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Art Masterclass - 65


February 2012


Shuji UeharaFrom The Artist, the monthly magazine for amateur and semi-professional painters, giving practical instruction in painting and drawing in watercolour, pastels and oils, as well as news of art events, exhibitions and competitions open to leisure artists;





A Japanese Watercolourist's View of Painting Holidays in the UK

By Shuji Uehara

  St Gwyddelan's Church, watercolour, 24x16in. (61x40.5cm)


Last summer I made my 15th painting trip to the UK. I have visited here since 2000 primarily to meet friends and join painting courses. My first course was with Bryan Thatcher at Brush-Strokes Studio in Snowdonia and since then I have found each course leads to another wonderful painting experience and new friends.

Unfortunately there are still no words in Japanese, or even the concept in Japan, of painting holidays or breaks. In Japan, artists, even beginners, tend to go to art discussions and get involved in disputes and disagreements. I have also seen many mediocre teachers talk and explain a lot, but there’s no one like Bryan Thatcher who brilliantly demonstrates a variety of styles in one day. In the evening, everyone gets together to eat in a nice local pub. It’s so friendly and relaxed. You can also stop worrying about subjects, transport, food and accommodation on a typical painting holiday. You are free to just paint and talk with other artists.

From the White Lion, Tenterden

From The White Lion, Tenterden, 16x24in. (40.5x61cm)


My three secrets

  • The first phase is before the trip. Plan your journey creatively and imagine the people you will encounter.
  • The second phase is during the trip. Try to blend in with the locals and appreciate everything you experience, from the art and food to local transport you use and the places and scenery you visit.
  • The third phase is after the trip. Look back over your trip and enjoy your recollections. Then re-write your rough notes into a travel record and put your pictures into a portfolio.

Dolwyddelan Village, watercolour, 16x24in. (40.5x61cm)

Dolwyddelan Village, watercolour, 16x24in. (40.5x61cm)



I travel by public transport so not only my painting equipment but also my luggage is limited to about 45lb. When I paint outside, I use a clear plastic portfolio to carry A3 size 140lb Langton or Saunders Rough paper. I tuck a city or town map in one of the outer sides and a bus route map on the other side. My small shoulder bag contains:

  • A palette made by the Japanese maker, Holbein
  • Winsor & Newton Artists’ watercolour and a Bijou paintbox
  • A small plastic bottle, which is attached at the top and bottom of a cup-shape container (which I made from cutting down a slightly bigger bottle)
  • A Japanese Namura No.16 Round brush, called Half, which is half ox hair and half synthetic hair
  • Raphael’s mop and Rigger brushes
  • Roberson pocket sable travel brush
  • A Japanese-made Pilot ultra bold 1.6mm tip ballpoint pen
  • A small Moleskin notebook
  • Plus a cutter; a sponge; Schmincke’s masking fluid, and a small pack of tissues.

West Sands, watercolour, 16x24in. (40.5x61cm)

West Sands, watercolour, 16x24in. (40.5x61cm)

Yokohama-based watercolourist, SHUJI UEHARA has been teaching art in high school for 36 years and tutors adults in figure drawing and watercolour painting. He retires in March and begins this year’s painting holiday in the UK at the end of May. See more of his work at

Shuji Uehara


The complete article by Shuji also covers his techniques and inspirations for his watercolour paintings and can be found in the 24 page Courses and Holidays Supplement FREE with the February issues of Leisure Painter and The Artist.


Art courses and holidays



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