Painting - Subject Led

Powerful compositions with Maxine Relton

Ref: S4D09368


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About this course

Develop your intuitive sense of composition through an imaginative series of practical studies focusing on shape, colour, tone, texture, rhythm and space. Experimentation is encouraged to get your ideas flowing.

Course Description

Developing our intuitive sense of design and composition is a creative process; encouraging, exploring and understanding that process is the purpose of this course.

What makes a painting or other artwork look right, convincing and complete? Are there basic principles that can shape our creative thinking and if so, how can we avoid the predictable and succeed in finding a personal voice of our own?

We will look at the work of some established artists, past and present, to compare underlying structures and discuss strengths and weaknesses. We will try different formats for ourselves and will give time to sharing and reviewing our discoveries as we go along.

Establishing a strong framework before beginning a new work can liberate the imagination and get ideas flowing. To this end, Maxine guides an imaginative series of practical studies, looking at the rich choices we have available to us to form such a framework: line, shape, colour, tone, texture, rhythm, space, etc. You will work in the medium of your choice but are encouraged to try different techniques, materials, sensibilities and approaches to discover more effective ways of communicating your ideas, harnessing exciting new powers of expression, dramatic emphasis and balance.

Maxine brings samples of her own work to share the thought process behind them and demonstrates different approaches throughout the course.


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

  • Painting apron or overalls
  • Some colour magazines for cutting up
  • You are invited to bring some examples of your own work to review with the tutor in this new context, and if possible some examples of work by other artists you find particularly inspiring.
  • Please email prior to the course with your subject interests and areas that you would like to focus on during your course; these will be passed to the tutor so that she can then bring specific resources to help you learn and achieve, and answer any questions you might have about the structure, materials and delivery of the course.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Drawing and painting materials of all kinds, including paint-mixing palettes
  • Pencils, pens, rubbers
  • Small general-purpose notebooks
  • Sketchbooks of all kinds
  • Craft knives and scissors
  • Set squares
  • Paper glue sticks
  • Assorted drawing and watercolour papers
  • Available from tutor:
  • On this course the tutor will supply some tools, materials and papers for any students wishing to try unfamiliar techniques and processes in the projects proposed - a nominal charge to cover any such use may be requested.


Maxine Relton

Teaching at West Dean since 2005, Maxine works across drawing, painting, printmaking, bookmaking and mixed media. Exhibits widely, runs a 3-floor gallery of her work in Gloucestershire, included in public and private collections around the world. Trained in London at Camberwell and the Slade. An elected member of the Royal West of England Academy.


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

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