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Short Courses 2017 Human Anatomy Botanical Drawing The Drawing Book Exploring the Exotic Still Life Introduction to Life Drawing The New Sylva: Drawing Trees with Sarah Simblet Life Drawing - Michaelmas Term 2017 Deconstructing the Cubist Still Life Chinese Calligraphy and Landscape Painting The Archaeology of the Self Calendar of Short Courses 2017

The New Sylva: Drawing Trees with Sarah Simblet

Last edited on Monday, August 7, 2017 - 2:17 PM by Juliet Franks

A new botanical course was offered in 2016 'The New Sylva: Drawing Trees with Sarah Simblet' and this course will be available again in 2017.

Course Dates: Friday 11th August - Tuesday 15th August 2017

Due to last minute cancellations, there are now spaces available on this course.  Please refer to the online store for more information

This five day non-residential course based on Sarah's most recent Bloomsbury publication The New Sylva, focuses on the pleasures, practicalities, science and meaning of going out into the landscape to draw trees. Set in the studios of the Ruskin School of Art in central Oxford, and in the exquisitely beautiful gardens and parkland of nearby Rousham House in West Oxfordshire, this course is suitable for both the beginner and the more experienced traditional or contemporary artist. You will begin by making your own large sketchbook and then spend four days filling pages with observational and expressive drawings of trees made in pen and ink and other media of your choice. Working outdoors, you will learn how to compose atmospheric views through a woodland, set out a majestic portrait of an individual tree such as an ancient Oak or Sweet Chestnut, and also produce two closely observed botanical plates, one featuring a seedling tree and the other a fruiting stem, such as Apple, Maple, Hornbeam or Ash. 

To see a short interview with Sarah, as she discusses the art of drawing trees, do see this video here

Douglas Firs, Sarah Simblet

'A very positive and inspiring experience. The best course ever - so motivated!'  Drawing Trees participant, 2016


Day 1  : am: Sarah presents her drawings from The New Sylva. 

             pm: Make a sketchbook and draw a seedling tree. 

Day 2 : am:  A practical look at Tree Anatomy using abundant fresh material. 

            pm:  Structural drawings of winter branches, learning to distinguish species. 

Day 3 : First visit to Rousham House to draw statuesque individual parkland trees all day. 

            Watch Sarah drawing and make your own drawing with one to one tuition.

Day 4 : am: Learn to compose a botanical plate. 

            pm : produce a finished work from fruiting stems. 

Day 5:  Second visit to Rousham House to draw in the woods on the bank of the river Cherwell all day. Watch Sarah drawing and compose your own expressive view with one to one tuition. Return to Oxford for a final group critique and a glass of prosecco. 

Ash bud burst, Sarah Simblet

You will be working in the studios at 74 High Street for 3 days and off site at Rousham House for two days. The Ruskin will provide transportation to and from Rousham House and a picnic hamper, with hot and cool drinks, for the days you spend in the park and woodland.    When in the studios, the school will offer refreshments all day and the many restaurants and cafes near to the school will be available to you for lunch. 

Each day will begin at 10 am and conclude by 5pm, with a maximum group of 16. A technical assistant supports Sarah on each of her courses. Basic materials and equipment will be provided and you are also invited to bring: 

Fabric (cloth) of your own choice for your book cover (Only if you wish. Plain neutral cloth is provided)

2 large sheets of beautiful paper of your choice for 'end papers', (Only if you wish. Plain paper is provided)

Favourite drawing materials (If you wish. Basics are provided)

Waterproof and warm clothing

Rucksack or Daysack for working on location

Folding stool or cushion or rug (if needed for sitting outdoors)

Good walking shoes or boots

Sunglasses if bright (to lessen glare when drawing)

A packed lunch for days on location and a flask for hot drinks (If you wish, a picnic hamper with refreshments will also be provided) 


Booking a Place

Booking is only via the University of Oxford's online store

Ruskin courses are available to adults over the age of 16 years. 

There are three payment rates available :

i) Standard Adult : £760.00

ii) Oxford University students, staff and alumni (10% discount) : £684.00

iii) Students (with a current NUS card) and OAPs (5% discount) : £722.00

If you select a discounted booking rate, you will need to present your University alumni/staff card, NUS card, or some form of identification indicating your OAP status at the start of the course.


Cedar of Lebanon, Sarah Simblet


Cancellation Policy

For information on the Ruskin's cancellation policy in relation to the summer courses, please refer to the short course introductory page


Dr Sarah Simblet

Dr Sarah Simblet is a fine artist, writer, broadcaster and anatomist, whose work explores the relationship between science, history and art. The author of Anatomy for the Artist (2001), The Drawing Book (2005), Botany for the Artist (2010) and co-author of The New Sylva (2014), she is dedicated to sharing and encouraging visual intelligence in others through her drawings, teaching and broadcasting worldwide.

She is Tutor in Anatomy at the Ruskin School of Art (Undergraduate BFA) and teaches Short Courses in Anatomy, Botany and Drawing on the Summer School Programme. 

During a teaching visit to South Africa, Sarah was interviewed at Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden and this is available online here :