Painting still life – towards abstraction with Nick Bodimeade

Mixed and other media

Ref: S5D11404

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1 place available

About this course

Learn to respond directly to still life using mixed media to explore line, form, colour and texture. Through a series of exercises develop confidence in stripping away the superfluous to capture the essence.

Course Description

This course is about going beyond representation to develop personal expression, responding directly to still life through drawing, collage and painting, exploring line, form, colour and surface. Through a series of exercises, you will get to know the objects and develop the confidence to strip away the superfluous and capture the essence. The aim is to produce several studies, culminating in a group of paintings, displaying your expressive interpretation of the subject. Acrylics are preferred due to their fast-drying qualities, and their compatibility with other water-based mediums, PVA and collage.

Each day will start with a slide show of relevant contemporary and historical artists, and end with a review of the day’s activities.

Day 1: You will construct a still life and through exercises explore the objects, their qualities and spatial relationships, plus the negative spaces they create. You will be expected and encouraged to take risks, make unplanned studies, try new methods of making marks, explore different media and to generally free up. You will begin with studies in line as an analytical tool and a medium of expression. To create an exciting environment, you will be asked to display your work – there will be discussions and evaluation at key points.

Day 2: You will explore form using collage to force a simplification of shapes and investigate the evocative and expressive qualities of colour. The importance of composition and developing an understanding of the role of the picture plane are an important focus for the day. Using the studies made you then begin to abstract from the subject by editing, simplifying, cutting up, drawing from, etc, which will start to form the basis for your paintings.

Day 3: With your studies as a starting point, you will continue the process of abstraction, exploring the material and handling properties of paint, only using the actual still life for occasional reference, if at all. The work will progress with the help of comparative critical judgements made possible by working in series. Individual support and evaluation will be provided at key points.

Day 4: You will spend the day working on your increasingly resolved series of paintings. The tutor will provide individual support with evaluations and discussions at key points.

Day 5: Consolidating and resolving everyone’s paintings will take place in the morning, with the addition of any final touches after lunch. There will be time for you to put up a display of your work followed by a group appraisal and feedback.


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 includes the cost of providing the following materials:
  • Perishable elements of still life, ten MDF boards per student (20cm x 20cm x 6mm)
  • Acrylic primer

What students need to bring

  • Painting shirt or overalls
  • Optional: any other colours of paints, other media such as inks, pastels, crayons, and mediums, etc., which you may like to use. Interesting paper and card, etc. for creating collage.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Acrylic paints: Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Magenta, Lemon Yellow, Burnt Umber
  • Masking tape, PVA glue
  • Sponges, palette knives/trowels, palettes
  • Brushes – good range
  • Scissors, charcoal, craft knife
  • Additional MDF boards
  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor is providing sheets of 370gsm paper; students to pay for paper they use before leaving the course. (Average cost is £6 for the course.)
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. You may need safety boots, if specified above.


Nick Bodimeade

Nick trained at Worthing and Wolverhampton art colleges, has taught at many UK schools, colleges and universties at all levels up to MA. He exhibits with St Annes Galleries, Lewes. Zimmer Stewart Gallery, Arundel and the Porthminster Gallery, St Ives. Nick's work is held in many public and private collections including, The Contemporary Art Society, The Landmark Trust and the Government Art Collection. He is a Trustee of Fabrica, Brighton's leading Contemporary Art Gallery.


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

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