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In the Footsteps of Turner and Cotman

Sketching the Antiquities of Howden in pencil and watercolour

Full Day Watercolour Workshop
with Peter David Scott

Anyone looking from a window of the Bishop’s Manor on a particular day in 1797, might have glanced over toward the Minster and seen a young man in his early 20’s holding a small, brown leather bound sketchbook, busily drawing. Though they wouldn’t have known it, this unknown artist,  still in the process of developing his artistic skills, was to become the greatest ever English painter. His name was Joseph Mallord William Turner.

A few years later, in 1804, at the same spot another young artist John Sell Cotman was drawing the very same view, a man who was destined to be the most accomplished watercolourist of his day, and arguably of all time.

            This was the height of the Romantic movement when artists toured Britain and the continent making sketches of antiquities, often the picturesque ruins of abbeys, castles and other medieval buildings set among wooded landscapes. These artists needed to find effective ways to record the scene quickly and accurately, with the minimum of equipment, and the techniques they developed are still used by sketchers today. This workshop will be the chance for our workshop artists to draw and paint in the exact spot where these giants of art painted over two centuries ago and learn something of their methods. The freshness and modernity of Turner and Cotman’s sketchbooks will surprise and inspire the workshop members in making their own sketches.

Course Timetable

Wednesday 10th July 2019
10:00 am to 4.00 pm

£45 per person
An A5 watercolour sketchbook is included
Suitable for complete beginners and those with some experience

By studying the sketches of these recognised masters, Peter will introduce a couple of simple but effective techniques which students can use to make successful outdoor sketches, and also apply to their finished paintings. These artist’s sketches can be separated into two types; an earlier sketching style paying attention to recording the unchanging aspects of shape and form, and a later style which focuses more on the transient effects of light, atmosphere and weather. The workshop will be divided in to two halves to cover both.


            Early in their careers, Cotman and Turner would work outdoors in pencil, making notes on colours before tinting some of them later when indoors. We will do the same in the morning; sketching on location in pencil, before adding colour to one or two drawings back in the comfort of Bishop’s Manor. This will allow Peter to demonstrate this tinting technique. We will follow the sketching method of Turner most closely, which is the simplest in terms of detail and the most modern aesthetically. They are often left unfinished as though he has drawn as long as he had the time, the weather, or the inclination. Similarly, there is no pressure for students to produce a large finished drawing, small studies and partial drawings of details are perfectly good. Peter will help people to select an achievable view, and give them basic instruction into how best to go about drawing it.


            After lunch, we will complete a single painting entirely outdoors. The aim is to record the changing effects of light and atmosphere, which increasingly became the focus of both these artists,  particularly Turner who became the acknowledged master of it. Students can use their own preferred style and technique for this, including pen and wash if they wish.

Howden’s Historic Buildings

You Will Need

Watercolour paints, if you have your own
Paint brushes, if you have your own
Ordinary pencil
Jam jar for water
An A3 drawing pad to rest on
A small, lightweight folding chair to sit on outdoors

You will be given your own A5 watercolour sketchbook to work in on the day and take home with you. Additional watercolour paper sheets are provided.

 A a small selection of brushes will be available for those who are beginning. Please bring your own preferred paint and brushes if you have them.

About Peter

Peter is an award-winning illustrator with nearly 50 solo books published worldwide. He has been commissioned by most of the well-known publishing houses, including Reader’s Digest, Harper Collins, Random House, Bloomsbury, Dorling Kindersley and 16 children’s books for Usborne. He has also worked in television, advertising and regularly in magazines, supplying all the artwork for the monthly column ‘Hidden Britain’ in BBC Wildlife magazine. His artwork has been exhibited in London, Norwich and many venues in his native Yorkshire as well as the ‘Art of the Picture Book’ exhibition as part of the Guildford Book Festival. He has a large watercolour in the permanent collection of ‘Nature in Art’ in Gloucestershire. His artwork was selected for the Association of Illustrators annual in 2012. Peter has recently completed 24 watercolour artworks for a new book ‘Time to Rhyme’ which is out now. Peter has taught painting and drawing in various media for over 25 years and currently runs several popular classes and workshops.

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