Botanical painting – dazzling dahlias and late summer flowers with Mariella Baldwin

Ref: SLW31821

Book now

1 place available

About this course

Explore the use of colour to achieve brilliance and vitality while painting flowers from the Walled Garden. Reference to historical and contemporary paintings reveal what makes a painting exuberant.

Course Description

Famous for their brilliant colours, dahlias are an excellent flower to study when it comes to colour mixing. Learn how to create the depth and brilliance of colour whilst making use of worksheets and sketchbooks.

Reference will be made to some outstanding examples of brilliant and dramatic use of colour that will encourage you to experiment. Simplified colour theories will be discussed and various watercolour techniques will be demonstrated, including dry brush and wet-in-wet. Complex ideas will be simplified to give you a better understanding of botanical painting. You will work at your own pace and individual guidance will be given.

Worksheets and sketchbooks will be used to learn and record your subject and techniques for future reference. This will help to establish good practice in your notation and recording. These references will also demonstrate the usefulness of record-keeping and being well organised when working from a fresh botanical specimen, especially when time is of the essence.

Through looking at examples of outstanding work and experimenting with ideas of your own, you will leave with a greater understanding of colour theory, colour mixing and application. It is unlikely, though not impossible, that you will leave with a completed painting, however, you will leave with valuable tools and studies with which to progress within your own practice.

Course Materials


  • On this course the college will supply some inspirational flowers.

What students need to bring

  • A magnifying glass if you have one
  • A china watercolour palette or plain white saucer/plate
  • A piece of cotton rag
  • HB pencil, pencil sharpener and ruler
  • Sketchbook – smooth paper or smooth cartridge paper
  • Hot pressed watercolour paper (300 gsm) approx A3 size (large sheet cut into 4)
  • Erasers – putty and plastic
  • Paintbrushes - preferably Sable (synthetic will do) miniature, sizes 1, 3 and 5
  • Tracing paper, masking tape
  • Watercolour palette (white china saucer will do)
  • Watercolour paints minimum 3 colours: Permanent Rose, Winsor Yellow/Lemon, (or equivalent) French Ultramarine
  • A few other useful colours but not essential: Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna, Transparent Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, Winsor Violet.
  • For any materials you need to purchase from the shop, we suggest you do so during the first morning of your course, after having discussed them with your tutor.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials including HB pencils, pencil sharpeners, rules, sketchbooks, cartridge paper, hot pressed watercolour paper (300 gsm), tracing paper, putty rubbers, plastic rubbers, paintbrushes – sable and synthetic in miniature, sizes 1, 3 and 5, watercolour palettes, masking tape
  • Watercolour paints: Permanent Rose, Winsor Yellow/Lemon, (or equivalent) French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna, Transparent Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, Winsor Violet

Additional information

It would be useful to seek out some examples of botanical paintings [or photographs] that you particularly like, or even dislike, for discussion on the first evening. It will be useful to have at least a few of the colours suggested for the first session, although not all will be essential; other colours can be purchased as and if necessary, as the College Shop is well stocked. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open toes 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


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.

Courses of interest

Botanical drawing – late summer fruit and vegetables

19 to 22 Aug 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Ann Swan |

Botanical painting – autumn colours

18 to 20 Oct 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Sandrine Maugy |
Suitable for all

Botanical Christmas card in ink and watercolour

4 Nov 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Sandrine Maugy |

Botanical painting for beginners

14 Nov 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Mariella Baldwin |

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.