The 2017 Diploma course at the Chelsea School of Botanical Art is now in full swing.  

Applications are now being accepted for the 2018 Diploma Course in Botanical Illustration and Painting beginning in January 2019.

START DATE: Monday 8th January 2018


For the Diploma Course beginning in January 2019 information sessions will take place in the spring, summer and autumn terms 0f 2018.


Please contact us for more information

Email Mary Ellen Taylor (maryellen@chelseaschoolofbotanicalart.co.uk) or telephone 07770 750885 to make an appointment.


The course will be taught by Elaine Searle and Helen Allen and a group of practicing artists and botanists will guide our budding artists through the illustrative intricacies of depicting live plant material within an historic and scientific context.

START DATE: Monday 9th January 2017

Click APPLY to complete the Application Form




3 Terms of approximately 10 weeks each, for a total of 30 weeks

Classes take place on Mondays

School hours are between 10am and 3.30 pm, classes start promptly at 10.30am


Private Study



Drawing techniques

Making a mark: line, perspective and form, to include basic drawing techniques using graphite pencil and paper

Basic principles of perspective: to include drawing flowers and leaves in perspective

Form: using light to render the third dimension


Watercolour painting techniques

Control of materials: water, paint and paper

Traditional watercolour painting skills used by botanical artists: laying washes, superimposed washes and graduated washes

Form and finishing: through layering of washes and dry brush to create form and detail

Effective use of colour: colour theory and the basics of mixing and/or layering colour



Observation: learning basic flower and plant structure through observing and recording

Drawing: understanding what is relevant to record and the associated conventions

Classification: observe and classify plants during practical sessions in school and in the ‘field’ and learn to use relevant plant family information in illustrations and paintings

Scientific drawing: drawing accurately to scale and produce scientifically accurate drawings in pencil, ink and in watercolour

Nomenclature: naming plants and associated rules and conventions


Composition and aesthetics

Composition: balance of line, form and colour and associated conventions

Pushing the boundaries in contemporary composition

Historic and contemporary works: developing a sense of aesthetics through the history of art and botanical painting by visiting galleries and museums

Aerial perspective: working towards more complex compositions that are truly three-dimensional


Advanced watercolour skills

Fine brush work for detail and painting on vellum

Understanding and working with colour including the application of surface textures such as velvet, fluff and bloom


Classwork and projects

All work practiced in class will be kept in a sketch book along with projects

Botany fieldwork books will also be kept throughout the year



You will be expected to spend at least 2 days a week on practicing techniques learned in class and applying them to botanical subjects

At the start of each class there will be an open critique session of the set homework

Assessment by tutors will be continuous and students will be expected to complete each assignment


Plant family study

This is set in the second term


The Final project

This is also set in the second term for completion during the second year of private study

Assessment and consideration for the award of the school’s diploma will be by tutors and an external panel of experts



Several visits to galleries and museums are arranged throughout the year including the Botany Library, Herbarium and Shirley Sherwood Gallery at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, and the RHS Lindley Library and Picture Library. Students are encouraged to visit galleries, local exhibitions, botanical gardens, national galleries, museums and collections in their own time



Please note the change in fees for the 2018 course.

Fees for the course: £4,750.00 (incl. VAT)

Non-refundable deposit: £500.00 (incl. VAT)

Fees for the 2019 course will be

Fees for the course: £5,000.00 (incl. VAT)

Non-refundable deposit: £500.00 (incl. VAT)

Please contact the school for dates of information sessions

Click APPLY to complete the Application Form