CW’s expanding programs for crafters offer how-to workshops with a botanical flair – Daily Press

WILLIAMSBURG — Linda C. Miller’s favorite subjects to paint are seed pods.

Miller, a botanical artist, is fascinated by the intricate details of the pouches that enclose and protect a plant’s seeds. She draws them on blank white canvases to appear as realistic as possible — more like photographs than watercolor paintings.

“They’re all beautiful miracles,” she explained. “The life cycle and structure of plants will never cease to amaze me.”

Next week, the Williamsburg resident will teach a botanical art class for artists of all levels at Colonial Williamsburg’s Landscape Design Studio. Her how-to workshop on painting pods, flowers, leaves and stems is part of the studio’s expanding programs for crafters.

The workspace, located off McLaws Circle near Kingsmill, is where CW artists create holiday wreaths and other decorations for the Historic Area. Upcoming workshops will cover wreaths, candle centerpieces and fragrant fruit arrangements using all-natural ingredients.

Come spring, Colonial Williamsburg plans to schedule sessions on flower and herb decor and baskets, as well as more classes with Miller and possibly other artists.

“We know how much people love decorating and creating things, whether they plan to keep them or give them as gifts,” said Laura Viancour, CW’s manager of Horticulture Education. “And as gardeners, we also like connecting people with plants and nature whenever we can.”

Colonial Williamsburg began offering its holiday wreath-making workshops three years ago. Both local residents and out-of-town visitors have signed up to make fresh balsam hangings with fruits, pine cones, feathers and other flourishes, just like those displayed on doors in Historic Area buildings.

An example of a grapevine wreath that will be taught in an upcoming workshop at Colonial Williamsburg's Landscape Design Studio.  Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

This year, CW decided to add multiple crafts: grapevine wreaths, small tabletop holiday arrangements in mugs, candle-and-flower centerpieces, and apple candles and orange pomanders. The apple and orange projects are part of a family-friendly “Fresh Fruit Decorations” workshop for adults and children.

“We’ve gotten a lot of repeat customers with our wreaths, so we wanted to expand and do these seasonally throughout the year,” Viancour said. Sessions include bags for carrying crafts home and history lessons on ingredients and plants involved in a project.

Miller, a Michigan native who has lived in Williamsburg for 21 years, said she’s happy to be involved in the effort. A lifelong nature lover, she grew up camping and playing in woods and fields and now loves exploring the Greensprings Interpretive Trail near her home. She began painting watercolors in 2006 and became a botanical artist two years later.

“I started off very simple and gradually figured out how to incorporate more details and dimensions,” she said. “It can be slow-going, but you only get better with practice. It’s a really wonderful journey as an artist.”

Magnolia seed pods — cone-shaped cases that can be four to five inches tall and filled with bright red berries — are particularly fascinating to Miller: “There are so many elements to capture. It’s a special challenge.”

The CW workshop is suitable for beginners to advanced painters. Miller, who has exhibited her pieces and taught classes at several area locations over the years, uses a self-paced format to guide students on visualizing, composing, drawing and coloring a chosen botanical subject. Participants can attend for two or three days, for six hours a day.

That time will fly by, Miller predicts. “It’s so easy to get immersed in the process,” she said. “Sitting still for a while, just looking at anything in nature, will never disappoint.”

Where: Colonial Williamsburg’s Landscape Design Studio, 500 Packets Ct.

When: Oct. 4 & 5, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, with an optional third day Oct. 6

Tickets: $200 for two days, $300 for three

OTHER UPCOMING WORKSHOPS: Decorating Grapevine Wreaths (Oct. 21, 1-2:30 pm, $70); Fresh Fruit Decorations (two dates in December, $30) Candle Centerpiece (four dates in December, $60) Wreath Decorating (five dates in December, $90); Holiday Decoration (five dates in December, $50)

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Alison Johnson,


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