University of Bristol Botanic Garden

Pupgroup is for "pick up a pencil" > a drawing group led by Sheena Vallely to depart from old habits and encourage a new approach to drawing live outside.

Established in 2012, Pupgroup has been hosting drawing classes at Bristol Botanical Gardens, exclusively in the glasshouses, where a diverse selection of plants from all over the world grow in their accustomed habitats. While the subject of study is based on this unique collection, the objectives for each class, are to learn and develop new drawing skills as a valuable practice, to surprise and to satisfy as a result of intense study. For experienced and for complete beginners, to share and to encourage dialogue. Individual instruction and guidance on drawing exercises are key elements in every class.

Drawing in the Glasshouses with Pupgroup 2017 : Drawing Instructions


The aim of the following drawing exercises is to make a direct line of communication between what you physically feel in one hand and what you draw in the other.

Allow 20 mins: Paper and pencil at the ready, choose your subject and standing comfortably in front of it, close your eyes and feel the surface, texture and form of your subject while at the same time draw in response to your touch and do not look at what you are drawing. Just as you rely on our sense of sight to draw, you are swopping your sense of sight for your sense of touch. Push and pull the pencil, apply heavy and light pressure. The aim is not to make an identifiable representation, only a range of new marks, a new vocabulary, solely reliant on your haptic sense.

Exercise 2: 20 mins Choose an entirely different and contrasting subject of study or ask a friend to lead you to a new plant and repeat the same instructions as before. Your drawing ought to have a unique range of marks, owing to your reliance on touch alone. Remember to apply your pencil in an honest response to what you are feeling in the other hand.

Exercise 3: 25 mins Using your eyes this time examine the same subject and write words to describe it’s features addressing the surface, weight, texture , form etc and any special feature about it that stands out. Equipped with this additional information, do another drawing of it and this time looking at the subject.

Exercise 4. 20 mins Same subject, eyes open and using one or two more pencils of different tones and a rubber if you prefer too, copy the drawing you did in Ex.3.


The aim is to improve your hand and eye synchronicity.

20 mins: Armed with pencil and paper. Choose your subject. With the subject on your left, draw it with your right hand, without looking at what you are drawing. Keep the pencil in contact with the paper and hold it at the end > this will give you more flexibility in your wrist. Work from sections of your study, deciding beforehand where you’ll begin and where you’ll stop before lifting the pencil off the paper. Continue describing each section until time is up. You will discover that you may have overlapped sections, this doesn’t matter.

20 mins: Same subject only this time have the subject on your right and draw it with your left hand. Try to make your marks unpredictable.

Have a look and examine your drawings so far.

20 mins: On a new subject and absorbing it’s features, choose which hand to draw with or change to the other hand half way through, draw for 30secs looking only at the subject and for the next 30secs look at what you are drawing as well as the subject. Repeat this sequence until 20mins has elapsed.

20 mins new subject: Apply the same approach and this time set your timer for periods of 3mins  instead of 30secs.

As I sat drawing and swiping away another ant, I heard a buzz and found the dragonfly and watching it I noticed another insect-like transparent vessel hanging hollow on a bogbean leaf just cms away > either the whole event of this dragonfly emerging had just happened or it had happened earlier in the day but either way, a big thrill and now in the drawing soon to be etched in nitric acid ... On closer look, you can see the larva just below the sun in the water, then follow upwards and left where you'll see a spanking new dragonfly drying out it's new propeller wings. ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago  ·  

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All stops had to be taken out this afternoon after you mentioned the dragonflies Andy > the pond was humming with life between the furious bathing crow, the bees , the frantic riverboatmen, the dragonfly one buzzing one spent..., the ants..., and the quacking scratchy squirrels > all came out ...keeping me scratching away on the sawblade ... ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago  ·  

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Some creatures have nothing better to do and others have > this morning some new Pupgroup members draw in the Evolution Dell. ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago  ·  

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Spring / Summer Appreciate Nature with Pencil and Paper drawing course begins today at Universty of Bristol Botanic Garden where this time around, we'll be outside in the gardens.

Photo of 'Three of a Kind' Etching & Chine Collé > Edition no. 3 of 9 > one of a series of etchings based around laboratory flasks for a group exhibition at Hamilton House Bristol , opening May 11th in conjunction with Pint of Science 2018 nationwide festival event.
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3 weeks ago  ·  

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Rinder III Sidney Nolan ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago  ·  

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