Watermill painting tutor Mark Dober


Mark Dober

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Painting by watermill tutor Mark Dober

Nymphaea (Winter)

Watercolour, gouache and oil pastel

I regularly make work on this size of paper – 112cm x 152cm – which I mainly show in national contemporary art prizes. This work is of four sheets of watercolour paper, clipped to boards, and made on site, sitting on the ground in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. I began with watercolour and incorporated gouache and oil pastel into the work as it developed. My method is organic – addressing positive and negative shapes and applying the various media in a back-and-forth way. The result contrasts delicate and transparent watercolour with bold and opaque gouache and oil pastel.

Painting by Mark Dober a tutor at the watermill in Italy

Garden at Buda


This is a half-sheet watercolour that was made at the historic Buda gardens in Castlemaine, the goldfields town of Victoria where I live. It was made as a demonstration painting for the workshop I was conducting. The technique has been to first do a light pencil drawing, placing the key elements, and then to work ‘all over’ building the watercolour. The hand follows the eye, so that each patch of colour/tone and mark making represents a moment of seeing (and hence experience). The work develops in a jigsaw like way. Patches of white paper, conveying sunlight and allowing for a full tonal range - remain visible in the final result.

Painting tutor at the watermill in Italy Mark Dober

Poplars and path (Chewton)


This oil painting was made on site – all my work is made plein-air – a few kilometres from where I live. Close observation combines with an imaginative process of selection (a green/red colour opposition) and emphasis (the distant house roof), and expressive distortion (as in the soaring presence of those Poplars). I wanted the path to have significance, enabling the viewer to imaginatively enter the work as if on a foot journey of their own in this place both mysterious and inviting.

Painting tutor Mark Dober at the watermill in Italy

Rocks (Nuggetty Hills, Spring)


This is a single sheet watercolour – 56cm x 76cm – made on site at a hilly outcrop in the region in which I live. True to the tones observed, but applying colour in an imaginative way, I have approached my subject playfully. As with a number of my favourite sites, I have painted these rocks many times. Varying the spot where I work, the composition, and the choice of colour and media, I can hope to make work that is fresh and new each time. Differing weather, times of day and season offer much opportunity for encouraging a varied response and differing moods. Plein air painting is like that – it offers the artist unlimited scope for working with directness and immediacy, combining all the variety that nature presents to us, while we apply our learnt skills and personal expression to the subject at hand.

Course dates

Saturday 1 July to Saturday 8 July 2023


Watercolour en plein-air

Mark Dober is a plein-air painter, in watercolours and oils, from the State of Victoria, Australia. His work is a response to being in the landscape. He says: “The beauty of nature inspires me, but also a sense of its strangeness. My work expresses both belonging and otherness. I seek to convey immediacy and a sense of the experiential in my work, hence the necessity of working on site.” Mark regularly exhibits in commercial galleries as well as in Australia’s comprehensive network of public galleries. He has a PhD in Painting from Monash University and is also a freelance art writer.

As a talented artist known in Australia’s contemporary art world, Mark’s plein-air workshops are in high demand. His teaching encourages close observation that allows for the expressive use of colour and a contrast of broad washes with gestural mark-making.

Mark will demonstrate in watercolour, though students may choose to use or try other painting media – gouache, acrylics and oils. He will proceed step by step, increasingly giving individual attention to each artist’s work. Mark says: “I will show you how to look for a point of emphasis, how to create a composition and build your painting in stages, and how to attend to negative and positive shapes.” Mark will also show you strategies for dealing with the changing light. You will learn how to deal with edges as the work moves to completion.

Each day’s painting will end with a ‘show and tell’ and wrap-up of everyone’s work. Mark’s workshop is suitable for all levels of experience.

You can see Mark’s artwork and read interviews with the artist by visiting his website: www.markdober.com

Praise from some of Mark’s previous students

I have found Mark Dober to be an inspirational tutor. He has a wealth of knowledge about plein air painting and shares his knowledge generously. No matter what skill level you have he can give you the confidence and encouragement to put paint to (surface/canvas/paper) in a way which is fresh and exciting. JS

I enjoyed and benefited from Mark’s friendly, encouraging and knowledgeable approach to teaching painting. I learnt a great deal and enjoyed exploring my creativity with the group under Mark Dober’s watchful eye. I highly recommend Mark as a plein air painting teacher! S-XC

Mark’s affinity with nature shows in his paintings. He is able to see an intensity of colour and variety of shapes in the landscape that would ordinarily be overlooked. With Mark’s guidance I love to draw out these characteristics in my paintings. I highly recommend Mark for anyone wishing to participate in an enjoyable and very rewarding en plein air experience. RF

Mark is an excellent teacher and very professional in his approach. I love working with Mark as he shares all his knowledge on many levels, his experience in the field is extraordinary as he teaches colour mixing and painting what you see in a confident inclusive class. His colour range is extraordinary, and I keep going back to Marks classes regularly as I always learn more. SA