Master watercolours whilst exploring artist Cecily Brown

Gail Astbury

22 Feb - 29 Mar

OPEN Ealing Arts Centre W5 2TD

Course Fees: Full £150 ; Retired £125 ; Concession £100 (Pay As You Go available)

Class details

Master watercolours whilst exploring Cecily Brown’s paintings in a six week course led by Gail Astbury.

The Courtauld Institute commissioned Cecily Brown to create a large mural for the stairwell. We will work on a series of watercolour paintings, based on classics, using stretched paper, and washes. There will be the opportunity to revisit and rework previous week work throughout the term and choose your own favourite classics to follow.

Tuesdays 2 – 4.30pm

22 February – 29 March

Course Fees: Full £150 ; Retired £125 ; Concession £100

Pay As You Go Rates: Full £30 ; Retired £25 ; Concession £20

Brown is known for her large-scale pieces that straddle the border between figuration and abstraction,
capturing the sensations of the body through lush applications of paint. Simultaneously channelling the Old
Masters and Abstract Expressionism, her paintings combine rigorous compositional structure with a sense of
intuitive intensity.

In the last decade, Brown’s work has matured from hedonistic abandon into more serious dialogues with
other artists like Hogarth, Degas, and Delacroix often taking on difficult subjects. She works in watercolour to
prepare for her larger works, these are sometimes based on well-known classical paintings and are a great
resource for us to follow on from last terms Post Impressionists. More El Greco than Degas, Brown’s writhing
figures are somehow compelling.

Course Content

22 Feb : Week 1

Monochrome multiple figure work after Brown’s shipwreck series – Delacroix, Gericault

1 March : Week 2

Continuing with the shipwreck series in colour

8 March : Week 3

Class visit to the Courtauld Institute Gallery to see Cecily Brown’s commission and sketch from several works in the gallery (please bring your sketchbooks and dry materials.)

15 March : Week 4

Use your sketches from the gallery visit to make a painting

22 March : Week 5

Selecting a favourite old master painting to rework in the spirit of Cecily Brown

29 March : Week 6

Consolidation and finishing the series

Each week we provide support notes for you to keep, so that you can master watercolours whilst exploring Cecily Brown’s paintings and the people who influenced her at home. We send them to you before the class so you can bring the right equipment. Don’t worry we also give you a hard copy for the session. We also share any links of video clips that Gail shows in class so you can refer to them again.

You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy the course , but you’ll get more from it if you have some experience in painting with watercolours. We limit our class sizes to twelve. This means that you not only benefit from personal tuition but also enjoy peer support.


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: 22 Feb - 29 Mar
Tuesday 2:00 pm
Fees: Course Fees: Full £150 ; Retired £125 ; Concession £100 (Pay As You Go available)

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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