While carefully planned step-by-step instruction has always been integral to the botanical art instruction Margaret has designed, her curriculum planning and every course and workshop therein maintains a balanced approach to learning this art, one which she believes deepens a student’s understanding of visual art concepts that can see many develop greater creative flexibility and a higher quality of art. She strongly believes that all who want to learn how to draw and paint can do so, but by “learning to see through the eyes of an artist” a different more satisfying journey transpires, especially when inspired by the wondrous world of plants.
Since moving to
Margaret's Botanical art teaching background
An inspiring botanical art teacher, Margaret loves to share her creative ideas, knowledge and innovative techniques with beginners, experienced artists and teachers. Her teaching approach reflects four years of a classic style art schooling and her experiences as a professional natural science illustrator. She began teaching botanical art in 1988 for a community education program conducted at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens - Mt Coot-tha (MCBG). Her catch phrase for these earlier botanical drawing classes – “of course you can learn to draw!” Increasing demand for a fully comprehensive botanical art program saw the opening in 1997 of The Margaret Saul School of Botanical Art & Illustration, and within a year her classes were held in the newly built “seminar room” at the MCBG visitors centre. Three years after moving to the USA in 2000 when receiving an invitation to establish a school at Brookside Gardens, Maryland (near Washington DC) Margaret sadly disbanded her Brisbane school to focus on designing a curriculum that would see her directing a new school offering a certificate course but seeds had found fertile ground in her home state to see classes and exhibitions soon returning to the MCBG, this time run by the then newly established Botanical Art Society of Queensland (BASQ) and awareness for rare and endangered native flora continues through the work done by the Rare Plants Group. The broadening of interest in botanical art across the state is evident with the proliferation of botanical art groups and artwork of the highest quality - “beautiful art” is exhibited by members at the BASQ annual exhibition, “Floressence” and in the society’s online gallery.
Starting my Brisbane school – a brief overview
A school program took shape after learning that so many adults wanting to draw were hesitant to learn after being told at school they were hopeless at art or had art teachers who sadly had no basic drawing skills. The Margaret Saul school program was outlined in its school handbook to provide crucial information for prospective students, and critical placement of its school brochures were a vital way of publicising the school (before access to the “www” was commonplace). The program included comprehensive courses in botanical drawing and painting from beginner through intermediate and advanced levels and each with a “green sheet” that included the aim of the course, weekly class content and homework. This information appealed to these adult learners. Workshops, some by visiting masters of the art and later, as students gained more advanced skills Margaret initiated the Garden’s Project to illustrate plants in the collection at MCBG and the Rare (native) Plants Project in association with the Queensland Herbarium. Students had ready access to the library at the MCBG visitors’ centre which had acquisitioned a number of books featuring botanical art and each school year culminated in an exhibition of botanical art by school participants that also included presentation of achievement awards at the exhibition openings.
How to study Botanical Art – in Tuscany or in the USA
1. INDIVIDUAL TUITION: Botanical Art - At home in
Here at Il Capanno there is a warm welcome for holiday travellers – especially those wishing to indulge in Botanical Art! Come for a couple of days of sharing and learning supported by scheduled periods of customized tutoring designed for either –
● Experienced artists – add a new approach to your repertoire or increase proficiency in drawing or painting techniques
● Novices – a relaxed and satisfying, learning experience guaranteed to inspire you to pursue this beautiful art.
Although now enjoying retirement from day to day involvement in the education scene to focus on creating her own botanical art, Margaret still loves to teach and treasures those times whenever a struggling student experiences that special “Ah-Hah!” moment.
Home, Il Capanno, is surrounded by wooded hills with vineyards and old terraced olive groves below – a beautiful retreat with fabulous vistas. We are an easy scenic 15 minute drive north from Siena and just a 45 minute drive south from Florence airport (FLR) – all without a traffic light in site! There are excellent places for wining and dining close by, one gem just over the hill at Fonterutoli and many more at our tourist friendly village, Castellina in Chianti.
Non-participating friends or partners: You are assured of a pleasurable experience, with ready access to local walking trails, opportunity to experience the magic of relaxing on our terrace with a good book, bird watching or simply sitting and enjoying the ever changing palette of colours in the Tuscan vista before you. You can also book yourself into numerous day tours and activities.
Free accommodation at “La Briciola”, our old but fully equipped, rock guest house is offered to participants with a partner or friend. Or reserve more luxurious accommodation at our neighbour, Hotel Casafrassi, (an agriturismo also with an osteria), a pleasant walk or a three minute drive away.
For further information: If you are interested in individual or small group tuition (maximum of three participants) with Margaret at her home in
2. COURSES/WORKSHOPS: Brookside Gardens School of Botanical Art & Illustration (BGBSI)
A wonderful opportunity to attend this school awaits, either to attend on a regular basis or for weekend workshops, in this greater
Register for BGSBAI Classes: Registration for the Fall/Winter classes open in August and the Spring/Summer classes in February.