The Library of Obscure Wonders

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At last it is spring and the blossoms are out on the trees. I love this time of year, the change from the sleeping branches to the beautiful blossoms is incredible. Though I notice on the weather forecast it is predicting more cold weather and possibly snow.

The Youtube video I’ve put up this time is on painting a freesia blossom in watercolour. The freesia was originally from South Africa, its beautiful colours and sweet smells have made it popular here. It flowers in the spring and summer and comes in many different shades. The difficulty when painting it is getting the colours accurate in tone and as bright as in the actual flower.

Winter Newsletter


Now winter is here, the leaves have fallen and the days are short. This is a good time to study the branches of trees, to observe and sketch how they connect to each other. Different trees have different types of branches, the oak for instance has knobbly branches and twigs.

Courses next term

The  Online course in Drawing and Painting nature starts again on Tuesday 19th January. It is a ten week course from 18.00 to 20.00. It is  in association with Imperial College and The South London Botanical Institute. Suitable for beginners. Follow this link for more information:

There will also be an offline course at Citylit running all day on Fridays for 6 weeks, starting on the 15th January. Suitable for both beginners and those with some experience.

Youtube Demo

I’ve put some more demo’s up on Youtube.

This link is to a demonstration I did on how to draw an apple using coloured pencils.


I’m not sure whats happening with real-life exhibitions at the moment but here is a good virtual exhibition of drawings of Oak trees.

Painting tip: The rigger brush is very good for painting tree branches in single strokes.

All course dates can be seen on the website

For further information email

Raksha Patel – the use of botanical art with humour and social commentary

The King of the Crop
The Endless Circle

A link to an interesting article on Japanese Flower Painting

Painting from Plants and Flowers

A new course at CityLit starting Monday 9th November. A chance to explore different media and painting techniques.

Starting next week…

It’s been ages since the last newsletter, mainly because nothing much has been happening as far as classes and activities go.  It has been a great time for going out and painting nature though. The tree outside my window is slowly turning a beautiful gold colour with the season. This month we have an online class starting, a Youtube demonstration video, and preparation for a tree project starting in the new year.

Classes and workshops

An Online course in Drawing and Painting nature  starts next Tuesday 13th October. It is a ten week course in association with Imperial College and The South London Botanical Institute. Follow this link:

 The Tree project will include free online workshops and discussions on painting trees and collecting stories about them. All of which will finally form an animation telling folktales about trees. I’m currently applying for funding for this project and will let you know more as things develop.

Youtube Demo

This is my first attempt at a Youtube video. I give a demonstration of how to do a flat wash, and how to do a graduated wash. I minted to do more soon. I hope it is useful:


Wildlife Photographer of the year is now on at the Natural History Museum, book tickets from the website:

The Hayward Gallery exhibition Among the Trees is only on till the end of October, so go and see it now:

Painting tip: Relax, watercolour works a lot better if you relinquish control occasionally.

New Classes

New real life classes starting this Wednesday evening (23rd Sept 2020) with Watercolour for beginners at Citylit

Online classes in drawing nature start at the beginning of October. More info to come.

A brief history of botanical illustration

Here is the pdf on the history of botanical illustration. brief-history

“The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Native Americans were all herbalists. The oldest known list of medicinal herbs is Shen Nung’s Pen Ts’ao or Shennong Ben Cao Jing (c. 3000 B.C.), a Chinese herbal that is probably a compilation of an even older oral tradition.”

University of Virginia