Watercolour painting – loose and vibrant with Tom Shepherd

Ref: S3D32610

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About this course

Learn to use the primary principles of watercolour painting, along with the natural unique characteristics of the medium, to create exciting, spontaneous and vibrant watercolours.

Course Description

Study the primary principles of watercolour painting: composition, tone, colour and edges, along with the essential elements of the medium which are colour mixing and paint consistency.

Whatever your current level, watercolour is all about finding a balance between technical knowledge and creative freedom. You will learn how to observe, analyse and interpret any subject in a way that allows you to design and create a successful watercolour painting, whatever the subject.

Through a series of exercises, demonstrations and plenty of guided painting, you will slowly but surely build up your knowledge and skills over the course. The idea being you can take these principles and use them as a solid foundation and springboard to take your painting in whatever direction you wish to go. The focus will be on helping you loosen up and break away from rigidly copying the subject, by using flowing washes and bold brush marks to create exciting, free flowing watercolours, full of energy, character and light, yet still well founded in classic principles when needed.

This is a studio based course; however, if weather allows and it is appropriate, we may venture into the grounds for some sketching to take a closer look at choosing, analysing and interpreting subjects in a way conducive to looser, more expressive paintings.

A variety of subjects will be covered through exercises and demonstrations. Your tutor will provide some reference images; however, he would also encourage you to bring plenty of your own reference material to look at how to apply the principles learnt using your favourite subjects in your paintings. That said, if anyone wishes to follow the demonstrations and receive guidance on subject matter for the course, that also works very well.

Ultimately, this is a course designed to help you break through any frustrations you may have with the medium, giving you the tools to enable you to find your artistic voice and, most of all, to have fun.


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


  • 2 x A3 sheets of Saunders Waterford watercolour paper 300gsm
  • The tutor will have spare brushes and extra tubes of more unusual colours available for those who may wish to try some.

What students need to bring

  • Please feel free to bring your kit (if you have one) which you feel comfortable with.
  • Good quality watercolour paper 300gsm in size A3 (12”x16”) is a great size or a half sheet of paper A2 size for those who are comfortable working bigger could be nice too. Your tutor likes the gummed blocks for ease of use. However, individual sheets are also a great choice.
  • Sketchbook - always useful for note taking, sketches and general use
  • Brushes - a selection of brushes - whatever brands and style you are comfortable with, to include some sort of large mop brush, medium size mop and/or round, smaller round, plus any other brushes you like to use
  • Watercolour paints - good quality, a small selection of a warm and cool primaries (red, yellow and blue) will be plenty. Any extra colours are a bonus.
  • An example of your tutor’s selection (with alternatives in brackets): French Ultramarine (Ultramarine, Cobalt), Prussian Blue (Phthalo Blue), Quinacridone Red (Alizarin Crimson, Rose Madder or similar), Pyrrole Red (Cadmiums, Naphthol, Vermillion or similar), Lemon Yellow (Cadmium Lights, Winsor Yellow, Aureolin), New Gamboge Yellow (Cadmium or Hansa Yellows). Useful extras are: Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Titanium White (or white gouache), Turquoise. Any extra secondary (orange, purple, green) or tertiary colours, or any other colours are very welcome.
  • Palette - any good size palette will do
  • Nice big water pot
  • Variety of pencils (HB to 4B is fine) and rubbers
  • Kitchen roll and /or sponge for drying brushes whilst painting
  • Reference photos - a broad selection of reference subjects which appeal. It’s best to have far too many than not enough. Printouts of photos, tablets/phones are great too. The tutor will provide some printouts for those who may wish to follow the demonstrations.
  • Appropriate clothing and a water bottle if we do drift outside at any point

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials are available to purchase should you need them including watercolour paints (tubes and pans), watercolour brushes, watercolour paper 300gsm and 640gsm, watercolour blocks (pads), drawing materials, sketchbooks, brushes, palettes etc.
  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor may have brushes available to purchase.
  • The tutor will have individual sheets of good quality, half sheet (approximately 16” x 22”) watercolour paper for those who may wish to try going bigger on the course.

Additional information

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


Tom Shepherd

Tom is a professional painter based in Pembrokeshire Wales. Specialising in watercolour, Tom has collectors all over the world.


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

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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.