Painting - Subject Led

Building narrative in painting with Haydn Cottam

Ref: S3D10837


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About this course

Build a narrative in your work through developing your first hand drawing and photographic research material through painting.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to increase your understanding of narrative in imagery and how to tell a story, implicitly, or explicitly in your own work. You will be encouraged to explore the process of producing and developing research material and how to select, manipulate and transpose that into more complete artwork. There will be plenty of individual and group feedback and discussion sessions.

The course will begin with a slide talk and a question and answer session about narrative in drawing and painting. The first morning’s work will be drawing from and recording the building and environs at West Dean, it’s human activity and atmosphere. This location research will be used as source material for a narrative image or series of sequential images.

The next task, will be using this source material in the studio to produce thumbnail sketches exploring compositional possibilities and narrative drive. You will then produce a good working rough draft from selected imagery. The next session will focus on developing the rough draft into a more finished artwork, using drawing and painting as the main constituent elements. You may wish to revisit a location if you feel the initial research work needs development.

By the end of the course, you will have an understanding of the narrative in imagery and how to gather information and collate this to tell a story in your own work.


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, 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

What students need to bring

  • Drawing and painting materials.
  • Sketchbook
  • Any paints and mediums which you may like to use.
  • Oil paints and low odour thinners if this is your preferred medium.
  • A digital camera or smartphone with a camera.
  • Apron or overall
  • Cotton rags

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Canvas or board to paint on, paper
  • Acrylic gesso, acrylic paints, oil paints and low odour thinners (Zest it)
  • Brushes, palette
  • Charcoal, pencil and eraser


Haydn Cottam

Haydn Cottam is a painter who trained at St Martins College of Art, London and since graduating has exhibited in Los Angeles, Berlin, London, Cardiff, Leicester, East Anglia, Cheltenham and Sussex. He shows at the Catto Gallery, Hampstead. Haydn has won painting prizes at the National Portrait and Mall Galleries and his work is part of the BBC archived National Art Collection.


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

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