What level of experience do I need?
Most of my classes and courses are suitable for painters of all levels of experience. Whatever your level, you should be open to the process of trial and error, experimentation and exploration. Most of my classes have people of mixed experience, and I speak with everyone individually.
The one exception is Faster Fridays in my annual series, Observation to Abstraction, where, I deliver the same workshop to different classes on different days. Fridays are reserved for experienced painters who are familiar with my approach, materials and studio methods with watercolour. Faster Friday painters must be able to set up a palette rapidly (and know exactly what I mean by that!) and feel sufficiently confident to tackle the work for the day without re-iterations of the basics.
If you are a complete beginner, a rusty returner, someone with a developing or established practice, or familiar with other media but wanting to add watercolour, you are welcome to join any other classes than Faster Fridays, as explanations and support are given to individuals as appropriate. In a mixed group, there is always something to learn from others. However, for complete beginners, it may be effective to have one or two private tutorials with me first, to feel more confident about joining a class.
My approach works best for people who can see drawing and painting as a series of experiments and that they can learn something from every outcome. My approach does not suit people with rigid ideas about ‘how’ to paint, or who only want to work from photographs, or to imitate another artist’s style.
Do I have to paint abstract?
No. The course titles provide a starting point and a focus. But there’s no pressure to work in a particular style, or to imitate my work or that of any other artist.
At the end of my classes, participants frequently comment how different everyone’s work is, despite some starting points in common. Students’ paintings vary from realistic (figurative), through loosened up/relaxed interpretations of the subject (semi-abstract in one way or another), and the wholly abstract.
Class titles with the word ‘abstract’ in them will encourage you, through structured exercises, to experiment with less tight notations of what you observe,. But it’s up to you how far you take this, and what mix of recognisable and not-at-all-recognisable elements you use. It usually takes some experimentation over some years to discover your own voice and what you really want to do.
I appreciate strong art of all genres and styles. My own background includes traditional, highly realistic drawing using sighting and measuring for accuracy. I draw on my own development, through semi-abstract and abstraction, to give feedback appropriate to your aims and previous experience.
What do I need to bring?
For workshops at my Headington studio in Oxford, and at Darley House, Matlock, nothing at all except your lunch, your apron and notebook. Everything is provided.
However for classes at Waterperry Gardens and Potato Town, high quality watercolour paint and palettes etc are provided - and it is essential that you use this in order to get the most out of the class. An itemised kit list of other equipment for you to bring will be emailed a few weeks before your class(es).
Do you only teach in watercolour?
At the moment, my main teaching medium is high grade, professional quality watercolour. Depending on the title of the workshop, we may also use drawing, and mixed media, ink, gouache, etc. Most of what I teach, other than some unique insights into handling watercolour, is applicable to working in other media afterwards.
I painted for years in oils, and am increasingly using acrylics in my own work. I can offer individual tutorials for painters in these media as well as assist in transitioning to watercolour.
I’ve booked a class but something’s come up - can I have a refund?
There are no refunds if you cannot attend what you’ve booked, unless you cancel the whole booking within 14 days, as set out both on workshop website pages and in paper leaflets. By making a booking, you accept and agree to the terms and conditions.
My classes are like theatre, festival, concert or sporting and historic house event tickets where the provider is not obliged to offer refunds. They are ‘date-specific leisure events/services,’ because each is a unique event and you can’t re-book exactly the same thing.
However, you may find someone to take your place and pay you, provided you inform me and put them in touch with me in advance. If I have a waiting list, someone may be able to fill the place.
In the Observation to Abstraction workshops only, because the same teaching material is delivered to eight different groups, participants can negotiate by email to swap seats to each other’s groups, like-for-like, e.g. someone in a Wednesday group swaps seats with someone in a Saturday group for workshop 2.
How big are the classes?
It depends on studio size at each venue.
My Headington studio - 5, max.
Waterperry Gardens - 12, max.
Potato Town - 8, max.
Darley House, Derbyshire - 12, max.
Can I get to your classes by public transport?
There is good parking at all my teaching venues, but some are better served by public transport than others.
Headington studio: the number 10 bus from Oxford Station and the city centre stops 10 minutes away at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, and number 4 buses from Abingdon, Cumnor and Oxford city centre also get you very close, stopping on Wood Farm.
Waterperry Gardens and Potato Town: only accessible by car/taxi.
However, if you can get yourself to Waterperry Gardens, someone would always be able to drop you off to catch the U1 BrookesBus from the Wheatley Campus back to the London Road in Headington and towards the city centre, because everyone will have to drive past it on the way home.
Darley House: five minutes from Matlock Station by taxi, and the Sixes bus service runs past the house.
I have limited mobility - are your classes accessible for me?
Please contact us to discuss requirements before booking.
Waterperry Gardens is the most accessible venue. There’s a disabled access toilet close to the studio, and the studio itself is level access. However, please note that part of each class is held out in the open on the estate or in the gardens, necessitating a trek of 10-15 minutes across gravel and rough and uneven ground. You might consider bringing a friend to assist you if necessary.
My private studio in Headington is, unfortunately, not suitable for users of wheelchairs, walking frames or wheeled walkers. Toilet facilities are too small for disabled access.
Potato Town studios and facilities are not accessible for those with mobility challenges.
Darley House is a private, historic house - the bedrooms are upstairs and there is no lift. There is a gravelled drive and a step up into the house. The ground floor studio is level access within the house.
Can I access WiFi?
There is excellent WiFi at Darley House (Derbyshire), but WiFi is not available at other teaching venues.
Can you give me some quick feedback on my work?
There is plentiful and thoughtful feedback during classes.
If you want more in-depth feedback, or feedback on work done outside my classes, or suggestions about resolving or moving forward with work, please book a private tutorial, when we’ll have time and space to do justice to your work and discuss ways forward for you.
I’m not able to comment on work sent by email, or other work brought to a class but not produced in it. There isn’t time.