In fall 2018, if you were to visit the Ambler Arboretum, you might have found painting students from Temple’s Tyler School of Art peppered throughout the gardens capturing the natural beauty around them as summer gave way to fall and fall ushered in winter.
Coming this spring, adult artists of every experience level — including no experience whatsoever — are invited to take inspiration from the 187-acre Ambler Campus as Tyler offers a new, six-class non-credit workshop that takes full advantage of everything the Ambler Arboretum has to offer.
Botanical Drawing with Wet Media will be offered on Saturdays, from March 2 through April 13 (no class on March 9) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuition for the program is $285. For workshop description and registration details, visit the Tyler Continuing Education website.
According to Laura Hricko, Assistant Director of Tyler’s Pre-College and Continuing Education Programs, it is the first non-credit workshop Tyler has offered at Temple Ambler in many years.
“The workshop is intended for adult students of any artistic level. From someone who is just curious about drawing to art educators, the workshop is designed so that everyone will get something out of it,” she said. “As an undergraduate at Temple, I took a class at the Ambler Campus and then as a graduate student, I took a natural dyes class that made great use of the campus. I was blown away by the beauty and serenity of the gardens.”
Blending historic gardens with spaces that reflect contemporary environmental concerns and interests, the Ambler Arboretum “is the perfect setting for Tyler workshops,” said Hricko.
“It is a very natural location to invite the community into Tyler and Temple’s studio spaces. The Arboretum is such a special place and there is always something new to discover,” she said. “I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for participants to meet and interact with other creative thinkers while they produce artwork that they can be proud and excited about. They’ll be learning from our excellent Tyler faculty while experiencing Temple Ambler and the Ambler Arboretum, developing a true connection between, and appreciation for, art and nature.”
According to course instructor Marisa Keris, workshop participants will incorporate contour line drawings with ink and watercolor painting to produce larger works on paper. Working from observation in the campus gardens and specimens foraged from the campus grounds, students will explore the colors, shapes and beauty that nature provides when examined up close.
“Being able to gain an understanding of the world around them and then being able to interpret it in a new way is the first step toward making art. Students will focus on producing at least one large drawing per class so that by the end of the workshop, they will have completed a series of botanical drawings,” she said. “With this workshop, we’re going to focus on contour line drawing. With this technique, you can learn a great deal about proportion and scale and capture a lot of detail — it’s a way to go about a project that can be repeated, something they could do in their own backyards.”
Keris, an adjunct professor at the Tyler School of Art and Stockton University, completed her MFA in painting at Tyler in 2018. No stranger to the Ambler Campus, she completed a Food Crops course on campus while she was a graduate student.
“I love the campus! The gardens seem to change every week — there’s a real sense of place and time here,” she said. “There is so much history here, combined with a remarkable level of expertise in horticulture, landscape architecture and environmental stewardship.”
The campus and the Arboretum “provide a tremendous resource to faculty and students,” Keris said.
“Beyond having these beautiful gardens to provide materials and inspiration, there is this trove of knowledge,” she said. “While we are drawing or painting, we can also tap into that knowledge base and learn about the plants, how they are grown and how they interact with one another and their ecosystem. It’s all right here.”