Jem Bowden

Jem Bowden - watercolour landscape painter

General information

I am available to give watercolour demonstrations in and around the Bristol and ‘Avon’ area, and to run workshops which can be tailored to a group’s preferences.  I am very happy to travel further afield but will need to cover the additional travel costs incurred.

I run a regular watercolour class in Bristol, give private one-to-one tuition from my home studio, and am tutor for the Watercolour Diploma course at London Art College (online/distance learning).
I also work as a tutor on residential painting holidays.
Please click the relevant tab below for more detail on each of these.

Through my lifelong involvement as a practitioner and student of Art (including employment in the Contemporary Art sector) I can empathise with the broadest range of views on the subject, and fully appreciate that while much can be learned, much will remain a matter of taste or opinion.

My approach to tutoring readily acknowledges that there are a number of ways to achieve a result, and I only attempt to teach and speak from my own experience.

Absolute Beginners course

12837437_1118086481563730_1300168495_oAutumn term course now full.
(Still space on my next painting holiday though!)
I tutor a 6-week course (or 12 week, depending on the term) for those totally new to painting in watercolour. This runs at The Bristol Folk House, in central Bristol (UK).
Please note, the course does fill up quickly, so please contact the Bristol Folk House as soon as the new term’s prospectus is released if you would like to book (you can register with them to receive a prospectus).  To ensure fairness of opportunity I am unable to hold a reserve list myself.

Learn how to begin painting in this beautiful but often challenging medium. The course will focus on developing a sound foundation in traditional techniques which can be applied to all subjects, but with more emphasis on landscape.

Bristol Folk House is an adult education ‘learning for pleasure’ centre.
www.bristolfolkhouse.co.uk

Details of the course, and a materials list, can be found on the website during terms when the course is running.
The group size is limited to 10.

Bookings need to be made through the venue, rather than myself.
The telephone number is: 0117 926 2987, or for general enquiries about the venue you can email: admin@bristolfolkhouse.co.uk
You can also book via a form on the venue’s website.
For any enquiries relating to course content please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Private one-to-one tuition

This is based at my home studio in South Bristol.

I am myself continually learning with each watercolour painted, and given the right attitude this should continue forever. Meantime, I’ve made enough mistakes to get a few things under my belt, and  enjoy openly passing onto others whatever I can.

You might want to focus on techniques for a specific subject (skies, water, trees..) Or maybe it is something more fundamental such as composition, tone or colour use.

I am happy working with absolute beginners, improvers or more experienced painters, and sessions will be based around your desired outcomes.

Demonstrations

tea-interval-at-an-art-group-demonstration,t_dMy usual painting method is to work fairly fast, so it is possible to do 2 paintings in a 2 hour session with a short break in between.

This depends how much time is taken, for example, in preliminary drawing or question & answer, etc.

All this can be discussed in advance to meet the preferences of the Art Group.
In demonstration I find it works to explain everything I am doing and why I am doing it, whilst encouraging questions at any time.

Workshops

workshop-at-severnside,t_dI aim to tailor my visit to a group’s experience level in the watercolour medium, and their desired outcomes.

Perhaps you’d like to work on a particular type of subject and the techniques involved, develop a better method of composing and planning the stages of a painting, or enhance the impact and dynamics of your work.

Any or all of these things can be covered in a process which ends with a finished painting. We can make it as challenging or as leisurely as you wish.

Outdoor ('en plein air') workshops - a speciality

Being that working in the inspiring plein air tradition is by choice how I work myself, this is also an area I particularly enjoy encouraging in others.

There is no substitute for the practice of working from life, surrounded by the beauty and compelling forces of nature. There can be quite a learning curve for those new to this ‘discipline’, and many ways that it can be made hugely enjoyable and rewarding, given some pointers specific to working with watercolour in this context.

This workshop is ideally of whole day duration, typically including demonstrations, close tutor support for each student and a clearly defined developmental structure. I aim, before the day, to ascertain the experience level and expectations of each group, and this helps inform the exact content of the day.

While accommodating different levels of ability, this workshop is primarily aimed at those already having some experience of watercolour as a medium, and up to intermediate or ‘improver’ level. More advanced painters who have not previously worked outdoors can also benefit from the workshop in many ways.

Painting holidays and residential courses

I’m delighted that I will tutoring a painting holiday for Alpha Painting Holidays in July 2017 (9th – 14th July).
This will be in the picturesque ‘Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ which straddles England and Wales in the UK.
My tuition will cover everything I consider most important in good watercolour landscape painting, featuring full group demos and attentive individual tuition (and demos) to meet all individuals’ needs.  You will be most welcome whatever your current level of painting, and together we’ll have a really lovely time being looked after by the lovely Alpha crew.
Further details of the holiday can be found here: http://www.alphapaintingholidays.com/
Please contact me for any further information, or Matthew or Gill at Alpha Painting Holidays, on 01934 733877 or by email:
joinus@alphapaintingholidays.com

Testimonials / feedback on tuition

“I recently attended a Watercolour Beginner’s Course at the Bristol Folkhouse which Jem was running. This was actually a Christmas present from the family,which I chose, and without a doubt it has been the best Christmas present I have ever had. The course was really well researched and organised, Jem was really generous with his advice, helpful, enthusiastic and inspirational. In my day job I’m an architect who does a lot of visuals and was moved to explore watercolouring as a medium to present these, as well as for sketching etc. In actual fact, I have taken so much more from the course in lots of other, unexpected, ways. Jem routinely discussed matters such as composition, colour balance and contrast, and I have found myself applying these already at work to great effect. For inspiration and personal satisfaction, this was the best use of my money and I would highly recommend one of Jem’s courses to others.

Matthew Trapnell”

 

Dear Jem,

Having viewed your website and the pre-holiday information you sent us, we were not surprised to find during the week that your preparation for the holiday was first class.  The mix of input, exercises and demonstrations which built on each other through the week really helped our confidence and at no time did we feel abandoned to our fate. We came away with some quite satisfying paintings, which is not always the case!  
We really appreciated the fact that, unlike some tutors, you are obviously willing to impart your knowledge fully and do not ‘keep your secrets to yourself’.  We both look forward to joining you for another painting holiday, perhaps in England.

Best wishes,
Mary and Peter”

 

“Those who receive tuition from Jem  will find someone with a comprehensive knowledge of watercolour and an intelligent, insightful  approach to teaching.
English watercolour painting has had many great champions in the past with Seago and Wesson to the fore. This great tradition is now in safe hands with artists such as Jem Bowden.”

Jon Robertson”

 

“I’ve been painting watercolour for a number of years and became hugely inspired when I stumbled across Jem Bowden’s marvellous work on his website.  The simplicity, ease and confidence of his painting are an absolute delight for those who fully appreciate the true values of this most difficult of mediums.  I personally have no doubt that Jem will go on to follow in the fine tradition of Britain’s leading watercolourists.
But the really great thing is that he is more than happy to pass on all skills and techniques through his brilliant and fascinating tuition.

Frank Walters.”

 

“I recently spent a workshop day with Jem in his studio. Jem’s dedication to watercolour in its purest sense and enthusiasm for painting is very infectious.
I hugely enjoyed the day and he was able to make some very positive comments which will help to improve my painting – I hope! I think a day spent with him either in a group or one to one will be very helpful to an aspiring painter at any level. I am certainly looking forward to another day with him.

Kate B”

 

“Hi Jem

In terms of feedback on the outdoor painting day I really only have positive comments.  It was definitely very worthwhile for me.  The locations were great, one a vista, the other more intimate, the pace was good, time sped by and your presentation was very clear. Thank you for a very stimulating and enjoyable day.
Kind regards,
Marjorie”
“Dear Jem,

What a pleasure to meet you and have your excellent tuition.
I promised myself I would get some tuition in the new year, and what a start!! Brilliant!  I learnt so much and would really like to have another session soon to complete your game plan.
You were able to point out what I could not see or understand.  Looking at paintings I think ‘I like that one’ but I have not been able to analyse the ‘why’ and you have helped enormously!  I will now be able to look at paintings by my favourite artists and analyse them better. The photos are so helpful.  They really help as a reminder of the brushstrokes etc that you did.
Let me have some dates of when I could come again, if you will have me that is?
Many thanks again Jem.  Cheers,
Maddie”

 

“Dear Jem,
What a wonderfully productive afternoon for me – it was so worth my journey!  Thank you so much.  I look forward next to your email tutelage.  You have given me a real art-bounce.
Best,
Alice”

 

“Jem has been tutoring me now by e-mail for about 4 months and I can honestly say he is a marvellous teacher.  He gives a very in depth critique and suggests helpful excercises at the same time.  Nothing is too much trouble.  I know from experience it’s not easy to find the right tutor but if you want to learn how to paint pure water colour then Jem’s your man.”

Tina Grimley

 

“Jem, thank you for all your patient help during the outdoor painting workshop.  The day was as good as I hoped it would be.  I have meant to go back to the locations since, they were ideal!   I can’t fault the structure, and I think your idea of having a time limit was especially useful and new for me.  You treat your painting like sketching, but with paint instead of pencil, which was a real eye opener, and a great way to learn outside.
Very best wishes,
Carol Sykes.”

 

“Dear Jem,
I have found the whole experience of your Email Tutorials very helpful and two points in particular are things I need to consider.  The first is variation in tone, hue, shape and edges, which you  call ‘range’, and using small marks  to contrast with big shapes.  The second is to be aware of recession/perspective in relation to horizontal surfaces, which I had not thought of before (but having looked at paintings of many other artists it is a common design feature). Many thanks for your helpful critiques.  In each case I was able to see exactly what you mean but NOT UNTIL IT WAS POINTED OUT to me.”

Michael Harris.

 

“Thank you for all you have done already Jem.   I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience of your ‘e -tuition’ and hope to continue, if you can stand it, for a little longer.  I don’t want to let all that I’ve learnt from you to go stale, so I will be trying to keep my hand in, there is nothing worse than not practicing.
I wasn’t sure whether it would work to be honest but it must be a sign of your excellent teaching ability that I feel it has.  I’m sure I’ve improved in certain respects, but I do still need help with my painting in lots of areas, as you know.
Shirley.”

 

“Hi Jem
Thank you for a very enjoyable and informative day with you in your studio. It was a real pleasure, and I feel confident to try your methods and I am sure will succeed in producing work in a style I love.
Looking forward to the next lesson!
Best wishes
Chris”

Charges

I have a range of charges for the various different types of tuition or demonstration I can give. There is some flexibility, depending on duration, expenses incurred, and what is desired by the student or group.  Please contact me to discuss your requirements or for further information.