Renowned artist giving classes in Dubai

Artist and author holds watercolour classes in the Majlis Gallery in Bastakiya

British artist Trevor Waugh teaches students how to paint in his "Exploring Watercolour" class at the Majlis Gallery in Dubai's Bastikya district.
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DUBAI //Trevor Waugh holds a captive audience as he dips his brush first into the paint, then water, before making several strokes on to the canvas.

His eight students watch as sweeps of blue becomes a city skyline and browns and purples light up the shadows.

"The colours only start to come alive once they are in dilution," says Mr Waugh, 58. "The trick of the medium is in the name 'watercolour'. You need the water and you need the colour before the painting starts to take shape."

Mr Waugh has been holding watercolour painting classes at the Majlis Gallery in Bastakiya, old Dubai, since the beginning of the month. A renowned artist in his field, he has published several books including one about the UAE - The Emirates Through The Eyes of an Artist.

He is one of seven British professionals who will be visiting the gallery until the end of March to lend their skills to amateur enthusiasts. He says it gives him great pleasure to return to the UAE, which he has visited regularly since 1994 and believes is the perfect place to paint.

"[The country] seduces me every time I come because of the magnificent light and colour here," he says. "The Arabian Peninsula has an almost magical way of trapping the light, and the fact it is surrounded by water makes a huge difference to the environment.

"I keep getting called back again and again."

Although he has visited often, this is the first time he has led a structured workshop. Sitting in the open-air courtyard of the Bastakiya gallery next to the Dubai Creek, which he calls the "Venice of the East", is a great pleasure, he says.

Sara Azzam, a mother of four from Sweden who has been living in Dubai for two years, says she is thrilled to be in the class. "I was really excited when I heard about the classes, because I have seen a lot of Trevor's books and he's pretty famous in the painting world," she says. "I've never taken any kind of class before and I have learnt so much in two days."

Vandana Valrani, an Indian expatriate who has been living in Dubai for 33 years, says she is honoured to have such an expert helping her improve her work.

"We are so lacking in professional artists here in Dubai, so I really feel privileged to have Trevor here."

Alison Collins, the part-owner and manager of the Majlis Gallery, says the courses can be taken over one or two days and are designed for all levels.

"Absolutely anyone, without fail, has an element of creativity in them and these classes are about showing people that," she says.

"It's not about the result or what ends up on the paper, it's about the process. It can help you relax and get lost in the feeling of creativity. Plus the painters we have chosen are all very good at what they do."

As well as watercolour instruction, the classes focus on life drawing, painting and monoprinting. Classes continue until March 21 and cost Dh400 per day. More information can be found at