Painting – powerful composition with Maxine Relton

Painting - Subject Led

Ref: S4D12364

Book now

Places available

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?

You will look at the work of some established artists, past and present, to compare underlying structures and discuss strengths and weaknesses. You will try different formats for yourself and will be given time to share and review your discoveries as you go along.

Establishing a strong framework before beginning a new work can liberate the imagination and get ideas flowing. The tutor will guide an imaginative series of practical studies, looking at the rich choices available to you 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.

The tutor will bring 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 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


  • The course fee will include the cost of some materials to be shared amongst the group.

What students need to bring

  • Painting apron or overall
  • 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.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Drawing and painting materials of all kinds, including paint-mixing palettes
  • Pencils, pens, rubbers
  • Small general-purpose notebooks and sketchbooks of all kinds
  • Craft knives and scissors
  • Set squares
  • Paper glue sticks
  • Assorted drawing and watercolour papers
  • Available from tutor:
  • On this course some tools, materials and papers will be supplied for students wishing to try unfamiliar techniques and processes in the projects proposed.
Please note: The tutor always likes to have a chat with students personally on the telephone when planning her programme for each course. This gives her the opportunity to find out about any special interests or focus areas you have, to tell you a bit more about the course, and to answer any questions you might have about it. Your email and phone number will be passed to the tutor. If you would prefer the tutor not to contact you, please let the Bookings Office know. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


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.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

Sign-up to be the first to know

Sign up to our Short Course enews to hear about new courses, late availability and get creative inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.