Botanical art

Botanical bursting buds with Mariella Baldwin

Ref: S2D09625

Suitable for all

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About this course

Learn traditional botanical painting techniques to make accurate observations and interpretations, with strong composition.

Course Description

Learn traditional botanical watercolour painting techniques, using a step-by-step approach to capture buds as they begin to bloom. Make accurate observations and interpretations, with strong composition.

Bursting buds make for an excellent botanical subject to study in April when there is an exuberance of plant material. This weekend course will help you develop your practice in accurate observation and watercolour techniques. The gardens at West Dean provide a diverse choice of subjects to paint including flower and leaf buds.

The emphasis will be on traditional botanical watercolour painting techniques, and Mariella provides a practical step-by-step approach to the subject. Watercolour techniques will be demonstrated together with exercises and tips as you discover how to get the best results from the medium. Accurate observation and drawing will be encouraged with guidance on how to develop faithful interpretations of your subject. You will also learn about composition and botanical painting through discussion and references to contemporary and historical styles.

By the end of the course you will have study sheets together with course notes to help you complete your painting. These studies will be useful references for future work after the course, supporting your ongoing skills in botanical painting.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Magnifying glass, water spray bottle, kitchen towel or cotton rag, white saucer/plate or china palette (available in shop).
  • Cut plant material will be provided. However, potted plants offer a longer life span from which to paint, and you are therefore welcome to bring plant subjects from home. The garden shop at West Dean offers a good selection to purchase.
  • Students are encouraged to refer to Botanical Artists, either historical or contemporary or both, which will be useful to discuss on the introductory evening.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Hot Pressed watercolour paper, cartridge paper – and/or sketch book – smooth surface, tracing paper
  • Pencils HB/2H or (mechanical 0.3)
  • Ruler, erasers (putty and plastic)
  • Scissors, masking tape
  • Paint brushes, preferably sable 0, 3, 5 'miniature'
  • China palette (or white saucer/plate)
  • Watercolour paints – a selection, but a minimum of three Artists Quality – French Ultramarine Blue, Winsor Yellow (or equivalent), Permanent Rose
  • Other useful colours: Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Viridian, Aureolin, Winsor Violet,
  • Scarlet Lake.


Mariella Baldwin

Mariella Baldwin studied botanical illustration at the English Gardening School, London and received an MA in Visual Arts from Sussex University. Her paintings are held in collections both in the UK and USA. She is a painting member of Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society. Her book 'Botanical Painting' was published in 2011.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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