The magic of Mexico expressed through watercolour with Hilary Simon

Painting - Water Based

Ref: SWE11938

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About this course

Explore the magic that West Dean College's founder, Edward James, created at 'Las Pozas' – his exotic folly deep in the jungle in Mexico. You will be inspired by James' Mexican Surrealist artist friends and contemporary artists to create your own impressions in watercolours.

Course Description

Immerse yourself in the magical vibrance of Mexico; all you need is a colourful selection of watercolour pans or tubes and an open mind.

The course will concentrate on the Mexican culture that enthralled West Dean College founder Edward James about Mexico. You will discover 'Las Pozas', the Mexican folly created by James, which evolved from the participation and collaborations of his contemporary surrealist artist friends. James had the vision and energy to curate and build magnificent structures, sculptures and offerings within the pathways of overgrown jungle, bringing the paintings of his artist friends into the real world. He evoked the surreal to reality.

You will look at the paintings of the aspiring masters of Mexico including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Pedro Friedeberg and Maria Izquierdo.

The approach to your watercolours will be a spontaneous response with an open spirit, setting aside possible previous restrictions. Detail to the textures and decorative design in your application will lead to your own interuptations and developing style. You will paint a selection of small intricate paintings inspired by the landscape and cultural influences encountered.

The topics and icons which you will explore drawing will include samples of the textiles and objects found in Mexico. The objects will help you to understand the culture, which can then be expressed in your own palette of watercolours.

The emphasis of this workshop is to gain an overall knowledge of Mexico and to respond through your painting .The aim is to be aware of the culture as your subject. The guidance of the application will be given by the tutor with attention to your individual aspirations and creativity.


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


  • The tutor will provide materials for inspiration including textiles, objects, candles, fruit and vegetables.

What students need to bring

  • Watercolours pans or tubes
  • China plate/palette
  • Any items you may have from the available to buy list

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Tutor recommended colours in Schminke watercolour paint:
  • 920 Rose, 472 Purple, 477 Blue, 513 Viridian Green, 657 Ochre, 219 Yellow, 341 Red, 222 Yellow/Orange, 509 Cobalt Turquoise. .
  • Brushes a variety of sizes from 0-8
  • Watercolour pad A4 or A5 Langton 300gsm Grain fin or smooth
  • Palette
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toed shoes or sandals.


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

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

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