Welcome to my website

…. NEW:  Please see new ‘2019 Courses‘ page + ‘Videos’ page for my first instructional video ….

Thank you for visiting.  Here you’ll find many examples of my paintings for sale, divided into Plein Air and Studio galleries, and information on my tuition (below).  You can also subscribe to my Blog, where I reflect openly on many aspects of my practice.
Please get in touch, via the Contact page if you have any enquiry.

 

Kelston Round Hill from Swineford, en plein air. For sale

General Information

As often as I can, I paint, and outdoors in the inspiring landscape.

I also teach, privately one-to-one from my home studio, as well as  on residential painting breaks or workshops at venues such as Big Sky Art, Windrush Gallery, East Devon Art Academy, The Sandpiper Studio, Flatford Mill, and various locations with Alpha Painting Holidays.  I also write for Leisure Painter magazine.  Please click the relevant tab below for more detail on each of these.

I enjoy giving watercolour demonstrations around the South/Southwest of England and run workshops at Art Groups & Societies within this region.  I’m often happy to travel further afield, but will need to cover the additional costs.  Please enquire and we can check viability.

Private one-to-one tuition

This is based at my home studio in South Bristol.

I really enjoy teaching on a one-to-one basis.  I feel it is the quickest and best way for most students to learn.  The ability to focus up close on any aspect of painting is so beneficial.  In a relaxed atmosphere I can demonstrate techniques – in and out of the context of a painting – at your own pace, and even guide your hand almost literally if desired.  We can go off on tangents as we need to, discuss any issue or problem and resolve it to move onwards and upwards.
You may have an idea of where you’d like to begin, for example with techniques for a specific subject, or maybe it is something more fundamental such as planning, composition, ‘interpretation’, creating impact or expanding your mark-making that you want to focus on.
Alternatively, I can structure tuition around priorities that I can identify from viewing your work.  It’s always good to start with a chat about your paintings, where they are currently and what you’re aiming for.
I am happy working with anyone, from beginner upwards.

Courses / Residential 'Painting Holidays'

(See also ‘Workshops’ for courses of shorter duration)

 

Please see separate web page ‘2019 Courses’ for upcoming residential courses, thank you.


General information:

There is some variation in the framework of how these are run by the host holiday company or studio.  However, in general – and from my perspective – the intention for these courses/holidays is to combine an enjoyable, fun time spent in lovely surroundings with a lot of practical ‘getting down to it’ painting.
Most often (weather-permitting, but you do need to be a little bit hardy) we will complete whole paintings outdoors, taking inspiration from our subjects in the most direct way.
Teaching is through regular demonstration, explaining my rationale each time and showing my technical approach.  In addition, there is a good deal of thinking, or what may be called ‘theory’ behind sound watercolour, and I’ll aim to cover what I consider the most relevant aspects of this through various means,  sometimes in studio-based sessions.  Each student will receive plenty of individual guidance appropriate to their own current level and experience with the medium.

Demonstrations

tea-interval-at-an-art-group-demonstration,t_dIn demonstration I  aim to explain the main principles I typically work to, show the range of techniques I use and the energy I put into my painting.

I really like these occasions to be as sociable and ‘interactive’ as possible, so no need to hold back on the heckling.

Workshops

workshop-at-severnside,t_d

(Please see ‘2019 Courses’ page for residential courses of more than 2-day duration.)

 

 

General Information

I teach a few workshops each year at well-known establishments such as Windrush Gallery in The Cotswolds, The Sandpiper Studio on the Wirral and East Devon Art Academy in Sidmouth.
Please scroll down for details of these workshops.

Workshops at art groups/clubs/societies – general info:
My workshops are thoughtfully structured and designed to help you tackle the traditional techniques of the watercolour medium.  I aim to provide a lot of relevant information through demonstration, analysis, some exercises and usually a step-by-step painting which draws everything together.  A typical 10 – 4pm day passes quickly and can only ever be a brief introduction to a way of working.
Being bold, and potentially out of your comfort zone is, I believe, the best way to learn and develop as a painter.  Please be energised, and not be worried about using up some paint and paper!  After all, practise and experimentation is never ‘waste’.  To get the best from watercolour we generally need to take some risks, so I feel you shouldn’t be taking home a masterpiece, but hopefully some ideas to work with.


Sandpiper Studio, Wirral.  July 20th 2019
‘Coastal Watercolour Landscapes’

In this studio-based workshop we will create an atmospheric sense of place, within the subject of a coastal scene.  We will focus on traditional techniques and compositional ideas, but with a fairly ‘direct’ approach to handling the medium that can inject energy, vigour, impact and beauty to our painting.
All reference material will be provided, and a suggested materials list will be sent to participants in advance of the day.
To book a place please contact Sandpiper Studio, on:
info@thesandpiperstudio.co.uk
Tel. 07788 412480
http://www.thesandpiperstudio.co.uk/


East Devon Art Academy 2-day workshop, 10th & 11th October 2019.
‘Direct & Dynamic Watercolour Landscapes’

This two day studio-based workshop will address technique and overarching issues that lead to watercolours with energy, vigour and beauty.  
Jem will cover his approach to composition, interpretation and prioritisation of ‘what counts’ in the quest for fresh, atmospheric paintings, using a fairly ‘direct’ handling of the medium.
There will be a mix of demonstrations, exercises, step-by-step painting and lots of ‘going for it’. Students are asked, also, to bring with them a landscape painting they feel has not worked, which they’d like to improve on.
To book a place, please telephone 01395 516284, email: info@eastdevonart.co.uk  or visit: http://www.eastdevonart.co.uk/

Windrush Gallery, The Cotswolds.  October 1st 2019
‘Big Skies in Watercolour’

10 am – 4pm, including lunch at Windrush House.
This indoor workshop will cover techniques which can be used to create atmospheric, dramatic and effective skies in watercolour.  Jem will explain and demonstrate various ways of combining hard and soft edges, tone and colour variation, with a bold approach to achieve dynamic and fresh results.
We’ll observe our subject closely before ‘interpreting’ various cloud, light and atmospheric effects through the best attributes of watercolour.  Jem will also show how to develop a whole ‘sky-scape’ composition worthy of the main subject of a painting.
Please bring plenty of paper, paint and big brushes!  All reference material will be provided and a suggested materials list will be sent to students in advance of the day.
To book please contact Windrush Gallery:
info@jamesfletcherwatson.com
Tel: 01451 844425
http://www.jamesfletcherwatson.com/

 

Articles & other writing

Since 2015 I’ve been a contributor to Leisure Painter magazine, always working to ensure my articles are of practical benefit to the reader. (see: http://www.painters-online.co.uk/ for more info)
In the past I’ve also written for New Artist, Paint & Draw, and Paint (magazine of the SAA; Society for All Artists).
In 2016 I wrote the current ‘Watercolour Diploma’ course for London Art College.

 

Testimonials / Feedback / Reviews

“Hi Jem,
what a great week’s course! Thank you so much for your brilliant instruction and tireless patience.  Hope to see you again soon.
All the very best,  John”

“I’m still not close to getting on paper what my head and heart intends and that is why a day with an artist of Jem’s calibre is so valuable.  Along with exceptional painting ability, Jem is a skilled teacher.   Listening to a quick analysis of some of his favourite works proved extremely useful, especially as an impatient painter who often goes off half-cocked with the brush before planning anything!  Some of the most well thought-out and useful exercises I’ve seen followed, and the hush settling over the room, as artists became absorbed with their own efforts, was very comfortable.  This method of breaking the subject down into techniques was a good confidence booster, and took away the pressure to ‘perform’ that stops a lot of artists continuing to attend workshops once they’ve reached a certain level.  Jem covers the room well and has that knack of arriving at your shoulder just when you need help.  The demos were as mesmerising as you’d expect, whilst still communicating a lot of important information.  Applying the techniques in the context of a full painting brought the afternoon to a very satisfying, tired and happy close.”
K Thomas
Original article here: https://www.karenthomaswatercolour.com/single-post/2017/04/19/A-workshop-with-Jem-Bowden

“Jem has a very rare mix of inspirational and practical teaching skills. His kind manner, patience and helpfulness built my confidence and had me trying new things on the very first day. He is both a talented painter and teacher, I would recommend his courses wholeheartedly!”
K Herrick.

“Hi Jem,
Just wanted to say a big thank you for the 2 days last week, I gained a huge amount from working one to one – it’ll probably take quite a while for me to digest all that we talked about and to start building it into my practice!  It certainly met all my objectives for the 2 days. I’d definitely like to spend some time again later in the year, if you’re willing.
Thanks again (oh, and I hope the demo went well on Friday?)
Best wishes,
Brian.”

“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.”
Matt Trapnell

“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.”
F Walters.

“What a wonderful experience to have studied the Watercolour Diploma Course under tutor Jem Bowden with London Art College. I’ve learn’t so much from Jem, who always indicated what I did well and pointing out the areas I could improve too.
Through Jem I know my confidence has risen quite a lot as he continued to encourage me onwards. I especially love the way Jem allows you to retain your own particular style, always encouraging you on and mostly to enjoy yourself.
Thoroughly enjoyed whole journey at my own pace, and thrilled to have crossed the line and now really looking forward to that knock on the door from the postman with the Diploma.
Thank You Jem – Thank You London Art College.
Highly Recommend this course for all the Professionalism, Care & Attention to every detail, especially for all the Patience/Kindness I felt throughout.”
Connor Walsh.

Dear Jem,
First of all thank you for all of your kindness, advice and patience. Without your encouragement and thoughtfulness I wouldn’t have been able to develop in watercolour painting. I think you were always honest and you are really happy when any of your students managed to paint something superb.
When I saw your gorgeous and wonderful paintings on your website I felt that you are a great artist who I can believe in.
I have learned much more besides the technical improvements during this year than I had thought possible before. I have had lots of questions about painting, too. Why do I paint? What/how do I like to express something? How do I like to paint? Some of my watercolour works are set aside for framing. It has been a great year with lots of painting.
With kind regards, Aneta.”

“So here we are, at the end of things!  I have thoroughly enjoyed this course, your feedback has been so insightful and thoughtful, I will really miss having you as my tutor.
I have a long way to go still, and my art attention is at this moment divided between trying to improve my drawing skills, exploring different techniques and mediums as well as my first love, watercolour.
Looking forward to my last critique Jem, and I wish you the very best, your paintings are a true inspiration, and I hope to be able to follow your work from here across the small pond that is the Irish sea!
Best wishes, Emma Montonen”

“Le hasard a fait que j’ai visionné une démo de Jem Bowden sur mon ordinateur. J’ai été très intéressée par la technique et la force qui se dégage de l’oeuvre: c’est figuratif mais traité d’une telle façon que ce n’a rien d’une “copie” de paysage. L’émotion que j’ai ressentie a été incroyable et plus je faisais défiler la “galerie” de tableaux plus mon enthousiasme croïssait. Il y a longtemps que je n’avais pas éprouvé cela. Alors je vous remercie du fond du coeur.
Je lis à peu près en anglais mais je souhaiterais un DVD rt/ou un livre en français.  Très amicalement, Nicole G.  PS – Je vous précise que j’ai 88 ans et je suis passionnée par l’aquarelle que je pratique depuis 10 ans, sans aucun talent particulier . Je suis tptalement adepte du plein air qui me procure un bonheur intense , quel que soit le temps!

(Translation: – “By chance, I watched a demo of Jem Bowden on my computer. I was very interested in the technique and strength that emerges from the work: it is figurative but treated in such a way that it is not a “copy” of landscape. The emotion I felt was incredible and the more I scrolled through the “gallery” of paintings the more my enthusiasm grew. It has been a long time since I had experienced that. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. I read about English but I would like a DVD rt / or a book in French. Very warmly, Nicole G.  PS – I tell you that I am 88 years old and I am passionate about watercolor that I practice for 10 years, without any particular talent. I’m totally fan of the outdoors that gives me intense happiness, whatever the weather!”)

“Watercolourist enthralled Newton St Cyres Art Group members”
A DEMONSTRATION by watercolour artist Jem Bowden was enjoyed by members of Newton St Cyres Art Group on Friday, January 26.
Jem is an accomplished and acclaimed watercolourist, and spends much of his time teaching, demonstrating and contributing to art magazines. He came all the way from Bristol, bringing painting equipment and also several large examples of his work.
He works energetically and fast, but not before planning his painting carefully in terms of composition and tone.
He prefers to work en plein air when possible, as this method lends authenticity to the painting, and allows a more emotional interpretation than when working from a photo.
Using a limited palette of maximum five colours, and just two brushes, he produced two paintings of Norfolk scenery: water, reed beds, big skies, a church in one and a windmill in the other, and distant hills and trees.
He worked from a tonal sketch in pencil, saying that attention to tone and composition are more important than colour.
The finished paintings were delicate, yet full of light and movement.
The amount of planning required is daunting: the sketch, the composition, the tones, and which areas to leave white, but as he said, the most effective paintings are those which involve taking risks once you start applying the paint.
He demonstrated great skill and gave us all kinds of useful tips. An inspiring morning!
Jenny Hallam”
(From Crediton Courier Newspaper – Editorial:
http://www.creditoncourier.co.uk/article.cfm?id=124730

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’.
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

“Hi Jem,
I am so grateful to you for your patience and encouraging method of giving a critique. I have looked forward each time to hearing your voice and it has given me great inspiration to keep going.
I can’t thank you enough, and I’m quite sad now the course has ended!  Over the past few months I have enjoyed painting but not really felt passionate about my subjects. I enjoy landscapes but finding the old photo album from a trip to Kenya was a complete turning point.  Your comments re my drawing skills also gave my a boost.  I  have joined The Wildlife art society Internationale and hope to exhibit some of my attempts.  Again, thank you so much for all your help.
Best wishes, Jane Feld”

“Hi Jem,
Just wanted to say a massive thank you for a great two days. I have learned a lot from you just listening and watching and it has made me think about how I paint and how I can improve and paint plein air myself.
Would love to attend another at some point so look forward to any future course hopefully down this end of the country.
Keep going, your work and teaching methods are awesome.
Best Regards,
Kim.”

“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”

“Jem, I am so glad I took this course. You took me well out of my comfort zone, but with your support and encouragement, I found I enjoyed painting chickens and tackling strong colours and simplifying my landscapes. I will enjoy painting so much more following your tuition.  I am so proud of my beach painting.  Thanks again!  Jude.”

“Jem, It’s been a privilege to be your pupil, I’ve learnt so much. I see this year as the beginning of my painting going places. Happy Christmas to you!  Gillian.”

“Hi Jem,
Please find attached assignment 3, part A. Thank you for your wise and encouraging words in regard to my last assignment. You really inspired me to keep painting. I have also started to visit more art galleries and find I have an even greater appreciation of these works of art. Even the Youtube videos have started to make sense thanks to your excellent guidance and the course.”
Deniece

“Dear Jem,
You must get tired of repeating yourself but it has paid off.
We have learned so much and had a great time doing it. The week has been inspiring, we really enjoyed it, got a lot out of it and appreciate the work you put in all day every day.
We’re now looking at the world entirely differently, seeing tones and soft edges everywhere!
Thank you so much!
Pat and Geri.”

“Jem, I am so pleased you are my tutor. I am ‘studying’ your paintings assiduously and I am beginning to grasp some of the language and techniques that you talk about. The light in your work is amazing – all done by leaving the paper white! Thank you for your blog, too, which I am also reading very carefully and learning a great deal as a result. I would like to book onto your workshop in November…”
Harjinder.

“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 Tricia,
Many thanks for organizing Jem Bowden’s workshop which I thoroughly enjoyed.
It really is very useful to see a professional artist at work. The format of the day was well constructed including demos & the opportunity to carry out exercises & a final  painting. Jem’s enthusiasm flowed throughout the day. An enjoyable day spent in great company. Please pass on my appreciation once again to Jem.
Best wishes, Graham”

“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.”
Mike West.

“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”

“Hi Jem,
Many thanks for your excellent tuition , I shall be doing my best to apply these newly learnt skills when painting this weekend .
Next week I shall be searching for local scenes to paint {no more copying !!}.
Shall be buying a painting from you during next month , not sure which one yet .  Very best wishes and thanks again.
Bob Morton”

I’m so pleased that I managed to get to this stage, and I want to here publicly thank my fantastic tutor @jem.bowden – He has patience of a saint and the eyes of an eagle – his critiques and guidance have been of invaluable help on this journey! Thank you, You’ve given me encouragement and motivation to keep practising.
Liz M”

“Hello Jem,
Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed yesterday and how much I learned.
It was truly inspiring and all I was hoping for.
I will be buying the brushes, colours and paper later today.
Many thanks and kind regards,
Lyn”

“Hi Jem,
Thank you SO much for your critique to assignment 6. To be honest, I was becoming slightly disheartened!  As I’ve said before, my ‘style’ for botanical portraits and pen and wash has been more detailed for years, but I have learned so much from this course, and particularly your feedback, and cannot thank you enough.
Receiving your latest critique, I feel much more positive and more confident about the way forward, developing my own style.  Thank you again.
Kind regards, Sally”

Jem,
Thank you very much for your critiques and encouragement throughout the course. I have found them very useful and will continue to use and review them for some time to come. I will also revisit the course material over the next few months to keep up my development.
I feel that the course has brought me to the point where I can now progress on my own. I have several ideas I wish to develop and feel that I will now keep going alone.
However, I shall look out for a group of like-minded people to join as we all need a bit of support every now and again.  Once again, thank you very much!
Ken”

Video tuition

Now available

Please see the new Videos page on my website to buy (or hire) my first instructional film/video (there will be more).

Here’s some detail on the content:

“After an introduction to his materials, Jem explains and clearly demonstrates in simplified form some of the key techniques he uses in the featured demonstration painting. He then discusses his composition, based on two reference photographs, before guiding us through the entire half-imperial size painting. Every brushstroke is seen, including zooming into closer focus at times. Jem then shares a selection of his other paintings where similar techniques can be observed, and finally, he revisits the sky to discuss this important part of the painting at greater length, in slow motion.”
Instructional video, 70 mins running time, in Full HD (1920×1080).