Exploring colour in the landscape with Emily Ball

Painting - Subject Led

Ref: S4D11930

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About this course

Explore expressive ways of capturing the colour, light and space of the landscape using drawing and painting. Make poetic responses to the late summer landscape at West Dean Gardens.

Course Description

Celebrate rich late summer colours in August as nature ripens the fruits and foliage of spring, and mature plants and deep tree canopies create generous shadows and extended shapes in West Dean Gardens.

Explore expressive ways of capturing the colour, light and space of the landscape using drawing and painting. Learn how to mix and combine colour-on-colour, to not just replicate the view but to also capture the atmosphere, the temperature and your response. Your tutor will demonstrate how to look, select and layer materials. By making studies using exciting exercises, you will be helped through the overwhelming choices that are available and given confidence to experiment and play. These studies are then taken back to the studio and your tutor will show you how to unpack the information in them and begin to make paintings. These paintings will then evolve and grow into poetic responses to the late summer garden and landscape.

On the first evening:

Introductions. There will be practical tasks exploring the materials that will be used for making studies the following day. Getting all your materials ready for the morning trip out.

Day one:

Working outside in West Dean Gardens and making studies.

Day two:

You will begin by looking at the studies made outside. Gather some colour to bring back to the studio. You will use the morning to go outside again to get further studies with more intensity. In the afternoon you will begin two paintings from memory and the studies.

Day three:

Continue painting the paintings started the previous day. You will explore emphasis and editing to help the paintings develop.

Day four:

Although it is the final day of the course, you will start another painting (possibly two) to keep pushing forward. This enables you to compare work side-by-side and see the strengths and any weaknesses more clearly. Making studies of your paintings is another way of helping with judgment and preventing tidying up.


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

  • Gather and prepare your materials.
  • Paper and materials for making studies in the landscape:
  • ●You will need lots of cartridge paper to do some studies on. Preferably 220gms weight or heavier, A3 or A4 Size. A board to lean on.
  • ●Chalk pastels, charcoal, oil bars, oil pastels, coloured pencils, an eraser, felt tip pens, soft pencil, rags, inks, gouache or acrylic paint, Masking tape, a glue stick and scissors.
  • Materials for studio work from the studies:
  • ●If you wish to make your paintings on paper make sure that it is no less that 300gms in weight. To make finished paintings you will need at least three of the same size and shape, plus a few sheets for painted studies too.
  • ●With oils the paper does not necessarily need to be sized or primed. Again the heavier and better quality paper is preferable. It is actually rather lovely working straight onto unsealed paper in oils. It stains and dries very quickly. The only thing you must be aware of is that with thick areas of paint, in time, there will be an oily halo appear around the paint, as the oil leaches into the surrounding bare paper. This is not something the tutor dislikes, but just so you know. You may prefer to prime your paper. A couple of thin coats of acrylic primer, gesso or house-hold white emulsion would be good. Or the tutor’s preferred paper to work on is Arches oil paper. This has been sized already and feels just like a beautiful deckle edged sheet of top quality paper.
  • If you prefer to paint on canvas or board:
  • Canvas
  • Stretched canvas on a frame, or loose primed canvas off a roll (this could be wrapped around a board to give a firm surface to work on or stapled to the wall). Again three of the same shape and size required, as you will be working in series.
  • Boards to paint on:
  • Prepared artists boards are fine.
  • Pieces of MDF from your shed or garage. Priming might be a good idea but some artists rather like the unprimed surface too.
  • Smooth cardboard or mountboard are options too.
  • (Three of the same shape and size required, as you will be working series).
  • Paints and other materials:
  • A guide to what colours to use in both acrylics and oils. The following list of colours enable you mix a fantastic range of colours. There is no need to buy earth colours or greens.
  • Titanium White, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Indian Yellow, Cadmium Red or Vermillion,
  • Alizarin Crimson, Magenta, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Indigo, Cobalt Violet.
  • The tutor also frequently uses oil sticks as well as the paint.
  • Mediums and equipment for oils and acrylics:
  • Oils – The tutor never uses white spirit or turpentine as it is highly toxic and smelly.
  • The tutor recommends Shellsol T which you can buy from Jacksons Art Supplies or A P Fitzpatrick (this is a solvent which is an alternative to white spirit to clean your brushes with and thin the oil paint). The tutor recommends that you use a ‘Drying medium’ (to speed up the drying time) a 50/50 mix of Linseed Stand Oil and Shellsol T. The tutor finds this mix odourless and very effective. Please avoid resin based mediums for oils too.
  • Lots of rags – the tutor uses rags to paint with a lot. So a good supply of cotton rags are essential.
  • Acrylics – ideally acrylics should be diluted with acrylic mediums NOT water. So please have some acrylic mediums that say they will increase the flow and transparency of the paint. They can be either gloss or matt. That is up to you.
  • Brushes for oils and acrylic paints:
  • It is important to have lots of brushes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Avoid having too many flat brushes instead buy filberts, rounds, liners/riggers. For bigger brushes the tutor frequently goes to hardware and decorating shops. Good makes are Princeton and Omega for large brushes. You will definitely need a couple of rigger brushes. These are traditionally used for watercolour and have very long fine bristles, fantastic for delicate continuous lines. The tutor recommends a few palette knives too, of differing shapes and sizes. Again use what you can get hold of in this situation.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Oil and acrylic paints – a good selection of colours
  • Palettes and palette knives
  • A good selection of brushes including riggers, filbert and round
  • 220gms and 300gms cartridge paper
  • Zest it (odourless solvent)
  • Linseed stand oil
  • Acrylic mediuims
  • Canvas and gesso
  • A good selection of general drawing and painting materials
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toed shoes or sandals.


Emily Ball

Emily Ball trained at Exeter and Surrey Universities and is director and tutor of Emily Ball at Seawhite Studio. Her book Painting and Drawing People - A Fresh Approach was published in 2009.


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

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