Irises in Watercolour
Tutor: Roger ReynoldsCourse Code: 2019-03


Watercolour is the medium for creating an exciting image of a big showy Iris. Techniques to help you get the flower correctly proportioned will be explained so you can make a reliable drawing. Demonstrations of colour mixing, and ways of portraying the delicate flower structure will be included, as will dealing with the folded dry papery coverings of the buds. This is a challenge but so worth it!


The intricacy of iris flowers makes the process of painting them seem difficult, but by working out the proportions and understanding the flower structure the task can be simplified. By getting certain proportions right constructing the drawing is quite easy. The painting process too can be separated into tasks which it can be fun to master. How to deal with the delicate twisted upright petals, the patterning of the ‘falls’ and the brush-like pollen guide can be sorted by techniques which can be practised and applied. The coverings of the opening buds and their crumpled but lined nature are exciting to paint, and the shine of the tightly rolled buds is always a satisfaction when you’ve done it. We will be using watercolour in its most versatile form, wet-in-wet techniques, but also drier accurate applications of colour to produce the range of textures in these interesting blooms. In short, irises provide almost a complete introduction to watercolour techniques, and for those with experience, there is also something new to learn here.

Please bring with you

  • Watercolour paper, 300g/m2 smooth, hot pressed like Fabriano Classico 5 or Fabriano Artistico HP. A limited supply of paper will be available from the tutor.

  • A board to support your work (at least A4, possibly A3 size)

  • Graphite pencils for drawing (suggest HB or B and H or 2H)

  • Pencil Erasers – putty rubber ones are particularly useful

  • Tracing paper (if you have it)

  • A container for paint water – a clean jam jar is fine

  • Paper towel kitchen roll is really useful for controlling brush loading

  • Watercolour paints, which might be half-pans or tubes, it doesn’t matter, but they should be artist quality. Useful colours from Winsor and Newton range might be Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine, Winsor Yellow, Scarlet Lake, Winsor Red, Quinacridone red, Winsor Violet, Winsor Orange, Permanent Carmine, Light Red, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Permanent Sap Green, Neutral tint and Payne’s Grey.

  • Watercolour brushes, good quality (preferably sable), capable of forming fine points, preferably down to size 0, but again they can be borrowed for the class.

  • Mixing palette, e.g. a white plate or saucer, don’t buy anything special!

Please do not worry if you do not have any or all of these items. In two days it is unlikely that we would use anything approaching the full list, and key colours will be available from the tutor.

Please bring your own Irises, if you have a favourite and particularly if you are non-residential and can bring in your plants fresh, but please bear in mind we will only be able to study one variety for each person. Otherwise specimens will be supplied by the tutor.

The following items can be purchased from your tutor

A limited supply of suitable paper will be available £1.50 sheet.


Suitable for all levels

Course Location

Missenden Abbey
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire HP16 0BD


Roger Reynolds

Roger Reynolds

Roger is a botanical illustrator who works in watercolour and coloured pencil. He is a long standing member of the Society of Botanical Artists where his work has been awarded a certificate of botanical merit, and has been used in their publications. He has exhibited at their annual exhibition in Westminster since 2004. In 2016 he was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Horticultural Society for his work illustrating plants. He is a member of the Institute for Analytical Plant Illustration which fosters the links between botanists and illustrators and he has an honours degree in botany. In 2018 he was a participant in the day of international botanical art exhibitions and as a member of the Association of British Botanical Art, represented the UK.

18th to 19th May 2019
Saturday to Sunday


9.30amCoffee on arrival
9.45amWelcome and tutor introductions for all
10am-1pmTeaching session
1pmLunch for all - residents may check in
2-5.30pmTeaching session
6.45 for 7pmDinner for residents
From 7-9.15amBreakfast for residents
9.30am-1pmTeaching session
1pmLunch for all
2-5pmLast teaching session