Botanical drawing – early spring flowers and stems with Susan Christopher-Coulson

Botanical art

Ref: S3D12481

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About this course

Using coloured pencils, illustrate some of the feisty flowers and flowering stems that make a joyous display in the winter garden. Produce either a single study or a small composition of your favourite subject/s.

Course Description

Working at your own pace on your choice of subject/s in a relaxed atmosphere, the course offers an opportunity to learn about and experience different types of coloured pencils and papers, as well as techniques for drawing and mixing/ layering coloured pencils. You will begin to recognise the particular values of different pencil types and paper surfaces, and how to regulate pressure and pencil strokes for particular effects.

There will be individual attention on a rotating basis, as well as a demonstration of techniques and discussions about equipment and troubleshooting. By the end of the course, you should have gained a lot of knowledge from personal experimentation, building the confidence to continue with your study or composition at home if it is not quite completed during the course.

Botanical work is detailed and requires precise observation and drawing to create an accurate three-dimensional depiction. It would be helpful to bring a suitably sized sketchbook for sketching and composition ideas.

The replication of colour is also important, so it will be helpful to bring a small sketchbook (perhaps A5) for testing colour mixes and the practising of techniques for colour build up through layering and blending. This will form the basis of a personal reference book in which techniques and colour work can be continually experimented with and refined to increase confidence and curiosity.

Some thought will be given to the composition and presentation of your subject/s too. Again, further confidence will develop with familiarity and frequent practice.


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


  • On this course, the tutor will bring a wide range of pencils to learn about and experience.
  • The College will supply some of the materials, including some plant materials.

What students need to bring

  • Coloured pencils – preferably artists’ quality – including any water soluble ones as these can also be used dry (for this course, Inktense and Graphitint are not really suitable as they may not mix with other ‘standard’ coloured pencil types.)
  • A graphite pencil: B or 2B, or HB if preferred
  • A good reliable pencil sharpener is vital (if possible with two sizes of sharpening hole) and the blade/s must be sharp
  • Eraser – a soft kneadable putty type and a plastic one if possible
  • Sketchbooks as noted above, plus paper, such as: cartridge, hot pressed or Bristol board for a final study if you already have some – otherwise there will be a limited choice available to buy from the tutor
  • A spare piece of heavyweight paper or lightweight card to put between your drawing board and the sheet of paper you will be working on
  • A hand lens if you use one
  • A clamp / support to hold your specimen if required
  • Please bring any plant material you may wish to work from. Please bring something suitable, bearing in mind the length of the course, e.g. early flowering bulbs, such as: Cyclamen coum, snowdrops, etc. or Hellebores and flowering shrubs, such as: Viburnums, Witch Hazels and winter flowering Honeysuckle.
  • The college has drawing boards and lamps available.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Graphite pencils, sharpeners, erasers and some papers
  • Sets of coloured pencils
  • Available from tutor:
  • A limited range of papers available by the sheet
  • A limited range of various types of coloured pencils
  • Usually a limited supply of some hand held sharpeners
  • Pieces of Frisket film is usually available
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Susan Christopher-Coulson

Susan Christopher-Coulson gained a BA (Hons) in fashion design at Kingston Art School. Whilst working in the London fashion industry, Susan also taught part-time on the Art Foundation Course at Colchester Institute. Susan returned to drawing natural history and botanical subjects. Following the success of her first solo exhibition, botanical work became the focus of her work, which has gained many awards including two RHS gold medals. 


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

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