Dianne Sutherland BSc Hons Biology, FLS
My Approach to Teaching Online
To view my artwork see my website diannesutherland.com
I always believed that botanical art tuition should be accessible for anyone who has an interest, when I first wanted to learn about botanical art I found that it was not easily accessible, so I consider myself mostly self taught. My experience working in education and from writing blogs and running various groups over the years convinced me that the demand was there, so, in 2009, I began to develop an online learning programme. My courses are written from personal experience based on the simple premise of: 'what I wish I'd been taught'.
Learning is a continuous process, it builds on skills and experience and requires the ability to constantly review and revise. It also requires hard work and commitment.
My approach is to teach the fundamental techniques and processes that all students of botanical art and illustration need to enable them to become confident self-directed artists.
Personalized feedback, which provided support and constructive criticism is essential in helping students to progress. This approach is at the heart of my teaching. I try to advise and nurture and never ' spoon feed! I also value the concept of individual learning styles and never pressurize students to move on before satisfactory completion of any part of a course.
Some might say that you can't learn as well online, and while there's no doubt that attending classes in person is one of the best ways to learn, unfortunately it's not always possible to access courses in person.
Advances in new technologies have made it so much easier to teach online, so both learning and teaching online comes so much closer to the classroom experience.
Using a range of technologies, I include a student social media group for discussion, this this website, where downloadable documents and videos are stored ...and I'm usually available via email or telephone, Skype,WhatsApp or Messenger.
I also deliver 'in person' workshops and have taught all over the world, lucky enough to be a guest tutor for the RBGE, the Eden Florilegium Group, Madrid Botanical Garden, Wellesley College, Boston, ASBA and many others! I feel very fortunate to have been able to pursue this career and want to share it with others.
I've been drawing and painting for as long as I can recall - it is the only thing I ever wanted to do and I made that career choice at an early age. A short spell at art school was followed by a unique opportunity to train as a ceramic design technician with Royal Doulton design studio. This was a wonderful opportunity to learn to paint from skilled technicians with many years experience, and it is where I first acquired a taste for detailed flower painting.
I moved to NE Scotland in the late 1980's and my work became focused on botanical subjects. To improve my knowledge of plants I undertook a 4 year degree programme and graduated with a BSc Honours in Biology from the University of Aberdeen, studying floral morphology in relation to reproductive success in flowering plants, which was followed by undertaking an MSc in IT. I worked in education for several years, and, as a freelance education consultant but continued to paint during this time. After undertaking a Botanical Art Course, I decided that I wanted to teach and write my own education materials because there seemed so much more that could be included.
At the New York Design Centre, 2017, Exhibiting in the ASBA 19th International.
I have exhibited nationally and internationally, with work in the permanent collection at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh (12th International) and in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney Florilegium. I have 5 RHS medals for my work. In 2013, I was invited to become a member of The Sydney Royal Botanic Garden Florilegium project, where I exhibited in 2016. In the same year I had work accepted for the ASBA 19th International, exhibited at the New York Design Centre where I received an Honourable Mention for my work, Fritillaria imperialis 'Rubra' (on vellum). I currently have a painting of Stronglylodon macrobotrys exhibited at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Kew Gardens. My work is published in a number of books and I have been writing a regular Botanical Art blog, since 2008. I am a Fellow of the Linnean Society. Currently I am writing a book based on my sketchbooks for release in October 2020.
In addition to my botanical work, I continue to work as an illustrator of natural history subjects and have worked for numerous clients, including the National Museum of Ireland, the BBC, Royal College of Surgeons, Method + Standard Vodka, Donald Russell, Unilever and many others.
Exhibiting at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Kew, 2018. The Sydney Florilegium. Pictured here with my daughter, artist, Polly Sutherland