Beginners Watercolour

Watercolour / Beginners / Landscape - Materials included

Book Selected Date

Course details

An ideal first step to watercolour painting. Discover the essential techniques of this luminous and rewarding medium. Build confidence through demonstrations, theory and practice, using different papers, tools and approaches.

Hilary Jean Gibson, Getting started with watercolour

This course covers the basics of this rewarding and beautiful medium. Learn the essential techniques to get you started and understand your materials. Through demonstrations, theory and practice you will develop the solid foundation you need to enjoy this medium and keep building confidence. A springboard for enjoying this medium to the full and an ideal first step to watercolour painting.

With a mix of studio based learning as well as working outside weather permitting, you will move from theory into practice over the three days. With expert tuition on hand this course will ensure you have the insights you need to get the basics right. From there you can take this medium into many exciting directions.

Hilary Jean Gibson, Getting started with watercolour

Beginners Watercolour

Watercolour / Beginners / Landscape – Materials included

Book Selected Date

Taught by

In 1995 I became a tutor at the St Ives School of Painting. Offering inspiration through my passion for drawing, water-based media and art history, I strive to liberate a creative vision by teaching skills and techniques through direct observation and en plein air.

Day to day plan

Day 1

After an introduction to the course, Hilary will introduce you to different weights of paper and explain the importance of understanding these in watercolour. You’ll then learn to prepare and stretch paper for use in your watercolour painting later on. You’ll practice graduating washes and learn about layering watercolour for depth, using examples. Depending on the weather, you’ll then go out to make monochromatic studies of the coast around St Ives, taking colour notes to refer to back in the studio.

Day 2

Today you’ll focus on colour theory and how to mix the right tones. Using colour wheels you’ll develop your understanding of intensity, complementary colours and warm and cool tones. You’ll then explore the properties and possibilities of watercolour and apply these techniques in your own painting in the afternoon.

Day 3

Working with a limited palette, you’ll paint en plein air in one of St Ives’ sheltered coves. Throughout the day you’ll experiment with different sizes and orientations and then work on developing the strengths of your pieces, possibly into a series.

What to Bring

Our studios are fully equipped and we provide you with all the materials you need for your course. However, if you have a favourite set of brushes or any specialist materials that you would prefer to use, please bring them with you.

What will I learn?

  • Experiment with different papers, learn how to select the right brushes for the job and how best to use them.
  • Understand how tone is key and an understanding of colour
  • Learn how to approach working outside
  • Move from theory into practice

Timings and Breaks

The first day starts at 10am and finishes at 4.30pm, please aim to arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the start time.

All course days after that start at 9.30am and finish at 3.30 on Sunday after a short lunch break to try an enable people to get home that day.
There are plenty of nearby places to eat and we will serve tea and coffee at break times during the day.

What our students say

As a beginner it gave me the necessary knowledge and techniques to enable me to develop my skills using this medium.

Sue B

Hilary was a great teacher and took care and time to make sure everyone was understanding. The outside air painting taught me a lot and was very good even in cold and rainy November! The course gave me a great start in understanding watercolours and the confidence to now explore on my own.


A thoroughly enjoyable weekend. A small and friendly class group, knowledgeable and encouraging tutor, lovely learning environment, and nice people working at the school.

Our tutor Hilary was wonderful. The course outline was exactly what was delivered. I felt I’d been carefully taken through some basic knowledge and skills, so that I was able to approach more challenging tasks. I felt pushed beyond my comfort zone to just the right degree! Very inspired now to practice and build on what I learnt.


Studio Courses

How can I get help in choosing a course?

Our friendly expert staff are always happy to discuss your needs and our courses in more detail to help you with your decision. Please call us on 01736 797180

How do I get my work home?

Tutors have special techniques for transporting oil paintings and the school has plastic folders available in our shop for £3.50 or do bring a portfolio.

For international students we are happy to arrange transportation of your work back home.

What do I need to bring?

Absolutely nothing! All materials and aprons are provided although some people do like to bring their own set of brushes.

What do I do for lunch?

Courses allow an hour’s break for lunch and there are numerous places nearby or you are welcome to bring a packed lunch into the studio.

What times do courses run?

Most of our courses start at 10am and end at 4.30pm on the first day. Subsequent days we start at 9.30am ending at 4pm.

Weekend Courses run 10am – 4pm on the first day but the final day starts at 9.30 and ends at 3.30 with a short lunch break to enable people to get home that evening.

Do you have to be experienced to come to the School?

The School is a very friendly and welcoming place for all ages and experience. Our drop-in life classes and August half-day workshops are ideal for those wanting to have a go for the first time. Most of our longer courses are also fine for novices.

If any of the courses do need a bit of experience we flag this up in the brochure and on the website.

Booking a Course

Can I pay by cheque?

Please get in touch by phone and we can hold your place for a few days whilst you post your cheque (made payable to: St Ives School of Painting) to us at St Ives School of Painting, Porthmeor Studios. St Ives TR26 1NG

How can I reserve a place?

We will hold a provisional reservation for 24 hours if you give us a call whilst you find accommodation. Otherwise please book online or by telephone 01736 797180.

You can reserve a place with a £100 deposit; balance is due 12 weeks before course start date.

About St Ives

Where do I park?

The nearest long stay public car parks are the Island and Barnoon both 5 minute walk away. In the peak summer months it may be easier to park at the big top car park by the leisure centre and walk down into town. If you don’t fancy the walk up the hill at the end of the day there is a shuttle bus which runs from outside the cinema.

How do I get there?

Public Transport: If you are coming from further afield the main train line runs into St Erth which is a 15 min taxi ride away or you can take the St Ives Bay Line which runs approx. every 30 minutes. The School is a 10 minute walk from St Ives station.

Driving: M5 will take you to Exeter where we recommend that you take the A30 across Bodmin Moor and into Cornwall. After passing Hayle, leave the A30 at St Erth roundabout for St Ives. Turn right at the second roundabout. This road will take you through Lelant and Carbis Bay into St Ives.

Where can I stay?

St Ives has a huge selection of hotels, guest houses and self catering accommodation to choose from. Please browse the art holidays St Ives section on our website and give us a call if you would like any help.

You might also like...