Mixed and other media

Painting still life – towards abstraction with Nick Bodimeade

Ref: S4D08986


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About this course

Many artists reach a stage when representation is not enough for personal expression. Learn to respond directly to still life using mixed media to explore line, form, colour and texture. Through a series of exercises get to know the objects and develop confidence in stripping away the superfluous to capture the essence.

Course Description

This course is about going beyond representation to develop personal expression, responding directly to still life through drawing, collage and painting exploring line, form, colour and surface. Through a series of exercises you will get to 'know' the objects and develop the confidence to strip away the superfluous and capture the essence. The aim is to produce a number of studies, culminating in a group of paintings, displaying your own expressive interpretation of the subject. Acrylics are preferred due to their fast drying qualities, but if you wish to use oils you must use Zest or another low odour thinner (not turpentine).

On the first evening after introductions, we will work on some mark making exercises to limber up and get in the creative mood.

Each day will start with a slide show of relevant contemporary and historical artists and end with a review of the days' activities.

We will construct a still-life and through exercises explore the objects, their qualities and spatial relationships, plus the negative spaces they create. You will be expected and encouraged to take risks, make unplanned studies, try new methods of making marks, explore different media and to generally free up. You begin with studies in line as an analytical tool and a medium of expression. To create an exciting environment you will be asked to display your work - there will be discussions and evaluation at key points.

You will explore form using collage to force a simplification of shapes and investigate the evocative and expressive qualities of colour. The importance of composition and developing an understanding of the role of the picture plane are an important focus for the course.

Using the studies made you then begin to abstract from the subject by editing, simplifying, cutting up, drawing from, etc, which will start to form the basis for your paintings.

With your studies as a starting point you will continue the process of abstraction exploring the material and handling properties of paint, only using the actual still-life for occasional reference if at all. The work will progress with the help of comparative critical judgements made possible by working in series. Individual support and evaluation provided at key points.

You will spend the day working on your increasingly resolved series of paintings. Again I shall give individual support with evaluations and discussions at key points.

Finally the tutor will help you consolidate and resolve your paintings on the morning of the last day, allowing you to complete any final touches, leaving time for each student to put up a display of their work followed by a group appraisal and feedback.


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


  • The course fee includes the cost of providing the following materials:
  • Perishable elements of still life, ten MDF boards per student (20cm x 20cm x 6mm)
  • Acrylic primer

What students need to bring

  • Interesting paper and card, etc for creating collage
  • Painting shirt or overalls
  • To make the still-life more personal I would like each student to bring a special object(s), something which has qualities you particularly like, or which evokes memories or maybe resonates in some way, and which could be included in the course still-life - nothing too precious or valuable!

Available to buy

  • Acrylic paints (primaries plus black & white)
  • OR oil paints and low odour thinners
  • Masking Tape
  • PVA glue
  • Sponges
  • Palette knives/trowels
  • Palettes
  • Brushes - good range
  • Scissors
  • Charcoal
  • Craft Knife
  • Additional MDF boards
  • Optional: Any other colours of paints, other media such as inks, pastels, crayons, and mediums etc, which you may like to use
  • The tutor is providing sheets of 370gsm paper, students to pay for paper they use before leaving the course. (Average cost is £10 for the course).


Nick Bodimeade

Nick trained at Worthing and Wolverhampton art colleges, has taught at many UK schools, colleges and universties at all levels up to MA. He exhibits with St Annes Galleries, Lewes. Zimmer Stewart Gallery, Arundel and the Porthminster Gallery, St Ives. Nick's work is held in many public and private collections including, The Contemporary Art Society, The Landmark Trust and the Government Art Collection. He is a Trustee of Fabrica, Brighton's leading Contemporary Art Gallery.


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

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