Painting inspired by the solstice with Melanie Rose

Painting - Subject Led

Ref: S4D11846

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About this course

An experimental painting course occuring on the summer solstice and focusing on five Bronze Age bell barrows, called the Devil's Jumps, aligning to the setting sun.

Course Description

The Devil’s Jumps are five Bronze Age bell barrows located in the West Dean estate. These ancient burial mounds were built so that they align with the setting sun on the summer solstice.

Starting with an evening presentation, the following day consists of fieldwork, including walking six miles from West Dean College, on the evening of the solstice, to the ancient site to make reconnaissance drawings and paintings as the sun sets. The college minibus/taxi will transport participants back to the main site.

This preliminary fieldwork will then be developed into finished paintings in the studio, working in materials of your choice onto preprepared surfaces that suit your medium. This will occur in the Orangery; a big, light studio that offers the opportunity to be ambitious with quantity and scale for both preliminary and final paintings.

Throughout the course, you will be introduced to artists who have incorporated ancient monuments into their paintings, e.g. J M W Turner, John Piper, Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Harold Mockford and Ithell Colquhoun, all of whom bring to the attention a sense of time and space, and the weird and eerie by forging echoes of the past through painting the landscape. Their paintings are channels through which we can see the past, including the period their paintings were created. How will you interpret this ancient site in the 21st century? What will be your observations through painting?

For this course, you will need to be able to walk six miles. We advise comfortable walking equipment including a rucksack, portable art materials, water bottle, carrier bag to sit on or portable stool, warm clothing, and camera. You will be leaving the College in the afternoon and you will be walking to the Devil’s Jumps carrying your art materials and equipment, along with your picnic supper (please bear in mind you can have a cooked breakfast and a cooked lunch on that day). This is an incredible place and, if the weather is fine, the spectacle of watching the sun slowly drop below the horizon, inline with the bell barrows, is a phenomenon. To the left of the sun will be a crescent moon, therefore, to bring attention to the fore, it is advised to be as quiet as possible so that you will be able to hear the owls calling one another and, if lucky, perhaps see deer and hares. You will be collected by minibus/taxi at around 8.30pm and taken back to the College when the sun has set.

The emphasis on the course is the slow act of walking and painting as well as being in nature, mindful of continuity observed through the cycles of the sun and the moon.


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

What students need to bring

  • Your preferred drawing and painting materials including:
  • Materials for fieldwork
  • Prepared surfaces to paint onto
  • Sketchbooks
  • Charcoal, putty rubber, ink
  • Fixative, masking tape
  • Preferred paint mediums, including: watercolours plus travel set, oil colours including low odour solvents
  • Brushes appropriate to paint medium
  • Appropriate outdoor clothing for drawing outside
  • Camera/tablet/iPad or phone

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Drawing surfaces and paper, a good selections of paints, sketchbooks, drawing materials, masking tape, fixative, paintbrushes and mediums.
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. Safety boots, if specified.


Melanie Rose

Melanie Rose is a visual artist. She graduated from Trent Polytechnic with a BA Honours degree in Fine Art in 1987, then Central Saint Martins with MA in Fine Art in 2002. Melanie is a member of the practice-led research group Land2, has exhibited extensively, and has work in both public and private collections.


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

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