Soapwort (Saponaria Officianalis) in gouache

A Botanical Journal: Painting Flora by the Sea

Waterbased / Still Life - Materials included

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Course details

Using water based media in the breath-taking St. Ives landscape, learn how to draw and paint the indigenous Cornish Spring flora set against the colours of the sky and ocean. 

botanical drawing by Hilary Jean-Gibson

Over the course of three days, you will be working outside in several stunning locations, a short walk from our art studios in St. Ives, developing a journal of annotated sketches that capture different species of plants growing in their natural habitats.

Learn how to draw in a sketchbook from direct observation en plein air, using coloured pencils and water-based media as a starting point.  Then, back in the studio, develop your sketches, to create drawings and mixed-media studies using gouache, watercolours, pen and ink.  Using a limited colour palette, explore mixing the various hues and harmonies found in the plants and colours of the sea. 

Watercolour artist, Hilary Jean-Gibson, is a Fellow of the Society of Botanical Artists and brings a wealth of knowledge when it comes to painting and identifying plants.  She will provide you with plenty of references to inspire you, from plant folklore, mythology and symbolism to the artwork of artists such as Winifred Nicholson, Durer, Van Gogh and Stanley Spencer, for which plants have been a central theme in many of their paintings.  She will also help you to identify the plants you come across too!

The approach to the course will cover realism and the expressive.  From observational drawings to a more fluid response and will harness both the power of black and white monochrome and intense exhilarating colour. 

Click here to view an online book of Hilary’s botanical drawings and paintings.

What will I learn?

  1. Developed powers of observation
  2. Improved skills and confidence to achieve a realistic drawing
  3. Techniques to use water-based paints in an expressive way
  4. How to move from observational drawings to more fluid works
  5. Tips on mixing various hues and harmonies
  6. Ways to record observations as a visual diary in a sketchbook

Who would this course suit?

This course would suit students wishing to discover which approach suits them, as it covers both observing detail and a looser working method, realistic and expressive.

Time will be split between learning new techniques, watching demonstrations and developing work in the studio to venturing out for several hours a day to draw along the coastline. Some previous experience with watercolour would be an advantage, but this is not essential.

A Botanical Journal: Painting Flora by the Sea

Waterbased / Still Life – Materials included

Book Selected Date

Taught by

In 1995 I became a tutor at the St Ives School of Painting. Offering inspiration through my passion for drawing, water-based media and art history, I strive to liberate a creative vision by teaching skills and techniques through direct observation and en plein air.

What to Bring

Our studios are fully equipped and we provide you with all the materials you need for your course. However, if you have a favourite set of brushes or any specialist materials that you would prefer to use, please bring them with you.

Timings and Breaks

The first day starts at 10am and finishes at 4.30pm, please aim to arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the start time.

All course days after that start at 9.30am and finish at 3.30 on Sunday after a short lunch break to try an enable people to get home that day.
There are plenty of nearby places to eat and we will serve tea and coffee at break times during the day.


Studio Courses

How can I get help in choosing a course?

Our friendly expert staff are always happy to discuss your needs and our courses in more detail to help you with your decision. Please call us on 01736 797180

How do I get my work home?

Tutors have special techniques for transporting oil paintings and the school has plastic folders available in our shop for £3.50 or do bring a portfolio.

For international students we are happy to arrange transportation of your work back home.

What do I need to bring?

Absolutely nothing! All materials and aprons are provided although some people do like to bring their own set of brushes.

What do I do for lunch?

Courses allow an hour’s break for lunch and there are numerous places nearby or you are welcome to bring a packed lunch into the studio.

What times do courses run?

Most of our courses start at 10am and end at 4.30pm on the first day. Subsequent days we start at 9.30am ending at 4pm.

Weekend Courses run 10am – 4pm on the first day but the final day starts at 9.30 and ends at 3.30 with a short lunch break to enable people to get home that evening.

Do you have to be experienced to come to the School?

The School is a very friendly and welcoming place for all ages and experience. Our drop-in life classes and August half-day workshops are ideal for those wanting to have a go for the first time. Most of our longer courses are also fine for novices.

If any of the courses do need a bit of experience we flag this up in the brochure and on the website.

Booking a Course

How can I reserve a place?

We will hold a provisional reservation for 24 hours if you give us a call whilst you find accommodation. Otherwise please book online or by telephone 01736 797180.

You can reserve a place with a £100 deposit; balance is due 12 weeks before course start date.

About St Ives

Where do I park?

The nearest long stay public car parks are the Island and Barnoon Long Stay Car Park, both a 5 minute walk away. In the peak summer months it may be easier to park at Trenwith Car Park by the leisure centre and walk down into town. If you don’t fancy the walk up the hill at the end of the day there is a shuttle bus which runs from outside the cinema.

How do I get there?

Public Transport: If you are coming from further afield the main train line runs into St Erth which is a 15 min taxi ride away or you can take the St Ives Bay Line which runs approx. every 30 minutes. The School is a 10 minute walk from St Ives station.

Driving: M5 will take you to Exeter where we recommend that you take the A30 across Bodmin Moor and into Cornwall. After passing Hayle, leave the A30 at St Erth roundabout for St Ives. Turn right at the second roundabout. This road will take you through Lelant and Carbis Bay into St Ives.

Where can I stay?

St Ives has a huge selection of hotels, guest houses and self catering accommodation to choose from. Please browse the art holidays St Ives section on our website and give us a call if you would like any help.

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