The black and white sketchbook – working with tone with Maxine Relton

Ref: SLW09411

Suitable for all

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About this course

Explore the different ways tone can be used to convey visual impressions with greater effect by describing form, suggesting mood, creating depth, showing texture, conveying dramatic effects and above all, depicting light.

Course Description

Black-and-white images can have a particularly powerful and striking presence. Explore the many different ways in which tone can succeed in conveying visual impressions with greater effect than line by describing form, suggesting mood, creating depth, showing texture, conveying dramatic effects and above all, depicting light.

This course enables you to discover tools and approaches to working with tonal range. You will study the arresting and expressive qualities of black-and-white tone in all its rich variety, using a series of imaginative, guided projects based on observation, memory and imagination. The course is suitable for all abilities, including beginners, and for those wishing to develop the use of black-and-white in any fine or applied art contexts. You will be supported with demonstrations and inspiration from your tutor. There will be peer discussion, and one-to-one support.

By the end of the course you will have completed a successful series of investigations which will inform all your future work. You will have developed the keen tonal awareness that is essential to strong colour composition, and a clear grasp of ways in which dark is necessary to appreciate and depict light - the value contrast that forms the basis of tonal drawing.


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 some materials shared amongst the group.

What students need to bring

  • Painting overalls
  • Some half-dozen colour magazines you no longer need
  • Please email bookingsoffice@westdean.ac.uk prior to the course with your subject interests and areas that you would like to focus on during your course; these will be passed to the tutor so that she can then bring specific resources to help you learn and achieve, and answer any questions you might have about the structure, materials and delivery of the course.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A4 sketchbook or larger, containing good quality cartridge paper (minimum 160gsm)
  • Glue stick
  • Pencil eraser
  • Pencils in a range of grades up to 8B
  • Watercolour brushes (1 large round that points well, 1 chisel-end flat brush)
  • An assortment of any black and white drawing materials you have (eg medium/broad marker pens, inks, paints, crayons, pastels, etc.). We will not be using soft drawing materials less suitable for use in sketchbooks, such as charcoal, chalk pastels, Conte pencils.
  • The College will provide, for use during the course, scissors, metal rulers, craft knives and cutting mats, and the tutor will be supplying all specialist materials for specific projects, as well as some spares of basic items that might be needed.

Student Reviews

"Beautiful grounds, experienced and helpful tutor, Interesting light in the Orangery and a
well stocked shop with helpful staff"

Christa 2019

"The enthusiasm and encouragement of the tutor. The welcoming and friendly staff and the wonderful atmosphere that exists within college"

Helen 2019


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.

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