Botanical drawing with coloured pencils – hellebores with Ann Swan

Botanical art Drawing

Ref: SLW12576

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About this course

Explore all aspects of these delightful spring flowers with clear demonstrations of techniques for stamens, petals, veins and leaves. We will look at form and colour mixing and, with advice on composition, create a beautiful plant portrait.

Course Description

Immerse yourself in the tips and tricks of botanical painting with coloured pencils. You will study a variety of techniques that will help you make your colours leap off the page, and amaze with fine detail. You will also learn the importance of planning, when and in what order to underpaint, blend, use resist or emboss.

On the first evening, your tutor will give a short presentation to illustrate some of the techniques, textures and fine details you will be tackling during the course with some updates about new materials and a short discussion about student expectations. You need to have a basic knowledge of working with coloured pencils or to have attended one of the tutor’s beginner courses.

Using some of your tutor’s colour mixing templates, you will learn how to mix clean colours with convincing shadows and learn how to plan your approach to your work to avoid accidents. Your tutor will demonstrate many tricks and tips for creating realistic textures for bloom, velvety petals, strong highlights, surface patterns, hairy stems and furry leaves.

This workshop is for having a go and trying out all these techniques which, when mastered, will add depth, realism and interest to your finished colour pencil work and help you attract an audience to your pictures. You will leave with a page or two of studies, some colour templates and lots of notes, plus the start of a finished project which you will be able to complete at home with the knowledge you have acquired.


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

  • Please bring a hellebore of your choice, preferably in a pot as they don’t last long in water. Your tutor will bring a small selection from her garden, so choice will be limited.
  • For this course you will need to purchase some materials from the tutor as certain specialist materials are not available in the College Shop. Most of the materials are available on your tutor’s website: If you email your order, your tutor will bring it along on the day to save postage costs.
  • Layout paper, a range of graphite pencils: B, HB, or H plus 9H if possible. Good quality Hot Pressed watercolour paper 300gms – good makes are Fabriano Classico 5, Winsor & Newton Aquarelle 100% cotton, Strathmore Bristol Vellum 300 and 400 series, Bockingford watercolour paper, Arches watercolour paper.
  • A range of graphite pencils: B, HB, or H plus 9H if possible
  • A blender pencil - good makes are: Lyra Splender Blender, Prismacolor and Caran D’Ache
  • Pencil Sharpener, preferably with a spiral metal sharpening core, eraser – battery and kneadable (soft)
  • Pergamano 0.5 embossing tool or similar fine embossing tool, magnifying glass.
  • Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils are a good selection for all improvers classes; these are the basics:
  • 168 Earth Green Yellowish, 174 Chromium Green Opaque, 278 Chrome Green Oxide, 170 May Green, 172 Earth Green, 274 Warm Grey V, 230 Cold Grey 1, 139 Light Violet (discontinued, but very useful if you have one or similar), 103 Ivory, 102 Cream, 101 White, 194 Red Violet, 193 Burnt Carmine, 135 Light Red Violet
  • Prismacolor pencils in Black Grape, Black Cherry, Pale Sage, Gingerroot, Grey Green Light
  • Other good makes:
  • Caran D’Ache Luminance
  • Derwent Lightfast (Forest, Foliage)
  • Caran D’Ache Pablo
  • Tombow Irojiten (good for fine details, not so lightfast) (Sea Fog, Mulberry, Eggshell)
  • The following are not essential but are very useful and inexpensive to buy online:
  • A small UV LED torch (blue light)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • General art materials including layout paper, watercolour paper and graphite pencils B, HB, H, 9H
  • Available from tutor:
  • Your tutor has an online shop carrying most of the materials she recommends. If you would like to order anything in advance, please email her. She will bring some materials for purchase on the day. You can pay by card/cash on the day.


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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