Painting West Dean in winter: daylight, dusk and darkness with Frances Hatch

Mixed and other media

Ref: SLW12354

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About this course

Paint the magic of West Dean in winter: working en plein air and in the studio using watermedia and earths.

Course Description

West Dean Gardens are magical at dusk and in darkness as well as the daylight, whatever the weather or season. On this course, you will respond to midwinter magic. The gardens in proximity to the studio provide your inspiration, materials and some of your tools. Some of your work will be made swiftly, en plein air by day and in the dark. You will also gather information to take back to develop in the studio.

Studio-based work will be an important part of the course during which your tutor will offer group teaching, regular reviews and individual support. The balance of indoor and outdoor work will be adjusted according to weather conditions and may require adaptations to the schedule. Water-based mediums of choice: acrylic, watercolour or gouache will be integrated with site earths.

The artwork created will be fresh, lively and exploratory in nature. The experience will open up creative possibilities, informing your creative development far beyond the weekend. The tutor offers insights about the delights and challenges of working outside, advises on economy of tools and materials, and fosters a spirit of exploration and risk-taking.

An exhibition of the tutors work made at West Dean will be on display in the foyer. It is precisesly because of her own creative relationship with West Dean over many years that she is offering this course. Your tutor has a wealth of practical experience working outside in all seasons using watercolour, gouache, acrylic and found pigments. She is committed to supporting artists in developing their own ideas and individual responses to the landscape.

You will be carrying painting equipment a short distance from the studio. If you feel uncertain about working outside in winter, this may not be the course for you.


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


  • On this course the tutor will supply some of the materials including fluid and gel acrylic medium to share. Drawing boards and portable chairs will be available for you to use.

What students need to bring

  • Each student is asked to bring these 3 things on the first evening.
  • 1. A piece of artwork by an artist (other than yourself) that represents an aspiration or an area of interest.
  • 2. A sketchbook/ something made by you that you feel offers a good introduction to you as an artist.
  • 3. Your art kit. Bring your art materials to the studio on the first evening. Your tutor encourages you to work with the materials you already have.
  • Intermediate/advanced students attending this course will all have their own water media. Some may wish to work with either watercolour, gouache or acrylic paint, others may wish to combine all three. One of these is quite sufficient, just be sure to bring a couple of yellows, reds and blues to offer colour mixing versatility around the colour circle. Contact the tutor via emailing bookings office at if you need to discuss media. A pigment guide is included below.
  • 2 x yellow:-
  • (yellow with red bias) for example Cadmium Yellow/ New Gamboge
  • (yellow with green bias) for example Lemon Yellow
  • 2 x red:-
  • (red with yellow bias) for example Cadmium Red/ Scarlet Lake / Vermillion
  • (red with blue bias) for example Permanent Rose/ Alizarin Crimson/ Madder Deep
  • 2 x blue:-
  • (blue with red bias) for example Ultramarine Blue/ Indanthrene Blue
  • (blue with green bias) for example Prussian Blue/ Phthalo Blue
  • and Titanium White acrylic/ Designers Gouache White for watercolourists (14ml tube)
  • Palette with separate deep depressions to stock ‘pools’ of paint and a plate. Disposable yogurt- type trays from supermarkets are excellent.
  • Sketchbook for general note making, masking tape, Stanley knife or craft knife
  • Bring any drawing tools you enjoy using; charcoal, oil pastels, soft pastels are particularly welcome
  • Small plastic ‘plant’/ cosmetic spray (very necessary to keep paint moist)
  • Bring a selection of brushes
  • PAPER: 140 lb weight/300gsm or similar so we do not need to stretch (NOT and ROUGH surfaces)
  • Bring along papers/boards you have at home.
  • Mediums: If you are using acrylic bring along any gels or pastes you happen to have. Do not buy anything especially.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of general art materials are available from the shop including: acrylic paints, watercolour paints and gouache. Palettes, sketchbooks, craft knives, brushes, NOT and rough 140lb weight or 300gsm watercolour paper and Khadi paper.
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the studio. All-weather gear may be needed for the walk to the College for tea and coffee and lunch breaks. It will certainly be needed for our outdoor creative sessions. Preferably clothes you don’t mind getting covered with paint. Please include your stout covered footwear and lots of warm waterproof clothing and cosy head gear. Fingerless gloves can be useful. It is surprising how cold one gets.


Frances Hatch

Associate and Short Course Tutor

Artist, curator, lecturer and writer, Frances is based in Dorset. Her radical landscape practice is site-responsive and specific to place. She has been associated with West Dean College since 1990 (Short Courses, FDAD, DACC) and was artist-in-residence in 2005. Frances trained at Aberystwyth UCW, Wimbledon College of Art (MA Printmaking) and Goldsmiths’ College. 


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

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