Expressive Watercolour Landscape

Watercolour / Landscape - Materials included

Book Selected Date

Course details

Inspired by the cliffs and rock formations of Porthmeor, enjoy the dynamism and energy of watercolour.

Hilary Jean Gibson

Join us in St Ives for this dynamic approach to watercolour. Develop a free and energetic approach to depicting land, sky and boundless seascapes in this five-day course. Experiment with different scales and techniques such as wax resist to loosen up your technique and surprise yourself with just how free, dynamic and contemporary watercolour can be. Perfect for capturing the beauty and drama of the Cornish landscape.

Benefitting from artist Hilary Jean-Gibson’s extensive experience, you will also gain a solid grounding in the basics of watercolour. Learn about the range of different papers and brushes to choose from, and how to stretch papers on boards. There will also be some useful introductions to colour mixing and applying different washes. For beginners this will give you the first steps you need to enjoy the medium and dispel some of the fear of watercolour. For those who have done some watercolour before, it’s a chance to hear Hilary’s particular approach and a refresher on some of the basics.

From there, dive into the exciting approaches used by diverse artists from Turner to more contemporary artists working today. Combine technique with intuition working in multiples and on different scales. A self study day will give you an opportunity to absorb your learning half way through and enjoy experimenting with your new techniques either out in the landscape or in the studio. Your tutor will give you structured tasks to help make the most of this day to absorb and experiment.

This course reveals a way of using watercolour that might surprise you; harnessing the fluid, intuitive and experimental side of the medium.


This course includes an untutored self study day. The tutor will give you clear tasks and goals for this day; it will be an opportunity to work independently and experiment with what you have learnt.

What Will I learn?

  • Learn tips to make your watercolour more free and energetic
  • How to use resists and other tools to create interesting marks
  • Understanding warm and cool colour so you create depth in your painting
  • How superimposed layers can create depth of tone, ideal for landscapes
  • How to use variegated washed to create atmospheric starting points for your paintings

Expressive Watercolour Landscape

Watercolour / Landscape – Materials included

Book Selected Date

Day to day plan

This is a rough indication of what to expect over the course. However sometimes the structure of the days may alter depending on the nature of the group and weather.

Day 1

On this first day, we will look at the fundamentals of setting up a palette, colour mixing and choosing the right watercolour paper for you. A chance to explore some basic mark-making and experiment with the luminosity and depth that watercolour can offer.

Day 2

Once you have got to grips with the basics, you will look to other artists like Turner to see how they used watercolour in a more expressive and intuitive way. Working on your own multiples on different scales, you will build confidence in capturing the landscape in watercolour.

Day 3

This third day will be about continuing these sketches and experiments and transforming them into larger more finished works. Hilary will demonstrate various ways of selecting particular pieces and upscaling.

Day 4

This will be a day of self study. You should now have all the tools you need to feel confident in working up your various pieces to one finished work.

Day 5

On the final day, you will have the opportunity to consolidate all that you’ve learnt on the previous days. Benefitting from individual and group tutorials, you will be able to finish the works that you’ve been developing and to feel confident in continuing your practice after the course ends

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.

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.

Who would this course suit?

If you are looking for some top tips to improve your watercolour painting this is the course for you. Ideal if you want to find out how to use watercolour in an expressive and free way as well as learn the basics so you have a solid grounding.

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 4pm and there will be an hour for lunch. 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

Fascinating and fun – thank you. Best art course I’ve ever been on! 

Mark Wills

Absolutely love the way the course is designed and taught. Very encouraging, compassionate and multifaceted experience, and most definitely coming back! Thank you for your support, light energy and smiles.

Yulia Krautsova

A great course and great value for money. I really liked the fact that it was a packed 2 days and I really learnt a lot and had so much fun. Will be back!!


Suitable for beginners or the more experienced. Inspiring. Very well taught. Good quality, plentiful, materials to work with .



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.

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