Botanical painting – autumn colours with Sandrine Maugy

Ref: SWE32011

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About this course

Do you enjoy the rich colours of autumn foliage and fruit, and the deep hues of autumn flowers? Learn how to render these in watercolour, with wet-in-wet washes and detailed work.

Course Description

Whether you are a beginner wishing to build a solid foundation for your plant painting or whether you are more advanced but wanting to learn more about wet-in-wet watercolours or colour-mixing, this course will help you understand the characteristics of your subjects and the behaviour of watercolour paints.

The aims of the course are:

- to improve your understanding of foliage structure (for example, placement, veining, shapes and forms)

- to develop your skills in colour-mixing, especially autumn colours

- to improve your technique in order to render the right textures, colours and patterns

The course will include some drawing and painting exercises that will help you find the right shapes and positions of leaves, as well as their structures and textures. There will also be some experiments in colour-mixing, including some general rules and some specific mixes, which will help you match the painting to the subject. Some time will be set aside for exploring subjects of your choice, allowing you to develop skills you particularly wish to improve. The subjects will include autumn foliage, orchard fruit and late blooming flowers.

By the end of the course, you will have produced a series of sketches and studies, as well as colour swatches. For the main piece of work, you will have chosen either to produce a page of a selection of autumn subjects or a painting of a specific plant.

Some plants will be provided from West Dean Gardens and the greenhouses, and some by the tutor. You will be able to pick individual leaves from the gardens. You are also welcome to bring some along if you wish to study a particular subject.


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


  • Plants from West Dean Gardens and brought by the tutor.

What students need to bring

  • A piece of cotton cloth (face towel, cotton tea towel or cotton handkerchief)
  • Any items below that you have at home:
  • 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 300 grams (425 is better and 640 even better), Hot Pressed or Cold Pressed, Fabriano Artistico or Saunders Waterford work best for wet-in-wet
  • Paintbrushes (preferably synthetics) in a range of sizes from 0 to 8
  • Tracing paper

Available to buy

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

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