Autumn leaves and berries in water colour at Barton Grange

Last week I went to an art course at Barton Grange in Lancashire. Barton Grange is a huge Garden centre that has amazing Christmas Displays and has recently expanded to include a cinema, bowling alley, miniature golf course and a curling stadium. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area!


The course I attended with my Mother in law Joanna was the Autumn leaves and Berries in water colour class, with the tutor Jean Palmer. 

Although I consider myself to be fairly adept when it comes to making art and being creative, during my education I was never really taught how to use artist materials correctly despite having gone to University to study art and Art History. I have always just taken a “try it and see” approach to art and perhaps don’t necessarily use the materials for their intended use. Although I’ve had success at this approach I’ve found it very useful recently to brush up on some basic art skills and I’ve really enjoyed being back in a classroom setting.

During this session we were given a brief beginners introduction to using water colours and were tasked with painting Autumnal leaves and berries from a collection that the tutor had brought along with her.

For the first task we had to draw and paint an Autumn leaf using the wet on wet method of water colour painting (well it was actually the damp on wet method as that makes the paint easier for beginners to manipulate). For this task you had to draw out your leaf, wet the paper and then using a wet brush apply the water colour paint hence the term wet on wet.

Here is my attempt! I also had a go at a conker which was really quite difficult but I was very pleased with my results!


For the second task we had to take a more illustrative approach, using the wet on dry technique (where the paper is dry and the brush is wet) and we also had to do a much more sketchy drawing in water proof ink. I personally am a lot more comfortable with this method of water colour painting as I find precise drawing and painting quite overwhelming and I prefer a more “slap dash” approach!

Here is my attempt at Autumn leaves in an illustrative style:

illustrative Autumn leaf Water colour
My attempt at an illustrative style water colour and ink painting

The class was two hours long and we all got the chance to look at each others work, everyone seemed to have taken a lot from the experience and it was fascinating to see how different everyone’s approach to the same subject matter was.

Feeling inspired by what I’d learned during the class I decided to forage for something botanical to draw and give it a go at home, so I collected this bough from Haworth Art Gallery and grounds (which is where Robin and I got married):


I really loved the unusual berries and the contrast between green and red, I thought it looked quite festive and would make a great image for a Christmas Card!

Here is my attempt at drawing the bough and berries:


I tried to use all of the skills I’d learnt using the lesson- I made my drawing more detailed and life like than I would ordinarily have done, yet I livened it up with a more free and illustrative painting style. What do you think?!

I’ll definitely be using water colour in different ways more in the future.

Thanks for reading!

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