Drawing – surface and design with Rosie MacCurrach


Ref: SLW12577

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About this course

Make observational drawings from nature, collect imagery, build a narrative and develop your drawings into pattern to make unique designs for art, textiles and craft.

Course Description

Research and develop unique designs for surfaces in art, textiles and craft. Make observational drawings inspired by gardens and landscape, learn how to collect imagery, build a design narrative and develop your drawings into pattern.

All designs are born out of a combination of observation and imagination; what we choose to look at and how we see and experience it. This course practically explores the relationship between surface design and drawing from observation as its primary source of research.

Explore the process of primary reseach through drawing from observation in West Dean Gardens. Learn how to collect visual information through drawing. You will gather colours, shapes, textures, mood/atmosphere and develop them into your own design story. Each session will have a group introduction and demonstration followed by independent work with individual support. On the first evening there will be an introduction to the course and themes.

The focus will be on learning how to create a narrative, how to work from your drawings and practical methods of developing your imagery. You will look at artists and designers that span both practices with the garden as their subject and inspiration. This will be a playful, multi-media, experimental and process-led approach to design. The focus will be on the process and gathering of research rather than the final product. Working through methods, techniques and concepts of the design process, exploring balance and composition, colour, texture, shapes and repeat, you will use collage, hand painting and drawing to create your own collection.

By the end of the course, you will have a series of designs on paper. You will have gained a better understanding of how to choose colours, create textures, simplify and adapt shapes, work from memory, explore mood and create a narrative. There will be an informal group review of the work with a focus on group discussion and learning from each other.


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

What students need to bring

  • Appropriate clothing for working outdoors (extra warmth for sitting, sunhats for shade if necessary)
  • A2 pad of cartridge paper and a selection of other coloured papers (interesting textures and colours can really help)
  • A2 pad of tracing paper
  • Pencils (softer ones are best) 2B-8B
  • Black fineliner pens of different nib width
  • 1 bottle of Indian ink (at least 100ml) and brushes or ink pen
  • Watercolours, gouache or acrylics and a range of brushes
  • Coloured pencils or pastels
  • Rubbers, hard and soft, scalpel, pencil sharpener
  • Bulldog clips and masking tape
  • A plastic folder to carry your drawings/drawing board
  • 5 jam jars with lids for paints
  • Rags and an apron
  • Any other materials you really love to work with
  • A good sense of humour

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials including A2 cartridge paper pads, coloured papers, A2 tracing paper pad, pencils 2B-8B, black fineliner pens of different nib width, Indian ink, brushes, ink pens, watercolour paints, gouache and acrylic paints, coloured pencils, pastels, plastic rubbers, putty rubbers, scalpels, pencil sharpeners, culldog clips, masking tape, A1 and A2 plastic folders


Rosie MacCurrach

Rosie Maccurrach studied at Chelsea College of Art and Royal Drawing School. She has worked as a print designer and artist in fashion, film, illustration, and recently spent a year as Artist in Residence at Great Dixter.


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

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

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