what is botanical art?
a Free lecture on the history of the art form & why it has become so popular   

Sunday, September 16  2:00 pm – 4 pm

Join award-winning botanical artist and educator, Margaret Best for a fascinating talk that reveals how botanical art has developed from the earliest of human recordings of medicinal plants on the tombs of pharaohs and ancient Persian manuscripts to the highly detailed, treasured works in art galleries, museums and private collections.

This slide presentation is recommended for all art, nature and plant lovers as well as those interested in taking botanical art instruction from Margaret here at the Chester Art Centre. She provides an important overview of how this genre has transformed over the passage of time to the current contemporary renaissance around the globe.

A Place to Start in Botanical Art
Drawing with Accuracy and Dimension   

September 19 & 20  9:30 am – 3:30 pm

This workshop provides participants with an opportunity to discover botanical art from the beginning. It is designed for newcomers to botanical art regardless of any prior experience in art. Participants will learn the process of acquiring observation skills required to draw basic plant structures with accuracy and enjoyment. If you have ever wondered if you could draw and paint or whether you could revive a previous interest in art, this is a great way to find out with an expert in a relaxed and non-competitive environment.

Suitability: all skill levels from rank beginners to art or newcomers to botanical art with some prior art background.

Cost: $180. Material list will be supplied. Bring a lunch.

Coloured Pencil Techniques
Two-day introduction   

November 6 & 7  9:30 am – 3:30 pm

The medium of coloured pencil has leapt in popularity due mostly to vastly improved manufacturing and the remarkable painterly results that artists are achieving. As part of the botanical art series Margaret will guide the participants in exploring the various options of brands and different tools such as paper choice, colour blending materials, sharpeners, erasers. This is a fun workshop for all levels of skill. Subject matter will of course be simple plant structures – berries, fruit, leaves, stems.

Suitability: All skill levels from rank beginners to art or newcomers to botanical art with some prior art experience.

Cost: $180. Material list will be supplied. Bring a lunch.

Watercolour Techniques
Two-day introduction   

December 3 & 4  9:30 am – 3:30 pm

Whether you would like to explore this medium for the first time or whether you would like to refresh your own watercolour skills, you will enjoy this hands-on learning opportunity. Margaret will provide key demonstrations of the core skills she employs on her own work. This two-day workshop will also focus on understanding the materials best suited to achieving successful results in botanical watercolour painting.

Suitability: All skill levels welcome.  From rank beginners to art, newcomers to botanical art with some prior experience, experienced artists interested in refreshing watercolour techniques.

Cost: $180. Material list will be supplied. Bring a lunch.


Margaret Best was raised and educated in South Africa. After some years of teaching in Cape Town, she immigrated to Canada settling with her husband and daughter in Calgary. Inspired by the wildflowers of Alberta, Margaret retuned to her love of painting nature. A serendipitous connection with artists in England launched a passion for botanical art resulting in teaching and exhibiting internationally for almost 20 years. Her work is widely published in books and magazines such as Fine Arts Connoisseur, Canadian Wildlife, and Nature Conservancy of Canada. The Royal Canadian Mint has commissioned her work for numerous coin releases since 2012. Her paintings are held in private and public collections around the globe. Margaret now resides in Chester, Nova Scotia.

 Tia Mushka, Journey 11 x 17 mixed media (detail)

Tia Mushka, Journey 11 x 17 mixed media (detail)


Explore Alla Prima/Plein Air Painting!

September 10 & 11  9:30 am – 4 pm   

Painting directly, wet on wet – that’s Alla Prima magic! The expressive technique was used from Frans Hals to The Group of Seven. Enjoy a creative journey with a recap of the fundamentals, (i.e. colour mixing, values, composition etc.) along with tips and techniques to making a finished watercolour small painting in one sitting. There will be demonstrations, individual attention and each participant will benefit and learn in an encouraging, relaxed atmosphere regardless of skill level.

Cost: $140. Material list will be supplied. Bring a lunch.

LISA HANNAFORD has been doing something artistic for as long as she can remember and channeled these tendencies with Studio art classes at the University of Toronto, Ontario College of Art and Design, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and various plein air workshops (i.e. John Hartman, Brian Atyeo, Charles Sovek and…Rob Seyffert!) in the States and Canada. Lisa is known for her loose and colourful style and has works in collections around the world. She is also known for the fun and relaxed workshops that she has done in the States, Ontario and Chester. Lisa lives and paints near Collingwood, ON where she has a studio with eight other artists at The Tremont Studios.


Play With Clay

Instructor:  MARLA BENTON
September 23 & 30  1 – 4 pm   

This workshop will be held on two afternoons, one week apart. You will have the chance to play with clay and discover the amazing ability that it has to hold details and texture. On the first Sunday, we will explore carving, stamping and printing into clay pieces that you have created. On the second Sunday, a week later, we will discuss surface decoration and complete your creations by applying glazes. This workshop is open to all levels.

Cost: $125. Includes all materials: clay, glazes and two firings.

MARLA BENTON lives and works on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. She has a Degree of Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and an Education Degree from Nipissing University. She creates a variety of work ranging from functional service wares to sculptural installations. For more information:  @marla.benton (Instagram)

Painting: Discover Your Style

Instructor:  Malcolm Callaway
October 4, 11, 18, 25 & November 1  1 – 4 pm   

This class is designed to assist you in the discovery of your own unique style of painting. Lessons will include discussions about various artists and their styles, while students practice oil painting techniques using a variety of materials and methods. In this manner, the class will be able to explore and identify individual, personal painting styles and consider how to refine and push approaches to new levels. Instruction is appropriate for all skill levels.  

Cost: $140. Material list will be supplied.

MALCOLM CALLAWAY has been painting for over 40 years and works in various media such as oil, acrylic, watercolours and fresco. His artwork is in many major collections in Canada and the U.S. Although noted primarily for his marine pieces he also tackles a variety of subject matter. To see his work go to