Botanical drawing – pushing the boundaries with Ann Swan

Botanical art

Ref: S3D12020

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About this course

Pushing the boundaries to create eye-catching contemporary botanical compositions with coloured pencils. Strong composition is essential to creating memorable works of art and this is particularly so in botanical art. Good composition can lift a work from the mundane to the sublime. Working with graphite and coloured pencil.

Course Description

What makes a good composition and how can we create stand-out, eye-catching images? Your tutor will demonstrate and use exercises to help you to develop a sense of your own style and give you a framework within which to compose your work. You will look at classical and contemporary botanical illustration and then move outside of your comfort zone to push the boundaries and get you thinking outside of the box. This course is suitable for intermediate to advanced students of botanical art in any medium but your tutor specialises in coloured pencil.

On the first evening, your tutor will give a short presentation to illustrate some of the theories behind good composition and the different styles of botanical art over time.

This workshop is for exploring ideas and ways to create strong contemporary images and help you attract an audience to your pictures. You will leave with lots of sketched designs, some handouts on the theories illustrated plus the beginnings of a more finished piece which you will be able to finish at home with the knowledge gained on this course.


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 until 9pm, 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

  • Notebook
  • A3 Layout Paper
  • Good quality hot pressed watercolour paper 300gms/140lbs
  • Erasers - kneadable or plastic
  • Handheld pencil sharpener with a fresh blade
  • Selection of coloured pencils (see Ann’s recommendations)
  • HB pencil

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Notebook
  • Good quality hot pressed watercolour paper (Arches) 300gms/140lbs
  • Erasers - kneadable or plastic
  • Handheld pencil sharpener with a fresh blade
  • HB pencil
  • Available from tutor:
  • For this course you will need to purchase some materials from the tutor as certain specialist materials are not available in the College Shop. You can order direct from Ann by email to avoid postage charges and she will bring your items on the day. See her website to purchase any items required:
  • Ann Swan Fabriano Studio Watercolour Hot Pressed 300gms Practice Pads (please order in advance). A3, A4, A5
  • Available from Ann on the day:
  • Faber Castell Polychromos – see basic requirements below
  • A range of Polychromos pencils – a selection
  • Prismacolor Premium Colored Pencils
  • Empty Copic markers
  • Promarker Clear Blender
  • Pergamano 0.5 embossing tool
  • Blender Pencils
  • Rapesco 64 Pencil Sharpeners
  • Eraser shields
  • Basic requirements for the course are as follows:
  • Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper 300gms/140lbs (Arches available from College Shop) graphite pencil, pencil sharpener, notebook, eraser (available at College Shop and from Ann)
  • Blender pencil, blender pen, magnifying glass and Faber Castell Polychromos Coloured Pencils in the following colours:103 Ivory, 278 Chromium Green Oxide, 174 Chrome Green Opaque,172 Earth Green, 168 Earth Green Yellowish, 170 May Green, 193 Burnt Carmine, 194 Red Violet, 135 Light Red Violet, 274 Warm Grey V (available from Ann on the day)
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open toes or sandals).


Ann Swan

Ann is one of this country's leading botanical artists and teachers working primarily in coloured pencil and graphite. She has been awarded four RHS Gold Medals and her work is in the prestigious Shirley Sherwood Collection and the RHS Lindley Library. Ann is an enthusiastic and nurturing teacher with over twenty five years' experience and now teaches around the world. Her book 'Botanical Painting with Colour Pencils' is a leader in the field.


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

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Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

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