Botanical Illustration: Painting the Vibrant Colours of Summer Blooms
Tutor: Roger ReynoldsCourse Code: 3217-11


The bright colours of summer flowers offer the opportunity to make very fine paintings. However dealing with these hues raises issues for the botanical illustrator because they are often close to primary colours which cannot easily be mixed. We will look at the options to solve the problems of handling vibrant colours and their shadows as well.


One of the advantages of watercolours is their versatility at providing us with the vast range of colours found in wild and cultivated plants. This course is about being able to obtain the colours you want and how to handle the intensity that we see in nature. In these three days you will have an opportunity to look at the colours manufacturers offer, how they can be used to mix other colours and how to handle watercolours to build realistic flower colours on the paper. It will offer a way in for those that have not tried colour mixing before, and a way forward for those that want to refine techniques.

The course will help identify useful materials to work with, ways of modifying a particular hue for particular effect, and how to construct a three dimensional image by the use of highlights and shadows. The basis for this will be to look hard at the colours found in summer blooms and plan strategies for painting their colours. Specimens will be provided, but if you have something in bloom that you want to illustrate, please bring it and we will tackle it together; the tutor will provide help on an individual basis as the work progresses.

Please bring with you

Watercolour paper, best would be 300g/m2 (140lbs) and smooth, like Fabriano Classico 5 or Fabriano Artistico. This is hot pressed (HP) paper
It is helpful to have a stiff backing board to support your work, probably A4 or possibly larger
Graphite pencils preferably with a range of hardness e.g. B, HB, H, 2H
Pencil Eraser – putty rubber ones are particularly useful
Tracing paper if you have it
A sharp craft knife so you can keep a fine point on your pencils
A container for paint water (clean jam jar)
Paper towel kitchen roll, always useful for blotting or spills
An ordinary plain white plate or saucer to serve as a mixing palette

Watercolour paints, which might be half-pans or tubes, but in any case they should be artist quality. A suggested range from Winsor and Newton 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. If you don’t have these they can be supplied as needed.
Watercolour brushes, good quality, capable of forming fine points, sable haired is usually used (if you want to do fine work you need fine brushes, preferably down to size 0)

N.B. Lack of appropriate materials should not prevent you from attending this course. Simply assemble what you can. Nobody will ever be stuck because they do not have a particular item from this list because the tutor will either loan you the appropriate equipment or provide consumables which can be obtained at cost price.

The following items can be purchased from your tutor

Consumption of materials will be small. Practically all items that will be needed for the course can be loaned. There should be no extra expense.

If you have trouble getting paper there will be some available at cost price; 60p/A3 sheet.

Pot plants may be sold at the end of the course, usually so that painting can be completed at home.


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.

9th to 11th Aug 2017
Wednesday to Friday


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
2-5pmTeaching session
6.45 for 7pmDinner for residents
7-9.15amBreakfast for residents
9.30am-1pmTeaching session
1-2pmLunch for all
2-5pmLast teaching session