Steve Bretel


Following art school in Wales in the 1980’s, I was lured from London after an eight year commercial art career in advertising and publishing by the stunning scenery of Scotland, and eventually to Fife where I now have my studio. My early work in outdoor experiential education, living and working in wonderfully dramatic locations involving the hills, forests, mountains, coastal towns and villages in all weathers, has developed my practice which is grounded in both the natural and urban landscape.

I have tutored for nearly 20 years and have a passion for showing that everyone has creative potential, believing that understanding the motivation of each learner is the key that unlocks the way to individual self expression. Classes are supportive and fun with a mixture of demonstrations, instruction and positive feedback.

My own painting style ranges from representational through to semi-abstract loose and expressive, being sometimes quite minimal while searching to capture the essence and emotion of a subject. I am a past member of the Society of Industrial Artists & Designers, and now hold a BA in Visual Communication with Distinction from the University of Abertay, Dundee. I have studied at Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee and Edinburgh colleges of art, also theatre design in Glasgow. I tutor at several art centres and societies, running day, weekly or residential courses, and with organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland and also in Italy. In addition, I teach greenwood crafts using traditional methods with axes and specialist carving knives. I often draw and paint on location, having a passion for wilderness areas, and being a qualified mountain leader, combine hillwalking with creativity.

I exhibit though galleries and open studio events, and have work in collections in the UK and abroad.

Steve is currently Artist in Residence at Rahoy Hills nature reserve managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Ardtornish. Read about his work in his blogpost. You can also enquire about a bespoke art and wilderness experience with Steve Bretel here



Watercolour, inks and acrylic are my preferred mediums for painting, with which I may also combine other materials such as charcoal and pastel, and use collage, monoprinting and found objects for mark making in situ. I teach out on location, and also in the studio from still lifes, references and the imagination, covering drawing and painting fundamentals, composition, perspective, colour theory and mixing, and the value of using a sketchbook regularly as a journal and for gathering information.


Things I love

I enjoy time in the mountains, and bringing people together through sharing art and music. I sing and play guitar, but attempting to learn the fiddle is proving a challenge!

When painting, I try to think before I act – but then act without thinking! I enjoy the excitement that comes from the unpredictable nature of using materials intuitively. I encourage this to happen with the people I work with; to take a risk and learn from what happens.