Master the subject of boats and the inspirational setting of St Ives fishing harbour. Using watercolour, learn tips and techniques to embrace this evocative subject matter with confidence.
For well over a century, artists as diverse as Whistler, JMW Turner, Stanley Spencer and Ben Nicholson have been drawn to St Ives’ harbour and its fishing community.
Just as JMW Turner worked from different vantage points, we will spend time on the harbour and the pier, which offer aerial views and unusual angles of the boats below. Like the fishermen, our work will be dependent on the tides, we may capture boats bobbing in the choppy harbour, or chunky rope half buried in the sand.
David is an extremely accomplished artist specialising in watercolour. He uses fluid washes to create bold paintings. Although his work is loose and impressionistic, it is based on sound drawing skills which stem from his background of illustration.
He’ll help you cultivate your observational drawing, particularly in perspective and proportion. David will also provide tips on composition and show how to simplify what you see in front of you. Overworking is a common problem and David will show how to avoid this by leaving out unnecessary detail and focusing on simpler, bigger shapes.
There will also be valuable lessons on watercolour techniques such as wet-into-wet, building up washes from light to dark, tonal values and colour mixing.
He will help you create luminous studies that evoke the likes of Constable, retaining the vivid quality of working outside. This course is an all-access pass into the hallowed places of St Ives’ unique history.
Day to day plan
After an introduction to the course, David will begin with some tips and practical exercises on using watercolour. He will focus on the fluid nature of the medium and how to apply the paint in clean washes.
Later, we’ll visit the pilchard cellars and Mark Dion’s ongoing installation A Maritime Artist downstairs in the Porthmeor Studios, where we’ll draw and paint directly from fishing ephemera that tells the story of the pilchard industry.
In the morning we’ll explore the harbour and the unmistakable shapes of maritime life: anchors, buoys and the boats themselves, where we’ll make drawings and water-based sketches. Back in the studio we will use these studies to create larger watercolour paintings.
We’ll visit Smeaton’s Pier, working from ephemera such as ropes, crab and lobster pots. We’ll draw from the boats moored in the harbour, on sand or sea, depending on the tide.
Back in the studios we will create bold, watercolour paintings on a larger scale, based on the sketches we made at the pier.
This will be an opportunity to develop our rich visual diaries of St Ives’ fishing community.
Watercolour is my medium of choice. I love its fluid nature and the way it can be pushed around and mixed on the paper to create transparent washes. To maintain that transparency, I endeavour to complete my paintings in no more than three washes, building up the layers from light to dark, whether I’m painting animals, boats, landscapes, flowers or still life.
What to Bring
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 like to use, please bring them with you.
It may also be useful to bring a plastic folder or portfolio to transport your work home (although we have these available to buy from £3.50). If your course involves working outside we would recommend you bring warm, waterproof clothing and sturdy walking shoes or boots.
Timings and Breaks
The first day starts at 9.30 am and finishes at 4 pm. Please arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the start time
All course days after that start at 9.15am and finish at 3.45 pm and there will be an hour for lunch. Occasionally these times may be changed if required by the tutor. There are plenty of nearby places to eat and we will serve tea and fresh ground coffee at break times during the day.
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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