Watercolour from the winter garden with Brigid Collins

Ref: SWE32214

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About this course

Closely observe winter plant forms and translate this gesturally by embracing the fluidity of watercolour, being guided in finding ways to express the beauty you observe.

Course Description

Learn to observe winter plant forms closely, in their individual details and their broader gestural qualities. Beginning by looking at drawing, using both line and tone and composition, you will quickly move on to painting using watercolour as an expressive medium, rather than as a means of creating analytical botanical studies.

Watercolour is at once challenging and richly rewarding as a medium. You will be experimenting and immersing yourself within the possibilities of finding balance between having control and being playful. You will be inspired by a selection of cut seasonal plant forms and dried flowers, learning when to be precise and when to ‘let go’ into what happens.

Drawing, painting and being with flowers unveils a compelling world of colour and harmony, of transience and silence. By closely observing plant forms, discover how, as Sue Stuart-Smith says

“Beauty leaves a trace in the mind that somehow survives its passing”

– Sue Stuart-Smith (Author of “The Well-Gardened Mind”)

By embracing the fluidity of watercolour, you may then work towards finding your individual way of expressing this and begin to forge an authentic artistic voice.

You will finish this course having created an individual body of drawn and painted studies and by having explored ways in which responding to transient beauty may become expressed in your work.


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


  • On this course, the college will supply some of the materials, including: drawing and watercolour paper, palette, masking tape, masking fluid pen, wax resist stick, gum Arabic, sponges and plant forms.

What students need to bring

  • Charcoal, putty rubber, fixative (or hairspray)
  • Brushes – synthetic watercolour brushes, a range of sizes from 0 - 10 e.g. Pro Arte set
  • Plus, at least one larger mop brush, e.g. Pro Arte One Stroke Brush (2inches)
  • Watercolour paints – your tutor recommends sets as these are good value, for example:
  • Set of Winsor & Newton watercolour 12 tubes, or ‘Gansai Tambi’ set of 24 colour large pan set.
  • The colours your tutor prefers to use are: Lemon Yellow Hue, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson Hue, Dioxazine Purple, Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue Hue, Sap Green, Green Gold, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Paynes Grey, Neutral Tint, Chinese White
  • You may also bring any watercolour paints and brushes that you already have/use.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • The shop stocks a good selection of art and craft materials, including: watercolour paints in tubes, pans and sets, watercolour paper, drawing paper and sketchbooks, drawing materials including charcoal, putty rubbers, fixative, a good selection of brushes, including mop head 2 inch brushes and natural sponges.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Brigid Collins

Brigid is an artist and educator whose practice is deeply rooted in close observation of the natural world, making paintings, drawings and delicate sculptures incorporating poetry. She has collaborated and published books with poets Seamus Heaney, Kathleen Jamie, Kirsty Gunn and Christine De Luca whilst Artist in Residence at Dr Neil’s Garden, Edinburgh.


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

Courses of interest

Further study options

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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.