Pablo Picasso said, “I am always doing things that I don't know how to do, that's how I get to do them.”

The Sketchbook Club is a space where artists of any level – absolute beginner or experienced alike – can practise using different techniques and materials. This inspiring art course is all about playing, experimenting, having the freedom to “see what happens if...” 

A sketchbook is a private space where no one is judging you. It is a tool to help you push yourself artistically, that you can use to improve techniques whatever your chosen art form and whatever your existing level. 

The course

Each week your tutor, Brenda Holtam, will guide you to an increased confidence in the use of colour. Brenda's own interests in this area have led her to develop a range of exercises for students to gain greater understanding and control of colour. 

Through a basic knowledge of colour theories, reference to a examples of artists’ work from art history, and a lot of opportunity to practise, you will gain the skills and confidence to create harmonious paintings.

Brenda believes that art takes as many forms as there are artists; it is a personal language that develops through use. This is why sketchbooks are such a fruitful way to gather ideas or experiment with new methods. This course is for artists of all levels and backgrounds. With Brenda's expert guidance, you will improve your art skills, whatever your existing experience. There is emphatically no compulsory exhibition at the end of this course: it is all about practising art for yourself, with no pressure to reach a certain level or produce a particular work.

What to expect

On this course you will experience:

  • Introductions to the work and methods of a variety of artists
  • Practical work: cultivate your own sketchbook, playing especially with colour and tone
  • Demonstrations of materials and techniques
  • Try things out in a supportive, friendly environment
Brenda not only shares her brilliant sketching techniques with us, she also gives us the confidence to find our own style. The lessons fly by. Brenda shares her own talents generously.
— Rosalind Clayton

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for artists of any experience – beginners or accomplished artists are all welcome. Everyone will receive individual attention from the tutor. You will be encouraged to broaden your artistic experience, try out new materials or techniques, and hone your skills. The atmosphere is fun, relaxed and supportive. All are welcome.

This course is definitely for you if:

  • You want to get into painting or illustration but are not sure how to get started...
  • You want help getting started again after a break, or when ideas have dried up...
  • You want to connect with others, to be inspired through shared time...
  • You want to build your confidence as an artist in an encouraging environment...
  • You want to explore new methods or media...
  • You have limited time and space but want the fun of being creative...
  • You want to build a handcrafted memory bank of your life...
  • You want to experience the buzz of making images...

Do I need special equipment?

The first session of the term is a taster session. You do not need any equipment at all – the aim of this first session is overcoming the tyranny of the blank page.

If you enjoy the class, you will need your own sketchbook (one that suits your lifestyle) and a few basic materials that you can obtain inexpensively from local art shops.


Meet your tutor

Brenda Holtam

Brenda Holtam is Head of Visual Arts at Hampton Court House and a portrait artist by training. She has been keeping sketchbooks as long as she can remember, using them to practise techniques, experiment with colour combinations and capture ideas. She has been teaching since 1989 and especially loves helping complete beginners to get into drawing and painting. Brenda studied painting at Falmouth School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. She is an elected member of the Royal Watercolour Society.

 Brenda Holtam

Brenda Holtam


How to book

Reserve your place for this intimate and inspiring course

  • This course will run for nine sessions on Thursday evenings from 7.00 to 8.30 pm, starting on 11 January, with a week's break at half term
  • Course fee covers the whole term's classes and use of some equipment – your tutor can advise you on suitable materials you can obtain art materials inexpensively at local art shops
  • Numbers are capped in order to ensure personal attention from the tutor, so we recommend reserving a place soon
  • The first class is a taster session; if you decide that the course is not for you, we offer a full no-quibble refund