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Watercolour week: documenting the world

Five-day practical and theoretical course

Short course

  • 2 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 3 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 4 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 5 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 6 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm

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J.M.W. Turner RA, Watercolour test paper taken from travelling watercolour box (detail).

Join us for a week-long practical and theoretical art course dedicated to the remarkable medium of watercolour, with a focus on topographical painting.

How do you record the world around you? For centuries, the solution was to use watercolour. The medium, which consists of water-soluble pigments applied to natural or man-made materials, has a long history but became particularly popular in Europe during the 18th century. In an age characterised by travel, the portable, lightweight medium emerged as the perfect way to document the places and cultures that people encountered around the world.

Watercolour was not only a medium for professional artists. Botanists, zoologists and geologists used it to record their ideas and discoveries; military painters made records of combat operations and uncharted territories; explorers packed sketchbooks and paints alongside their daily supplies; women and men recorded details of their daily lives that else might never have been set down on paper. As a result, historical watercolours are some of the most important and interesting records we have of how the world looked and was understood in the years before photography.

Many of these earlier watercolour paintings are topographical, in the sense that they accurately record natural and man-made environments. But as many 19th-century artists including J.M.W. Turner RA understood, these documentary images could also capture the intangible mood and atmosphere of a place or event more intimately than most photographs.

Led by international artists, with supplementary lectures from leading art-world experts, this five-day course will enable you to capture the world around you quickly, effectively and with confidence in watercolour whilst uncovering the medium’s history. With reference to the Academy’s collection of works on paper, it will introduce the techniques and methods you need to understand the medium, with sessions on topography, perspective, architectural sketching, and drawing people from life. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore Piccadilly to draw, paint and record London’s iconic buildings, everyday scenes and remarkable sights.

This course is kindly supported by The Marandi Foundation in association with The Watercolour World.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 2 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 3 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 4 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 5 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 6 September 2019, 10.30am — 5.30pm

The Clore Learning Centre, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£1,500. This price has been reduced from £1,800 thanks to a grant from the Marandi Foundation. Includes all materials, light refreshments, and wine receptions throughout the week.

Book now