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Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate Program Overview

In the Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate program, you will learn how to draw botanical subjects with scientific accuracy, artistry and mastery of technical methods. Develop a basic knowledge of plant morphology and build the skills you need to document plants in intricate detail, including the root system, upper and lower leaf surface, flowers, fruits, and seed heads. This program is designed for students who are interested in pursuing art for pleasure and self-satisfaction, and you can choose between two concentrations: watercolor or colored pencil. Both beginners and seasoned artists are welcome. You may work towards the certificate or enroll in individual courses. There is no formal enrollment in the program.

Phipps maintains student records, but does not actively monitor student progress. Please track your own progress through the program and contact Phipps’ adult education department for transcript confirmation when you have completed the required coursework. There is no time limit for completing the program. Certificate completion typically takes three to four years, or longer.

Class Attendance Policy: Full class attendance is required for course credit. In extenuating circumstance, single sessions might be made up, depending on the course content, or made up the next time the class is offered. Students must also complete and submit work for each course to receive course credit.

For a printable PDF of this overview information click here

For a list of current classes, click here

Illustration © Kelly Leahy Radding 

Basic Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration

To receive a basic certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration, you must satisfactorily complete 10 core courses, totaling 164 credit hours, and an additional 56 hours of electives for a total of 220 hours, as well as meet the requirements of a portfolio review. After you complete the course requirements, you must present a portfolio of your work for review. The portfolio must include between five and 15 pieces of independent artwork that demonstrate proficiency in graphite, pen and ink, and either watercolor or colored pencil. Contact the adult education department for additional certificate and portfolio review details, to confirm your transcript, to initiate the portfolio review process, and with any program questions:

Advanced Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration

If you have completed the Basic Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration including the portfolio review, you are eligible to work towards an Advanced Certificate. The Advanced Certificate requires a one – three year commitment from you, in which you must complete an additional 50 hours of elective courses and present a final project with newly created works that demonstrate the botanical art process while focusing on an approved plant-related theme.

For more program information, contact our staff at or 412/441-4442, ext. 3925.

Basic Certificate Course Requirements:

Core classes are offered at least once every 18 months. Elective offerings vary in subject matter and frequency offered. For course descriptions, instructor bios and the most up-to-date program information, visit

Illustration © Sara Eve Rivera

Core Courses (164 class hours):

Botanical Drawing l: Foundations (18 hrs)
Botanical Drawing ll: Volume, Texture, Details (18 hrs)
Botanical Drawing lll: Applications (18 hrs)
Composition for Botanical Artists (18 hrs)
Floral Morphology (12 hrs)
History of Botanical Art (8 hrs)
Pen and Ink l (18 hrs)
Pen and Ink ll (18 hrs)

Choose either watercolor or colored pencil concentration

Colored Pencil I: Techniques and Color Theory (18 hrs)
Colored Pencil II: Applications (18 hrs)


Watercolor I: Techniques and Color Theory (18 hrs)
Watercolor II: Applications (18 hrs)

Portfolio Review (completed once all credit requirements are met)

Example Electives (56 total hours required)
Classes listed below are just examples of the types of elective classes you might encounter in the program. Options change from semester to semester. 

Developing Botanical Perspective to Create Depth 
Understanding Shadow
Pollinators I and II
Flora Project 
Drawing Birds
Botanical Drawing IV 
Pen and Ink III, IV and V 
Colored Pencil III 
Watercolor III 
Mastering Color Courses, various
Visiting Botanical Art and Illustration Instructors, various

Overall certificate requirement: 220 class hours

Illustration © Tena Chiarchiaro

For More detailed information on the basic and advanced certificates, download the sheets below:

Basic Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate Details
Advanced Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate Details

Examples of Student Work: 

Botanical Drawing ll 
Pen and Ink l
Colored Pencil l
Watercolor l

Recent Exhibits:

An Alphabet of Native Plants of Southwestern Pennsylvania: A Botanical Art Exhibit 

Instructor Bios:

Coming Soon 

Photo © Brian Cohen