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Botanical Drawing and Illustration

  • Level(s) of Study: Short course
  • Course Fee:


  • Start Date(s): 22 April 2023
  • Duration: Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm, four weeks (no class 6 May 2023 due to King's Coronation)
  • Study Mode(s): Short course
  • Campus: City Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    More information


This course, aimed at beginners and improvers, will develop your knowledge and skills in the field of botanical art and illustration.

Typically, the course will appeal to those who have an interest in the natural world either as a result of hobbies (gardening, horticulture or painting) or through employment (landscape designers, conservationists and botanists).

Surprisingly, botanical illustration courses are few and far between, and finding experienced tutors in this field is limited.

So, if you’ve struggled to the find the right course and want to take your art in a new direction, this will be prefect.

  • By the end of the course, you’ll be able to demonstrate how to observe and draw botanical subjects accurately, using mark making descriptively and sensitively.
  • In addition to your new skills, you’ll also experience the positive impact of botanical drawing on well-being and mindfulness.

Here's what our previous attendees said:

'Dawn was fantastic, inspiring and enthusiastic. There wasn't enough time in the day, it was so good, I could have done more of everything. Highly recommended' TG

‘I have always been interest in trying this and wanted to gain some new skills, which I can now do using drawing and watercolour' JH

‘Excellent friendly and professional tutor, Dawn was very encouraging as I was trying to decide if I liked drawing and want to do more' RS

‘I've got a good basis to and enthusiasm to continue drawing and painting botanical subjects, I enjoyed being taught the skills and being with a new group of people' PS

‘Dawn is a brilliant, patient and encouraging tutor. I love flowers and wanted to improve my painting skills, I really got to look at the flowers, tried colour mixing and trying different techniques that really helped with watercolour washes. Thank you so much' CF

'Really enjoyable and informative course, Dawn was lovely and very talented, I felt comfortable and learnt a lot. I specifically enjoyed the watercolour demonstrations by the tutor where we could see an image being built from scratch' EE

'An excellent course. I left with a much better understanding of the medium and the whole process of botanical drawing and painting. Can't wait for a follow-up course, but for now I have plenty of exercises in drawing and colour mixing to do to put everything Dawn taught me into practice. Dawn was patient, supportive and generous with her knowledge and the group was lovely. Thank you Dawn'

'This has been one of the most enjoyable courses I have ever done. It has given me confidence in my artistic ability and has been a boost to my mental welbeig. I loved it' JB

What you’ll study

On this course, you will:

  • learn about the history of botanical art and illustration, and the key influencers
  • work from natural subjects indoors
  • spend short periods in Nottingham’s arboretum (if weather permits)
  • practice drawing, colour matching and composition skills
  • learn how to represent the illusion of 3D form on a 2D surface
  • explore surface pattern and textures
  • apply basic colour theory, colour relationships and tonal values
  • apply watercolour tonally to achieve perspective
  • gain an understanding of the different forms of composition (such as movement, balance and aerial perspective) within the arrangement of your subject matter.

The course is predominantly practical, ensuring that your individual learning needs are met via practical demonstrations, group and individual tuition, written material and critiques.

In addition to the studio time, you’ll also be asked to complete manageable practical homework assignments, and preparation for the next class, to reinforce your learning.

Topics covered in session include:

History of Botanical Illustration, including key influencers
Understanding the effect of light on subject form and surface texture
Tonal studies in graphite and watercolour
How to draw botanical subjects accurately
Basic botany

Continuation of accurate drawing skills
Basic colour theories, colour relationships and tonal values
Watercolour application and techniques
Basic Botany

Basic Botany
Mixing Greens

Composition & the arrangement of subject matter
Final subject – delegate’s choice
Unifying observation, medium application and botanical accuracy
Critique/planning for next stages in learning

Please bring with you to the first session:

A3 sketchbook. An ideal sketchbook would be Stillman & Birn Zeta series or the Daler Rowney Ebony spiral bound sketchbooks (they handle light colour washes better than other options) - the paper should be as white and smooth as possible.

Graphite pencils, such as Faber Castell 9000 or Staedtler Lumograph, grades 4H, 2H, F or HB, B, 2B.

Your tutor will provide watercolour paper at the start of the course, to get you going.

You will need to provide paper as the course progresses, and your tutor can advise you on the most suitable paper to get during the first session.

As the course progresses, you will also need:

Watercolour paints – a pan or half pan of Artists’ Quality Winsor & Newton paint set (please try to find a set that includes:

  • Reds: Either Scarlet Lake or Winsor Red or Quinacridone Red, as well as Permanent Rose and Winsor Violet Dioxazine
  • Yellows: Winsor Lemon, Winsor Yellow, Raw Sienna
  • Blues - Cobalt Blue, Indanthrene Blue, Winsor Blue Green Shade, French Ultramarine

Sable or synthetic pointed round paint brushes (these are good for laying down washes and detailed work). We’d suggest getting the following sizes: Size 6, Size 4, Size 2, Size 0.

A Paint palette – either a daisy ceramic palette or a white household china side plate.

Hand-held Magnifying Lens x2 magnification

Travel lamp with daylight bulb.

Campus and facilities

You will be based in the School of Art and Design on the City Campus.

You'll find bright drawing and painting studio and workshop spaces to develop your ideas and create exciting work.

You’ll also have access to our library to use outside of your short course; whilst you can’t reserve or take away books, you are welcome to use them as a resource for research and referencing.

Entry requirements

Level: Beginner

Entry requirements: No previous drawing or painting experience needed.

Level: Beginner

Entry requirements: No previous drawing or painting experience needed.

You must be over the age of 18 to attend this course.

Fees and funding

The fee for this course is £365

Payment is due at the time of booking.

The fee for this course is £365

Payment is due at the time of booking.

How to apply

You can book your place via the NTU online store:

Saturday course (22 April - 20 May 2023)

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