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Watercolour on Vellum: Learn to paint on this beautiful surface! CLOSED for registration

Vellum is my personal favourite surface for watercolour, I've been painting on it for around 10 years. Once mastered the luminosity and colour is second to none......You really wont want to go back to paper!


This course has new videos and materials as well as detailed feedback. It's not for beginners and assumes that you already have some experience with watercolour.


Watercolour on vellum will give you the techniques and skills that you need to successfully migrate from paper to vellum and to paint those 'glowing' works.

Painting on vellum requires a different approach, so it's important to understand the properties of the vellum and the differences in technique, including the various dry brush techniques. I have developed my own 4 step approach to make this a manageable transition..... It may be easier than you think with the one-to-one support offered with this course.


Pre course assessment

Students will be asked to submit 3 pieces of your work electronically as jpegs to ensure that this course is suitable for you.



The course will be available for just 7 students each year. To register click the Paypal link. 


START DATE: not currently available, fully booked. Email for vellum tuition information.

Course Outline

This new course will take you from the very beginning, from vellum preparation to small studies and finally up to the level of completing a comprehensive painting , with private support throughout and the option of group discussion. You will learn about vellum as a surface and how to prepare and look after it. Discover the techniques and put them into practice using a structured method. Work from simple studies of your choice, from a set list and up to a full painting. Along the way you will taught how to paint different leaves, including leaf skeletons, green and decaying leaves,  fruits, flowers, bulbs or corms and there's even a new mini section if you want to include insects. You will be taught about framing and presentation of work.


Part 1. The Materials and Techniques

In this part of the module you will be introduced to the properties and preparation for vellum. You will learn the appropriate watercolour techniques (washes and dry brush) used when painting on vellum and be introduced to my 4 - step process in applying the techniques as a method to successful vellum painting. Because vellum is an expensive surface, these simple exercises will initially be carried out on watercolour paper; this will allow you to get to grips with the basic techniques and will enable me to establish whether or not you are ready for vellum. Some artists use more water in their technique than others, thus some readjustment in technique is required. You will carry out a number of exercises painting simple shapes and modelling simple forms.  There are videos available to support you for all of the techniques and you will receive comprehensive feedback. You will need to have several pieces of vellum for the course, please email for advice on suppliers. The two suppliers are William Cowley in the UK and Pergamena in the US.

Part 2. First Small Works on Vellum

One you have a good understanding of the various watercolour techniques you will put the techniques from part 1 into practice on vellum by painting you first 2 small subjects on Kelmscott or Manuscript vellum.


Part 3. Troubleshooting

In part 2 you may well have encountered the various problems and differences when compared to working on paper. In this part of the course some of the common problems are explored and a solutions are given, such as how to remove and repair areas of a painting. This will enable you to move forward with your work onto more complex subjects.


Part 4 Painting Rounded Forms


Rounded forms, such as fruit and vegetables, require careful use of light and shade, this in turn requires smooth gradation from light to dark and the ability to carefully build up colour on the form shadows and across larger areas. In this part of the course you will paint rounded forms of your choice in order to master the skills needed for the smooth rendering of such surfaces and will also discover how to deal with receding edges and underlying colours to bring parts forward.  


Part 5. Leaves

Leaves and in particular, green leaves, can present us with some of our most challenging subjects in a plant illustration on vellum and in part 5 you will learn to paint leaves that are different in colour, surface and texture and you will work on perspective, highlights and colour mixing in addition to technique.

Part 6. Flowers

Choose one or two different flowers to paint. Flowers can also have many diffferent surfaces and qualities, such as soft, velvety, crinkled and can also have transluscency which requires careful handling, as well as small parts and markings. This is your opportunity to try out flowers of you choice to discover the different ways to achieve those finishes. In addition you will als paint a dissection of a flower which may or may not be enlarged to scale.

Part 7. Collection of Subjects.

You will put together a collection of small subjects in a composition of dead and dried material. This will give you time to learn about the arrangement of the subjects and to complete a larger work over a longer period of time, than live plant material allows. You may also include non botanical subjects such as small insects and feathers. The idea behind this part of the course is to prepare you for working on multiple elements on a piece of vellum. 

Part 8. Final Illustration

Once you have completed the 7 previous modules, you will draw upon your experience to complete a full plant illustration, and will be required to demonstrate a full plant and its key botanical features in your final work.


Written feedback is given after each part of the course and you also have the option of optional Skype sessions to discuss if you wish.

Upon completion I will write comprehensive assessment and advise on next the steps. Support will be via email, through a dedicated social network platform (which is optional). There will be video demonstrations of the techniques. All texts will be delivered as PDF documents and additional material will be delivered via this website in the secure 'Student Area'.


Submitting Work: Work can be emailed as a high resolution JPEG images.


REVIEW At  the end of the course you will be asked to fill in a review. If at any point of the course any parts need to be repeated you will be asked to try them out again.


Cost: the course costs £600, payable by Paypal or bank transfer.


How long will the course take to complete? I don't specify a completion date because each student has different commitments but estimate that it will take 12 -18 months depending on your free time and speed of working. There is no rush with this course, the idea is to be come comfortable and confident working on vellum.

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