When you’ve got creative block, sometimes the best remedy is to go outside and draw what you see. New York-based print designer and illustrator Sara Boccaccini Meadows has made it a habit to take her sketchbook everywhere she goes, taking inspiration from her everyday surroundings.
Rendered in watercolor and gouache, Meadow’s paintings are particularly inspired by nature. Her sketchbook pages are filled with lush, colorful landscapes and gardens, blooming with flowers and botanicals. In a bid to inspire other creatives, the talented artist is sharing her tips with you through her new online Skillshare class, Botanical Illustration: Paint a Colorful Garden with Watercolor and Gouache.
The 35 minute e-learning course will teach you how to paint “botanical scenes inspired by the real world.” Meadows will reveal how she builds up a piece from the initial sketch to full garden illustration. From color and texture to various painting techniques, you’ll finish the class with everything you need to create your own nature-inspired scenes.
We recently caught up with Meadows to ask about her work and learn more about her inspiring Skillshare class. Read on for our exclusive interview and sign up to Botanical Illustration: Paint a Colorful Garden with Watercolor and Gouache on Skillshare.
Have you always been interested in drawing and creating art?
I loved textiles and art at school but didn’t realize how many creative jobs were out there until I graduated. I think education in schools should start to focus more on this – especially for children who don’t enjoy the academic side of education. My style has certainly developed from when I was young but I’m more excited than ever about my creative practice.
Why do you think you're so drawn to the natural world, particularly botanicals?
There’s something very therapeutic about nature and botanicals. I grew up in the Peak District, England and loved being surrounded by rolling green hills and wildflowers. I think I’m still so drawn to the nostalgia of nature and home.
When did you start keeping a sketchbook?
We were encouraged to keep sketchbooks through school and university. I remember going on a trip to New Zealand when I was about 18 and documenting all the details—flights, museums, hikes etc. I was more into collaging back then. Now, I primarily use paints and pen. It’s great to look back on different journeys you’ve taken and to see how styles have developed over the years.
Approximately how many sketchbooks do you go through in a year?
I usually keep a larger, journal style sketchbook every year [that features] a mix of patterns and illustrations and tells a story of places I visit throughout the year. Then about 3-4 smaller sketchbooks with random marks and sketches.
Do you have a favorite location you love to paint?
I live in NYC now and often head to the Botanical Gardens to find a spot of nature in the city. I love being outside and florals, buildings, and landscapes often grab my attention.
You’re teaching a Skillshare class now. What can students expect to learn by taking your class?
I go through a step by step botanical garden painting where I teach students where I find inspiration for subject and color, the materials I use and how I layer watercolor and gouache to build a textured painting.
Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators?
Experiment with materials and enjoy the creative process—everything else will come naturally!
For more tips, check out Meadow's Botanical Painting book.