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Patterns Across Nature – Drawing Class with Rachel Mirus

February 2, 2023 @ 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM


Patterns Across Nature
A four-part drawing class | Thursday evenings in February at North Branch Nature Center | 14 participants
6:30 – 8:30 pm | February 2, 9, 16, and 23
$95 | Financial support available (email us to inquire)
Register Here

Beautiful spirals, spots, and stripes recur throughout the natural world, but where do they come from and why do they turn up so often? This course mixes observational and creative drawing to explore common natural patterns, starting with sketching exercises to build the observation skills that are foundational for both artists and naturalists, then moving into playful and imaginative art making. Using a selection of beginner-friendly media, we will explore symmetry in animal bodies, spirals from shells to spider webs, spots and stripes as decorations, and branching fractals.

Session 1 – Symmetry: Using observational drawing, we will explore some common symmetries by looking at animal bodies. We will also learn about the relationship between pattern and symmetry. Students will start with foundational exercises that build strong observational and field sketching skills and work on observational drawings of their choice, starting in pencil.


Session 2 – Spirals: Spirals recur throughout the natural world in fascinating and beautiful diversity. Through observational drawing we will explore a few of the many kinds of spirals and why they occur. We will continue practicing skills from the previous session and students will be invited to start adding color to their drawings using color pencil. Moving on from pure observation, students will finish with a creative project based on their observations of spirals.


Session 3 – Spots and stripes: Many animal bodies are adorned with spots and stripes, patterns that look different but are mathematically linked. We will explore these patterns again starting with observational drawing and moving on to creative projects inspired by nature. This session will introduce more color with brush pens.


Session 4 – Fractals: Fractals are everywhere in nature, with branching patterns especially common and easy to observe in plant growth and water flow. We will learn about branching and the contexts where it can be found before exploring different kinds of branching patterns through observation. In this final session students will be invited to combine all the ideas they’ve explored into a final creative project.


This is a weekly class that meets on four consecutive Thursday evenings.


About Rachel: Rachel Sargent Mirus is a freelance teaching artist and science writer. Her art interests focus on drawing and painting from nature and she has written on subjects ranging from climate change to spider webs. Originally trained in molecular biology, she has worked in research labs and museums across the country. Museums where she has taught include the California Academy of Sciences, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and in Vermont at the Montshire and Fairbanks Museums. Rachel has also taught several online art courses with North Branch Nature Center. More information can be found on her website: Rachel’s Cybercabinet of Natural Curiosities.

Register Here

Cancellation Policy: We cannot guarantee refunds if cancellations occur within two weeks of this program. If your space can be filled from our waitlist, we will provide you a refund minus a small processing fee.


“Some artist-teachers demonstrate their skills and the student sees amazing work. But they’re not able to explain how they got their results. Rachel is skilled at both drawing and teaching how to draw.”
“Rachel is a skillful drawer and she has a great sense for detail. She was attentive and very engaging, from mindfulness conversations to the execution of new methods. In this group, there were many people from different levels, beginners to prolific artists, and Rachel did very well to give everyone a voice, to engage and to answer all the questions.”


February 2, 2023
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Event Category:


North Branch Nature Center
713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602