Have you ever wondered how to maintain the freshness of your sketchbooks while doing a painting? It’s not enough simply to copy. Instead the sketchbook itself has to become the subject, a fresh source of inspiration, to be walked through like a landscape, to surprise and inform you, to pick and choose what you want from it. This course is suitable for those with some drawing and painting experience and a basic understanding of their materials, or those willing to experiment from the outset.
During this five day course you will be working in the house and grounds of West Dean College. You will spend two days working directly into sketchbooks, followed by three days painting in oils or acrylics (acrylics are best for a mixed media approach but please bring whichever paints you feel most comfortable with).
During the course, you can expect to fill a concertina sketchbook, and begin two or three paintings, working towards completion of some or all of them, if this feels appropriate; or with discussion, taking work away to complete at home.
You will be encouraged to experiment and take risks throughout, both in your sketchbooks and in your paintings. The aim is to bridge the gap between the freedom often felt in sketchbooks, being unprecious and immediate, and the constraints sometimes felt in the process of painting. By repeating exercises in the painting process, already executed in the sketchbooks, you will practise taking risks with your work, accepting accidents and surprises as a way of moving forwards, rather than following a predictable path.
Taking your sketchbook with you, gathering different viewpoints from around the location, layering, mark-making, using mixed media, throughout the pages of the concertina book, you can transfer these different viewpoints from your sketchbook into your paintings, layering, changing as you go. You will work on three or more related paintings simultaneously, for the last three days of the course, treating them more like pages of a sketchbook than as finished paintings.
As with the tutor’s own practice, daily meditation and breathing exercises will be introduced. Connecting the breath and body to the art of painting will help loosen up, focusing on the process rather than the product, and being surprised by what emerges.
On the first evening, you will start with a practical exercise in a miniature sketchbook to introduce the course. You need only bring a pencil and pen for this preliminary exercise.
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.
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.
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)
A concertina sketchbook each and some acrylic mediums for painting.
Materials to bring for sketchbooks:
A range of drawing materials including charcoal, pencils, graphite, pens (your choice, your tutor recommends POSCA pens), oil and chalk pastels, black and white gouache preferrable, black and white acrylic paint if not.
Any other mixed media pens/pastels, including water soluble ones you may have
Willow charcoal, ink - any
Scraps of paper, coloured, patterned, found, tissue, for collage in sketchbooks
Scissors, glue – Prittstick or PVA, masking tape, rubber (hard rubber best), rags, tissue, baby wipes
Materials for painting:
Paints, a range of colours, either oils or acrylics, starting with a basic 6 colour palette - 2 blues, 2 reds, 2 yellows (eg. Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White.) Additional optional colours could include: Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Violet, Magenta, Turquoise and a favourite green
Optional extras - oil bars, posca pens
Primer - if you need to prime your surfaces (mainly for oil painters)
A range of brushes from large to small, including a rigger brush (small, long, fine) and something for large gestural marks e.g. household decorating brush
Palette knives for mixing and a palette at least 40cm square - flat plastic or wooden sheet is fine, to be covered with greaseproof paper. Stay-wet palette for acrylic painters only.
Pots/jars with lids for water/mixing mediums
Oil mediums – linseed oil, non-toxic thinner (Zest it, or ShellSol T) and any other gloss medium
Acrylic mediums - one runny e.g. pouring medium and one stiff e.g. gel medium (matt or gloss) and retarder (optional)
3 painting surfaces - you can choose to work on paper, card, board or canvas
These should all be the same size and format, any size (if working small, bring 6 so you can work in a series)
Available from shop:
Willowcharcoal, pencils, graphite, pens, water soluble pencils, oil pastels, chalk pastels, black and coloured inks.
Variety of papers
Scissors, glue (Pritt stick and PVA), masking tape, plastic eraser.
Oil paints and acrylic paints
Black and white gouache paint (acrylic paint if not available)
Brushes from large to small and rigger brushes
Acrylic palette 50cm square
Pots/jars with lids
Oil mediums – linseed oil, non-toxic thinner (Zest it) and gloss medium
Acrylic mediums - medium, gel medium and retarder
Paper, card, boards and canvases
Available from tutor:
A1 paper at 20p/50p per sheet
Additional materials may include oil bars and specialist pens, depending on availability
You do not need to prepare for this course, as all sketchbooks work will be done on the first two days. You can come with nothing but the necessary materials. However, if you have previous sketchbooks you wish to refer to, or discuss with the tutor, you may bring them. Likewise any paintings. These could potentially be worked on during the course if relevant, but are mainly for reference only. Please do not expect to work on them until after discussion with the tutor.
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open toes or sandals).
Katie studied Anthropology and Fine Art. She teaches freelance and in 2014 she received an Arts Council Award for a residency at Turner's House. Working in charcoal and oils, her work has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize, the Lynne Painter Stainers Prize and the RA Summer Show.
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