Introduction to botanical drawing with Ann Swan

Ref: S2D32338

Location: West Dean
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Places available

About this course

An introduction to the materials and techniques used to produce vibrant coloured pencil plant portraits.

Course Description

On this course, you will learn about the materials used for coloured pencil botanical work and the reasons why they are effective. You will learn the basic skill of laying down colour smoothly, mixing colours and choosing effective shade colours.

The tutor will demonstrate the techniques of layering, embossing, burnishing and underpainting, and will give you clear guidance as you have a go yourself. You will learn basic leaf techniques and how to mix realistic greens with some ways of achieving fine veins.

You will leave with some colour mixing templates and notes from the course, plus a leaf study and a good idea of how to go about starting a botanical drawing in coloured pencil. Once you have completed this course, you will be able to learn more on a longer course with the tutor.

Course Materials


  • 2 x A4 sheets of 300gms hot pressed (smooth) watercolour paper
  • Faber Castell Polychromos pencils: 103 Ivory, 278 Chromium Green Oxide, 174 Chrome Green Opaque, 172 Earth Green, 168 Earth Green Yellowish, 170 May Green, Warm Dark Grey
  • Blender pencil
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Eraser shield

What students need to bring

  • Notebook
  • Pencil and pencil sharpener

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of general art materials including pencil sharpeners and watercolour paper pads (300gsm hot pressed).
  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor will bring a selection of additional and optional materials for students to try or buy:
  • A further selection of Faber Castell and Prismacolor coloured pencils
  • Rapesco 64 desk top sharpener
  • Practice pads of Fabriano Studio watercolour paper
  • Embossing tools

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toed shoes or sandals.


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)

General Information


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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Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

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 advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). 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.