Atelier 88

Botanical Sketchbooks-Plants are our lifeline

 About the course

Suitable for all levels including non-botanical painters, as well as botanical artists looking to add more ‘life’ to their work. Most IMPORTANT is that it is FUN, a learning experience that is enjoyable. 

Four intensive days of art in the olives groves of Andalusia.  This course explores diverse ways of thinking about, seeing and understanding how to paint and draw plants. How to build up a sketchbook of work that you can use further when you get home.

Practical sessions will include the use of pen and pencil, painting, charcoal, collage, putting the images of plants/flowers/trees directly into your sketchbooks. Daily illustrated talks will look at a selection of historical and contemporary fine art, botanical drawings.

Who will be teaching the course?

Prof Dr Pete Nevin BA, MARCA, FHEA

Pete (Pedro) studied Art and Design BA  at Leeds Polytechnic gaining 1st Class Hons, he completed his Fine Art Masters at the Royal College of Art, London and his doctoral study Professional Practice Doctorate Fine Art (thesis and exhibition) at University of East London 2014.  A career that has included International exhibitions and collections, including The Rotermann Salt Storage, Estonian National Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia in 2003.

A distinguished educator implementing new approaches to teaching in art and design. Working in the Uk and overseas, including USA, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia.

As Professor of Professional Practice Pedro worked on a start-up university project in Jakarta, Indonesia. Conceptualising the university, the learning environments, student experience, new curriculum, putting these concepts into practice. Developing a new Faculty of Art, Design and Media as Founding Dean designing curriculum and philosophy, innovating a portfolio of interdisciplinary programs that bring new and future anticipating courses.

He worked on many interdisciplinary projects investigating the spaces between areas such as the interactive environment, performance, photography, video, painting and printmaking.

He worked as art director designing interactive environments for The New Millennium Experience Company at the Millennium Dome at Greenwich in London in 1999/2000.  My client was Land Design Studio who were invited to design The Playzone, which was a pavilion, dedicated to ‘future play’.

He has also collaborated with a number of high-profile clients most notably Ars Electronica, Linz Austria and Digital City, Teesside UK.

Examples of Sketchbooks

Pedro has kept sketchbooks all his working career, here are some from 1995

What are we going to achieve?

A botanical sketchbook

This new four-day course (5 hours per day) will teach you how to keep a botanical sketchbook, an invaluable tool for capturing your plant drawings, field notes and colour studies in one place. You will practise drawing from life indoors and outdoors, and how to capture multiple levels of information to help inform your artwork.

What will we do?

Each day will provide many opportunities for discussion as well as regular and ongoing tutorial advice. Bring a camera as an additional research tool but we will concentrate on the eye, mind and hand.

  • Day One

Intro to course and rapid drawing/painting sessions to loosen up. How to gather ideas from observation.

Setting up getting organised is key to getting the most out of our time. The course begins with a discussion about     the possibilities of the course for you. We will discuss what you want to achieve and set some goals. We will look at what other artists have done and how they work. Pete will also talk about his work and what a sketchbook means to an artist.

We will make an initial visit into the fields and groves, Pedro will give tutorial with some guidelines and examples about how to approach the course

  • Day Two

Colour studies, Acrylic or gouache

Intro to the day and an early start after breakfast, the aim is to spend the day out in the countryside with a packed lunch  and a comfort break at a typical Spanish village bar. Pedro will provide tutorial guidance and advice throughout the day. Back for an end of the day tutorial before a relaxing evening meal.

  • Day Three

Pen, pencil and charcoal studies, non art materials/found materials.

We will start the day with a discussion about the work we did the day before, how we might improve our skills and what we need to do to develop our own way of putting our ideas down on paper. Different ways of gathering ideas for later use. Then another day in the Field, tutorial at the end of the day. Evening meal and relaxing discussion.

  • Day Four

Breakfast and early start,  then lunch. After lunch will look at some ways to take the work we have made forward in the future. Even have a look at some print techniques. A final tutorial about what we have achieved over the four days. Small celebration at the end of the course in the blue garden. in fact all our evenings should be in the blue garden surrounded by flowers and plants.

Be prepared to work hard and become immersed in the course this way you will get a lot from it.

Things to read or look up before you come. Pedro will provide further interesting information to help you prepare.

Guardian Article 10/5/16


Plants are our lifeline – but we’re letting them die

We are not offering botanical illustration but a Botanical Art, defined by purpose of what the work

The main goal of botanical illustration is not art, but scientific accuracy. It must portray a plant with the precision and level of detail for it to be recognized and distinguished from another species.

The need for exactness differentiates botanical illustration from more general flower painting. Many great artists, from the seventeenth-century Dutch masters to the French Impressionists, such as Monet and Renoir, to modernists like Georgia O’Keeffe, portrayed flowers; but since their goal was aesthetic, accuracy was not always necessary or intended. In the hands of a talented botanical artist, however, the illustration goes beyond its scientific requirements

Joseph Banks and other old masters

Alongside works from Dr Sherwood’s collection there are illustrations from Kew’s Collection on display. Plates from Joseph Banks’ Florilegium are exhibited as naturalist Banks was a part of Captain Cook’s first HMS Endeavour voyage of the South Pacific and the plants collected are chronicled by the Banks Florilegium. The voyage stopped in Rio de Janeiro in the winter of 1768 and here Banks completed scientific descriptions of the local flora and drawings by Sydney Parkinson were made. These are being shown alongside original drawings of orchids by Victorian botanical artist Sarah Ann Drake which were selected and published in 1838 by botanist and orchidologist John Lindley in ‘Sertum orchidaceum: a wreath of the most beautiful orchidaceous flowers’. Works by other old masters from the Kew Collection such as Walter Hood Fitch and Sydenham Edwards are also on display.

Margaret Mee

British botanical artist Margaret Mee features prominently in the exhibition due to her time spent in Brazil painting the flora of the Amazon. Mee moved to Brazil in 1952 to teach English and in 1958 became a botanical artist for the Instituto de Botanica in São Paulo. The paintings by Mee exhibited are from both Dr Sherwood’s collection and the Kew Collection and displayed alongside items from her journeys including her paintbrushes, paint pots and sketchbooks.

<em>Nymphaea ampla</em> var. <em>pulchella</em> by Margaret Mee

Nymphaea ampla var. pulchella by Margaret Mee
 Margaret Mee in Brazil and her influence on other artists

Margaret Mee’s time in Brazil and her work has influenced many contemporary botanical artists which feature in Dr Sherwood’s collection. Paintings from artists such as Patricia Villela and the Demonte family, who have travelled extensively in Brazil and South America, are exhibited alongside artists who have been taught by botanical artist Christabel King under the Margaret Mee Fellowship Programme at Kew. The programme enabled Brazilian botanical artists to study in the UK as well as supporting forest conservation in Brazil. Many of the artists involved in the programme are now in Dr Sherwood’s collection and include Malena Barretto, Alice de Rezende and Fatima Zagonel. Like Margaret Mee, Brazilian botanical artist Alvaro Nunes has spent time travelling and working in remote areas of Brazil. Particularly interested in the Brazilian savannah, Alvaro has painted the native trees with their fruits in the savannah, Amazonia and the Pantanal. Many of his works in the Shirley Sherwood Collection will be on display in this exhibition.