Glorious Gardens & River Estuaries

With Julia Cassels

8 – 12 June 2020 in Woodbridge

Glorious Gardens & River Estuaries is a wonderful late springtime workshop with artist Julia Cassels in Woodbridge, Suffolk.

Julia leads this short art break with watercolour demonstrations, composition and colour exercises as well as one-to-one tuition time, both outdoors and in the Art Safari Studio. 

Your sketchbooks will fill with happy images of Suffolk in early summer.  Glorious Gardens & River Estuaries takes you out into the Suffolk countryside as well as the market town of Woodbridge, sketching and painting en plein air.  We venture to parts of Suffolk that have enchanted artists, poets and authors over the centuries.  As a backdrop are the river estuaries, beautiful country churches and serene gardens.   

As one of the ‘big sky’ counties, we can expect huge skies with magnificent cloudscapes to paint (and we will have some wet weather options at our locations just in case!)

The Art Safari Studio has fabulous views of the Deben estuary from the elevated deck.  The iconic Tide Mill is a few steps away and the mysterious Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo is just across the river.

Enjoy the company of your fellow artists with fulfilling days of artistic exploration and convivial evenings.

We will lift share to painting locations to reduce the number of vehicles.

Welcome gathering at 6pm on Monday 8th June.  The workshop finishes at 1pm on Friday 12th June.

Workshop Cost: £475 per person including VAT

Includes your tuition, lunches and refreshments, and entry to Helmingham Hall Gardens.

Monday 8th June

Welcome drinks and optional supper in Woodbridge

Anyone arriving in Woodbridge today is invited to join Julia and the Art Safari team for a sundowner at The Art Safari Studio at 6pm.  

This also gives you a chance to drop off any art kit and bags in the studio, set up at a table and see where we are on Ferry Quay. 

We will book a table at the Anchor for a welcome supper in Woodbridge at 7pm this evening (not included).  The Anchor is a short walk from the Studio.

Tuesday 9th June Woodbridge / River Deben

Meet at the Art Safari Studio at 09:30.

You will have desk space in the Studio where you can set-up and come and go during the week.

Julia will begin with an introduction in the Studio this morning, please be prepared to let her know if you have a particular aim, interest or technique you would like to work on. 

After a demonstration in the Studio, we set out paint one the quay in Woodbridge. 

Julia would like to spend time with you on the river, as the natural wonder of the ever-changing tidal river Deben along with its wildlife, yachts and all manner of rivercraft make rich subjects for any painter.

Choosing views of the Tide Mill or of the many boats that are scattered on our river, you have a wonderful array of choices – from Dutch barges to houseboats, and from classic yachts to leisure craft.  You will also have time to enjoy the reflections, Suffolk light and the changing tides (you may need to paint faster than you think!).

The Art Safari Studio is always within easy walking distance.

Julia will finish tutoring at about 16:30 each day.

Optional evening activity

We will book tables at local pubs and restaurants for convivial supper gatherings, these are optional/not included – please pay direct.  Please let us know if you have other plans and we will change the bookings.

This evening could be an opportunity to go out to one of the riverside pubs for an early supper. 

Wednesday 10th June Helmingham Hall

Meet at the Art Safari Studio at 09:30

At 10:45 Drive to Helmingham Hall (approx. 20 min).

Please note – there is no shelter available in the gardens at Helmingham Hall.  If it is wet today, we will postpone our visit until Thursday.

We have permission to paint the glorious gardens at Helmingham Hall today. 

The gardens surround the impressive Tudor moated Hall set in a 400-acre ancient deer park, with traditional herbaceous borders, walled kitchen garden, herb and knot garden and sumptuous hybrid musk roses.  Lady Tollemache is a well-known garden designer and Chelsea Gold Medal Winner.   

Julia will start with a demonstration when we arrive, before exploring and choosing our favourite subjects to tackle in this plethora of colour, scents and history – late spring flowers, vegetable plots, grand gateways, bridges, ornate chimneys and gazing herds of deer.  In inclement weather, there is shelter in the Coach House Tea Rooms (though we like to say it never really rains in Suffolk).

We will break for a light lunch at The Coach House Tea Rooms.  Julia will decide whether to stay at Helmingham Hall all afternoon or return to Studio in Woodbridge late afternoon.  The gardens close at 4.30pm.  Be warned there are very tempting plant stalls!

Optional evening activity

We will book tables at local pubs and restaurants for convivial supper gatherings, these are optional/not included – please pay direct.

This evening’s establishment could be a short walk from the Art Safari Studio within Woodbridge.  Why not take your sketchbook with you to continue sketching…?

Thursday 11th June Gardens & River Deben in Woodbridge

Meet at the Art Safari Studio at 09:30

We have several garden options around Woodbridge today, where we end up will depend on the weather. 

The market town of Woodbridge is packed with wonderful gardens.  We aim to show you a couple – from secret town gardens to floral display street gardens, from cottage gardens to the houseboat gardens near to the Art Safari Studio. 

One of the most beautiful secret gardens of Woodbridge surrounds the house built by the poet Edward FitzGerald, where he translated the Omar Khayyam and where he hosted the literati of the age as well as the artists and wits of Woodbridge.  The gardens have changed enormously since the more austere Victorian times.  We may choose to spend the best part of our day painting the lawns, flower beds, barns, kitchen gardens and woodland of this privately-owned haven. 

Another gem is always the front of the old ‘hall’ house on the Market Hill, as well as the gardens fringing the nearby wool church of St Mary’s.  In the weeks before the workshop, we will be looking out for the best spots for you in town. 

You may find that you have to paint long into the evening to fit everything in!!  Sometimes we find that our students are keen to continue painting after supper or before breakfast, and of course, we actively encourage this as we would like to you come away with a full sketchbook and ideas for many paintings.

Optional evening activity

We will book tables at local pubs and restaurants for convivial supper gatherings, these are optional/not included – please pay direct.

This evening you might like to try another of the many Woodbridge restaurants. 

Friday 12 June Art Safari Studio

Meet at the Art Safari Studio at 09:30

A whole morning of tuition in the Studio, to finish off paintings/sketches and have an exhibition from the workshop with coffee and cake. 

We finish at 1 pm today so that Julia and artists from further afield can (hopefully!) beat the Friday rush-hour traffic.

Workshop finishes at 13:00

We are within an easy drive of the quaint seaside towns of Aldeburgh and Southwold, the Castle towns of Orford and Framlingham, and the RSPB nature reserve at Minsmere, which would make a lovely extension to your time in Suffolk.

If you wish to continue painting, we can direct you to pretty villages, water meadows and ancient woodland – ask us for suggestions!

Workshop Cost: £475 per person for your tuition including your picnic lunches as well as refreshments at the Studio, and your entry to Helmingham Hall Gardens.

Excludes evening meals, all travel and accommodation.

Course participant limit: max 10-12 people.

To confirm your place, please click below to complete the booking form.

Suitable for artists of all abilities, guideline equipment list provided.

Accommodation is not included.  There are some lovely places to stay within walking distance of the Art Safari Studio – we have listed some of our favourites below.

There are lots of scenic places to visit from Woodbridge, by road or rail.

Glorious Gardens & River Estuaries – what to bring

This list is meant as a guide to useful materials.  Feel free to paint with what you are most comfortable.  Please don’t go and buy additional materials unless you really want to try them. 


Soft pencils – e.g.: 2b, 4b, or 6b

Graphite stick (only if you have one)

Rubber or putty rubber


Sketchbook: I prefer to use a large Daler Rowney or Seawhite spiral bound one as you can fold it right round. Or a hard-back sketchbook (e.g.: Moleskin make) so you can keep your sketches as a working/travel diary. 

Watercolour paper: 140lb or 200lb, not or rough, A3 size if possible in a pad, preferably a gummed pad.  (If single sheets bring a board to tape or stretch them onto).


Sable paintbrushes: Nos. 6, 8, 12 and 16 or 18 are useful sizes, – i.e.: one larger and one smaller, (I tend to use a No. 8 and 16 only from

Hake: If you have one for laying washes

Rigger: If you have one for trees, grasses, rigging, feathers, a ProArt brush is perfect.

Paints: (Suggested colours)

Blues: Indigo, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Cobalt Blue, Pthalo Turquoise, Cerulean Blue

Reds: Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Rose

Yellows: Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Winsor Lemon, Auroelin, Indian Yellow

Browns: Vandyke Brown (warmer than sepia, useful for strong darks), Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber

Extras: Optional, but my preferred extras are – Sap Green, Winsor Violet, Winsor Green, and Perylene Green (excellent for conifer trees).  

Important Utensils:

  • Water pot x 2
  • Mixing pallet (a ceramic pallet is better than plastic, a white plate, or even plastic ice-tray
  • is quite useful. I tend to use a white ceramic bathroom tile in the studio, but have a travelling paint box with pans I fill with tubed paints)
  • Masking tape, elastic bands and bulldog clips (in case windy)
  • Cling film to cover your pallet at the end of the day
  • Kitchen roll or rag 
  • Sponge
  • Scalpel or blade
  • Stool/camping chair
  • Apron
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If you have any questions, do get in touch.