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What level of experience do I need?
Do I have to paint abstract?
What materials do I need to bring?
Do you only teach in watercolour?
I’m having trouble booking on your website - what’s wrong?
Is it worth setting up an account?
I’ve booked a class but can’t make it - can I have a refund?
How many people in the claas?
Can I get to your classes by public transport?
I have limited mobility - are your classes accessible for me?
Can I access WiFi when I’m there?
Can I bring in my other work for you to look at?
1: What level of experience do I need?
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 only exception is Faster Fridays in Observation to Abstraction, where different groups have the same teaching content on different days. Fridays are reserved for experienced painters already familiar with my approach, materials and studio methods.
If you are a beginner, a rusty returner, someone with a developing or established practice, or familiar with other media but transitioning to watercolour, you are welcome to join any classes other than Faster Fridays. However, for complete beginners who want guidance at every single step, it may be effective to have one or two private tutorials with me, to feel more confident before joining a class.
2: 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, people often say 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 (many variants of semi-abstract), 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 towards abstraction to give feedback appropriate to your aims and previous experience.
3: What materials do I need to bring?
It depends which studio.
Darley House: Bring your own supply of rags/paper towel, apron, notebook and lightweight folding seat for outdoor work. All other materials and equipment are provided.
Headington studio: Bring your own supply of rags/paper towel, apron, notebook and picnic lunch. All other materials and equipment are provided.
Potato Town: Artist’s watercolour paint, palettes, and Bockingford paper are provided. Bring the rest of your studio kit - I’ll email a list in advance - and picnic lunch.
Waterperry Gardens: Artist’s watercolour paint, palettes, and Bockingford paper are provided. Bring the rest of your studio kit - I’ll email a list in advance - and picnic lunch.
4: Do you only teach in watercolour?
My main teaching medium is high grade, professional quality watercolour. Depending on the title of the workshop, we may also use drawing, mixed media, ink, gouache, collage etc. Most of what I teach is applicable to working in other media and subjects afterwards, other than some of watercolour’s unique handling.
I painted for years in oils, and use acrylics in my own work. I can offer individual tutorials for painters in these media as well as assist in transitioning to watercolour.
5: I’m having trouble booking on your website - what’s wrong?
It could be one of several things.
Check that your device’s internet browser preferences are set to accept cookies from websites you visit, so that websites work properly for you. If you have set preferences to reject or disable some or all cookies, you may experience the booking system not working properly.
A booking will fail if your name, address, full postcode, long card number, expiry date or 3-digit security code do not match your card issuer’s records exactly. If you get a scary red error message saying ‘Update your card details’ it simply means that you need to correct, amend or complete one (or more) of these details. The Americanised phrasing doe not mean your card is out of date or invalid.
Autofill issues 1. Autofill does not always fill in details fully. If you’ve already set up your device to autofill your address, check, for example, that it has entered both halves of the postcode. Some bookings fail because the postcode field contains, e.g. OX2, but not the second bit of the postcode.
Autofill issues 2. As you start to type your address, the website booking system suggests autofill addresses, usually in the USA. Press on to insist on entering your own address, line by line, to dispel the suggestions. It may help to put the postcode and UK in first.
Booking issues are usually due to partial or incomplete entries in the required information fields, which are hard to spot. Your card issuer will deny payment when this information is incomplete or different to their records - for your own security.
If necessary, give me a shout.
6: Is it worth setting up an account?
If you will be booking with me more than once, it’s worth setting up an account to to save your card and contact details for a faster checkout next time.
Your details are securely encrypted and protected by a password which only you know.
You can create an account, when prompted, as you make your next booking.
You can then sign in to your account anytime via the website menu, to check what you’ve booked or make a new booking. Or you can sign in during checkout next time.
7: I’ve booked a class but can’t make it - 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 leaflets. By making a booking, you accept and agree to these terms and conditions which are clearly stated.
My classes are like theatre, festival, concert or sporting and historic house event tickets. They are singular ‘date-specific leisure events,’ so classed because you can’t re-book exactly the same thing. The provider is not obliged to offer refunds for this type of leisure event.
You may find someone to take your place, provided you put me in touch with them in advance. If I have a waiting list, someone may be able to fill the place. In both cases, you must arrange for the person to pay you directly.
In the Observation to Abstraction workshops, eight different groups have the same teaching content on different days. Participants can negotiate to exchange places, like-for-like, e.g. someone in a Wednesday group swaps their workshop 2 place with someone else’s workshop 2 in a Saturday group. This often works but is not guaranteed.
8: How many people in the class?
Darley House: 12, max.
Headington studio: 5, max.
Potato Town: 8, max.
Waterperry Gardens: 12, max.
9: Can I get to your classes by public transport?
There is good parking at all studios, but some are better served by public transport than others. I’m not able to arrange lifts but classmates often arrange lifts among themselves.
Darley House: 5 minutes from Matlock Station by taxi. The Sixes buses run past the house.
Headington studio: The no.10 bus from Oxford Station and city centre stops 10 minutes away at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (coming from city centre) and Wood Farm Primary School (coming from Cowley). The no.4’s from Abingdon, Cumnor, Botley and central Oxford also stop very close on Wood Farm. It’s 5 minutes from the Mason’s Road North stop, if you cut through past some lock-up garages to Old Road.
Potato Town: Car/taxi necessary.
Waterperry Gardens: Car/taxi necessary. However, if you can get yourself there, you could get a lift to catch the U1 BrookesBus from the Wheatley Campus, because everyone has to drive past on their way home. The U1 runs through Headington (London Road) to the city centre.
10: I have limited mobility - are your classes accessible for me?
Please contact us to discuss requirements before booking.
Darley House: All bedrooms are upstairs and there is no lift in this private, historic house. There is a front step up into the house. The ground floor studio is level access within the house.
Headington studio: A private studio, unfortunately unsuitable for users of wheelchairs or walking frames etc. Toilet facilities are too small for disabled access.
Potato Town: Not accessible for those with mobility challenges at present.
Waterperry Gardens: The studio is level access with a disabled access toilet close by. Classes happen partly out the estate or in the gardens, with 10-15 minutes treks across gravel and rough/uneven ground. Consider bringing a friend to assist you if necessary.
11: Can I access WiFi?
There is excellent WiFi at Darley House (Derbyshire), but WiFi is not available at other teaching venues.
12: Can I bring in my other work for you to look at?
There is plentiful and thoughtful feedback during classes on work in progress (and homework in Observation to Abstraction).
If you want more in-depth feedback, or feedback on work done outside my classes, or review and suggestions about resolving or moving work forward, please book a private tutorial, when we’ll have time and space to do justice to your work and discuss ways ahead for you.
I’m not able to comment on work sent by email, or brought to a class but done elsewhere.