I’ve been wanting to learn how to watercolour for years!
Yes, I did Art GCSE and have messed around with illustration, dodgy looking ceramics and acrylic paints, but I’ve never been shown how to actually use watercolour paints properly before. And what with it’s massive popularity over recent years (mainly thanks to Pinterest, I imagine!) it’s been something I’ve wanted to try for a while.
Truro-based artist, Sarah Bell, got in touch with me to ask if I’d like to go on one of her watercolour workshops this Spring, and I was super excited to finally take the first steps of learning this topic!
Inspired by her upbringing in the moors of North England, Sarah has been an artist at heart since a child, and has worked around the country (and in Amsterdam too!) doing illustration and painting for many years. I love her bird paintings and dog portraits in particular!
Of recent years, Sarah has turned her focus to running workshops and courses to pass along the skills of her craft and get people inspired by watercolour. She runs them around Truro, but also Devon as well!
This particular workshop (her Modern Watercolour Botanicals for Beginners day course) was held at The Old Vicarage in St. Clement; a 6-room waterside luxury B&B on the river outside Truro. It’s a beautifully peaceful location, and lucky for us, the weather was bright, warm and sunny too!
I couldn’t actually make the official day course, but Sarah very kindly offered to tutor me one-on-one the day after, so it was just us two sat together looking out to the hotel’s gardens.
Sarah is super friendly and bubbly! Her personality made me feel at ease straight away, and throughout the whole day (roughly 10am til 3:30pm), she explained things in a really clear, warm way – making the experience all that more positive and enjoyable!
We started out by making swatch sheets, and Sarah explained how to achieve different colours and shades of colours by using just 3 paints and some water. She also talked me through the basic tools I’d need to achieve the things we’d be working on that day.
The focus of the day? Botanicals! Creating beautiful watercolour floral artwork was a fun and satisfying way to learn the beginners basics of this craft, and I’m so happy with how some of my practice pieces turned out!
After learning how to make different marks, strokes, and petal/leaf shapes with the brush, and creating my first practice piece, Jon and Marilyn (owners of The Old Vicarage), made us a delicious vegetarian chilli for lunch, followed by mini cream tea scones too!
After finishing our meal in the garden, we headed back inside to do some more practice sheets, and then work on my final piece. Sarah had asked me before the workshop to look up some inspiration and ideas on Pinterest for what I wanted to create, and I’d come across a floral initial idea that I thought it would be fun to try.
So with our ‘A’ (for Anna) outline readily sketched out by Sarah, we used masking gum to go over the edges to give the finished piece a clean, professional look.
Then I simply filled in the ‘A’ shape with several different flower and leaf/vine designs!
Once they’d dried (it only took a few minutes thanks to the hot sun that day!), we just rubbed off the masking gum outline and voila – the finished result looked amazing.
I’m so happy how it turned out (super Pinterest-worthy!) and I love that I was able to come away from my first ever attempt at watercolours with something that I’d genuinely be happy to hang on my wall. It looked great, and I definitely felt inspired to try my hand at more designs too…
If you’re interested in getting into watercolour painting, or looking for a thoughtful gift/special day out to treat yourself or someone else to, go check out Sarah’s workshops! She runs one-day and two-day courses, starting from £75, and one-to-one sessions starting at £200 (gift vouchers available too!). Sarah teaches at a variety of different levels so don’t worry if you’re a total beginner or more advanced!
Take a look at her upcoming dates on Sarah’s website!
* Sarah kindly offered to host me on her workshop for free, but all opinions are my own – she’s super lovely!