admire plants but also develop an understanding and appreciation for the biology of plants.

What to bring: 


  • Sketchbook or loose paper
  • Clipboard/desk easel or backing board to support paper.
  • Drawing and note taking materials, i.e. your preferred choice of pens, pencils, eraser, sharpener
  • Ruler – See-through ruler with good clear increments.
  • Razor blade, scalpel or craft knife with a clean sharp tip to cut up specimens cleanly.
  • A small cutting board for dissecting specimens.
  • Fine forceps for dissecting flowers.
  • Magnification tool if you have one (e.g. magnifying glass, jewellers’ loop or hand lens).
  • Reading glasses if you need to use them!
  • Any specimens/plants you wish to examine and/or have their structure explained

Optional—please do not feel you have to buy any of the following items, but if you already possess them, please bring them:

  • Camera.
  • Dissecting kit with forceps, scalpel, dissecting needles.
  • Microscope and laptops: A dissecting or small stereo microscope, or a USB microscope with laptop and relevant software installed.

Cost: $200.

How to register and pay:

This two-day post-conference workshop will be first-come, first-served, and is strictly limited to 12 participants. It is associated with the 2019 ASBS-NZPCN joint conference, but is happening the weekend after the conference and is not an official part of it. Therefore, this two-day workshop is open to anyone, regardless of conference attendance.

To register, please send the following details in an email to Eleanor Burton:

  • Email address
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Institutional affiliation (your organisation, if applicable)
  • Address
  • Contact number (mobile)
  • Emergency contact name
  • Emergency contact number (mobile)
  • Are there any medical conditions, allergies, or other relevant information, restrictions or limitations that the workshop organisers should know about?
  • Please provide details of any specific dietary requirements

To pay: please use internet banking to deposit $200 into the NZPCN Conference bank account at Bank of New Zealand (BNZ): 02-0500-0373807-015. Please include your last name, first initial of your first name, and “BOT ART” in the reference (e.g. “BurtonE BOT ART”).

Please note that your registration is not considered complete until we have received both your details by email and your payment, and we have confirmed this with you by email. Please register and pay early to avoid disappointment!