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Artist Gim in front of easel and forms

© 2021 Image Description: Artist, Gim is sitting in front of an easel and three forms in a studio

Hi. Welcome to my art blog for Koala Courses. I'm a practising artist and an art educator. I blog about various aspects of my art practice, including teaching experiences, art techniques, learning journeys, drawing materials, and painting equipment. I hope you find the information in this blog fun and useful.

Warmest regards, Gim

Watercolour swatch _ Koala Courses

© 2021 Image Description: Watercolour swatch and palette

Watercolour painting tips

  • Create your own swatch sheet, as seen in the image above
  • Forget the rules, when it comes to watercolour paints: experiment using techniques you would use for oils and acrylic paints
  • Mix your media: mix, paper, found materials, synthetic objects
  • Test you skill by working with a limited palette
  • Experiment with different papers, just make sure its absorbent enough so it doesn't buckle (unless that is the effect you want).

If you want to learn more watercolour tips, we ask us about our private tuition sessions by emailing

Ink wash painting blog

Ink wash painting

*Coming soon

Sharpening a charcoal pencil with a knife _ Koala Courses
© 2021 Image Description: Close up of hands sharpening a charcoal pencil with a knife

Sharpening your pencil

It's useful to have a long exposed pencil lead so you can use the tip for fine lines and the belly for shading. Always sharpen away for your body if you are using a knife. Charcoal pencils are generally more fragile than graphite, so you may wish to gently sharpen the tip with sandpaper in the final stages.

Watercolour paint blog

Wellness - How art can take care of you

Coming soon

© 2021 Image Description: Close up of hands sketching outdoors

Wellness - Take care of your hands

As artists we often spend a lot of time working with our hands. After a while they can begin to cramp up. Here are some exercises you can try:

Please see your GP first

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Wellness - Take care of yourself

It's far too easy as an artist to not move for hours as one obsesses over a new creation.

It is very important to drink plenty of water and stop for breaks whilst working.

Think about stretching before you sit down to paint at your easel. Try the NHS five-minute wake up workout:

Here are some neck stretches to try:try:

Please see your GP first

Artist Gim, standing in front of easels in the RA Teachers Studio

© 2021 Image Description: Artist, Gim standing in front of easels in the RA Teachers Studio

It was my turn to be a student, RA Teacher Studio's event

It was my turn to be a student. I had an excellent night of CPD training at the Royal Academy of Arts: a Teacher Studio's event. It was a practical workshop led by practising artist Lucy Ribeiro. We explored:

  • Observation skills
  • Working from a professional life model
  • Mark-making, perspective and composition
  • Experimenting with line, form, tone and texture
  • Exploring ways of seeing and depicting the human figure

It was an very enjoyable way to refresh my teaching practice. I look forward to the next opportunity.

FAMOUS ARTISTS: Klimt and Schiele

If you want to learn different ways to draw the figure ask us about our private tuition sessions by emailing

Art Book Club

Are you are an avid reader of art books, Art Book Club

I recently started a new book club for people who love to read art books on Facebook. I set it up because reading is a solitary activity but when a book has moved or stimulated you it's natural to want to discuss it with someone else. I hope this reading group gives you that opportunity. New members are most welcome.

To join click here or search for "Art Book Club" through the Facebook search engine.

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How do you carry on painting and drawing with arthritis?

Below are some suggestions* that may help (please always consult your doctor first before attempting any of these; this is not medical advice and no liability will be accepted):

  • Choose lightweight pens, pencils, paintbrushes
  • Use pliers to open tough paint tubes
  • Choose drawing and painting tools that have a large diameter (e.g. a paintbrush with a thick handle). Or try wrapping pencils, paintbrushes with rubber tubing to create thicker handles for better grip
  • It may be easier for you to paint if you can sit with your elbows propped up
  • Use scissors that self-open to reduce cutting fatigue
  • Stretch before you start drawing or painting
  • Take regular breaks (setting an alarm is a useful reminder)

Please see your GP first
Print of the wave
© 2021 Image Description: Artist's hands holding fresh print using a pre-carved block based on Hokusai's 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'

Japanese Woodblock Printing

In Tokyo, I had the opportunity the learn the ancient art of Japanese woodblock printing, known as Mokuhanga (Moku = wood, hanga = printmaking). It was my first experience printing with 'non-tacky, thin' paints (think watercolours, gouache and Sumi ink). I was enchanted by the flexibility of the technique, how I could layer colours without the 'thick' buildup of paints, which I usually associate with oil-based or gel-like water-based printing paints. But what impressed me was the speed of the printing process, as the print was almost 'touch dry' after each layer of colour was added.

FAMOUS ARTISTS: Hokusai and Hiroshige

© 2021 Image Description: Artist's hands holding various powdered pigments

Are you addicted to colour? Check out this reading list:

  • Chromophilla, the story of art in colour by Stella Paul
    • History and use of colour in the west and the known ancient world
  • Interaction of colour by Joseph Albers
    • Contains practical exercises
  • Colour, a workshop for artists and designers by David Hornung
    • Contains practical exercises
  • Colour: a natural history of the palette by Victory Finlay
    • History and use of colour
  • The art of colour by Joseph Itten
    • Art theory

If using colour confuses you or you want to learn how to mix paints, ask about our private tuition sessions by email

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© 2021 Image Description: Artist, Gim is sitting in front of easels in a studio

External blogs and art writing

Social Art Library:

a-n,The Artists Information Company, which is the largest artists’ membership organisation in the UK with over 23,000 members:

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Teaching at North Hertfordshire College

For the past few weeks now, I've been tutoring (20/02/19) a series of "Drawing and Painting for beginners" workshops at North Hertfordshire College (NHC), Hitchin (emp. Protocol ;PTS).These workshops form part of NHC's adult education course programme and are not assessed. We have just over 15 students enrolled in our class and I am teaching them to employ art techniques related to line, shape, form, composition, negative space, chiaroscuro, mark making, colour theory and perspective drawing.

Article date: 20/02/2019

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How do you deal with colour blindness as an artist?

Having colour vision deficiency (CVD) means that you see art with different eyes, it should not stop you from being an artist. You don’t have to avoid colour and paint in monochrome, some apps and glasses can help you identify a colour.
Unfortunately, relying on paint labels can often be misleading, for one thing, it’s hard to pin down colours with names like Begonia or Magenta. Secondly, colours tend to deteriorate with time and although you may have recently purchased it, who knows how long the paint tube has been sitting on the shelf.

Artists with CVD: Clifton Ernest Pugh, Charles Meryon

Tubes of oil paint: blue, white, red and yellow _ Koala Courses
© 2021 Image Description: Tubes of oil paint: blue, white, red and yellow

Art Andragogy (Adult Education)

There is a Chinese proverb, "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now". Part of my philosophy, as a teaching artist, is that is never too late to start learning.

The famous Japanese artist, Hokusai, apparently once said, "When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs, but all I have done before the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75, I’ll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80, you will see real progress. At 90, I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100 I shall be a marvellous artist. At 110, everything I create — a dot, a line — will jump to life as never before."


If you want to learn to draw and paint from scratch, ask about our private tuition sessions by email


About Koala Courses

What - Koala Courses runs painting, drawing and printing workshops periodically for young and mature adults. A list of upcoming workshops can be viewed here. Alternatively, one-to-one private tuition is available in a public space. So if no workshops are running, why not register your interest by subscribing to our mailing list here and you will be contacted with our next available programmes. Flexible arrangements are available, so contact Koala Courses today.

Where - Koala Courses provides services across Hertfordshire, inc. St Albans, Harpenden, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage, Letchworth, Knebworth, Hertford and Hitchin.

About - Most workshops are generally small (8 or less). Private one-to-one tuition rates are £37.62 per hour* excluding the hire of a public venue (*rates valid until Dec 2021; venue hire rates typically range from £5 to £25 per hr). For example, hourly rates inclusive of venue hire start from £42.62 in Hitchin and Letchworth, dependent on availability. Please contact Koala Courses for more information on group rates.

Age range - 18 years onward, as long as you are willing and enthusiastic.

What makes us unique - Aside from being passionate about our art workshops, Koala Courses can offer STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) learning opportunities, specifically between the sciences and the arts. So even if you undertake a masterclass in colour theory, there might be a little scientific element to it. Koala Courses can also deliver innovative, project-based learning such as Arts Awards (Bronze & Silver) to learners up to the age of 25 years, which are nationally recognised qualifications.

Payment - via PayPal.

Terms and Conditions - This can be found here.

Contact Koala Courses

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Hertfordshire, UK


There is no need to travel as far as Cambridge or London. Koala Courses can hold drawing classes or printing workshops in St Albans, Harpenden, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage, Letchworth, Knebworth, Hertford and Hitchin.

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