Monday, December 16, 2019

Happy Holidays and Looking forward to 2020.

Hi all. Getting all the "needed" work done before closing up shop for a few days during the holidays. Don't think I'll be on my rear though. Bringing the plein air kit for some rural studies at the farm. I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone I had the pleasure of meeting this year. I had a wonderful year of teaching and travel that took me to many new places and faces. Ah even the workshop in Lubbock while recovering from the flu, in hindsight, was so full of positivity and good energy I managed to make it through the week. It was definitely touch and go for the most part that Tuesday. I don't think I've ever taught with that "just put me in bed" feeling before except in a few cases with the Germans but that's another story and one I'll keep to myself. Next year brings a few new and exciting opportunities. I'll be headed to Colorado in May as a faculty member at PACE and then I think two days off and then to England for the Watercolor Masters exhibition. I think there are a couple of spots left in that one. Email Tara at to reserve a spot in my 2 day workshop there. I'll also be spending most of July in China painting and touring. Ahem- but the last thing is what I've been keeping under the table for a while now. My first book will be published in the summer. I've been off of social media etc for a bit and most of the painting I'm doing right now is for it. No worries I've set aside a little step by step for you and my newsletter gang to give you a taste. Next years workshops will be a little different as in actually writing down and organizing how I approach painting has brought new things to light and made me consider what is important in teaching in a new and exciting way.  My first stop on next year will be in San Diego for the San Diego Watercolor Society. If you're in the area or want to get out of the bitter cold join me in the sun February 10 - 13 for some plein air and studio fun! Register here

So on to the Holidays and your little present from me. A step by step of a little painting of Edinburgh Castle and a taste of home for me. Enjoy your Holidays and a wonderful 2020 to you all!


For the rest of my workshops next year please visit

Monday, September 24, 2018

Painting and sketching with Iain in the South of France Sept 1-8, 2019

Next year we have a new venue and a different approach to working on site. I've noticed over the years that the more I use my sketchbook with my students en plein air the more they seem to get out of the experience. In June I took a group of 12 adventurous painters to Tuscany and from the first demo I worked mainly in my sketchbook stressing the ease of which the set up is to carry for a whole day of painting and the number of images you can capture in a short time. I love painting at the easel and will certainly be doing some demos there but my true passion is the sketchbook. It is my place of joy, observation, solace, and exploration. The more I work there the more my studio painting loosens up.
Those of you who have painted with me before understand first hand how much I believe the sketchbook is the perfect instrument for allowing your creative instincts to flourish. A sketch is just that. A quick observation of a moment in time that you will keep with you as long as you follow my rules of never taking a page out of your book. A sketch doesn't have the added baggage of possibly being framed or sent to some juror to ponder it's merits. It's yours and you choose who and when you share it. Too often when painting in the field I see people disappointed in their efforts. I know. I've been there. You haul your easel and kit all over creation and then carefully tape down the paper, study your subject, and then everything goes south. I believe a better way to travel is less stress and more exploration. It is amazing how much of a city you can see with just a book, a couple of pencils, a travel palette, and a brush. My first demonstration in Italy this year was to take my full plein air kit and let everyone give it a heft. Then I took only the necessary items I needed to work with the sketchbook and put that in my day bag and let the students see the difference. It is significant to say the least. The light weight set up allows you to go much longer and with much more comfort. It also allows for a bit of extra space should you find a little memento you'd like to take home with you as you wander the streets taking in a new city.
I find the surest way to ruin a painting is to allow it to become precious before it deserves even the slightest accolade. The art of keeping a sketchbook allows you to begin to shed those preconceived ideas of what your work on site should look like. You can spend 15 minutes warming up and doing little vignettes then begin to explore where you are in much more detail. The object of sketching a new place is not the outcome but the experience of sitting still amid the rush of tourists snapping photos and buying overpriced t shirts. Listening to the locals. Smelling glorious wafts of baking bread or simply a glass of wine and a table to draw with a view. You get to know "place" on a much higher level and that practice in itself begins to instill a confidence that will serve you better than any other practice I can think of.
My group in Italy and most recently near Cape Cod with the New England Watercolor Society got the full experience and there were more smiles and laughter than I've seen in a while when painting outside. The Aperol spritz in Tuscany may have helped there.
If you are interested in joining us please contact Jackie Grandchamps of French Escapade. This will be my 5th tour with her and there's a reason I keep coming back to work with this excellent tour organizer. The itinerary is exceedingly well researched, the accommodations stunning, the locations as good as it gets, and the food and wine in France speaks for itself. Here are the contacts and a few other sketches from our trip this year.
My very best,
Jackie Grandchamps
web and course description
Iain Stewart-

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

From Sketchbook to Studio

From Sketchbook to Studio

Behind all good paintings there is the initial spark of inspiration and excitement. Every artist has a different approach to working from that idea to something tangible. At times that vision is realized and, sadly, quite often it is not. Not to fear. Our mistakes teach us more about where that vision was lost and how to fix it than any piece that is successful. There is a simple tool, that if used with regularity, will begin habits that will change the way you approach your work and see the world in ways you cannot imagine. It’s often overlooked and underused. In short your sketchbook. There is no other tool at your disposal better suited to allow you to explore your ideas with abandon and a carefree attitude than a sketch. 

When on location your sketchbook not only serves as a place to record your surroundings. It becomes a time capsule taking you back to the place, sounds, conversations going on around you, the seagull that tried to steal your breakfast, standing outside a fish and chip shop warming yourself by the fryer vent on a July day in Scotland, that perfect moment when your wife brings you a lavender ice cream in Provence just as you are finishing up your work for the day. Your photographs serve as all too impersonal representations of what it is like to recall where you were. Whether you spend 5 minutes or an hour sketching you will know a place so much deeper than a tourist with a camera collecting images could in days. 

For every artist there is a process and the idea of a result and over the course of teaching across the US and abroad I have noticed one constant. The more you use your sketchbook the more you get out of your travels and the better your work becomes. This is my passion. This is my joy. When involved in the act of drawing on location I become me. I know I am creating memories and rarely worry about the outcome. After all it’s only a sketch right?

My focus over the last few years has been to recapture that feeling in my studio works. I will use site photography and sketches done on location to begin the important work of editing, creating a strong composition, and thinking in terms of shape and light rather than detail and other unnecessary clutter. 

In fleshing out a painting you need not be fearless but you certainly shouldn’t be hesitant or put too much pressure on yourself to perform. If a work becomes precious then the natural reaction is to protect it. This akin to putting a chain on a young bird as it begins to spread its wings and to take it’s first flight. Allow your work the freedom to soar or, if need be, fail in a spectacular fashion. No middle ground- go for it and don’t worry about the results. They will come in time. 

When moving from your sketchbook to the full easel set up and all it’s accoutrement there is a sense of now things are getting serious. Why? Don’t let those little voices start. Shut them down and enjoy being in that place at that particular time. Life is fleeting. Enjoy those moments. Cherish them and they will pay you back in ways you never expect. 

This is my passion. This is my joy. Painting for the sheer pleasure of the process from Sketchbook to Studio. Whether the studio is outside or indoors is irrelevant as long as you do spend as much time as possible drawing from life. To be outside amongst the elements and in full view of your subject is the best lesson in painting or drawing nothing can replace that. When you do take your work inside your studio those lessons will become more and more apparent as you spend time observing. If you take joy in the act of painting and let go of the dread of failure everything will fall in place in time and with practice. You will begin to surprise yourself. That will lead to repeating the process and around and around we go. The true beauty of this is you are building repeatable habits that will allow you to see more difficult subjects in less detailed ways. By using a sketch as your starting point you are creating a map that leads you to the final painting. Most importantly you are teaching yourself the important lessons of self critique, composition, editing, and line work. 

I started writing this as a new introduction to my workshops but quickly realized I needed to let myself write what I thought and not limit it to a few paragraphs. I invite you to visit my website and in particular the chance to paint with me in Italy next year from May 25-June 1. The information can be found here. Have a creative day!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Iain Stewart's only Plein Air workshop for 2017 at Madeline Island School of the Arts June 5-9

Boats on Sticks- demo MISA 2016

I will be returning to Madeline Island this Summer for my popular "Sketchbook to Studio" workshop. This is my only plein air workshop in 2017! The Island is the perfect location for my class as their plein air scenes are limitless and their facilities are top notch.
MISA invites you to stay on campus in comfortable rooms, just steps away from spacious studios which are flooded with natural light from window-lined walls.
Delight in delicious, artfully prepared meals as part of your on-campus stay. MISA is known for their bottomless cookie jars, unlimited refreshments and snacks, and studios that stay open 24-hours a day. They take pride in making you feel at home! 
Come with a friend for this very special week at MISA and enjoy a small class size, and plenty of one-on-one instruction with me.
"Iain was an excellent instructor who very generously shared his knowledge and wisdom with us. He really cares about his students and that they learn. The food and facilities were amazing! - 2016 MISA Alum
Click HERE for more information and to register or call
(715) 747-2054

Iain teaching on Madeline Island

Fantastic student work!

Iain is an faculty member for the Plein Air
Convention & Expo in San Diego for 2017

Thursday, December 1, 2016

2016 Annual Holiday Cyber Handmade Buy Local Extravaganza.

It's that time of year again. The turkey or tofurkey has been gobbled, the leftovers reheated and consumed by the boy, and my workshops for the year are done, leaving me to closet myself in the studio and paint away. I've used a few names for this sale- 12 paintings of Christmas, Ho Ho Holiday Sale, as well as others. Given the onslaught of advertising this year I have elected to rename it....

The Annual Holiday Cyber Handmade Buy Local Extravaganza. Notice I used bold font and itlalcized it to add effect and a certain zest while keeping with the professional nature of my posts here. This year the paintings will be coming fast and furious as I rework a few old ones and complete new ones.

If you are interested in any of these please contact me via EMAIL or my Facebook Page using the following LINK to my Watercolor Page which will be updated as I complete new works.

Prices include shipping within the continental US. Overseas shipping will be added for those of you outside the US.

All my best for you and yours for the Holidays,

Örserum Barn- Sweden
8" x 11"

Saint Didier Alleys- Provence 
11" x 8"

Balmoral Hotel- Edinburgh 
4" x 4"

Smith T's- Opelika
11.5" x 8.5"

Shrimper- Apalachicola
4" x 4"

8th and B- Opelika
7.75" x 5.25"

The Kyles of Bute, Scotland
8" x 5.25"

From Pals, Spain
10" x 14"

The Swilcan Bridge- Old Course  St. Andrews
5.25" x8"

Fife Sheep, Scotland
5" x 7"

Fife Sheep 2, Scotland
5" x 7"

Gordes- Provence
14" x 10"

more to come........

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Come on a Painting Adventure with Iain Stewart

Hi all. Just finding time to look to next year and some of my more  exiting workshops. I'll be doing two Plein Air workshops next year, which are typically my favorite as a teacher, as they allow us to explore new places together. As my dearest wife will attest when traveling I am usually so overwhelmed by my desire to sketch and paint that I can be a bit of a nuisance. These workshops allow me to go full tilt and paint with you places I have never been. So in addition to being a bit like a kid in a candy store I also get to do my two favorite things- paint and share that enjoyment with others. 
First on the list is painting the lakes and villages in the foothills of the French Alps where we will again tour with the fantastic Jackie Grandchamps of French EscapadeJune 3-10 We will be located out of the Spa town Aix les Bains and paint in Chanaz, Annecy "The little Venice of the Alps," Virieu and it's 11th century castle, after which we will relax at the Spa in Aix les Bains. Sounds good to me. There is still time to receive the early bird discount if you sign up before the end of November.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The DVD's are here...

Sometimes you need to take creative license with your photographic references but that is not always easy. With Iain Stewart's Light in Watercolor Painting Collection you will learn how to change the light, mood, and composition of your reference to paint the beautiful watercolor landscapes you desire no matter the original inspiration. 
Ian will show you how to paint a seascape, landscape, and a cityscape in his three newly released DVDs while analyzing each photographic reference and making adjustments along the way. Not only will you get three instructional videos but you will also receive three step-by-step video companion guides that each highlight key lessons and concepts in each video. Iain also shares his best tips for bringing the joy and spontaneity of sketching to your studio work in the Watercolor Artist June 2014 issue.  
In addition to these must-have resources filled with tips and instruction from Iain Stewart you will also be able to start painting right away with two sets of Daniel Smith extra fine watercolorsand a large plastic folding palette, all included in this exclusive collection!

You can order the DVDs as a collection or individually HERE.

Have a great day guys!