Watercolour painting – dynamic dappled light with Christine Forbes

Ref: S3D31557

About this course

This course uses dynamic brushwork to manipulate space, line and form. The woodland gardens at West Dean are the perfect place to inspire your personal creativity.

Course Description

The Spring Gardens and surrounding tree borders are the perfect place to find strong contrasts. You will venture down their pathways to reveal a bold approach to drawing and painting. Working both in the studio and around the Spring Gardens, you will be hunting out some visual woodland shapes with striking contrasts, taking in not only the forms before you but the light around these forms. You will look to one or two particular artists for inspiration as you explore some dramatic tree and plant shapes. Your tutor will offer up some painting techniques to help you explore the subject fully. These various approaches will enable you to develop a personal and intuitive response to your subject matter. Finally, your drawings and painted sketches will be brought together in the form of one or two watercolour compositions.

There will be plenty of demonstrations and one-to-one support from your tutor. You will be encouraged to progress, change and explore.

By the end of the course, you will have generated new ideas for further development. You will have shaken up your thinking/intuitive mental balance and become better acquainted with a painting arena outside your normal comfort zone.

No preparation is required for this course, but please bring any photos/sketches that you find inspirational and any techniques/materials that you want to discuss or explore.


All working methods will be demonstrated by the tutor and repeated as required.

The tutor may change the course structure as appropriate.

- Course welcome and outline.

- Drawing from observation, exploring form, light and shade – outside.

- Looking at selected artists by your tutor and considering some dynamic approaches to your subject matter.

- Some drawing exercises to ‘loosen up’.

- Painted sketching to develop ideas.

- Being adventurous – personal interpretations of the woodland landscape: using colour to create mood.

- Considerations of the pictoral with final paintings.

- Sharing ideas.

- Group review and how to keep up momentum after this course.


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 college will supply some paint and paper to get you started.

What students need to bring

  • HB pencil
  • 6B Graphite stick
  • Plastic eraser
  • Knife/Pencil sharpener
  • A4/5 Sketchbook
  • At least one sheet of cartridge paper, 140gsm, to be cut to size, or A4 sketchbook
  • Masking tape
  • Daisy palette
  • One sheet of good quality watercolour paper of choice (minimum 300gsm) or A4 pad of same
  • Suggested range of brushes to include: a flat, real hair, soft wash brush, approximate size 30; nylon/synthetic round, sizes 16, 12 and 8; rigger, synthetic, size 2
  • Palette knife or old credit card
  • A range of good quality watercolours, including the following basics (or similar tints): cadmium red, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, alizarin crimson, burnt umber, French ultramarine, hookers green, Mars or ivory black
  • Fixative spray
  • Art Graf – black or brown (optional)
  • It may be necessary to buy additional materials from the college shop during your course.
  • Please bring any of the above, if you have them, and, in addition:
  • Bring other/similar materials you wish to use/try out
  • A sports cap drinking bottle to keep you hydrated
  • Your tutor will advise on all materials at the beginning of the course and she will bring some to try out.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of watercolour paints (tubes and pans), drawing materials, sketchbooks, a good range of papers, brushes, palettes, fixative spray etc.
  • Your tutor will advise you on all materials at the beginning of the course and will bring some for you to try out.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Christine Forbes, tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Christine Forbes

Christine Forbes is a Sussex artist and graduate of Northbrook College, Worthing. Her background is in design, acting, fashion and catering. She has been teaching for over 16 years (both adults and children) and includes: The National association of Gifted Children and HMP Ford. She continues to work for private, club and corporate clients. Christine exhibits regularly and is a member of the Sussex Watercolour Society. She runs her own gift card business.


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 advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). 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.