It’s Our Nature: 

Drawing Natural Forms in Charcoal and Graphite

Betsey Macdonald

March 6th and 13th

2 Mondays, 9am – Noon


$115 Members

$130 Non-members

Materials – see below

Betsey Macdonald, Feather Down, Portsmouth Arts Guild
Feather Down, Betsey Macdonald

Rembrandt said, “Choose only one master, nature”

It’s our nature to be curious about nature and the best way to learn about something is to draw it.  Drawing is the foundation of painting. It helps us learn to “see” and can be a meditation, as well.

We’ll draw leaves, nests, milkweed, skulls, feathers and anything else that I come across in nature that is intriguing. We’ll start our investigation with graphite the first day and charcoal for our second class.  We’ll use a midtone value for a ground and draw with erasers then finish with an additive approach. Through drawing, we’ll learn to really look at some of our incredibly designed life forms and really get to the core!

Course Objectives:

  • Have fun drawing!
  • Improve observational skills through drawing from life
  • Use line and value to render objects in light and shadow
  • Acquire skills for drawing with two different drawing media
  • Creatively render natural objects by skillfully using graphite and charcoal
  • Observe, critique and discuss student work and master drawings
  • Gain a greater appreciation of the wonder all around us

Materials student will need to provide:  pencils, 2B, 4B and 6B, erasers, vine charcoal and sticks, stomp,  mixed media paper or some other heavy paper that can take a beating, Afmat electric eraser, about $16.00 on Amazon ( not necessary but I LOVE mine)

Materials provided by instructor: Lots of objects for drawing, graphite and charcoal powder

Betsey Macdonald, Portsmouth Arts Guild

Betsey MacDonald lives in Clayville, RI with her husband, 3 rescue dogs, 3 horses and a barn cat. She has a BFA in Fine Arts and an MA in Studio Art. She also completed a pre-med program. Betsey taught high school chemistry and biology for 25 years and art for 10 years. She introduced and taught both AP Chemistry and AP Art at her high school. As an art teacher, Betsey was always inspired by the creativity of her students and strove to use and understand a variety of mediums to improve her teaching skills.

Betsey works in oil, watercolor, pencil, pastel, charcoal, collage, and printmaking. She has illustrated 3 children’s books, one of which also wrote. Betsey has designed posters for the United Nations, the Westport Harvest Festival and the Ocean State Marathon. She has had more than 25 solo exhibitions and has sold more than 500 paintings. . She is a juried member of the American Academy of Equine Art and the Wickford Art Association. Recently her work was included in the exhibit, “Dog Days” in NY City. Her watercolor “Lion Around’ was part of the International Exhibition on Animals in Art in Baton Rouge and two oils were included in the American Academy of Equine Art’s Fall Exhibition in Aiken SC. In 2021, Spring Street Gallery in Block Island hosted an exhibit of Betsey’s “Reflections” and Sprout Gallery featured her “Best Friends” paintings in the fall. Her work has received many awards and several people’s choice awards which are always rewarding. Betsey teaches at Wickford Art Association and Westport Art Group

Artist Statement:  Being with animals makes me happy. I love spending time with my own dogs and horses and I love being in nature, hopefully seeing wild animals in their own habitats. One of my greatest teachers told me to paint what I love. So, that’s what I do. I paint animals  and nature to better see and understand. Most recently, I’ve been painting animals in water to see how the motion of water changes the image into an abstract form and I’ve been painting portraits of people with the animals they love. I’ve also discovered bird nests and strive to build them in graphite or watercolor with the care taken by the birds themselves. These recent challenges have opened up a whole new world of painting and seeing.


With thanks to our generous sponsors