Botanical Illustration - Dahlias in Waterolour
Tutor: Roger ReynoldsCourse Code: 4319-03


Dahlias offer the opportunity for really exploring a particular colour and because flowers are so varied you can choose which one it is going to be. Drawing can take time, but with shortcuts you will quickly establish your image and concentrate on bringing out the beauty and impact of the blooms. The painting techniques are not difficult, and when painting similar petals you get into a rhythm and master the technique.


In the time available probably only one bloom will be illustrated, but it serves as an example for a much larger painting if you want to take it further. Getting the precise position of all the individual petals in a large Dahlia can be quite daunting, so we will use photographic techniques to assist in establishing the image for painting. The whole process will be done in the studio using a Dahlia of your choice (bring your prize specimen if you want to). Once we have our drawing on working paper, we will explore the colour mixtures you can find in your flower, then with demonstrations first, we will look at the watercolour handling for a sensitive but spectacular floral portrait. The techniques you learn will not just equip you for further Dahlia illustrations but will help you move onto many other painting where the same principles can be applied.

We will endeavour to obtain dahlias for this course, but if these are unavailable (eg due to early frosts), then photographs will be used instead.

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. On this occasion larger sheets will be available to buy (at cost price).
A board to support your work (about A3 - A4 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 essential for controlling brush loading
Watercolour paints, which might be half-pans or tubes, I usually find that working out my colours is best done from a box, but when you move into painting it is far better to work from tubes. They should certainly be of artists’ quality. Suggested colours from Winsor and Newton range might be Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine, Winsor Yellow, Aureolin, New Gamboge, Scarlet Lake, Winsor Red, Winsor Violet, Winsor Orange, Permanent Carmine, Light Red, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Permanent Sap Green, Neutral tint and Payne’s Grey. It will not matter if you are short of any of these, other colours will be made available.
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 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.

The following items can be purchased from your tutor

Larger sizes of paper will be available at cost price.


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.

26th to 27th Oct 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

"Roger is an excellent teacher and MSCA the usual high standard." (May 2019)

"I thought the course was excellent and the tutor very encouraging and explained techniques clearly." (May 2019)

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