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Contemporary Watercolours: An Introduction (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course will introduce students to a sequential series of watercolour exercises, through personal and point-of-reference projects. Explored through a range of approaches and techniques, relevant to each medium, students will develop an understanding for the potential for watercolours, inks and gouache, discovering the qualities of each and how they can be worked both independently and in harmony with one another.

Course Details

Special Information

This course will include a limited supply of basic papers and cards. However please do acquire the materials recommended for this course.

Materials you will need to bring to the first class:

  • A4 Sketchbook (at least 140gsm paper)

  • An A3 watercolour pad (Hot Pressed around 190gsm)

  • A range of artist quality watercolours, (tubes for larger studies) such as: Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Lemon Yellow, Crimson, Cerulean Blue, and Payne’s Grey.

  • Small set of drawing inks (acrylic or shellac based)

  • Pencil 2b and 4b

  • A set of watercolour brushes

  • Sponge

  • Mixing palette

  • Water pot

  • A camera

In addition to the course fee, students are expected to provide the following list of indicative tools, materials and equipment:

  • Paper: A range of papers as and when required from newsprint, printing paper such as South Bank, Bread and Butter paper. Watercolour Paper A2, NOT (cold pressed) and Hot Pressed between 190-250gsm.

  • Black Quink ink

  • Indian Ink

  • White ink

  • Graphite pencil 4B

  • A small set of gouaches

  • Chalk Pastels (and oil pastels as required)

  • Gum Arabic and masking fluid

  • Wax candle and Cling film

  • Gum Tape and masking tape

Content of Course

Over the class sessions the course will cover:

1. Introduction to the use of the sketchbook for recording, researching and evidencing work.

2. Exploring the possibilities of Gum Arabic.

3. Develop an understanding for colour and optical mixing.

4. Exploring approaches and techniques to create texture.

5. Introduction to working with ink, gouache and watercolours independently.

6. Explore working wet into dry and wet into wet painting techniques.

7. Introduction to working with resist techniques.

8. Introduction to fusing ink, gouache and watercolours.

9. Explore monochromatic tonal studies.

10. Make site-specific observational studies (as required).

11. Explore working with non-traditional drawing and painting tools.

12. Develop works through a series of studio, point of reference and personal references.

13. Introduction to composition and editing.

14. Exploration of work on various surfaces.

15. A series of demonstrations and discussion relating to each of the exercises.

16. Introduction to a range of relevant artists.

17. Keep a log/blog during the period of the course to record learning, achievements and challenges.

Teaching method(s)

The teaching will be based and delivered in specialist art and design studios or workshops and will typically include a range of practical exercises, introductions to techniques, processes and concepts, and set projects which lead to more focused and personal exploration. Over the course, students’ progress will be monitored and supported by the tutor.  Teaching will include practical demonstrations, one to one tuition, group discussions and critiques.

For work required to be undertaken after the class hours are complete, the course tutor will set students a ‘directed study plan’ which can be undertaken without the need for specialist workshops or access to models.

Directed study will include research into a range of suggested artists and their associated movements to engender a contextual awareness. Students are expected to demonstrate how their research has informed their work through annotated sketchbooks, a visual digital journal and practical outcomes. 

The Directed Study Plan will include preparing evidence of research and practical work to form an appropriate presentation for assessment.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a range of watercolour based strategies to routinely record, research and to make visual enquiries through the use of the sketchbook.

  • Demonstrate a practical knowledge in employing a range of watercolour, ink and gouache techniques and approaches appropriate to developing personal ideas and resolved pieces.

  • Demonstrate an awareness of how to document, reflect, select, edit and present a body of work for presentation.


Core Readings


  • BLOCKLEY, J. 1987. Watercolour Interpretations. Collins.

  • WILTON, A. 1982 Turner Abroad: France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland. BCA.

  • HOCKNEY D. 2007. Hockney on Turner Watercolours. Tate.

Web Sources


Details of the Art and Design assessment requirements can be found on the short course website. Please click on the following link for more information: Submission and Assessment Information

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.