Painting - Subject Led

Japanese ink painting with Talia LeHavi

Ref: S5D10155

Suitable for all

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About this course

Discover Japanese ink painting with the three friends of winter – bamboo, pine and plum blossom. Learn foundation techniques, develop your artistic skills and deepen your creativity.

Course Description

Japanese ink paintings, known as Sui-boku-ga or ‘painting of ink and water’, arrived with Zen Buddhism to Japan around the 9th century. It has its roots in ancient Tao, where painting practice, was one of the core features of meditation.

In this five day course, you will learn the foundation of Japanese ink painting. You will be introduced to traditional tools and materials, learn how to make your own ink and use Japanese brushes and paper. You will explore a variety of brush strokes and be introduced to Japanese watercolours and how to work them into your composition.

The course will begin each morning with various brush exercises and each day will focus on a different theme. These will include - bamboo, pine and plum blossom - known as the ‘three friends of winter’. You will learn how to paint each subject in detail, exploring traditional compositions and usage of empty space in your artwork. Using line brush strokes, as well as ink marks, you will learn how to create atmosphere and a seasonal feel. You will have time to practice, explore and create your own ink paintings based on each day’s practice, using West Dean Gardens as much as possible.

The tutor will accompany the course with live demonstrations and samples from the rich history of Japanese art and its great ink masters. In this course, you will gain a deeper understanding of the nature of ink painting, its ancient origin, and its contemporary practice as a form of active meditation and self-empowerment. Discovering your own creative depth, you will be well equipped to continue your artistic journey.

* This course is for mixed level students, beginners and intermediate are welcome.

* As part of the course, you will receive high-quality worksheets and notes, forming a booklet for your future practice.

* You will enjoy plenty of practice time, one-to-one time with the tutor, the benefit of group discussions and the beautiful retreat nature of West Dean College and surrounding gardens.


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 tutor will supply most of the materials, including Japanese ink, colour, paper, and brushes for the duration of the course.
  • The College will supply:
  • A3 newsprints - roughly 50 per student for the week
  • 90 x 50 cm piece of black felt for each student

What students need to bring

  • An apron
  • A pad (A4 or larger) and pencils for notes and quick sketches
  • A flat white plate or watercolour palette
  • White kitchen towel roll
  • 2 glass/white water jars
  • 2 paperweights/or pebbles
  • You are welcome to bring with you any Japanese/Chinese tool sets you may have
  • An A3 folder to take all finished artwork with you and
  • An A4 nylon folder for your worksheets

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Some beginners brushes and paper
  • A3 and A4 folders
  • Watercolour pallette
  • Sketchpad – A4 or larger
  • Pencils
  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor will have a selection of professional, traditional tools and materials available for sale for those who may wish to get their own personal set. (Credit cards accepted).


Talia LeHavi

Talia LeHavi is a professional artist and a certified teacher of Japanese ink painting. Exhibiting both in the UK and internationally, she is known for her cross-disciplinary paintings, prints and ceramic tiles.


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

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