Botanical Illustration workshop (2)

The principles of drawing and watercolour painting of plants will be the main focus of this workshop.  Simple practical exercises will take the participants through each stage in order to build up to a final, fairly accurate botanical painting. These steps will include pencil drawing of a fruit or flower using shading to create form; colour mixing and matching and various ways of applying watercolour paints; composition; the dissection of a flower and some basic botany; all in preparation for a final botanical drawing. In addition there will be a short illustrated talk on the history of botanical art with the emphasis on Southern African plants.  No previous experience in botanical painting is required and students will be given individual attention.


Vicki Thomas is a well-known botanical artist and teacher, who regularly teaches a module on scientific illustration to the Honours Illustration students at Stellenbosch University. She has taught classes around South Africa and in the UK.  Her own botanical artworks are represented in many prestigious collections locally and abroad, including HRH Prince Charles’s Highgrove Florilegium, a collection of paintings of plants from his garden. Many of Vicki’s paintings have been exhibited in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew, London, and in exhibitions in Japan, the USA, Holland and South Africa. She has been involved with the scientific illustration of plants for botanical journals for many years and has illustrated a book on Plectranthus. She has been working on cliff dwelling plants for a new book. Vicki is a founder member and past Chairperson of the Botanical Artists’ Assoc. of S.A. and is a judge on the Kirstenbosch Biennale exhibition. 


PAINTS Winsor & Newton Artist Watercolours in a tube or Meimeri, or Sennelier  (not Cotmans or cheaper less good paints)

  • Cadmium Yellow                        
  • Cadmium Lemon                         
  • Indigo                
  • Winsor Blue green shade (or Cerulean)
  • Cadmium Red                           
  • Permanent Rose                          


  • A large sheet of Arches Hot Pressed 300g watercolour paper
  • A sketch book or several sheets of sketching paper
  • A pad of tracing paper (A3 or A4 size)
  • A flip file for notes and artwork


  • One HB clutch pencil and a 2B sketching pencil


  • One No. 2 and/or No.4 size Rotmarder-Kolinsky 3338.04-0590 or
  • Raphael Series 8404 or W&N Series 3A kolinsky sable with a fine point.


  • A board to lean on
  • A palette preferably with six or more wells (new ones need to be scrubbed with Vim to make them less slippery) or a white plate
  • A soft eraser
  • A pair of dividers for measurement
  • Magic tape
  • A jar for water
  • A soft, fine cotton cloth – an old hanky or pillowslip (not polyester)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • A plastic container (ice-cream tub) and floral oasis so you can arrange your plant.
  • A cardboard screen made from two pieces of card approx. A3 size taped together like a book cover
  • And a plastic tool box to carry everything.   (Available from Plastics for Africa, PicknPay )

(Most of this equipment will be available from the art shop in the Neelsie centre at the University)

Botanical illustration

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 21:38

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Children's Book Illustration

marjorie van eeden

Marjorie van Heerden

The Children's Book Illustration Course is open to anyone with basic skill as a graphic artist and who wants to develop their proficiency as an illustrator of children's books specifically. This is quite a competitive field, but publishers are always looking for new artists with applicable talent and imagination.

The programme is designed to cater for published as well as unpublished illustrators and also writer/illustrators of picture books for children. Although it is specifically aimed at illustrators, the course can also be of benefit to authors of children's picture books and other illustrated children's books.

This course provides the opportunity to work with award-winning children's book author and illustrator Marjorie van Heerden, who has illustrated more than ten dozen published trade and educational children's books, some of which she had written as well, in South Africa and abroad over the past thirty years.

In the 2013 course Marjorie will concentrate on specific areas that publishers have pointed out as being problematic for many illustrators of children's picture books. She will guide the group through a number of critical areas, including; today's best techniques for children's book illustration, what art materials can be used effectively, how to draw children and animals, how to portray character development through illustrations, how to prepare a dummy. Other topics that will be explored, include: portfolio expectations; self-promotion; finding a market. During this intensive, hands-on learning experience each member of the group will sharpen her/his personal skills and explore exciting new techniques, all under Marjorie's guidance.

One of the course days will be a visit to Marjorie's studio where she will show the group the process of creating a picture book. She will also graphically illustrate the areas discussed during the classes with examples from a large variety of children's picture books from her own personal collection.

At the end of the course each participant will receive a one-on-one critique with Marjorie.


Marjorie van Heerden - Children's Book Illustrator & Writer/Illustrator (

From an early age Marjorie loved drawing animals and fairies and people and dinosaurs and children and dragons and monsters and today they appear in all shapes and sizes in the more than 120 children's books that feature her work. Since the publication of her first children's picture book in 1983 Marjorie has been published as illustrator or writer/illustrator in 33 languages in Africa, Britain, Europe, the East, Canada and the USA – she is currently working on a pair of Chinese children's picture books.

In 2008 Marjorie, with children's book author, Wendy Hartmann, won the M.E.R. Award for best illustrated children's book, for Nina and Little Duck published by Human & Rousseau (SA) in 2007 (also available in Afrikaans).

In 2009 Human & Rousseau Publishers commissioned her to illustrate André P. Brink's Afrikaans translation of Lewis Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865). The publication coincided with the celebrated novelist, scholar and translator's 75th birthday.

Marjorie tirelessly works for the development of South African children's book writers and illustrators and in 2003 she started the South African chapter of the international Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI – based in Los Angeles and active in more than 70 countries around the globe. She is currently the co-regional advisor of the South African chapter. (She also started the SCBWI chapter in Greece in 2000). Marjorie is currently involved in organising a week-long SCBWI (SA) Spring Event – for more information go to


• A tracing paper pad – A3 size 90gsm.

• A sketch pad – A3 size 190gsm.

• A few graphite/drawing pencils HB – (preferably the green Faber Castell pencil but any HB drawing pencil will be fine).

• Eraser.

• Putty eraser.

• Pencil sharpener.

• Fineliner pen.

• If you have a journal, bring that along. - If not, bring an A4 or A5 artist's (ring-bound) sketch book that you can use as a journal.

• A notepad and pen to make notes.

• The art materials you usually work in. (Including a small jar for water and a roll of toilet paper).

• A board as a working surface (hardboard or thick cardboard – at least A3 size). 

Click here to view workshop pricing and contact/registration information.

Click here to like the CCIBA Facebook group for updates, events and happenings

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 08:23

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