nature drawing with Irene Brady,
author of
Illustrating Nature ~
Right-brain Art in a Left-brain World
at the lovely,
deluxe wildlife lodge
El Remanso
in the Costa Rican rainforest

A 4-day
Drawing, Landscape, and
Watercolor Pencil Workshop
for all levels
of art experience
minimum age, 12

For details about what each day will hold, please read the information at right.

If you have further questions
after you read about the class,
please feel free to
email Irene

And if you're traveling with others who just want to explore (via waterfall rappelling, tree climbing, canopy ziplines, horseback riding, kayaking, etc.), or just lounge around, this is a perfect spot for them, too!

Prices and travel details here.

so much to draw! so little time!

You will receive the workbooks shown below containing the materials we cover in class, plus a large supply of heavy sheets bound into the back for sketching. You'll take these invaluable books home with you, filled with your workshop notes and drawings for later reference, and your Costa Rica jungle sketches.

Below are some quick sketches
and photos from
El Remanso Rainforest Lodge

Coatis (pizotes) romp in the trees over the cabin, eating the tubular cecropia fruits.

Cecropia leaves (also the favorite food of the sloths) are huge -- more than a foot across.

The oldest cecropia in this trio is eroding away, the closeups are a trunk section and fruit. Macaws also eat these fruits!

I put this mantis in my clear-sided cosmetics bag for awhile to sketch -- works great!

I also photographed the mantis.  Notice how it almost disappears on the banana leaf.

This wasp nest, peopled by small friendly black wasps, is a masterpiece of architecture!

I think this is from a howler monkey. Look at the HEAVY jaws.

Moneyladder vines with chain-link-like indentations, drape from the jungle trees.

a kinkajou, relaxing

Nature Drawing Workshop
what to expect

The most recent Costa Rica Workshop was in April, 2007 ~ (be sure to read Irene's fascinating journal blog, complete with photos and sketches, in pen and watercolor pencil, of the jungle plants and wildlife she encountered). We'd like to know if you may be interested in the next workshop, either this autumn or in the spring of 2008.
Click on the blue button to register your possible interest and/or to receive Irene's Drawing Workshop Updates.


  • The adventure begins! You've gotten yourself from your point of origin to San Jose International airport (SJO) in time to make connections to Puerto Jimenez. A short flight will take you to Puerto Jimenez, where you will be met by a shuttle and taken directly to El Remanso Wildlife Lodge. If you would prefer to explore the sights of southern Costa Rica you may choose to rent a car for the 7-8 hour trip (plan to arrive by 4pm on the 21st). El Remanso Wildlife Lodge will be happy to make local transportation arrangements for you when you make your reservations.

    Spend the rest of the day enjoying and getting acquainted with the lodge, the wildlife, the other workshop particpants and your instructor, Irene Brady.


  • The Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica is nearly at the Equator, which means that the sun rises at 5am and sets at 5:30pm. So set your alarm for breakfast, which begins serving at 6am (although the howler monkeys may awaken you at sunrise). Sketching from the veranda

    To give us plenty of time for sketching, hiking, birdwatching and the many other interesting activities available, our classes will begin at 8am each day. All supplies will be provided, including lavishly illustrated workbooks which you'll use for classes, sketching and to take home at the end. No need to even bring a sketchbook -- just use the heavy paper in the workbook..So just show up in our airy classroom with a ready supply of enthusiasm, and we'll jump right into our first session, "Nature Sketching Techniques."

    As a first step, you will tell us what you'd like to achieve in this workshop, then you will learn and practice sketching, shading, and texture rendering techniques to reach those goals. Each participant will begin and proceed forward from his/her initial personal skill level. While you may learn from other artists' experiences in the workshop, this is not a competition.

    cecropia leaf, flower and trunk section After a couple of warmup exercises,you'll begin to draw exotic items provided by the jungle. By 10:30 even beginners will have enough instruction and experience to forge ahead on their own, and you can take off with your sketchbook to practice what you've just learned out in the jungle, in your room, or wherever you like. If we all decide on a destination and stick together, Irene will coach and offer advice as you sit and draw. If you'd rather do it alone, that's fine, too.

    solo sketching down on the beach The jungle experience can be incredibly inspiring. There will be plenty of time for solo sketching of whatever intriques you in the jungle or down on the beach. Sketching opportunities may be just outside your room: watch for coatis, monkeys and agoutis foraging seedpods on the lawn or in the trees overhead, and take advantage of encounters with various exotic insects, birds, iguanas, crabs and critters down on the beach -- to say nothing of the opportunities for botanical sketching!

    Lunch is served daily from noon to 1:30pm, and we can regroup over lunch, if you wish, to check on progress.

    The afternoon class resumes at 2:30 and goes until 4:30, fine-tuning what you have already learned and experimented with during the morning and on your solo outing. Additionally, you'll learn how to apply shading and texture to give drawings a 3-dimensional, realistic appearance. A collection of special effects tips and tricks demos will conclude the session, and an encouraging critique will help you see ways to improve your techniques and skills.

    coati up a cecropia next to the lodge By the end of this first day even inexperienced artists will be able to draw and shade 3-dimensional natural objects, using professional techniques to get realistic results. You may choose to sketch further in the remaining hour before dark, or you may prefer to explore, relax or take a nap.

    A delicious dinner will be served from 6 to 8pm, preceded by drinks and happy hour. People usually go to bed fairly early (before ten) because the short daylight hours mandate an early rise.


  • After breakfast, at 8am, we'll begin our "Landscape Sketching Techniques" session. Since drawing from an actual landscape can be daunting for beginners, newbies can circumvent this obstacle by exploring and learning how to produce textures and techniques used by landscape artists and photographers. If you are a more advanced artist, you may experiment with actual landscape features from our open-sided classroom.

    All participants will learn some right-brain "templates" the trail to the beach to allow quick rendering of landscape features; the templates can be adjusted to actual conditions "on-the-fly" for realistic results

    At 10:30, as on Day 1, you'll break for the morning, using the time until 2:30 to practice the landscape sketching techniques you have just learned. Irene will be available, as on the first day, for coaching and advice.

    At 2:30, we'll meet again in the classroom for our afternoon session. You will use techniques learned from Day 1 to draw foreground landscape features close-up, then critiques are gentle but highly useful landscape perspective will be briefly examined and you will learn how to use texture and shadows to achieve depth and distance.

    By the end of Day 2, you will know how to select and apply textures and perspective to successfully create effective landscapes.

    An encouraging critique will show you ways you can improve your techniques and skills.

Day 3

  • You've been working hard up to now to get a good foundation for nature sketching. Now it's time to relax a bit and take it easy. Perhaps you will choose to eat your breakfast in the top of a tree, 125 feet above the ground, as you put your landscape sketching technques to work on an aerial view. looking up into the sun-drenched canopy

    If heights aren't your "thing," we'll meet at 8am as usual, in our classroom to absorb "Watercolor Pencil Techniques" -- how to apply watercolor pencil color to your sketches.

    After discussing the color wheel and blending colors with watercolor pencils, you'll add color to one of your drawings (or a fresh one), choosing from a huge rainbow assortment of watercolor pencils. You'll learn how to dry-blend the pencil colors, then we'll dabble briefly with applying water before finishing for the day at 10:30. The final session of "Watercolor Pencil Techniques" will be held tomorrow on Day 4. there are strange and wonderful things to draw

    The rest of the Day 3 is yours to use as you wish. You may spend it sketching and honing your skills, and if you do, coaching and advice will be available if you wish. This is a great opportunity to get deeply involved in whatever aspect of the nature sketching course you are most interested in, and to experiment with adding color to your sketches.

    Or you may want to experience some of the other marvelous activities at El Remanso: hiking, walking on the beach, tree-climbing into the jungle canopy, ziplining from tree to tree, rappelling down waterfalls, horseback riding, surfing, kayaking, or visiting Corcovado National Park just up the road. a hike down to the beach is highly rewarding The hiking and beach walking are free; the other activities are offered at reasonable rates, and you will find them well worth the price.

    In the evening, upon your return to the lodge, we will hold a critique on any drawings that were done during the day.

Day 4

  • As on Day 3, the final "Watercolor Pencil Techniques" class will be held from 8 to 10:30. Today, you will work on getting painterly results with watercolor pencils. Using brush and water, you will experiment with blending colors and trying out more advanced techniques to reach desired results. This final workshop session should help you produce a work of art that you can be proud of. Now you will be able to add vibrant watercolor effects to drawings even if you have no previous watercolor experience. Even advanced artists will appreciate the carefree techniques made possible by watercolor pencils.

    a watercolor pencil rendering of the ocean from El Remanso

    With the afternoon free, you may choose to continue work on your painting or you may decide to experience more of El Remanso's activities. It's truly up to you. Coaching and advice will be available if you want.

    The final critique of your results from this Nature Sketching, Landscape Techniques and Watercolor Pencil Workshop will be held after dinner, and if you are willing, your results and comments about the class may appear on Irene's workshop webpage later on.


  • Unless you have arranged to continue your stay, say goodbye to this wonderful jungle and sketching experience at El Remanso Wildlife Lodge. The shuttle will deliver you to the airport at Puerto Jimenez where you will catch your flight for San Jose (SJO).
Prices and travel details here.

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