Botanical painting – the winter garden with Mariella Baldwin

Botanical art

Ref: SLW11408

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About this course

Paint the sparkling white snowdrops and other enchanting plants that bring cheer to the winter garden.

Course Description

Early spring bulbs are charming plants for study and this will be a perfect time to spend a few days immersed in botanical painting, with an emphasis on depicting a white flower on white paper. Under the guidance of the tutor, you will pick up various techniques to develop a good sense of form and colour. You will create an accurate three-dimensional painting that looks as if it could be plucked from the page.

This course aims to help you gain confidence in the application of watercolour, together with accurate observations skills. During the course, the tutor will illustrate various theories for you to undertake to understand and practice ideas; in particular painting white flowers. Advice and tips will be given to simplify the drawing process, as accurate observation is essential to botanical painting.

The object of the course is to achieve an accurate detailed drawing from which the painting will be made. The focus on painting will be layering colours to build up tonal values to describe the form, creating a three dimensional plant. Additionally and equally important, will be attention to colour mixing and theory, including aerial perspective. The tutor will demonstrate various wet-in-wet and dry brush techniques for you to work out the ways to develop a personal style.

By the end of the course, you will leave with a series of course exercises and notes to accompany the painting, which will be useful for further painting projects. You will leave with a greater understanding of accurate rendition and colour theory. With reference to botanical paintings, both contemporary and historical, you will be equipped with inspirational ideas to progress your own 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


  • Included in the course fee for this course, plant material from the West Dean Gardens.

What students need to bring

Rag or kitchen roll for mopping up excess liquid
Florist’s pin holder for securing plant
A magnifying glass or a X 10 lens would be useful if you have them, but not essential
Artists’ quality watercolours if possible, and just a minimum of three colours:
Winsor and Newton: Permanent Rose, Winsor Lemon and French Ultramarine.  Or Schminke: Ruby Red, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Finest
Daniel Smith: Quinacridone Rose, Lemon Yellow, French Ultramarine.
Other useful colours:– Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Sepia, Yellow Ochre,Winsor Violet, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Viridian
Items from the available to buy list if you have them.


Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Sketchbook or block of smooth cartridge paper
  • Tracing paper
  • HB/F and 2H pencil (if using a mechanical pencil, size 0.3 lead recommended)
  • Putty rubber and plastic rubber
  • Pair of simple dividers (or school compass will do)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil sharpener or craft knife
  • ‘Hot Pressed’ watercolour paper 300 gsm - Arches, Bockingford for example
  • ‘Miniature’ (short hairs with good tip) Da Vinci/ Rosemary or similar Watercolour brushes, selection, 0, 3 and 5 - Kolinsky sable if possible
  • Artists’ quality watercolours if possible, and just a minimum of three colours:
  • Winsor and Newton: Permanent Rose, Winsor Lemon and French Ultramarine.  Or Schminke: Ruby Red, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Finest
  • Watercolour palette - preferably china - a white saucer will be perfect
  • Please bring any of the above, if you have them

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. You may need safety boots, if specified above.


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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