A work of art
Jane McGuire

A work of art

Whats it like going on a watercolour course

First published date January 13 2016 Amended date January 13 2016

If there’s one person in the office who would have the patience and serenity to succeed at watercolour painting, it would be Hien, our Deputy Digital Marketing Manager. Spending her days working on our Vietnam site and her evenings looking after her beautiful baby Leo, I couldn’t think of a better candidate to kick back and relax on an art course. As the longest serving member of our Digital Marketing team, Hien knew the drill and was more than happy to sit down and tell me all about it the next day. Slightly in awe of her work, it turns out we had a Monet in our midst all along...


I have always been interested in arts, but didn’t have the opportunity to practise much in my native country, Vietnam. Since coming to London, I have been so overwhelmed by the choice of galleries, museums and theatres to go and visit and was waiting for the chance to find out more! After doing some research about the easiest forms of painting for a beginner, I came across watercolour, almost by accident. I decided to enrol on an evening course with my colleague Joyce and set off to City Lit in Covent Garden to experiment.

Falling in love with colour

I was surprised at how quickly I fell in love with the beauty of colour and how they blend into each other naturally and uncontrollably with watercolour. As I had enrolled on a crash course, I didn’t expect to be able to paint skilfully at the end, but learnt interesting techniques I am sure I will apply to other work. The first thing we learnt was that there is no such thing as an ugly painting – everyone can paint, everyone has a different approach towards painting and everyone interprets art in different ways.


A work in progress

As we rolled up our sleeves and got going, I was astounded by the mix of students around me – I have never attended a class that was so varied. There were only eight or nine students in the classroom, which gave our tutor time to give each of us attention and personalised feedback. This was really helpful as we were all beginners so needed guidance. We all quickly became absorbed in our own work, to the point where nobody was really talking, however we were definitely all spying on each other’s work!

An Artist’s room

The studio was everything I expected – filled with paints, paper, different brushes, sinks and the all important pots of water, very much needed for watercolour painting! We were all free to move around the room to observe what our fellow students were doing and prepare our tools.


Learning from an expert

Our instructor was very supportive and helpful and definitely made us all feel confident we could repeat these skills outside her classroom. She provided us with detailed instructions and handouts so we could look back at her notes later. I also really liked the attention she paid to our work, giving very constructive feedback. She didn’t say anything out loud, but I could tell from the way she looked at my painting that she was trying to understand my intention and help me improve it. Her constructive feedback on the strong elements of my painting as well as the weak parts really helped me learn a lot in a short space of time.

Roll up your sleeves and have a go

Would I recommend this course to a friend? Yes, definitely! I thoroughly enjoyed the course and will be practising my new skills whenever I get a chance! 

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.