This course is ideal for those who wish to loosen up their watercolours or to use watercolour/inks in a more expressive way.

Hilary will give daily watercolour demonstrations, including explaining body colour, laying washes and various brush techniques. By using resists, lift off and wet on wet we will explore intriguing methods which create beautiful and useful textures. We will spend time acquiring skills and techniques, which lend themselves to a more atmospheric way of painting, experimenting in the studio to develop these as ingredients for use in a well-balanced recipe within watercolour paintings. Hilary does not teach in a prescriptive way, but you will learn through practice and application how to appropriate methods necessary for the effects you desire.

There will also be optional opportunities for those who wish to start with a more traditional approach with one to one guidance.

Whilst exploring the medium of watercolour we will also be able to paint en plein air in and around Slapton’s beautiful Nature Reserve, the sea and beaches of Slapton Sands and Torcross and in the picturesque village of Slapton. We will have use of the FSC minibus for trips to paint the stunning surrounding Devon coastline.

The evenings will be spent working up the days paintings and include colour workshops and stimulating slideshows of watercolour paintings. A trip to paint at sunset or twilight will provide an exciting opportunity to paint using these expressive and atmospheric techniques.

Most of the painting locations involve minimal walking but sometimes we use country or coastal footpaths, which can be rough so please bring stout shoes. A folding stool and a watercolour easel would be useful as are a sun hat/cream, midge repellant and wet weather gear.

Tutor: Hilary Jean Gibson

Hilary Jean Gibson is an experienced illustrator and tutor who has taught for the St Ives School of Painting, Cornwall and delivered guided tours for Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum since 1995. Hilary has a 1st Class B.A. Hons. Degree in Graphic Design: Illustration, St. Martin’s School of Art, London (1979). Art Cert. Ed. Sussex University (1980) M.A. History of Modern Art and Design, UCF. (1997) M.A. Illustration : Authorial Practice, Falmouth University. (2010)

In 2010 Hilary wrote, illustrated and self-published “Godolphin” (NT) a book about the fascinating history of the house and garden in Cornwall. In 2017 Hilary was Artist in Residence at Trelissick National Trust where she completed 6 very large drawing commissions now hanging in the house. In 2018 she self-published “Illustrations of The Leach Pottery St Ives” a book she wrote, full of drawings and paintings she created at the Museum between 2012 ~ 2018.

She has been teaching art since 1980 and has run FSC art courses since 1999. For examples of Hilary’s artwork please visit

Watercolour painitng by Hilary Gibson

Attend two courses with Hilary Jean Gibson and you can save 10% discount on your courses.

To take advantage of this offer please email [email protected]

Example Timetable

This is not a rigid agenda and can be adapted according to the weather or individual preferences.

Monday – Introduction to the course after arrival and dinner.

Tuesday – Demonstrations and practice of expressive watercolour techniques. Followed by a minibus trip to Start Point with its lighthouse and sweeping views of Start Bay, including an optional tour of the lighthouse and walk down to Mattiscombe for views to Prawle Point and the Horse's Head.

A day of sea and sky, with opportunities to study the light, shadow, movement and reflections of water and skies around Start Bay. Afternoon tea in Beesands will be followed by more opportunities to draw and paint. Evening - outside workshop - quick impressions of sunset, twilight and dusk or a slideshow.

Wednesday - Will be spent at Dittisham with views to Greenway, where Agatha Christie lived, for longer works in situ. On the way back we will stop at Torcross for tea or local ice cream. Evening – Slide show of watercolours and workshop to finish paintings.

Thursday - Following a talk about perspective the day will be spent painting and drawing in Slapton Village with its two pubs, the Tower, Church and attractive cottages, optionally meeting for lunch in the village pub.  Evening - Exhibition and review. Followed by a drink in one of Slapton’s pubs.

Friday - Depart after breakfast.

What's Included

Before You Attend

Where to meet and at what time?  

Resident participants are requested to arrive for registration between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm on arrival day, after this time self-directed arrival information will be posted on the front door. There will be an introductory talk at 5:00 pm. Supper is usually at 6:30 pm. Non-resident bookings should arrive just before 5:00 pm. A non-resident booking also includes dinner during your course as teaching does progress into the evening. Breakfast, for resident participants, will be from 8:00 am. The course will end after supper on Thursday, with departure after breakfast on Friday for resident participants.  On the final day please vacate your room by 9:00 am, storage is provided for your luggage.

What to Bring

Suggested list:

  • Sketchbooks of assorted sizes (A6-A3) for drawing in pencil/pen/wash/ watercolour.
  • Stretched watercolour pads. (If you prefer you can bring watercolour paper, gum strip, sponge and a board on which to stretch the paper yourself).
  • Coloured pastel paper.
  • Watercolours - artist’s quality in pans and/or tubes.
  • Optional - watercolour inks e.g. Dr.PH Martin’s radiant concentrated watercolour ink recommended.
  • It is highly recommended that you bring one each of the 3 primaries also called – Permanent Rose (Quinacridone) and Process Yellow (also called Winsor or Hansa Yellow) and Pthalocyanine Blue (also called Winsor Blue or Thalo Blue).
  • Large tube of Chinese white/ White Gouache/ body colour.
  • Additional colours as well as a selection of earth colours such as – Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Alizarin Crimson and blues such as Prussian, French Ultramarine, and Cobalt, Naples Yellow, Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Raw and Burnt Umber will be useful.  A Watercolour colour wheel is also recommended.
  • Good selection of drawing materials: pencils from HB-8B, and good quality artist’s brushes in assorted sizes  (At least 2 or 3 round brushes and 1 flat brush).
  • Quink Black ink (black label with gold writing) permanent black Indian ink, dip pens, permanent black drawing pen.
    Rotring Sketching Pen if you have one.
  • A carbon or charcoal pencil.
  • Compact paint sets, small water bottle, small (individual serving) jam jars, small spray and palettes are recommended, as are a portable watercolour easel/stool and small backpack or similar.
  • Resists – birthday candle, wax crayons, masking fluid, masking tape.
  • Salt, cling film, old credit card/ palette knife, old stiff brushes, tooth brush/nailbrush.
  • Natural and synthetic sponge, a straw, ruler and craft knife.
  • Pritt or similar and a roll of kitchen towel.
  • Because we are working en plein air during the day it is necessary to consider how much you can carry (including your lunch).
  • I suggest, however, that you do not limit what you bring but be selective each day during the course. Also don’t forget that this is the chance to indulge in experimentation!
  • Come prepared for the terrain and weather: bring stout footwear; sun cream and hat; midge repellent; warm clothes and lightweight waterproofs. (Waterproofs and wellingtons can be borrowed from the centre) lunch/salad box and flask/drink bottle.
  • For painting courses easels and chairs can be borrowed from the centre.

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