Prickly Plants in Coloured Pencil
Tutor: Roger ReynoldsCourse Code: 3219-04


Artistically prickly plants represent a bit of a challenge, but the fun is getting round the obstacle. Careful observation, drawing with care and some specialised techniques (all of which will be demonstrated and taught) can help you achieve an arresting, exciting, interesting piece of artwork. Coloured pencil is a surprisingly good medium for this, provided you keep the pencils sharp!


The attractiveness of a thistle or a sea holly as a subject comes from the mixture of colours and shapes that we see, with the softness of the flower head contrasting with the brutal hostility of the spikes and prickles. For the artist the challenge is to create an image with the composition and drawing that this demands. We will look into how to generate a composition which brings out the plant character and we will look at the techniques for drawing the features we want to portray. We will examine the work of other artists as inspiration and to understand the techniques they have used, so that we can generate our own composition and methods, and we will look at the techniques that can be employed with coloured pencils to help achieve the aims. To portray the prickles on plants, their character demands precise use of skills like using embossing tools and the creation fine pencil lines, yet also being able to soften a strong colour over a short distance.

Please bring with you

The best paper is watercolour paper, reasonably thick, 300g/m2 (140lbs) and smooth i.e. hot pressed (HP) such as Fabriano Classico 5 or Fabriano Artistico
Graphite pencils for initial drawing, but soft e.g. B, HB, H, 2H
Pencil Eraser – putty rubber ones are particularly useful
If you have mechanical pencil sharpeners, please bring them. (I discourage electric sharpeners, but only because they tend to ‘eat’ pencils.)
A sharp craft knife (Swann-Morton scalpels are best) so you can put a very fine point on your pencils
A small shallow plastic box that you can ‘sharpen into’ so that pencil dust can be kept under control round your working area
A large soft brush or feather is useful for sweeping away pencil debris from your work
Paper towel kitchen roll is useful for several jobs
If you bring or buy pencils please make sure they are from top quality manufactures, e.g. Faber Castell, Caran D’ache, Derwent, Prismacolor, but it doesn’t matter whether they are oil based, wax based or water-soluble. You can only reach quality work from quality pencils!
If you want to illustrate your own plants please bring them, Specimens will be available

N.B. Pencils will be available on loan for the two days. You do not need to go out and buy them.


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 fellow 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.

5th to 6th Aug 2019
Monday to Tuesday


9amCoffee on arrival
9.15amWelcome and tutor introductions
9.30am-1pmTeaching session
1-2pmLunch for all
2-5pmTeaching session
6.45 for 7pmDinner for residents
7-9.15amBreakfast for residents
9.30am-1pmTeaching session
1-2pmLunch for all
2-5pmLast teaching session

"Always enjoy coming to Missenden - quality of tuition excellent." (Summer School 2019)

"Excellent course - excellent tutor." (Summer School 2019)

"So pleased to have Roger's tuition and encouragement." (Summer School 2019)

"Excellent - best course yet."  (Summer School 2019)

"Roger is a patient and generous tutor." (Summer School 2019)