For many years, the Society has been aware of the need for a ‘correspondence course’, where students learn by working and practising on their own on set assignments, then have the work assessed by experienced Tutors. From all over the world, including the UK, there has been frequent requests from aspirant botanical artists unable to attend a day, weekly or residential course, for whatever reasons, on the subject of how to learn botanical painting.
When writing The Art of Botanical Painting, it became obvious that it would be an excellent textbook for distance learning, thus the Society’s idea for a Distance Learning Diploma Course was born. The Course is not for beginners in watercolour painting but rather for those with some knowledge of the subject and a wish to learn more about botanical art and its associated skills. The Society’s aim is to develop those skills and help to create a good, well-rounded botanical painter.
The Course is open to students anywhere in the world and there are currently students from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Brazil, Canada and the USA as well as Europe and the UK. The Course lasts for 27 months and the fee includes a student subscription to the Society for the duration of the Course.
Students often ask whether they are good enough to be accepted on the Course. Before application for registration, students will be asked to provide a colour print of their work so that the Course Director can assess their proficiency.
Students often have the goal of membership of the Society, which is a high aim, but those who gain a Distinction on the Course will be eligible for the fast-track membership method.
DipSBA or DipSBA(Dist) may be used after the student’s name for those students who were awarded the Society’s Diploma.
Each of the first eleven assignments is a practise piece and these will be expected to reach the designated tutor by a due date. The subject for each one has been carefully chosen to improve the student’s ability in the main areas of botanical art and illustration, including design. Tutors will award a mark to each assignment as an indication of the student’s current ability, which, together with the accompanying critique or Tutors Assessment Mark Sheet (TAMS) will enable the student to see which areas need to be improved upon. The TAMS will show 10 key areas of assessment and the Tutors will include advice, diagrams and colour notes as necessary. Marks given for assignments will NOT contribute to the Course total. The Course grade will be based solely on three Diploma Portfolio pieces, the sketchbook and an essay.
Students may telephone, at designated times, or email their Tutors throughout the Course. In this way students will be able to take advantage of Tutors’ comments, act upon advice to amend or re-attempt part of the previous assignment, for their own satisfaction and to aid the learning process.
The Introductory meeting will be held in the first year and a Seminar will take place during the second year, both in the Spring during the Annual Open Exhibition of the Society in London, when students can meet Tutors and each other, take the opportunity for social contact and discussion, show the Tutors amended work, talk about any difficulties and take part in practical demonstrations. Students are required to keep a sketchbook throughout the course in which to do exercises, pencil and tonal studies, colour notes and charts and layout sketches as required. This sketchbook will be judged as part of the final Diploma Portfolio. Also included with the final Diploma Portfolio should be an essay, chosen from a list of subjects, which the student can work on for the duration of the Course. Appropriate allowance will be made for students whose first language is not English as the essay will be judged on content and understanding rather than grammar.
Tutors are all respected botanical artists and Members of the SBA with many years of experience in a variety of fields ranging from teaching, illustration, botany and commercial design.
A prospectus, list of assignments, details about starting dates of Courses, application form, fees and payment arrangements, are Downloadable as a PDF here Course 11 commences on the 1st January 2014.
The Graduation Ceremony for Course 8 was held on Friday, 12 April at 86 St James in St James’s Street, London when family and friends looked on proudly as Diplomas were awarded by Past President and Course Director Margaret Stevens PPSBA.
A total of 70 students from the UK as well as Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Italy, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and the USA completed Course 8 and 47 were present, with their guests, to receive their Diplomas.
There were 18 Distinctions, 26 Credits and 15 Higher Passes. The Award for Excellence went to Kwong Wai Hove who achieved an overall mark of 96.77%. Kimiko Kambe-Gang won the Jantien Burggraaff Memorial Award for progress.
Margaret Stevens PPSBA who will retire as DLDC Course Director at the end of October with her successor Simon Williams SBA
Kamiko Kambe Gang receives the Jantien Burggraaff Award for the student making the most progress through the course.
The long and the short of it is that Chris Taylor from Penarth, Wales, is happy with his Distinction.
Students are required to produce three pieces of work for their Diploma Portfolio: a botanical study, fruit or vegetables, and a mixed study. Images of some of the Diploma Portfolio artwork are shown below.
Plas Tan y Bwlch is offering two highly successful courses again in association with the SBA Distance Learning Diploma Course, now in its ninth year and highly acclaimed worldwide.
5 - 9 August 2013
Tutors will be Simon Williams SBA and Sandrine Maugy SBA, both of whom are highly experienced tutors and illustrators. Simon specialises in working with gouache which enables him to produce very dramatic paintings ideal for capturing exotic flowers such as orchids and ginger lilies. Simon will demonstrate dry brush work which is used for rendering details in gouache or watercolour. Sandrine's watercolour technique is second to none and she is the perfect tutor for any student wishing to master the tricky area of tonal variation and shading. Course Director Margaret Stevens will be the visiting lecturer and mentor during part of the course. Due to its popularity early booking is advised and non-DLDC students will be equally welcome.
15 - 20 September 2013
Tutors will be Simon Williams SBA who works principally with gouache which is ideal for capturing the exotic flowers which he encounters on his travels and Sandra Wall Armitage SBA. Sandra specialises in paintings of mixed flowers to a botanical standard, which are required elements in the Diploma Course and in the final portfolio so she will be ready to advise on this quite challenging assignment. , Course Director Margaret Stevens will be on hand as lecturer and mentor for part of the time. As always, non-DLDC students will receive the same individual attention and be particularly welcome.
Plas Tan y Bwlch is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of North Wales, easily reached by road or rail. Extensive gardens, woodland and lake combined with comfortable accommodation and very good food make this a delightful place to stay and non-painting partners can usually be accommodated.
Merrill Plowman attended the course in September 2012: "I'm still buzzing from all I learned and it was a privilege to be tutored by Fiona and Simon. I learned more in that week than in years of dabbling. I admire Fiona and her work so much: her teaching is excellent, generous and inspiring and she is a really lovely person. Although I didn't actually try gouache it was fascinating to watch Simon applying a technique with such wonderful effect. I learned so much too from my fellow students, the exchange of ideas was stimulating and thought-provoking and dispelled a lot of the isolation that comes with a distance learning course. The opportunity for student interaction is so valuable, especially for those who are living abroad. I feel I have made many new friends - we are all on the same journey! I thank Margaret for organising the week and also for all yher personal advice and help.
Telephone: +44 1766 772600
The photographs below were taken during the Course in September 2012.
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