It was an impromptu decision. I saw an online EdX course on Natural History Illustration being offered through the University of Newcastle in Australia and decided to sign up. It dovetailed nicely with my New Year's Resolution to draw a little bit each day (a resolution that I've mostly been able to keep), plus it was something I wanted to learn more about. It was advertised as a class for people of any artistic experience level.
This turned out to be both much more interesting and challenging than I expected. I was blown away by the quality of the artworks produced and while I could keep up, every week's lesson and homework stretched me as an artist.
I've always had a realistic, but somewhat impressionistic style. I was never one to try to capture every detail in a drawing or painting, but this class required that. It is less about the beauty of the art and more about the accuracy of the rendering. I also learned a great deal about the structure of plants and the anatomy of birds and animals.
I just submitted my final project of a sunflower that is growing in my front yard (I love sunflowers!). I'm pleased with how it came out and I'm very glad that I decided to take this class. It's made for a great summer project.