There were much fewer art instruction books around when I began painting, but one of them gave me to most marvellous advice which I have followed to this day: “The best art tutor you will ever find is Mother Nature.” After so many years painting professionally I could not agree more. There is nothing like getting out into the landscape and working direct from the scene in front of you.
In the photo I am giving instruction to a student on my recent painting course in the Derby shire Peak District. This combination of working directly from the landscape with a tutor to guide you really does push your work forward dramatically. Sure, you still don’t get it right first time, but it is amazing how much you learn simply by being out there, and gradually your work improves. Before going out students are given a talk on working outdoors, including materials, what to look for as a subject, methods of working, figuring out the composing, and so much more.
The course was based at the superb Pear Tree Farm studio run by Sue and Alan Barber, which has excellent facilities and the most delicious meals. My courses always include an outdoors element, followed by studio work where there are numerous watercolour demonstrations and practical work by the students. Where possible I try to include a little walking in search of subjects, but this is optional and should not put anyone off joining in.