Botanical art in coloured pencil: the colours and forms of autumn with Susan Christopher-Coulson

Ref: SLW13108

Book now

Places available

About this course

An opportunity to observe and capture the changing colours and fragile fading forms of autumn using coloured pencils – from the last of the season's fruits and nuts to its fading blooms and lingering leaves.

Course Description

Working at your own pace 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, mixing and layering colour, as introduced on the first evening. 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.

Botanical work is detailed and requires precise observation and drawing to create an accurate three-dimensional depiction. The replication of colour is also important, so it will be helpful to have a small sketchbook (perhaps A5) for sketching, composition ideas, 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 composition and presentation. Again, further confidence will develop with familiarity and frequent practice.

There will be individual attention on a rotating basis throughout, 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.


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 College will supply some suitable plant material.

What students need to bring

  • Coloured pencils – preferably artists’ quality - including any water soluble ones as they can also be used dry
  • A graphite pencil, B or 2B or HB if preferred
  • A pencil sharpener is vital (if possible with two sizes of sharpening hole) and the blade/s must be sharp!
  • Eraser – soft kneadable putty type and a plastic one if possible
  • Sketchpad, plus paper that you prefer to use, such as a heavy weight cartridge, hot pressed or Bristol board for a final study if you already have some - otherwise there will be a limited choice of papers for sale by the sheet.
  • You may wish to bring a small sketchbook to make written and colour notes, as well as sketches or layout ideas. This could develop into a useful reference book for future work.
  • Drawing board (available to borrow) with low tack tape or clips and 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 – often very helpful to examine finer details
  • A clamp to hold your specimen if you use one
  • Please bring some suitable subject matter that will inspire you, such as: nuts; cones; seedheads, such as peonies, magnolias; fruits, such as quinces, medlars; fading flowers, such as hydrangeas, fallen or drying leaves, etc.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • The shop stocks sharpeners, erasers and a range of papers, as well as a limited supply of coloured pencils, low tack tape, a good range of sketchbooks and Bristol board.
  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor will supply a comprehensive variety of pencils to try out and compare. There will be a limited variety of papers to purchase by the sheet from the tutor if required.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (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.

Courses of interest

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.