Watercolour painting 'en plein air' with Brian Smith

Painting - Water Based

Ref: SLW11790

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About this course

Working outdoors 'en plein air' creates huge opportunities. You will be guided and shown techniques to challenge you through a combination of small, quick and large studies that will take your work to another level.

Course Description

Weather permitting, you will be working in the expansive grounds of the College. The day will be split into periods of two or three locations before moving on. You will create a body of work that has varied subject matter, from the watering can and the plant pot, to the grandeur of the main entrance, the elegant clock tower, the ha-ha and the larger landscapes that offer many possibilities.

Working outdoors ‘en plein air’ offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in and capture the surrounding environment on a piece of paper. In order to do this you will need to be comfortable so please bring appropriate clothing and layers, including sun hats if necessary. Portable chairs and easels will be provided. Demonstrations and individual help will enable you to create works that reflects you and your experience of being outdoors.

You will be shown how to use composition to create focus and drama, light where there isn’t any, warm and cool areas to give balance, shadows that have supporting interest, details where needed balanced by areas of suggestion. You learn how the narrative of the painting can draw the viewer in. Learn to use collective shapes and structures that move your work to a higher level. You will consider the importance of tone or colour in your work.

There will be time spent within the walled gardens observing the greenhouses and changing seasons. The detail, the longer view or whatever inspires you. Your tutor will be there to help whilst you strive to produce individual work.

If the weather turns we may be forced to revert to the studio, or if possible the amazing backdrops that the house offers internally. The emphasis of the course is to stretch your boundaries and grow with guidance. Hopefully studio work will be minimal but come prepared.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course the College will supply some of the materials including field easels, boards, lightweight portable chairs and water pots.

What students need to bring

  • A jacket, sun hat and layers of appropriate clothing
  • An old butter knife.
  • Any items you may have from the available to buy list.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • 3 or 4 sheets 300grams (140lbs) minimum Hot Press Not or Rough watercolour paper.
  • Variety of watercolour paints (tubes or pans - your tutor prefers tubes),
  • Variety of brushes such as: a decent sized mop brush, 1 x one and a quater inch flat brush, 2 x size 5 or 6 smaller brushes for detail, a sword or a rigger brush.
  • Palette, pencil, rubber and brown framers tape.
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals and plenty of layers for working outdoors.


Brian Smith

People and Architecture are the main focus of Brian's watercolours striving to capture mood, light and atmosphere in daily life. His paintings have been exhibited at The Mall, Bankside and the RWA Bristol gaining awards. He has written articles for International Artist, The Artist and Leisure Painter magazines. He now demonstrates and tutors Watercolour nationally. In 2020 he was elected as a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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