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Students and Educators Share Their Thoughts About The Academy of Botanical Art Books & Instruction

Academy Calligraphy Class (Students with Instructor Fred Reckker)

1.  Excerpt from Reader #1 Comment on   (Before my experience with the Academy) I have had mixed results from distance learning courses. (In) my first attempt, I found the feedback to be inadequate. There is no flexibility for lesson deadlines,and it was also a VERY expensive course. My second and ongoing experience has been completely different and truly wonderful. It is with the Academy of Botanical Art in Sarasota, FL. The instructors there understand that we are at all different levels and that we each have strong and weak areas. They are nurturing and confidence building and meet each student where they are rather than trying to force us all into one mold. The lesson materials for each class are very detailed and complete. Everything is spelled out and there is no need to try and guess what the instructor wants. It is also on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than having to pay the full amount up front. It is a much more personalized and less regimented program. It keeps me motivated to paint and learn rather than dreading the next assignment. – August 22, 2011. Read the full comment here:

Selby Botanist Angel Lara & Student Susan McDonald

Students & Olivia at Selby Antique Book Library (Left to Right: Eleanor Thurston, Olivia Braida, Susan McDonald, Cynthia Rice, and Librarian Pep Rudimann)

2.   From Marilyn Slevin – Academy Certificate Student: I am a student of the Academy of Botanical Art. The program helped me with this art form by clearly and sequentially taking me through the instruction. Olivia is a rare combination of gifted artist and teacher, as well as coach and nurturer. It was very beneficial to me to go through the lessons at my own pace, but continue to be guided forward. I always felt I had individualized support. M. Slevin, Sarasota, FL – October 1, 2014

3. From Dr. Kathryn Au, Chief Executive Officer of SchoolRise – Academy of Botanical Art Distance Learning Student: Thank you Academy for all the guidance through the coaching calls and emails.  The assignments are so well designed to create new challenges.  The coaching calls kept things from being too daunting, provided me with specifics to work on, and really helped me to improve. It’s been a great learning experience! K. Au, Honolulu, HI – September 20, 2014

4. From Betsy Frank – Academy of Botanical Art Certificate Student: I am enrolled in the Academy of Botanical Art Certificate Program after taking an introductory class at Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.   Although I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Art from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh this was my first experience with botanical art.  To me, it is the perfect combination of art and science.  I have taken workshops and classes searching for something to take my art to the next level.  The academy is a comprehensive program that provides the structure and discipline that I have been looking for to further develop my artistic and professional skills.  Olivia literally has taken me back to my “roots” with the ten step program that is designed to enforce the importance of drawing or painting what I see, not what I think I see.  Individual skills and talent in botanical art are nurtured through the program whether the goal is scientific illustration or decorative design.  Olivia is not only an accomplished artist but an expert teacher and mentor.  This is the beginning of a wonderful journey for me.  B. Frank, Englewood, FL.  September 20, 2014

5. From Cynthia Kaighin – Academy of Botanical Art Certificate Student:  A new world opened to me during my first art class with Olivia.   I’d always appreciated art but never thought I could be the artist.   She assured me from the start that she could teach me to draw and paint although I must admit I was doubtful.    Olivia’s Academy is structured to teach beginners like me as well as more experienced students.  Her series of books is based on “10 Step” programs designed for drawing and for painting.    Each book gently prods you to the next lesson.  The studio class size is small enough to allow for patient, individual attention and her one-room school concept of blending together students of all levels continues to be a huge benefit for me.   Olivia really knows her art form and is eager to teach it.  I applaud her patience as well as her program.  As promised, I am learning to draw and to paint and my confidence has bloomed.     In addition to art, Olivia has shared her poetry, recipes, and her imagination.   She seems able to do anything she sets out to do and that makes me feel the same.                C. Kaighin, Sarasota, FL  September 23, 2014

6.  From Ten Steps Book Purchaser.  “I have to tell you I nearly cried when I received the books. I have been so hungry for real instruction in art for years. I have taken workshops and purchased books for years, all with extreme let down. I have a degree in Graphic Arts and own my own printing business. My weeks are filled with long working hours and very little personal time. Finding your course has meant the world to me. Each book is filled with purposeful useful instructions, methods and guidelines to use and develop each and every piece of artwork. I dove right in to the first book and am anxious to complete the whole serious. I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done to  develop such a detailed course in art. I am just about finished with book #1 and have enjoyed every moment of the book, and am looking forward to moving on. Thank You.”  P. Eaves, Altamonte Springs, FL. – June 29, 2011.

7.  From Cynthia Rice, Academy of Botanical Art Student. “I have studied with Olivia for several years now and find her to be an excellent teacher with the rare skill of imparting useful, constructive criticism without assailing one’s ego or compromising her high standards. Students of all levels will appreciate her organized and careful communication of material and her genuine concern for her students and their individual goals.” June 26, 2011

8.  From Former Student and President of the Brooklyn Watercolor Society. “Olivia Braida is unique! A true renaissance woman – her art, intellect, enthusiasm, dedication and perseverance are unmatchable.  She is not only a gifted artist, but also author, philosopher and educator nonpareil.  All that having been said, Olivia is also warm and compassionate and a lover of all that’s good in life.  I feel truly blessed to have gotten to know her and be a small part of her world.  A. Massimi, Brooklyn, NY –  April 4, 2011.

9.  From Ron Sanders, Artist,  worked with Olivia Marie at Academy of Botanical Art.  “Olivia is an extremely skilled botanical artist and instructor with great attention to detail in both her work and her teaching. She has gone to great lengths to create a world-class educational system through her Academy of Botanical Art. I highly recommend her as both an artist and teacher of botanical art.”– February 26, 2011.

10.  From Dr. Kathleen Konicek-Moran, (Ed.D.), Owner, Everything Green, studied with Olivia Marie at Academy of Botanical Art. “Olivia’s Ten Steps program to creating botanical art is vital to the beginning botanical artist! She addresses art from the basics (drawing and perspective) and getting to know your materials, to the sublime of creating a botanical masterwork. She offers the Ten Steps in a number of formats, face-to-face through her Academy in Sarasota and Kentucky, and on-line, with a supported tutorial. The best program I have ever encountered!”– January 27, 2011.

11.  From Dr. James Castner, Book Publisher, Author, Photographer, Feline Press worked directly with the Academy of Botanical Art. “Olivia Marie Braida-Chiusano is a multi-talented individual with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working. Her courses and texts providing instruction in how to draw and paint plants have opened up the challenging and rewarding world of botanical illustration to dozens of students. As an award winning artist who has exhibited her work in a wide variety of venues, Olivia instructs from the perspective of a professional and practicing artist. I encourage anyone interested in natural history or its illustration to view her work and look in to her botanical and entomological certification programs. ”– January 27, 2011. 

12.  From Martice E. Nicks III, Bachelor of Science In Digital Art & Design, Visual Communications Technologist, Modeling & Simulation Technical Analyst.
“I am a graduate with a Digital Art and Design degree from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. Full Sail’s primary focus is to teach the digital perspective of art & design; however, they frequently would urge us to explore the traditional side of art as well. My curriculum only provided one class in this area, and I found the material did not provide the level of detail I was looking for. I turned to OM Braida Drawing Book – Volume I [which includes instructions on how to use the Perplexi® Drawing Tool] to supplement the course, and found it to be immensely helpful in my discovery of variations of form, developing an eye for detail, and the application of light & perspective to design depth in my artwork. I still will periodically use this resource to look up information on traditional drawing. The resulting foundation has polished my skills in a way that allows me to wield my technical knowledge of any given tool set much more effectively.”  – September 2010

13.  From  Susan McDonald, PhD. Professor of Art History.  “The Perplexi® helps botanical artists create accurate proportions. It is an aid to the eye and saves some of the time necessary to measure the size of leaves, stem, flower parts and fruit. The Plexiglas® has been particularly helpful to me in drawing those leaves and branches that point directly toward the artist or directly away from the artist. It is also helpful in calculating relative size of parts of the plant. I recommend it as a useful tool.”– September 2010.

14. From Peter J. Scott, PhD. Professor of Botany Retired, Specialist in Plant Taxonomy. “The Perplexi is great and using the ten steps has improved my work – at least, I feel better about the drawing when I am finished. I am thoroughly enjoying the whole course and find that my art is improving quite a bit.” – September 2008

14. From B. Cole – Studied with the Academy.  “The Perplexi® for me was a necessary tool. I came into the Drawing course unable to draw. The Perplexi® was my life preserver. After using the plexi for three solid months, wondering if I would ever be able to draw on my own, one day, it all came together for me and I drew my first plant on my own without the plexi!  It was a huge mile stone. I probably would have given up long ago if I had not had the use of the plexi. It is the single greatest tool for those of us who cannot draw.” – September 2008