Architecture and Light in the Landscape with David Sawyer RBA

Thursday Mornings 10.00am-1.00pm

7th January – 11th February 2021

Architecture is an important element in David Sawyer’s work. Known primarily as a landscape painter many of his paintings feature buildings either as the subject or as compositional devices. He has a way with buildings, he can conjure them from a few strokes of his brush. He conveys the complexity of their structures with a breathtaking deftness and economy and yet fully communicates the spirit, weight and presence of these pervasive masses of stone and steel.

Whilst David conveys the weight of the architectural masses he also uses light to bring the edges of the structures into focus and to convey the very different forms of the living world around these mass objects. His skies bring the level of light into play on and through the various forms, be they windows or leaves, and importantly have a life of their own.

Over six weeks David will be sharing the secrets of how he works and helping you to paint architecture and the play of light in the landscape with confidence. He will help you put in place the ideas, perceptions and tools you will need to bring architecture to life in your paintings and drawings.

This course takes place in our Covid safe studio but you can also attend through Zoom if you prefer.

Week 1. Architecture, a Painters Perspective

  • General introduction to the aims and ideas behind the course
  • Looking at a variety approaches and how others artists and painters have interpreted architectural subjects
  • Materials and equipment, brushes, mediums, grounds for painting on,
  • The importance of drawing

Week 2. Getting it all into Perspective

  • Basic principles of Linear Perspective, vanishing point(s),eye levels, horizon lines,etc
  • How to use Perspective as an aid for checking a drawing or painting
  • Scale and distance
  • How over reliance on Perspective can inhibit spontaneity in a painting

Week 3. Putting a Light on the Subject

  • Using light and shade
  • The importance of shadows to describe form and structure
  • Balancing light and dark in the composition
  • Catching cast shadows as they change
  • Colour transformation from light to shadow

Week 4. Keeping it Simple

  • How to find and focus on the important points of interest in the picture
  • Finding the balance between detailed,carefully drawn areas and leaving other parts of the painting loosely sketched in
  • Architecture as simple shapes and profiles , painting against the light, ‘Contre Jour’

Week 5. Figure on ground

  • Compositional strategies
  • Incorporating an architectural subject and including it as part of a larger landscape
  • Towers and spires as important verticals in horizontal landscape compositions
  • “Sky Studies” Architecture and the skyline

Week 6. Other things to think about

  • Figures in the landscape – the importance of including people in a painting and how to paint them
  • The possibilities of reflections – Wet pavements, the canals of Venice or even the glass frontage of other buildings can create interesting compositions when painting architecture
  • Looking down the street – Using a vertical composition or a tall thin format to paint architecture when quite close up to the subject


David Sawyer is a much celebrated landscape artist with a no-nonsense approach.

About David

David Sawyer has been working as a fine artist since he left Canterbury College of Art in the eighties. During that time he’s won many awards and gained plenty of attention. His work often includes architectural motifs which he renders seemingly effortlessly in his impressionistic style. More recently he has been teaching and students appreciate his uncomplicated and direct method and the generous way in which he shares his knowledge. As a seasoned professional he knows every angle of painting and most importantly he knows where to expend his time and energy in order to get his image.

His teaching style is gentle and patient. For beginners he will set them clear tasks with a progressive step by step approach. For the more experienced artist he will allow you to get on and then when the direction is clear discuss your work with you and support you in your objectives. It’s these quiet chats with an expert that can make all the difference.


What students say about David’s courses:

David is a terrific teacher, encouraging and very helpful.  I love the way that besides supporting the group in improving their work, he paints alongside them. I found it inspirational to watch his unique and wonderful skills and technique in action. When the weather is too bad to paint en plein air, he provides excellent material to paint from in the form of real-time videos of interesting scenes and the changing weather. ” Rosemary Clark

“David is an excellent teacher: sensitive, perceptive, detailed, always ready to comment on your personal methods and results rather than expecting you to adopt his way of seeing and painting.” John Knepler

The more I paint with David the more value I get from it. Sometimes I learn from watching him and sometimes he says one or two words which drop like pebbles of wisdom into my pool of ignorance, enlightening as they go.” Recent student

Course fees

£225 for six, three hour workshops

Registration & Payment

To book, please complete the booking process online.