Botanical painting – summer colours at West Dean with Sandrine Maugy

Ref: SWE31757

Book now

Places available

About this course

Inspired by West Dean Gardens, learn essential watercolour painting techniques and gain the confidence to produce colourful plant portraits. Study colour mixing, the depiction of details such as serrated edges and veins, and the use of wet-in-wet.

Course Description

The beautiful gardens of West Dean and the array of summer colours provide the inspiration for this course. Flowers, leaves and fruit will be freshly picked from the walled garden and the rest of the grounds, and will be displayed in the studio for you to choose.

The sessions include morning lectures, as well as demonstrations and personal tuition throughout the day. These will help you improve your understanding of colour-mixing theory and practice, learning how to identify colours and reproduce them. Time is dedicated to mixing green and drawing and painting leaves: how to draw twisting leaves and veins, how to mix the right colour, to give the effect of shine, to reproduce textures, to paint serrated edges and deal with venation. This is an essential yet particularly tricky part of botanical painting.

The issue of shadows is also addressed: how to mix the right colour without using black and how and where to put the shadows for a three-dimensional effect without intruding on the subject’s colour, especially on light or luminous colours such as yellow.

There is an extensive use of wet-in-wet technique and, by the end of the course, you will be more familiar with the watercolour painting process. You should be able to use watercolours with more confidence and paint better, bolder plant portraits.


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


  • The course fee includes the cost of providing additional flowers and fruit.

What students need to bring

  • A piece of cotton cloth (face towel, cotton tea towel or cotton handkerchief)
  • Cartridge paper or sketchbook
  • Drawing materials (pencil, rubber, ruler and a compass might be useful)
  • Watercolour paints (anything you have, but no Cadmiums please, as they are opaque)
  • Watercolour paper, at least 300gsm (425gsm is better and 640gsm even better), Hot Pressed or Cold Pressed, Fabriano Artistico or Saunders Waterford work better than Arches for wet-in-wet
  • Paintbrushes (preferably synthetics) in a range of sizes from 0 to 8
  • Palette(s)
  • Tracing paper

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials are available to buy, including cartridge paper and sketchbooks, drawing materials, watercolour paints (pans and tubes), watercolour paper, 300gsm, 425gsm and 640gsm, Hot Pressed and Cold Pressed, Fabriano Artistico or Saunders Waterford, paintbrushes (synthetics) in a range of sizes from 0 to 8, palettes and tracing paper.
  • Available from tutor:
  • Transfer paper (Tracedown), some paints, heavy watercolour paper

Additional information

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


Sandrine Maugy: Lilly

Sandrine Maugy

Sandrine Maugy is a member of the Society of Floral Painters and the Society of Botanical Artists. She writes articles for Artists & Illustrators and her book Colours of Nature was published in 2013.


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.