The plants which fill our summer hedgerows with shapes and colours give us a wide opportunity for artistic creativity, from the subtle wild roses and brambles to the brash poppies on the edge of the growing corn. The course looks at the species that we find growing around us and the ways of tackling their portraits, maybe a single species or a combination (like poppies and corn), looking at the techniques to build portraits of the ones most admired.
The idea is to bring in hedgerow plants which most stimulate your imagination, so that we can discuss the process by which we can go about creating a portrait of the beauty of summertime. We will look at layout and composition, drawing techniques, colour mixing and how to tackle the areas where interpretation and detail present painting challenges. This will be botanical painting, but not necessarily restricted to a single species, so looking at how we can get the best out of (say) painting poppies and corn together, or perhaps a combination of the flower heads of hedgerow plants like purple bittersweet, intriguingly shaped white bladder campion, red campion and many others. There will need to be discussion on subject matter with individuals, and specimens will need to be chosen with care, particularly in how well they can survive in water. The tutor will bring in many suggestions, but participants should bring their own according to what they find of interest in the countryside.
A note on the legality of picking flowers
In general, the picking of wildflowers is not illegal, so long as you don’t uproot the whole plant, do so with intention to sell them for profit or accidentally pick a plant found on the list of endangered species. Picking flowers that have been grown and cultivated by private bodies, local organisations or councils however is illegal, although you’re extremely unlikely to find yourself behind bars if you do. In short, choose carefully; don’t take more than you need, get your specimen into water as soon as possible to avoid wilted specimens.
Please bring with you
- Watercolour paper, 300g/m2 (140lbs) 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 (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 towelling 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. 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.
Please don't worry if you do not have any or all of these colours. In two days it is unlikely that we would use anything approaching the full list, and key colours will be available from the tutor.
- 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!
- Live specimens of hedgerow plants will be needed. Some will be supplied by the tutor but going out and getting your own is likely to give you greater satisfaction (see notes below). Watercolour techniques are easier to use for the paler shades, so if you have access to blooms that are opening out and are lighter coloured please do bring them.
- Blooms brought in to the warm often open during the length of a day. It is therefore useful to make a photographic record of your plant at the time you drew it. Please bring a phone, an iPad or a camera to make a record for your use.
The following items can be purchased from your tutor
Larger sizes of paper will be available at cost price.
Suitable for all levels
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire HP16 0BD
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.