Both texture and composition were important in a "correctly picturesque" scene.
The texture should be "rough", "intricate", "varied" or "broken", without obvious straight lines.
While there he took as a child pupil the future poet Caroline Anne Bowles.
Another pupil was his nephew, the painter William Sawrey Gilpin.
Gilpin was born in Cumberland, the son of Captain John Bernard Gilpin, a soldier and amateur artist.
From an early age he was an enthusiastic sketcher and collector of prints, but while his brother Sawrey Gilpin became a professional painter, William opted for a career in the church, graduating from Queen's College, Oxford in 1748.
He was an enlightened educationalist, instituting a system of fines rather than corporal punishment and encouraging the boys to keep gardens and in-school shops.
His broad intention was to promote "uprightness and utility" and give his pupils "a miniature of the world they were afterwards to enter." Gilpin stayed at Cheam until 1777, when he moved with his wife Margaret to become Vicar of Boldre in the New Forest in Hampshire.
During the late 1760s and 1770s Gilpin travelled extensively in the summer holidays and applied these principles to the landscapes he saw, committing his thoughts and spontaneous sketches to notebooks.
Gilpin's tour journals circulated in manuscript to friends, such as the poet William Mason, and a wider circle including Thomas Gray, Horace Walpole and King George III.