Autumn Watercolour Course with Gail Astbury

Gail Astbury

12 Sep - 17 Oct

OPEN Ealing Arts Centre W5 2TD

£105 Course Fee (£20 Pay As You Go)

Class details

This 6-week autumn watercolour course takes inspiration from Tate Modern’s exhibition showing at Bankside on level 3 until January 2024.

Dates : 12 September – 17 October

Times : 10am – 12.30pm

Course Fees : £105

Pay As You Go Weekly Fee : £20

As we saw last term, through the eyes of the post impressionists, the arrival of photography changed the
course of painting forever. The 19th century notion that painting should accurately mirror the world was
complicated by the invention of photography. This exhibition picks up where we left off at the beginning of the 20th century. It explores dynamic relationships between the brush and the lens through some of the most iconic artworks of recent times.

Possibly the biggest challenge of all was in how to create images of the human figure with paint and
brushes. The painters in this exhibition experiment with new styles and perspectives in response to this challenge. We will cover three themes from the exhibition to develop over 2-week sessions in this autumn watercolour course.

The Course Outline

12 & 19 September : Portraiture
In an act of resistance against the mechanical, cool distancing of the photographic lens, new goals emerged in describing the realities of being alive and comfortable ‘or not’ within our skins.
European artists such as Picasso and Paula Rego began asking themselves if paint could embody the fractured facets of their mind.
In contrast, British artists Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon were asking if paint could transmit the visceral fleshiness of skin itself.

26 September & 3 October : Revisiting past events with the
help of photography

From the 1950’s onwards, artists began to incorporate photographic reality back into their image making.

David Hockney constructed personal painted narratives by taking multiple photographs to help him to re-create his memories.

Whereas Gerhard Richter copied photos from his albums in an act of nostalgia and a comment on the mysteries that the photos held.

10 & 17 October : Use of imagery from Digital and Media sources

In the latter part of the 20th century up until the present day,
we see artists grappling with the visual and emotional possibilities of painting in the televisual and digital age.

The last two rooms of the exhibition show painters using
layers and fragments of media
imagery. Like the cubists before
them, they attempt to process the mass of information available.

Themes start to surface such as war, environmental breakdown, personal and political struggles. It is not all doom and gloom though. Artists exercise their powers to
intervene emotionally, taking
difficult subjects apart and putting them back together with empathy, imagination and heart felt sensitivity.


We supply the following equipment and materials

  • Watercolour Paper for the preliminary class and colour mixing exercises
  • Palette
  • Water Jars
  • Kitchen Paper
  • Cotton Buds
  • Sponges

You will need to bring:

  • Watercolour paints
  • Watercolour pencils
  • Brushes (various shapes round/flat/mop and sizes ranging from 4, 6, 8,10 and 12)
  • Watercolour paper for the final class painting
  • Watercolour sketchbook
  • Your Apron


Course Details

OPEN Ealing Arts Centre W5 2TD

Dates: 12 Sep - 17 Oct
Tuesday 10:00 am
Fees: £105 Course Fee (£20 Pay As You Go)

About the tutor

Gail Astbury

Gail Astbury has a B.A. (Hons) Fine Art Painting from Wimbledon UAL and has recently gained an MA in Contemporary Arts Practice from Goldsmiths University and Tate Galleries 2014. Her work has featured in many prominent locations such as London’s Trafalgar Square, the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Academy and she has works held in the collection of the MMSU Museum of Modern Art in Croatia.

Gail makes series of paintings and watercolours in her studios in London and La Péruse, southwest France. Her work starts with her immediate surroundings, taking photos, sketching and amassing a picture library to draw reference from. She then plays with the imagery, using scale, colour, edits and zoom to select and highlight interesting focal points. She uses a range of techniques from renaissance lighting and brushwork to the colour and decorative compositions of 20th century modernism through to contemporary mass media image making and production. The resulting paintings are celebratory, they tell visual tales and proclaim societal hopes and fears. 

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