Celebrating tulips with coloured pencil and graphite with Ann Swan

Ref: SLW13524

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About this course

Capture the movement, form, fine details and rich colours of these fabulous spring bulbs. Look in detail at petals, stamens, leaves and roots.

Course Description

Spring and the tulip go hand-in-hand. During this course, you will study all aspects of this beautiful spring flower from petals, stamens, leaves and roots and your tutor will demonstrate techniques to help you capture their form, detail and glorious rich colours.

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

You will spend a day studying varieties of tulips in depth from the flowers to the roots and then look at designing an eye-catching composition with exercises to help you capture their lovely rounded forms and flowing lines.

Focus will then be on colour mixing, choosing a shade colour that works and building up three-dimensional form to make your tulips come alive on the page. Using some of the tutor’s colour mixing templates, you will learn how to merge colours and create convincing shadows to create a range of colours. The tutor will demonstrate her techniques throughout the workshop for your study pieces and guide you through creating an eye-catching composition for your final piece.

This course is for having a go and trying out the 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 go home with a page of detailed studies, some sketches and the early stages of a finished composition.


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


  • Tulips from West Dean Gardens

What students need to bring

  • Layout paper – thin paper used like tracing paper
  • Good quality, hot pressed watercolour paper 300gsm – good makes are Fabriano Classico 5, Winsor & Newton Aquarelle 100% cotton, Strathmore Bristol Vellum 300 and 400 series, Bockingford watercolour paper, Arches watercolour paper.
  • There is additional information about paper on my website in the ‘Members area’.
  • 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
  • Faber-Castell Polychromos is 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
  • Plus a selection of oranges, yellow, red and browns
  • Prismacolor Orange, Poppy Red, Scarlet Lake, Carmine Red, Limepeel, Black Cherry
  • (Your tutor will endeavour to have some of these available for purchase on the day or from her website prior to the course.)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • The following are not essential but are very useful and inexpensive to buy online:
  • A small UV LED Torch (Blue light)
  • A small LED torch
  • Colour Swatches – blanks can be downloaded from your tutor’s website www.annswan.co.uk, you will find them in the members area under ‘Tips and Tricks’ and they can be coloured in with your selection of colours. These are really useful for colour matching and building up your colour mixes.
  • Most of the above equipment is available on the tutors website: www.annswan.co.uk. If you email your order, your tutor will bring it along on the day to save postage costs.

Available to buy

  • Available from tutor:
  • See your tutor’s website for equipment lists and shop. She can bring items along on the day if you order in advance. She will also bring a selection of pencils for you to buy if needed.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


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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