Seaweed: wracks and kelps – botanical painting with Mariella Baldwin

Ref: SWE32056

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About this course

Re-create a sense of movement in seaweed gathered from the Sussex coastline. Through exercises, tips and advice on techniques, you will paint their subtle, harmonious tones and colours and portray their ribboning effect.

Course Description

Seaweed gathered from the Sussex coastline will be brought into the studio to be painted. Marine Algae make a delightful subject for painting as their subtle tones and colours provide a natural harmony. A sense of their dancing, ribboning effect can be achieved with care and patience, through attention to tonal values and brush control. The emphasis will be on re-creating a sense of movement using watercolours, through exercises, tips and advice on techniques. You will be encouraged to work at your own pace, supported by individual guidance and tuition.

During the first evening, you will look at the seaweeds collected and consider a methodical approach to their depiction and how a successful interpretation might be achieved in watercolour.

Day 1: You will spend the morning drawing, making notes and formulating a composition on a worksheet, including specific colour and painting exercises. Techniques will be demonstrated on how to blend layers of paint to create a seamless ribbon of paint. There will be discussion on colour theory and application, and you will be encouraged to practise exercises in order to experiment with your ideas.

Day 2: The day will focus on painting the subject, working at your own pace. Aerial/atmospheric perspective and the application of paint as glazes will be discussed and demonstrated. These techniques help give a sense of scale and movement to the painting. You will continue to paint, practising the ideas discussed and techniques demonstrated.

There will be a short group critique at the end of the course.

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Water spray bottle – to keep the seaweed damp
  • Plastic container (sandwich box) in which to place seaweed specimen
  • Please bring any of the following items, if you have them:
  • Pencil 2H/HB
  • Ruler
  • Dividers
  • Sketchbook/cartridge paper
  • Tracing paper
  • Hot pressed watercolour paper – one sheet cut into 4 (approx. A3), or a pad
  • Watercolour paints – minimum of 3 colours: Permanent Rose, Cadmium Lemon, French Ultramarine
  • (other useful colours: Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Prussian Blue, Winsor Violet, Permanent Mauve, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Cobalt Blue)
  • Paint brushes: 00, 3, 5 (watercolour brushes, preferably sable)
  • Putty and plastic rubber
  • Watercolour palette (preferably china – a white saucer will do)
  • Pencil sharpener and craft knife

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • The College Craft Shop stocks a range of materials, including pencils, rulers, sketchbooks, cartridge paper, tracing paper, watercolour paper, watercolour paints in a good variety of colours, including Permanent Rose, Cadmium Lemon, French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Prussian Blue, Winsor Violet, Permanent Mauve, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and Cobalt Blue, Watercolour brushes: sizes 00, 3 and 5, putty rubbers, plastic rubbers, palettes, pencil sharpeners and craft knives.

Additional information

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


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.

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Further study options

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