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 Watercolour Course - Cheddar Gallery

"Water, Light and Reflections in Watercolour"

 When: Sunday 21st April - Wednesday 24th April 2012

Holiday will be based at The Webbington Hotel

"Some arrangements will differ from those shown here as the course has been reduced from five to three days. The emphasis is on helping everyone achieve three good paintings and learning some special techniques".

Cost: Details on Cheddar Gallery Web Site - (Link Opens in New Window)
To Book:

Telephone: 01934 744188


Web Site: www.cheddargallery.co.uk
or: Email: paintingholidays@cheddargallery.co.uk  
Location: Cheddar Gallery, The Cliffs, Nr Gough's Cave, Cliff Road, Cheddar Gorge, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3QE.

Webbington Hotel & Spa, Loxton, Somerset, BS26 2HU   (Link Opens in New Window)

Travel: Cheddar Gallery Location in Google Maps. (Link Opens in New Window)

About the Course

About Our Painting Area.

The Mendip Hills form the limestone backdrop to Cheddar Gorge and the Somerset Levels. Indented with coombes, cliffs, hollows, and escarpments, the hills go up to about 1000 feet, (1,068 feet at Beacon Batch on Black Down), and give really quite breathtaking views – see OS Landranger map 141. This residential, landscape watercolour painting course is based at a hotel near the base of the north east slopes. From the steep, westward escarpment the view is dramatic. The Somerset Levels stretch out below, with views to the Quantocks, Glastonbury Tor and Brent Knoll.

Cave painter. Outdoor painting sessions will take place on and below the Mendips, and even inside them. An underground cavern will be opened for the exclusive use of the party one evening when modern day cave painter Joe Dowden will do an evening demonstration painting – a watercolour painting of the cave rather than on it.

How the course will work.
After a short morning briefing, Joe will start the group painting with some class tuition and one to one guidance. This applies whether working in situ out of doors or in the studio. Briefings usually occur in the studio prior to going into the field. Teaching is clear and important points repeated. Brief talk and instruction is given to the party in situ before starting. Questions are encouraged and answered no matter how many times they are asked. Artists tend to work to visually rather than verbal inputs. This is where Joe’s one to one teaching style is important. Once painting has commenced, everybody gets individual attention.

After a typical morning of painting in situ, Joe will often finish off with a quick demonstration painting. His current pattern is not to start the morning with a major demonstration painting, but to get the students painting very early on. Once people have got something down on paper and need a bit of a break, perhaps later on in the morning, they are often happy to take a rest and watch Joe paint for about 20 minutes. His latest landscape sketch –July 5th 2008 was timed by the students at 11 minutes though he was not trying to be fast. 20 minutes is more than enough time for him to complete a finished sketch.

After lunch
a short briefing is followed by more painting, again either on site or in the studio. For studio projects Joe takes people through complete projects with full explanations, demonstrating the project one stage at a time, and then coming round and helping individual painters. Any one wanting help can usually get it immediately. During the afternoon light improves as the sun lowers. It is often a pleasant time to be out of doors for painting. Joe also teaches some of the psychology to help those who are nervous, or who feel self conscious while painting out of doors.

Micro workshops are a useful speciality. Here Joe will do a painting in maybe five minutes and show the absolute fundamentals of washes or light, or some other keystone facet of watercolour. Any one of these can potentially help your painting turn a corner.

Wash workshops. These could also be described as colour mixing workshops – demonstrating how to mix colour and apply it. You can sort out what quantities of paint are required, how much water is needed, and how to put colours on paper. Other subjects covered include mixing greens or greys. Gather round to watch. You can have a go yourself before you site down and apply the principles.

Techniques. Many people come to see how Joe does his special techniques. It is possible to get  realism through “techniques”, ways of putting colour on or dispersing it. These methods can get the exact look of something in creation – underwater stones, sparkle on sea, foreground foliage, reflections, bright sunlight, beach shingle and many others.

The Craft of Painting. Students can learn principles. For example many struggle with perspective, and yet the principles have served artists well since Filippo Brunelleschi defined single point linear perspective. Joe can explain and demystify perspective and much else. These principles are servants, not masters - they are there to help.  Joe can give you straightforward grounding. What every one wants to know is – “how do you do it?” That’s what Joe will teach at Cheddar.  

Encouragement for all and all levels welcome. Joe has been successful at helping many people feel more like artists and produce paintings. Beginners find they can get started. Some who may have been discouraged in the past get a boost to their confidence. Directional teaching has enabled more advanced painters to identify strengths and equips them to go further. Joe looks after everyone and his courses are friendly and sociable. 


Joe and light – the concept behind Joe's work 

“Go somewhere. Wait for the light. Paint” 

Many artists paint a country road like the one in this painting as an un-surfaced track, perhaps to make it more bucolic, romantic or whatever. Joe does not have a sentimental approach, but concerns himself with how light works. Here concrete posts, tarmac and steel rails all look OK in the low colour temperature evening light of between 5000 and 6000 Kelvin. The only nod to sentiment is “Nan” walking the kids home – but they were there – dogs, mountain bike and all. Any subject can be beautiful with the right light and treatment of it.

"For me, being a landscape painter has been about coming to terms with what is actually there now, and painting it, rather than mourning a passing world and painting that.

Old barns and rustic countryside have their place in my paintings but for me, beauty isn’t dependant on them. It has more to do with light, than nostalgia. Allow yourself to paint anything you want. Don’t limit your enjoyment because of limitations in perception – almost pernicious ideas motivated by an underlying belief that some things some things are wrong - (concrete, tarmac, steel), and that these should be edited out in favour of correct and noble stuff - (old barns, rustic fences, hay wains). Notice the car park in the painting of the Falmouth Quay Punt on this site.

          “One of my maxims is simple; Go somewhere – anywhere. Wait for the light. Paint”

Some nice countryside helps though and there is plenty at this Mendips based residential course."

Cheddar Gallery is a brand new Art Gallery based teaching venture which attracted some of Britain’s top teaching painters in its very first year of operation, and it is Joes first time here. West Country based, it is handy for travel from all points, within easy reach of Bristol and the M5, with some of the most beautiful painting prospects in the British Isles.

Is Joe different from other teaching painters?

“I am not that different really – there are many excellent painting teachers around. I suppose my particular strength is, oddly enough, the fact that this is not my primary livelihood. Teaching is a labour of love for me, but as an artist I am dependant on sales of paintings above all else – it’s my living. I’m a working artist with a passion for teaching. When I teach painting, I show you what actually works. I show you how to do good paintings, (I hope), and I show you how I paint”.   

Joe Francis Dowden. June 2008

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