Dynamic Botanical

Drawing / Waterbased / Still Life - Materials included

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Course details

Explore the wonders of botanical forms from the micro to the macro in drawing and painting. Use the intimate studies of Durer and Elizabeth Blackadder’s expressive watercolours as starting points.

The course will harness both the power of black and white monochrome and intense exhilarating colour. Over the three days move from directly observed drawing to a freer, looser and more fluid approach. Explore the wonders of botanical forms from the micro to the macro using drawing and painting. The intimate studies of artists like Durer, Karl Blossfeldt’s photography and the expressive watercolours and prints of Elizabeth Blackadder will be our starting points. 

You will explore how to work in a fluid, experimental way on a large scale using inks and resists. There will be opportunities to draw the indigenous flora found along the coastal path near St. Ives as well as work from a mixture of fresh and dried plants brought into the studio.
Start with directly observed realistic drawing with tips and techniques to achieve this, for example measuring, scale and proportion. Weather permitting we will spend a morning collecting reference drawings in sketchbooks along St. Ives coast path, focusing on both academic black and white drawing and using colour to capture the colours and patterns. These studies we then develop in the afternoons back in the studio, in a more fluid approach on large sheets. This is a course that will open the door to just how exciting, dynamic and immediate botanical drawing can be. 

Day to day plan

This is a rough indication of what to expect over the course. However sometimes the structure of the days may alter depending on the nature of the group and weather.

Day 1

We will start with a simple still of a single flower using pencils, charcoals, ink, working on black paper.

Day 2

If the weather allows, we will spend the morning outside drawing plants in their own natural habitat inspired by Durer. Develop this work back in the studio in afternoon on a larger scale.

Day 3

Using coloured inks and oil pastels, create work inspired by the artist Elizabeth Blackadder. We will compose arrangements of plants and flowers with an aerial view looking down. Experiment with viewfinders to help to select parts of the compositions so you can zoom in and focus.

What will I learn?

  1. An approach to simplifying botanical drawing so you capture the essence.
  2. Instruction on the skills needed for successful drawing
  3. Approaches to help you successfully scale up your work.
  4. Encouragement to look more closely at the world around you.
  5. Inspiration for working with botanical drawing in experimental ways.

Your Tutor

Two of our team specialise in teaching this course. Each have their own contemporary practice and bring their unique flavour. David Webb will take the course in October and Liz Luckwell in 2021. Read more about their individual practice below.

Dynamic Botanical

Drawing / Waterbased / Still Life – Materials included

Sorry, this course is not currently available

Taught by

Watercolour is my medium of choice. I love its fluid nature and the way it can be pushed around and mixed on the paper to create transparent washes. To maintain that transparency, I endeavour to complete my paintings in no more than three washes, building up the layers from light to dark, whether I’m painting animals, boats, landscapes, flowers or still life.


View Liz’s Work

Linking my method to the landscape, I take students on Porthmeor Beach to make experimental drawings in the sand, bringing them back to some of man’s first marks and symbols. My teaching is grounded in an understanding for people and their desire to learn. I feel I have a genuine understanding of how nervous and apprehensive prospective students can sometimes be and am able to help them relax and enjoy being creative.

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 9.30 am and finishes at 4 pm. Please arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the start time

All course days after that start at 9.15am and finish at 3.45 pm and there will be an hour for lunch. Occasionally these times may be changed if required by the tutor. There are plenty of nearby places to eat and we will serve tea and fresh ground coffee at break times during the day.

What our students say

Lovely to walk into a light filled studio, sea in the background and a riot of flowers. Liz was excellent in demonstrating techniques and most encouraging in helping to develop both close observation and more free expression.

Sue Watts

[David] was very good at explaining and demonstrating. He had a gentle way of providing support and direction.

Jackie Ould


Our 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

Can I pay by cheque?

Please get in touch by phone and we can hold your place for a few days whilst you post your cheque (made payable to: St Ives School of Painting) to us at St Ives School of Painting, Porthmeor Studios. St Ives TR26 1NG

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 both 5 minute walk away. In the peak summer months it may be easier to park at the big top 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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