Contemporary painting with raw materials with Melanie Rose

Painting - Subject Led

Ref: SLW12520

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Places available

About this course

Learn how to make and use natural materials including chalk gesso, egg tempera and oak gall ink. You will translate drawings and photographs created on location at West Dean to inform final artworks.

Course Description

In response to the surrounding landscape of West Dean College, you will be shown how to prepare and make chalk gesso surfaces, both on paper and birch plywood, as well as egg tempera paint and oak gall ink, and will include how to apply metal leaf to embellish if desired. From the outset there will be handouts, demonstrations and conversations about materials and methods of application. This is not a prescriptive course but one that will support the artist. The first two days will consist of making surfaces and materials as well as creating preparatory artwork, both drawings and paintings that will inform final paintings.

Walking out into the landscape in all weathers with sketchbook and camera (phone) is a vital starting point for this course. You will be encouraged and shown how to draw with ink and charcoal and encouraged to take photographs of the landscape at different times of the day at what is an incredible time of year where trees are silhouetted against the sky, hedgerows are brutally cut back, and ploughed fields add to the shape, colour and pattern of winter. There will be short drawing exercises to aid inspiration as well as opportunities for experimentation and exploration. There will be one-to-one tutorial advice about concept and practice as well as informal critiques.

You will be shown how to select and deconstruct your drawings and digital images using the editing tools on your phone or tablet, as well as with a traditional viewfinder. With a mindful eye on shape, line and tone, you will make strong compositions for preparatory paintings prior to selecting and committing to painting onto the surfaces already prepared. Through careful planning and conversation, the aim for the final paintings will be for you to develop your practice, learn new skills and have a better understanding as to how your embodied experience of the landscape can be translated through drawing and painting onto a surface.


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


  • Rabbit skin glue (size), chalk whiting and titanium white pigment
  • 2 x birch ply supports
  • Oak galls, gum Arabic, ferrous sulphate, a selection of coloured pigments, eggs and honey

What students need to bring

  • Paint brushes (large Chinese, soft mop-head, watercolour, acrylic and household)
  • Twigs and feathers for drawing
  • Digital camera or iPad or smart phone
  • Warm/waterproof outdoor clothes and footware
  • The tutor will bring Oak Galls but if you can bring some too that would help
  • Jam jars/glass jars to take materials home
  • Sketchbooks and Khadi paper
  • Charcoal (willow, different thickness), putty rubber, drawing ink, masking tape
  • Paint brushes (soft mop-head, watercolour, acrylic and household)
  • Dutch Metal Leaf and size for Metal Leaf

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials including sketchbooks and Khadi paper, charcoal (willow, different thickness), putty rubbers, drawing inks, masking tape, paint brushes (soft mop-head, watercolour, acrylic and household), Dutch Metal Leaf and size for Metal Leaf
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Melanie Rose

Melanie Rose explores landscape and place through painting, she is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Leeds Arts and Humanities Institute (LAHRI). She has exhibited widely and has work in both private and public collections.


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

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Further study options

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