Painting - Subject Led

Embodied gestural painting – figure and landscape with Melanie Rose

Ref: SLW08925


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About this course

Make observational studies from a life model in the woodland landscape, then develop paintings in the studio exploring composition, tone, rhythm, colour and embodied gestural painting techniques.

Course Description

Taking inspiration from the landscape and the figure, ground your painting practice, immerse yourself into the landscape and develop your painting approaches and skills.

You will be introduced to each other, the course and studio during the first evening session. You will also set up a working studio space that you will use as a base during your course. Drawing exercises in the grounds of West Dean.

The course begins with two outdoor painting sessions in the landscape, one including a life model in a more remote part of the woodland estate. Through a series of tutor led exercises and demonstrations you will record your surroundings making observational and abstracted drawings in charcoal, and small watercolour paintings capturing light and colour.

Be prepared to walk outdoors in the landscape on uneven terrain carrying portable equipment and media. Portable chairs and easels are provided by the College. Walks will be short, less than 200 metres.

A key feature running through the course is an emphasis on supporting you as an individual, therefore many of the exercises at the start will include an embodied gestural approach enabling you to acquire a deep connection to both the subject and the materials.

Working from your initial concept drawings and paintings made on location, you will then rework your original artwork with the medium of your choice to create a painting or series of paintings. These sessions will focus on composition, tone, rhythm and colour, and you will be supported by one to one tutorials and a final critique.

There will be two short presentations by the tutor on the second morning and evening of the course about her work and the processes she uses. You will also be inspired by artists including Ivon Hitchens, Gillian Ayres and Derek Hyatt.

At the end of the course you can expect to have completed a series of sketchbook drawings, A3 watercolour paintings, field notes and photographs, A1 preparatory drawings and a set of completed paintings. You will also have developed a more personal approach to your painting.


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 course fee includes the cost of providing a life model.

What students need to bring

  • Folding seat or cushion (portable chairs are available to borrow from the College)
  • If you prefer to paint with egg tempera bring fresh eggs and equipment to mix in
  • Appropriate clothing for working outside
  • Students are advised to bring prepared surfaces to paint onto, for example canvases, wooden supports, stretched paper

Available to buy

  • Sketchbook - landscape or square
  • A3 watercolour paper
  • A1 cartridge paper
  • Surface/s to paint onto - canvas, board, wood, paper
  • Charcoal (various sizes)
  • Putty rubber
  • Rags
  • Pencils
  • Scalpel
  • Watercolour pans
  • Watercolour brushes
  • Palette
  • Water pots
  • Masking tape
  • Fixative
  • Preferred painting medium - oils, acrylic, gouache

Please note: If using oils please use the less toxic mediums, brush cleaners and thinners, the shop sells Zest It. White Spirit is not permitted in the studio but can be used outdoors.


Melanie Rose

Melanie Rose is a visual artist. She graduated from Trent Polytechnic with a BA Honours degree in Fine Art in 1987, then Central Saint Martins with MA in Fine Art in 2002. Melanie is a member of the practice-led research group Land2, has exhibited extensively, and has work in both public and private collections.


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

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