Painting contemporary still life – colour and space with Heather Gray-Newton

Painting - Subject Led

Ref: S2D12056

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About this course

Refresh your approach to still life, transforming the ordinary to something more extraordinary. Develop skills through colour knowledge and choice, and spacial ambiguity.

Course Description

Take ordinary objects and to make something more extraordinary of them, in your painting. This will be essentially wrought through colour and the play of space across the canvas.

You will select your direction from tutor samples, of some essential colour and paint mixing theory options. You will mix paint and create a small sample of your selected colour direction, that will inform you for the subsequent days.

Options will include:

- bright and supporting dull colour

- ‘crushing’ colour

- contrast

- simultaneous contrast

- taking colour for a walk

- painting on a colour ground/loose underpainting.

You will select an ordinary object, apply ground/underpainting to your canvas, and begin responding to the still life adjusting colour incorporating selection and teaching. This will be guided independent practice, with one-to-one assistance.

Learning outcomes will include acquired knowledge on colour and its use for creating a sense of form, along with combining observation with imaginative capacities, especially concerning space.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • Some cobalt turquoise light and raw umber oil paint to try and some Zest-it low odour solvent. Acrylic paint in French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber and 2 small 20x20cm square canvas boards.

What students need to bring

  • Bring in one image that is typical of your work. Have ready, two points about your current image making practice and why you have selected this course.
  • Your own object if you wish. (A neutral coloured item will be preferable and will be easier to work from but you can make it more complex by using a coloured or reflective object. Eg. A terracotta jug, a ceramic bowl, a candle holder etc.)
  • Oil paints/acrylic paints (your usual colours or what you have available) Recommended colours: Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Lemon Yellow, French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Umber.
  • Zest-It and Liquin (Original) if using oils
  • Acrylic medium if using acrylics
  • Kitchen roll or rags
  • 2 glass jars
  • Any items listed below should you have them.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Oil paints and palette
  • Zest-It and Liquin (Original) if using oils
  • Acrylic medium if using acrylics
  • Brushes – a large selection available
  • Canvas (30cm squared size canvas, recommended for this course)
  • Pencils (2B or 3B)
Your tutor will supply a range of objects for you to select from, but you can bring in your own object if you wish. A neutral coloured item will be preferable and will be easier to work from, but you can make it more complex by using a coloured or reflective object. Examples: A terracotta jug, a ceramic bowl, a candle holder etc. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open toes or sandals).


Heather Gray-Newton

Heather Gray-Newton is inspired by the natural environment and our relationship with it. The sense of well being and identity summoned by experiencing landscape space or the sea, is expressed through poetic interpretation. Heather is also interested in how our attachment to objects and places, contributes toward identity. Heather is proficient in many different media, and selects as appropriate to best express a particular concept. Sound drawing skills always underpin the work. 


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

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