New Online Course!

Gentle Garden: Botanicals & Pollinators in Carbon Pencil
12 lessons – lifetime video access – starts October 1
PLUS one live streamed session (details below) $90

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botanical art

Less smudgy and easier to control than charcoal, richer and darker than graphite — and with no graphite “shine” … carbon pencil is a sensitive and satisfying medium for botanical drawing. In a series of 12 step-by-step video lessons, learn new techniques while drawing a wide range of flowers and their pollinators. Each video is accompanied by illustrated printable pages and a selection of licensed reference images.

KEEP YOUR COURSE ACCESS FOREVER. There is no expiration date for your video access; the password-protected site is yours permanently. Beginning October 1, a new lesson will post weekly for 12 weeks. Work at your own pace. Unlimited instructor feedback is available anytime you like, via email. You do not have to complete a lesson each week — your site password will never expire.

NEW! BEGINNERS WELCOME – THIS IS A “FREEHAND OPTIONAL” COURSE. Please don’t let a lack of drawing experience keep you from the course. Every lesson begins with a demo of how to draw a preliminary sketch in 2B pencil before we begin to layer the carbon pencils… BUT if you prefer to concentrate on carbon pencil blending and shading now, and save the freehand sketching practice for later, I will also provide printable preliminary sketches you can transfer and use to get started. Happy to help!



  • Week 1. Skill builder – soft blending and surface patterns. Draw a carbon pencil study of heliconius butterfly Red Postman.
  • Week 2. Botanical drawing – Use soft blending / surface patterns to draw the dazzling heliconius butterfly Zebra Longwing on flowering lantana.
  • Week 3. Skill builder – creating depth and contrast with layering, also drawing textured stems and leaves. Draw a carbon pencil study of long-stemmed plants you choose.
  • Week 4. Botanical drawing – Use techniques for creating depth and textured leaves to draw hardworking bumblebees on bearded iris.
  • Week 5. Skill builder – drawing over soft tones to create furry, shiny, and velvety textures. Draw a carbon pencil study of the world’s cutest pollinator, the honey possum (Australia).
  • Week 6. Botanical drawing – Use drawing over soft tones to draw flying fox (Pteropus bat) and the exotic wild banana blossom.
  • Week 7: Skill builder – combining carbon pencils to create metallic textures. Draw a carbon pencil study of the wonderfully metallic aquatic leaf beetle.
  • Week 8: Botanical drawing – Use combined carbon pencils to draw a water lily leaf beetle on Nymphea odorata, a fragrant white water lily that traps its pollinators!
  • Week 9: Skill builder – Four steps to a rich solid black background. Draw a carbon pencil study of a creamy magnolia blossom isolated on a black background.
  • Week 10: Botanical drawing – use four-step background technique to draw a moonflower and its nocturnal pollinator, a beautiful sphinx moth, in a nighttime setting.
  • Week 11: Skill builder – blending and detailing to create brick texture and wood texture in carbon pencil. Draw a carbon pencil study of a patterned daylily with weathered brick background.
  • Week 12: Botanical drawing – use blending and detailing to draw heirloom multiflora petunias spilling over a window box, and their hummingbird pollinator.

PLUS – THIS SESSION ONLY! WE WILL HAVE A LIVE-STREAMED DRAWING SESSION TOGETHER. During the course, at a date and time we will mutually decide based on time zones for all students, I will host a one-hour open drawing session in real time using Zoom, a group meeting app where you can simply log in on your phone, tablet or computer and we can talk to one another directly. I will draw during the live session, to help answer any technique questions you may have. More about this as the course unfolds.



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Carbon pencil magic


All is Illusion – 12×16 carbon pencil on hot press watercolor paper

Exquisitely gentle shading, lush velvety black tones… I have completely fallen in love with carbon pencils. I’m working hard on a new online course, so I can share some carbon pencil magic with you.  Gentle Garden will begin October 1, and will focus on using this lovely drawing medium to create botanicals (and their pollinators – bees, butterflies and hummingbirds). The details will be available soon.

July Course Spotlight: Drawing Dogs and Cats

L7 Dog Example 6Kitty sketch complete A
Draw Dogs & Cats
8 Lessons – work at your own pace

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No experience necessary — the only prerequisite for this course is a love of our four-legged family members. Working in pencil for some projects, black-and-white charcoal pencil for others, develop your drawing skills by learning to create glossy fur, expressive eyes, animals in action and at rest. Topics include drawing puppies and kittens at different stages of growth, four techniques for drawing white fur, drawing realistic dog noses, drawing dog and cat caricatures and more. Licensed reference images are provided for every lesson, or you may use images of your own dog or cat. Very minimal supply list.

Eight video lessons, each accompanied by illustrated printable pages:

  1. Pencil Language – How to unlock your drawing pencil’s full range of textures and values. How to draw lifelike eyes. Project: create a realistic sketch of a short-haired cat.
  2. Shiny Fur and Wet Noses – How to draw long, glossy fur. How to draw a perfect wet nose. Project: choose a reference image (or use your own) to draw a long-haired cat or dog.
  3. Kittens and Puppies – How to draw kittens and puppies, in different growth stages from newborn to young adult. How to draw facial proportions. Project: Pencil sketching exercise, kittens and puppies.
  4. Black and White Charcoal – Warm-up sketch with tips for using charcoal (kitty sketch). Step-by-step Boston Terrier puppy on toned paper. Project: Black/white dog or cat of your choice in charcoal.
  5. Brush and Ink – Warm-up sampler exercise, using grays and blacks. How to draw with a brush. Step-by-step border collie in brush and ink. Project: Black/white dog or cat of your choice, in brush and ink technique.
  6. Caricature and Charcoal Wash – How to dilute charcoal with water to make a lovely, grainy texture. How to draw cute, informal caricatures of dogs and cats. Project: Create a collection of dog and cat caricatures in charcoal wash.
  7. Drawing White Fur – Learn five different techniques for drawing realistic white fur. Draw a fluffy white kitten. Step-by-step white sheepdog drawing. Project: Use the lesson techniques to draw the white dog or cat of your choice.
  8. Animals in Action – Understand physical characteristics of moving animals. How to draw realistic paws from many angles. How to use perspective to position animals in your drawings. Finding the dynamic line. Creating preliminary form drawings. Project: Drawing cats and dogs in motion.


Completed beagle sketch

L8 Part 2 kitten



June Course Spotlight: Botanical Sketchbook Painting

LunaSteps 8

Botanical Sketchbook Painting      June Special: $40
4 Modules – 30 Tutorials – work at your own pace – Lifetime Access

Every plant has a fascinating story waiting to be told. Roses and the legend of St. Elizabeth, irises and the survival of King Clovis to become the father of the French nation, angel trumpets and the doomed settlement of Jamestown — turn over any leaf and find a tale hidden just beneath.

In my online course, Botanical Sketchbook Paintings:

  • Learn to tone and texture your own paper to create a wonderful vintage look that can range from rustic to refined.
  • Use a surprisingly simple four-step method for layering opaque paint and colored pencil to make botanical images that sing on the page.
  • A lighthearted look at page design will provide ideas for arranging the elements of your botanical tale.

We’ll also cover tips for distilling your written narrative down to a few bright, clear sentences and labels that communicate the heart of your story hand-in-hand with the drawn and painted page.

Need more info? Click here for a detailed list of all the course tutorials.

This content-rich course is posted IN ITS ENTIRE FORM with all video lessons and all printable pdf pages on a password-protected website. This way, each participant is truly free to create multiple pieces, to work at her own pace and focus on each aspect of the process — designing, painting, writing, lettering — whenever it is convenient. Instructor feedback and guidance via email is available at all times. I love to hear from you! This is a LIFETIME course and your access to all 30 tutorials will be permanent. The cost of the course is $40.

irisanotebookptg2 Here’s the supply list. If you live where some of the materials aren’t available, or prefer to use something you already have, I can advise on good substitutes. 🙂

Supply List:

  • 2B drawing pencil and kneaded eraser
  • 12-tube set of Reeves gouache (costs $10.50 from
  • Large plastic watercolor palette or old white china plate for mixing paint
  • Pigma Micron black waterproof ink pen, size 03 or 05
  • Basic set (12 or more) Prismacolor Premiere colored pencils
  • Inexpensive synthetic watercolor brushes – #1 round, #4 round, #10 round
  • A sheet of heavy watercolor paper (at least 300 lb weight). Cold press. Buy a full 22×30 inch sheet if possible, and you can use it for several paintings.

Questions about the supplies? Email me.

Ready to get started? Click here:

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Some photos from Botanical Sketchbook Painting:



Painted Ribbons Pic

To my Journey students

Dear Friends,

I have some news – originally, our year-long course was set to end on June 29, with a bonus lesson to finish out the cycle on July 7.

However… in response to a steady stream of email requests, I am extending the lessons for two months, through the end of August. (We have lots of teachers among us, and summer is their creative time!)

Here is our itinerary for the remaining lessons:

6-1 Beautiful Lookalikes: monarch, viceroy, queen and king butterflies (watercolor sketching)
6-8 Monarch life cycle and host plant in colored pencil (botanical drawing)
6-15 Trompe l’oeil Butterfly Collection in colored pencil (realism)
6-22 Summer wildflowers with a splash (loose watercolor)
6- 29 Summer wildflower color wheel in colored pencil (botanical drawing)

The month of July will focus on birds of prey — from the tiny shrike to the world’s largest raptor, the harpy eagle. Four lessons will feature a different bird and a different technique each week.

Our final month, August, will focus on colored pencil and will be all about animals and their settings. Deer, fox, aquatic animals and even the domestic cat will each have a week this month… with our final lesson going out August 31.

The archives will be open to you permanently, starting on June 30. The July and August lessons will be added to the archives when we conclude.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for joining me in this year of drawing and painting nature. 🙂




The tape is drawn… to secure a sheet of paper that is drawn… which contains a drawn butterfly who uses the illusion of owl eyes to frighten away predators. I love the medium of carbon pencil, with its slightly mysterious feel and lush, bottomless black values. I’m working on a collection of drawings now that will combine wild and tame aspects in a symbolic or narrative way.





Les Papillons

Free pen-and-ink video lesson: Draw a baby robin

Contrary to centuries of popular folklore, the robin is not a reliable sign of spring in most of the world. Hardy and unconcerned with the cold, robins have been known to remain straight through New England winters and to leave breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra not because the temperatures dropped, but only when food supplies grew scarce.

The red-winged blackbird, whose migration is as regular as clockwork, should be our harbinger of spring. But somehow, the robin manages to hold on to his title year after winter-weary year.

In this video lesson, we will use the wonderful textural qualities of pen and ink to draw fledgling robins, just at the brink of flight. Baby birds are fun to draw, because they are so angular and awkward. And all baby birds — robins and otherwise — are wonderful indicators that spring is well and truly here.

Watch the video all the way through and print the illustrated pdf pages before you begin. Happy drawing!

Click to open pdf pages:

If you liked this video, let me know! Email me at to be added to my mailing list. Suggestions for future drawing topics are always welcome, too!



About those robins…


This week’s Journey video lesson is a fun technique — pencil textures over a watercolor base — and our subject is the robin. Lots of folks associate this fellow with the first return of Spring, but actually the robin is quite cold-tolerant and often he opts to stay put, instead of flying south for the winter. A better harbinger of warmer days would be the noisy and numerous red-winged blackbird.

Free: Paint a Spring Hare


Easter is only a few weeks away, so here is a video tutorial (and a set of printable pdf pages) to guide you in creating a spring hare in watercolor and pencil. I used 140 lb. Strathmore watercolor paper and a #4 synthetic round brush in the demo, but feel free to substitute if you have different supplies.

This video first appeared in my Draw Paint Letter yearlong course. I hope you enjoy it.

Click to watch video:


Click to print pdf pages:

Draw a Vine Wreath

REF Brown Hare