This course has concessions available

Contemporary Watercolour

This class is for watercolourists with some experience, who are interested in learning to experiment more with the medium and want to develop a contemporary approach. With the emphasis on nature, landscape and abstraction, this course will explore the liquid dynamics of water based media.

Available Classes:

Who is this course for

A mixed level class for students interested in learning contemporary methods, including some acrylic. This class is also suitable for those who attend the L2 watercolour and want to develop a contemporary approach.
With the emphasis on nature, landscape and abstraction, this course will explore the liquid dynamics of acrylic as well as watercolour.

What does this course cover

The course will cover:

- Colour and luminosity.
- Experimenting with the marks that watercolour can make, such as flow marks, sedimentation and marks.
- Working outside on the river bank
- Experimenting with more unusual techniques of watercolour such as floating watercolour on water and making prints.
- Looking at the relationship of watercolour and nature.
- Bringing the course work together as a whole and presenting to other students at the end
- Looking at modern artists who use watercolour in an inspirational way

Each term starts with a watercolour session, then an introduction to acrylics followed by the terms' theme:
Term 1: Abstract landscape (looking at ways to abstract landscape), Colour and Alchemy (Callum Innes and Morris Louis), Pure abstraction and nature painting (Keith Tyson), Personal project.
Term 2: Using mixed media and photography (Tony Swain, Anselm Kieffer, Gerhard Richter etc. / rhythm and space (John Cage) / personal project
Term 3: Rivers of the land and mind - Using the River Thames as reference including three field trips, explorations of 'River' as a theme.

By the end of the course you should be able to:
Have developed your watercolour skills and found ways to work with them more inventively.
Have begun to use acrylic in various ways.
Be familiar with the methods and attitudes of a variety of modern artists who use watercolour.
Begin to develop your own ideas and themes more comprehensively

What will it be like

The course will mostly consist of practical work by students.
Each group of sessions (modules) will have a theme and begin with a short talk or presentation.
There will then be discussion and in some cases, demonstration.
After this students continue with practical work where teaching is one to one.
There will be group discussion and feedback including crits at the end of modules.
When relevant, the tutor will provide hand-outs.

Assessment of your progress is informal and happens:
By looking at the quality of work you produce and how it develops.
By talking and discussion to assess your understanding.
The tutor will keep records of your progress and you will be asked to complete feedback forms.

What else do you need to buy or do

It is assumed that students will have watercolours and what acrylics to buy will be discussed in the second session. To start with, just bring along what you have.
Re: watercolours, I am not prescriptive about which make of paints preferring students to experiment and make up their own minds. If you don't already have watercolours, as a minimum I would recommend these six colours in tubes (not the little blocks called pans) and the larger tubes the better as the small ones dry out. (e.g. Cotman 21ml tubes available at Atlantis art supplies, 68-80 Hanbury Street London E1 5JL - or online). Colours: lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue.

Like most art materials, watercolours are expensive. A reasonable to good set of paints will be between £20 - £70 or even more. Avoid cheap pound shop paints or W H Smiths sets, not good quality. Brushes also vary. A set of 3 sable brushes and a good wash brush can set you back £25. However, less expensive versions are also available. Brushes need to be soft - synthetic or natural hair (to be discussed in class).

Various watercolour papers will be available to purchase from the class from 80p to £1.80 a sheet. Newsprint, sugar paper and cartridge paper are provided free of charge. Tutor will also recommend purchase of drawing materials. Help may be available for students who find it hard to afford materials. Ask at reception.

Each term culminates in three personal project sessions, which develop as the students' response to the terms themes. Students are expected to be reflecting and preparing for this in their own time.

What this course could lead to

Another art course at the May Ward or other adult education institutions. Pre-foundation course at Mary Ward Centre or the Foundation course. Continue and develop your skills in watercolour.

There is detailed information in Reception about all our courses at the Mary Ward Centre.
Information about other learning opportunities can be obtained from Learn Direct: and from the following websites:;;;;

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student


This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Unavailable Classes:

Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference.   We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’