Welcome to my website

Here you will 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.


Bath cathedral en plain air, March 2017.

General Information

I am available to give watercolour demonstrations around the South and Southwest of England, and to run workshops which can be tailored to a group’s preferences.  I am also very happy to travel further afield if possible, but will need to cover the additional travel costs incurred.  Please enquire and I’ll check viability.

I teach privately one-to-one, and run a regular watercolour class in Central Bristol.  I also work as a tutor on residential painting holidays, run workshops at venues across the country (such as Windrush House and The Sandpiper Studio) and write for practical art magazines.
Please click the relevant tab below for more detail on each of these.

Private one-to-one tuition

This is usually based at my home studio in South Bristol, however, I am also very willing to visit you in your own home if this is easier or more convenient for you, provided I can get there.  Please enquire and I will check viability.

I love to tutor on a one-to-one basis.  I feel it is the quickest and best way for students to learn.  The ability to focus up close on any aspect of painting the student wants to 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 a firm idea of where you’d like to begin, for example with techniques for a specific subject (skies, trees, water…) or maybe it is something more fundamental such as composition, creating impact or improving your mark-making that you want to focus on.
Alternatively, I can structure tuition around priorities that I can identify from viewing your work.  I am happy working with anyone, from ‘absolute beginner’ upwards.

Painting holidays and residential courses

Wye Valley painting holiday, July 2017 – Now booking

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 fun whilst making progress and being looked after by the Alpha crew.
Further details of the holiday can be found here:


Please contact me for any further information, or Matthew or Gill at Alpha Painting Holidays, on 01934 733877 or by email:


Absolute Beginners course

12837437_1118086481563730_1300168495_oSpring term fully booked.
I tutor a 6, 10 or 12 week course (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.

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.


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.



I run my own workshops from time to time, either based indoors, or outdoors ‘en plein air’ when possible.
I also teach day workshops at well-known establishments, such as Windrush House in the Cotswolds, (Former home of James Fletcher-Watson and base of The Pure Watercolour Society), The Sandpiper Studio on The Wirral, The Folk House in Bristol and at other venues specialising in Watercolour tuition.
Please scroll down for details of upcoming workshops.

Workshops at art groups/clubs/societies – general info:
I 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.

‘Better landscapes  A full day workshop
(Now full – NEW DATE TBA for late 2017, please contact me to go on a reserve list)

Date: Tuesday 18th April 2017, 9.45 am – 4.15 pm.

Re-focus on what counts.  Get more impact and vitality into your watercolours, and better control over the medium whilst allowing its beauty to shine.


What makes the difference between good landscapes and ‘better’ landscapes?
Jem shares tips, advice and methods that he believes can enhance anyone’s paintings.
Fundamentals such as paint/water control, brushwork, composition, planning and ‘attitude’ will be closely considered.
Content of the day is varied, including demonstration, practical work and discussion, with a good amount of individual attention.
To ensure the latter, places are limited to just 8.
Please book now to secure a place.

Note, this workshop is aimed at those with already some experience of watercolour; i.e. ‘improvers’ or ‘intermediate’ to more experienced painters.  Relative beginners would be welcome, but may find the workshop quite challenging.


Conygre Hall,
North Road,

(Timsbury is an attractive, quiet village, south of Bristol and Bath)
Plenty of parking is available at the hall.

Price: £55

Please bring all your usual painting materials, including plenty of paper.

A small number of specific items may be provided as a planned part of the tuition, but these are in addition to normal painting materials which you must bring yourself.


*Please bring a question or problem, a joke (no singing please) and a (spare) pair of old socks.*

Tea and coffee will be available, but lunch is not included.
A short walk down the road is a cafe/bistro and a Fish & Chip shop, which are both open over lunchtime.  (www.theconnies.co.uk and www.bigreddirectory.com/our-plaice-timsbury-bath)  We will break for one hour for lunch.

Please note, a deposit of £30 (non-returnable) is required at time of booking, and can be made by either bank transfer, cheque or Paypal.  Payment of the remainder to be received by 4th April 2017, unless in cash on the day of the workshop.
Please contact me by email (or alternatively the Contact form on my website) to arrange payment.  Thank you.



For those living further North, I’m delighted that I will be running a couple of workshops at
The Sandpiper Studio, on the Wirral, for the first time, in September 2017:  http://www.thesandpiperstudio.co.uk/

I’m doing one day for beginners, and one for ‘Intermediate’ level – i.e. people with experience of watercolour, but wishing to improve.
The content will be very different for each workshop.  Please contact me if you’d like further information.  Bookings are made through the studio itself; details via the link above.


Windrush course (NOW FULL)

I’m honoured to have been invited to run a day workshop at James Fletcher-Watson’s former home, Windrush House and Gallery. The date is the 25th of May 2017:

Magazine articles

I write regular instructional articles for Leisure Painter magazine.
In 2016 I also had articles published in Paint & Draw, New Artist and Paint (magazine of the SAA; Society for All Artists).
I always work hard to ensure my articles are actually of practical benefit to the reader, given the necessary constraints of the magazine format.
Follow this link for an article in full, featuring a step-by-step painting of a beach scene:  http://www.creativebloq.com/how-to/how-to-create-a-beautiful-watercolour-landscape-painting



Leisure Painter Oct 2016

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”

FULL REVIEW OF A WORKSHOP by artist Karen Thomas, here:

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.”

“Jem, you’re a legend.  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…


“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

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,

“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,

“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.

“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.

“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,

“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

Rob Morton”

“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,



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.