What you'll learn

Botanical illustration is all about looking at plants in a traditional but exciting way. Here’s what you’ll be doing…

History of botanical illustration: how the traditional methods of watercolour, pen and ink and graphite have been used for centuries and cannot be replaced by photography alone. 

Accurate drawing techniques: we’ll refresh you on accurate line-drawing and tonal shading to make your subject appear three-dimensional, as well as helping you arrange your subject on the paper. 

Watercolour technique, including mixing colours and using watercolour washes to build up a three-dimensional and life-like image. 

In a nutshell, you will have three days to concentrate on drawing, tonal shading and using watercolour, focusing on accuracy – the key to a beautiful illustration. Whilst attention to detail is important, botanical illustration is a very relaxing and enjoyable art form.

'Thank you... for your patient guidance and encouragement... We enjoyed every minute, and surprised ourselves with what we were able to achieve.'

Previous course participant

Who it's for

The course is suitable for both beginners and improvers. There will be a maximum of 9 people in this group.

What’s included

  • Three days of expert tuition (10am – 4pm)
  • Materials*
  • Lunch and refreshments on each day
  • Entrance to the Eden Project

*We will provide the paints, sable brushes, watercolour paper and drawing papers, plus tracing paper, etc. Attendees are requested to bring drawing equipment to include 2H and HB pencils of professional quality, or preferably mechanical pencils of 0.3mm diameter with 2H and HB leads and a plastic eraser. We will have dividers and rulers to borrow on the day. A notebook may be useful. 

'The course was delivered with passion and understanding; it was very clear and informative.'

 Previous course participant

About the tutors

Laura Silburn

Laura started botanical painting in 2008 after moving to Cornwall, where she was taught botanical watercolour technique by Mally Francis FLS, at Mally's studio in Heligan Gardens. Laura has been contributing to the Eden Project Florilegium Society archive since 2010 and is now a Fellow of the society and an active member of the society's committee. She has attended workshops, and taken inspiration from, many of the visiting lecturers at Eden including Rosie Sanders and Gillian Barlow. 

Laura has twice received a prestigious RHS Gold Medal for her botanical artwork, firstly at the RHS London Orchid and Botanical Art Show in 2013 for her paintings of hardy geranium cultivars and in 2014 at the RHS Shades of Autumn Show for six paintings of Aristolochia species, which also received the Best in Show award. Laura now has work in the RHS Lindley Library and the Shirley Sherwood collection, which shows at the gallery in Kew Gardens, and has had work published in the RHS Plantsman, Cornwall Today and Eden Friends magazines.

In April 2014 Laura was invited to take part in the prestigious Transylvania Florilegium presently being created under the aegis of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts to record in a permanent way the flora of Transylvania. Laura travelled with a group of artists to Romania to study the flora there and has since submitted three paintings which have been accepted into the Transylvania Florilegium.

Laura continues to take inspiration from the diverse flora of Eden and considers herself lucky to have such a botanical treasure trove to work from.

Visit Laura's website

Mally Francis

Mally began training as a botanical artist in 1988 under the renowned tutor Anne-Marie Evans FLS, subsequently becoming a Fellow of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society. After moving to Heligan in 1997, she began teaching botanical painting at home and became the first tutor of botanical painting at the Eden Project in 2001. This led to the formation of the Eden Project Florilegium Society (EPFS), of which she was the founder chairman and remains a Fellow. Mally retired as chairman of the EPFS in 2012 and was created a Fellow of the Linnean Society in recognition of what she had achieved. 

Mally's painting classes continue at Heligan where regular courses are held throughout the year in her private studio. Many students from this group have become painting members of the Eden Project Florilegium Society after becoming sufficiently proficient to have paintings accepted as contributions to the Eden Project archives.  

Visit Mally's website.

Future courses

We run these courses several times a year. To hear about our next opportunity, please join our News and events mailing list.