I’m delighted to offer online opportunities for you to learn botanical watercolour painting with me. During our online workshops we will slow down, taking time to really look at the bright, fresh and vibrant colours of the changing seasons. Using first wet and then dry watercolour painting techniques we will experience the mindful process of botanical art while learning to capture the beauty of our natural world.
Demonstrations will cover:
colour mixing and matching,
capturing light and shade,
layering of colours,
painting fine detail
finishing with a WOW!
To make the experience as stress free as possible,
I will provide an image and a line drawing of a
simple plant subject for anyone who wishes to use it.
Week 1 – September 10 – 17, 2022 – ‘Wild and garden Mediterranean flowers’
Week 2 – September 17 – 24, 2022 – ‘ Fruit from a Mediterranean garden’
Would you like to take a break, to slow down, to escape the stresses of the past months, to feast your senses, enhance your painting skills and master new ones, to rest and nourish your body, your mind and your soul?
Join me on the beautiful Greek island of Skiathos in September 2022 for a botanical art escape.
During your time every effort will be made to ensure that you sleep well, eat well, rest, paint and explore.
Tutor – Mary Dillon
Many years ago, I was lucky to find ‘Painting Skiathos’, an art studio offered as a place of retreat by artist Yvonne Ayoub. It has been a place of refuge and inspiration to me and over the years I have grown to know and love this beautiful island and its people. I am excited and happy to share Skiathos with you on this Botanical Art Escape. I am sure you too will fall in love with it’s charm. I’m happy to guide you as you learn and as you paint the wonderful flora of the island. We will be joined by fellow artists Yvonne and Despina during our time. They along with myself, will be happy to do everything possible to make your stay very special.
Time for You!
More than anything , this will be time for you! Time to stop, to really look at plants, to smell, to breathe, to reflect and to immerse yourself in the process of painting.
Time to Paint!
Numbers will be limited to ensure that each person gets personal attention during our studio time. Instruction will benefit those with limited experience and also those with more experience who are aiming to enhance their skills and extend their competence.
Time to Learn!
We will cover simple techniques to accurately draw plants, by observing their structures and shapes. Learning about light and shadow will bring life to our drawing. Tips to create a dynamic composition will be followed by exploring colour mixing and matching and the simple layered wet and dry watercolor techniques needed to make a botanical painting. Learning, practicing and applying techniques will be our focus.
There will be an emphasis on examining plants, their structures, colours and textures. We will aim to capture the essence of our plant subjects with a combined focus on aesthetic beauty and scientific truth.
Skiathos with its verdant hillsides and turquoise waters, is a perfect fit for artists and nature lovers. It lies in the northern Aegean and enjoys average temperatures of between 20 and 25 degrees throughout September.
While Skiathos is familiar to us all as the eye watering setting for the film, Mamma Mia, it is an island steeped in rich literary, historical and cultural traditions.
Three of the island’s many beautiful beaches are within easy walking distance from our villa. Kolios lies half way along the island’s main bus route. A short fifteen minute taxi or bus journey away, the main town of Skiathos has an international airport with regular flight connections to many UK and European destinations, along with daily flight connections with Athens. The port of Skiathos has regular ferry services from Thessaloniki, Volos and Agios Constantinos.
Perched just above the bay of Kolios, home for our time in Skiathos will be this beautifully spacious villa. With it’s backdrop of olive trees, fig trees, citrus trees and pines and it’s panoramic views over the bay, Villa Kolios is the ideal location for a relaxing botanical art holiday. The infinity swimming pool is the perfect spot for an early morning or late afternoon swim. The terrace, which extends the entire length of the house is perfect for outside dining, offering spectacular views over the bay.
Our studio is situated on the ground floor and opens out to the covered pergola. Throughout our week there will be twenty five hours of botanical art tuition in the studio or in ‘the field’. During your free time the studio will be available for some personal painting whenever you wish. A simple art materials list will be provided, but we will keep this to a minimum to accommodate those who are travelling a distance.
19.00 Welcome drinks reception
20.30. Supper will be available throughout the evening to facilitate those arriving on the evening Aegean airlines flight from Athens.
8.00 Breakfast on the terrace
9.00 Studio introduction followed by a field trip to discover the local flora.
14.00 Free time to explore, go to the beach, work in the studio.
Monday/ Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday
15.00 Free time for rest, beach, town, walking, continuing in studio.
8.00 Breakfast on the terrace
10.00 Depart for those staying for one week
For those staying for two weeks there will be a choice of optional workshops on Saturday and Sunday.
PLEIN AIR PAINTING, with YVONNE AYOUB of Painting Skiathos, who will offer an acrylic painting day in the old town of Skiathos. Details to follow. www.paintingskiathos.wordpress.com
Numerous unspoiled beaches nearby within a ten to fifteen minute walk from the villa, with turquoise waters and golden sands for a relaxing swim, following our painting sessions.
Optional afternoon tour of the island’s monasteries and more remote areas, to experience the wild beauty of the island.
Take a boat trip to explore Lalaria and Kastro beaches. Lalaria beach with it’s white pebbles and crystal clear turquoise water and distinctive stone arch, has been named one of the most beautiful in the world. The secluded Kastro beach lies at the bottom of the hillside leading to the ancient city of Kastro. The family run taverna on Kastro beach is a must for a cool drink and delicious Greek snacks.
Choose to watch the original Mamma Mia movie in the outdoor cinema where it had its world premiere.
Enjoy a coffee or digestif at the Bourtzi Bar on the beautiful Venetian Bourtzi, with it’s stunning views over the town and the old port.
Sip a cocktail on the cushions of the steps leading from one of our two dinner locations in town.
All rooms have direct access to either a private balcony or patio with views.
All rooms are either double or twin. Non painting partners or friends are welcome if sharing a room.. Please inquire about the additional costs.
Breakfast will consist of locally made fresh pastries, fruit, honey, yoghurt, eggs, avocado and bacon.
Buffet lunch with delicious locally sourced fresh ingredients will be available in the villa from Monday to Friday.
Aperitifs will be offered in the villa.
Wine is included with dinner each evening.
We will enjoy a traditional Greek evening at O’Batis Taverna overlooking the port and the Bourtzi in Skiathos. O’Batis is run by Eleni who is also an artist and her husband Christos.
Another evening we will eat under the mulberry tree in the square at Taverna Alexandros, which is run by Magda and her family. We will be serenaded by Greek rembetiko music. Rembetiko is beyond a genre of music, it encapsulates the soul of Greece.
We have some excellent dining options in Kolios close to the villa and we will also eat at home some evenings.
We are very happy to accommodate any of your particular dietary requirements.
Guests are requested to book flights at your own cost. It may be possible to book a charter flight directly into Skiathos from some UK airports. Other flight options might be to fly directly to Athens in time to connect with the evening Aegean airlines flight leaving Athens on Saturday evening. For those wishing to fly into Volos or Thessaloniki, there are direct ferries from both cities into Skiathos most days.
On your arrival into Skiathos, we will arrange for you to be met and brought directly to the villa. Your transfer back to the airport or port will also be facilitated for you.
Cost for each week.
€1,950 – one person using double or twin room.
accommodation 7 nights,
7 x breakfast,
6 x lunch,
7 x dinner
25 hrs. botanical art tuition
Use of studio
Transfers to and from the airport or port.
Transfers to and from Skiathos town on the two evenings when we will have dinner in town.
Following registration Laura will send you a simple list of required materials. Before the workshop, Laura will send you detailed workshop notes available in English and in Spanish along with other supporting documents to help you prepare for your visit to Barcelona.
September is feeling like a new start, a tentative start… but one with more of a tangible sense of confidence and bravery than we have experienced for a while. My dear friend and fellow artist, Despina Mitselou from the island of Skiathos, Greece, yesterday shared the Skiathos tradition of celebrating the New Year at the start of September by throwing a pomegranate on the floor of their homes to bring health and happiness.
‘Bountiful – Punica granatum ‘Nana’ captures the pomegranates as I saw them growing on a tree in El Poblenou, Barcelona, where I was last teaching botanical art during autumn 2019. I just couldn’t take my eyes from the jewel like seeds glistening in these luscious fruits. Having completed numerous sketches in situ and taken lots of colour notes to record details, I began to work on the painting back in my studio at home in Ireland.
It was a work in progress over the long months throughout 2020 when all of life had changed for us all.
It brought me to the warmth and colour of the streets of Barcelona and the rolling hills and turquoise waters of Skiathos, Greece where I first fell in love with these abundant trees . It brought me to the warmth of the people I’ve met in these places.
It was a place of joy and solace as I worked in my studio listening to stories on the radio of sickness and death – of resilience, togetherness and hope. It was a place of bounty and focus, a beckoning force taking me to a place apart when there was nowhere else.
Online Workshops – Autumn, 2021
Workshop 1, October 8 and 9, 2021
Warm, Rich and Deep 1.
Workshop 2, November 5 and 6, 2021
Warm, Rich and Deep 2.
Workshop 1 and Workshop 2 – Cost €280
Both workshops will be happening from 14.00 hrs to 19.00 hrs GMT each day to facilitate artists from the west coast through to east coast US and throughout Europe.
Following requests from artists living in Asia and Australasia, I will give an alternative option time wise for my next set of online workshops.
Workshop 1. Warm, Rich and Deep – 1 October 8 and 9, 2 pm to 7 pm, GMT
Workshop 2. Warm, Rich and Deep – 2 November 5 and 6, 2 pm to 7 pm, GMT
I’m delighted to offer online opportunities for you to learn botanical watercolour painting with me.
During our online workshop we will slow down, taking time to really look at the warm, rich and deep colours of the changing seasons. Using first wet and then dry watercolour painting techniques we will experience the mindful process of botanical art while learning to capture the beauty of the flowers and fruit of autumn.
Demonstrations will include:
colour mixing and matching,
capturing light and shade,
layering of colours,
painting fine detail
finishing with a WOW!
To make the experience as stress free as possible, I will provide an image and a line drawing of a simple plant subject for anyone who wishes to use it. You are free to work from your own subject choice. Students will have time to do some observational drawing in the class.
The workshops will happen over two days – 5 hours per day.
Workshop 1. – Warm, Rich and Deep 1.
October 8 and 9, 2021
2 pm – 7pm, GMT, ( 10 am – 3 pm, EST, and 7 am – 12 noon PDT)
To Register: Please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Workshop 2. – Warm, Rich and Deep 2.
November 5 and 6, 2021
2 pm – 7 pm GMT, ( 10 am – 3 pm, EST, and 7 am – 12 noon PDT)
To Register: Please email me: email@example.com
Those wishing to take both workshops might like to know that we will be working from different subjects in each workshop.
Workshop 1 and Workshop 2 – Reduced Cost €280
The following will be included:
Course outline with objectives
Colour list and image for palette layout
Image and line drawing of plant
Template for watercolour layering
Feedback will be available throughout by email.
Thanks to these students for your kind responses to previous online workshops
Mary’s online workshop ‘Painting with Movement and Depth’ helped me move to another level with my watercolor painting. Mary shared her process with us in an organized and fun way. There was plenty of time for painting practice and she gave immediate feedback on our work.
Liz, California, USA
In a recent online workshop for the New York Botanical Garden, Mary taught us the four essential steps she uses in her amazing work. As it becomes clear that the latter steps require patience, perseverance and perhaps forbearance, Mary reminds us that we are creating an emotional connection to the plant and the painting for both artist and viewer. With her warm and engaging teaching style, Mary invites us to slow down and recharge as we make choices and create. I look forward to my next opportunity to work with Mary either in person or online.
Joan, Massachusetts, USA
I wish to thank you sincerely for this WONDERFUL online class. It is the first time that all the concepts of layering the paint fall together in the right place for me. The explanations, demonstrations, guidance are just perfect. And I love your comprehensive and constructive feedback on our work. To me, you are one of today’s greatest botanical artists.
Mary is a world class botanical artist and an outstanding, engaging and inspiring teacher who has helped me take my botanical artwork to new heights. Her ‘Painting with Movement and Depth’ ZOOM class was truly breakthrough and highly enjoyable. Mary shared her unique insights and approaches to achieve beautiful botanical painting along with very clear, step-by-step demonstrations. She made sure we had time for personal practice at each phase and provided individual feedback that was so helpful and encouraging. The course was so well organized and included great supplemental materials. I am so happy that I took Mary’s class and look forward to taking more of her classes in the future.
This was one of my Dad’s favourite sayings, usually quoted as he stood washing dishes looking out the kitchen window at the birds, the hedgerows and the fields here on the outskirts of Kilkenny in the south east of Ireland. He had a fascination for nature, people and all of life so who knows what thoughts he mused over as he reached for his synopsis of Darwinian theory.
Had he lived, Dad would have been ninety this past week. I’ve wondered over the past few months what he would have made of the huge challenges we have been faced with. I think, like so many, he would have been wise, resilient, resourceful, self reliant but empathetic and very conscious of others. He would have adapted. We’ve all had to adapt, to change our plans, our ways of working and being – with the hope of better things to come.
Wintering Out- Acanthus mollis
As a botanical artist, I am fascinated by the notion of temporal change in the plant world. Every moment in the life cycle of a plant is just that, a moment in time, even when it seems that all life has left the plant, change continues to occur. The dynamism of growth, from the first sprouting of a seed to the last moment of change in colour and form of the dying plant, utterly captivates me.
While walking in Birr Castle Demesne last winter, I was captivated by the shiny gloriously coloured seedpods of the acanthus as it faded back into the herbaceous border. Moving from warm yellows to greens and into inky deep blues, I was drawn in both by the colours but also by the complex twisty spiked forms. From the first moment this acanthus caught my eye, I thought of the Seamus Heaney anthology ‘Wintering Out’. How apt that his words ‘if we can winter this one out we can summer anywhere’ have encouraged us during these challenging days.
Initially, I intended to make a botanical illustration of Nerines bowdenii. However, life and other commitments prevented me from following my original intention. I kept the flowers in my studio and after about two months I realised that they had continued to change into the most mesmerising colours and forms. I was completely blown away by their beauty as they became more and more frail and delicate in the process of dying.
Bountiful- Punica granatum ‘Nana’
Bountiful- Punica granatum ‘Nana’ is twice life size. It captures some pomegranates with one dangling precariously from a tree. I found them growing in El Poble Nou, Barcelona, where I was teaching botanical art during autumn 2019. I just couldn’t take my eyes from the jewel like seeds glistening in the fruits. Having completed numerous sketches in situ and taken lots of colour notes and photographs to record details, I began to work on the painting back in my studio at home in Ireland.
It’s been a work in progress over the past few months when life has changed for us all. It brought me to the warmth and colour of the streets in Barcelona and to other pomegranate trees, particularly those I’ve seen in Skiathos in Greece where I first fell in love with pomegranates. It’s brought me to the warmth of the people I’ve met in those places. It’s been a place of solace and focus, a beckoning force taking me to a place apart when there was nowhere else. It’s been a place of joy and solace as I worked in my studio listening to stories on the radio of sickness and death – of resilience, togetherness and hope.
Wintering Out – Acanthus mollis, is currently showing in ‘Through the Artist’s Eye – Birr Castle Demesne’. www.birrcastle.com
Nerines bowdenii and Punica granatum ‘Nana’ will both be shown in ‘Exploring Botany – Botanical Art from Europe and Japan, Past and Present’, The Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology, Krakow, Poland. The exhibition will open when current restrictions have been lifted in Poland. www.manggha.pl
Would you like to take a break, to slow down, feast your senses, enhance your painting skills and master new ones, to rest and nourish your body, your mind and your soul? Join me on a beautiful Greek island in September 2021 for a botanical art holiday.
Perched in the heart of a Greek mountain village above the bay of Karystos on the island of Evia, Villa Kasteli, a traditional mountain villa with its panoramic sea and mountain views, is the ideal location for a relaxing botanical art holiday. Just two hours by car and boat from Athens airport, ‘getting away from it all’ couldn’t be easier.
A family run boutique retreat centre for artists, yoga enthusiasts and garden lovers, Villa Kasteli has everything you might need for a relaxing and inspiring botanical art holiday. Run by the Lorenz family, at Villa Kasteli every effort will be made to ensure that you eat well, sleep well, rest, paint and explore.
Our light filled spacious studio is situated in the midst of beautiful mediterranean garden plants. We will have 25 hours of Botanical art tuition in the studio or in ‘the field’. During your free time the studio will be available for some personal painting.
Olive groves and fig trees provide a backdrop to a rich array of native Mediterranean plants in the nearby countryside. The award winning Montofoli Estate and vineyard will be a perfect location for some field studies.
• Optional guided meditation with gentle stretching to end each day.
• A guided botanical walk along the hillside under the medieval Castello Rosso to the village of Mili.
• Dinner at Stella’s restaurant under the shade of the Platanos orientalis, Greek sycamore trees, in the village of Mili.
• Morning field trip to the nearby Montofoli Estate with time for field studies followed by picnic lunch.
Nearby places to visit :
• Castello Rosso (Red Castle), a medieval Venetian Castle overlooking Villa Kasteli.
• Mount Ochi with its hillside pathways.
• Unspoiled beaches with turquoise waters and golden sands for a relaxing swim.
• Karystos, the perfect spot for afternoon refreshments and people watching.
Villa Kasteli has four double bedrooms with private bathrooms, an open plan living, dining and kitchen area with a fireplace. An additional four double rooms are available nearby. Accommodation can be booked for either single or double occupancy.
Each bedroom has a large, comfortable double bed. We offer the option of double or single bedding, so if you choose to share your room you don’t have to share bedding.
Breakfast will consist of locally made fresh pastries, fruit, honey, yoghurt and porridge with a variety of super food toppings. Our chef will prepare lunch and dinner using delicious locally sourced fresh ingredients. We are very happy to accommodate any of your particular dietary requirements. Wine is included with dinner each evening.
We have a beautiful terraced garden for you to explore, a swimming pool and covered pergola. Many outdoor seating areas throughout the garden.
Guests are requested to book flights at your own cost, ideally arriving around lunchtime to ensure easy transfer to meet boat schedule in Rafina, and afternoon departures to ensure the same for your return.
Transfers can be arranged to include meet and greet at Athens airport, taxi to port of Rafina, Boat ticket Rafina to Marmari and pickup from Marmari to Villa Kasteli – two hours door to door € 40 per person each way.
€1,600 – one person using double room
€1,300 – per person sharing for two people sharing double room.
• 6 nights accommodation
• 6 x breakfast, lunch, dinner
• 25 hrs. botanical art tuition
• Use of studio
• Visit to Montofoli Estate.
Please contact me for further details and to check for available places:
What is it about flowers and plants that stirs us, that makes us stop in our tracks to take a second look? Is it colour, form, or the complexity or simplicity of their structure? For many of us, seeing a flower will evoke a memory, bringing us to another time or place.
Each of us will have our own personal response to this question. That’s the wonder of what makes us just as, if not more diverse and intriguing as these beautiful objects of interest that capture our imagination. If you are like me and you also love to paint then you too will be compelled to learn the art of painting plants!
Life throws us lemons every once in a while and happily for me some time ago, just when I most needed a focus, I embarked on a course in botanical art and illustration. For me the SBA distance learning diploma course was a huge challenge, stretching me in ways beyond my expectations. In time, painting botanical art proved to have powers of healing both in body and spirit!
Learning the skills required to paint botanical art was invaluable. Albeit from a distance, I reaped the benefit of constructive criticism and unwavering encouragement from experienced tutors, like Margaret Stevens, Founding Director of the SBA course, among others. Simon Williams became the new course Director in the latter months of my studies, ably forging the way forward for the course.
Having spent many years as an Arts Educator both with students in post primary school and in providing continuing professional development for teachers, I firmly believe in the value of face to face tuition. While the SBA diploma course fulfilled so many of my needs, I felt I needed to learn directly from others too.
I’m grateful to inspiring artists and teachers, Susan Sex, Fiona Strickland and Robert McNeil for their generosity of spirit marking them out as true teachers. Just as we learn to love from those who love us, I feel we learn to teach from those who teach us. Margaret, Simon, Susan, Fiona and Robert all belong to a wide group of artists and teachers, whose wish is not just to keep their artistic talents to themselves, but who want to share their experience with others, simply because they love painting and plants!
Botanical Painting Days
In recent times, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of guiding people as they explore this beautiful art form.
Whether you’re a beginner or experienced and keen to learn some new exciting approaches to painting plants in a systematic and enjoyably relaxing way, these days are for you.
Come along and join me!
Where: Kilkenny City
When: Saturdays, March 28th, April 18th and June 6th. 10am – 3pm
If you’d like to join me for a day painting flowers and plants,