Painting – colour palette and stuff of place with Frances Hatch

Mixed and other media

Ref: SSS11643

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Places available

About this course

Every environment suggests its own colour palette and provides material with which to work. Learn how to integrate foraged material with water-based paints with an emphasis on skilled and economical colour mixing. A good deal of time will be spent working outdoors.

Course Description

Draw and paint in West Dean Gardens and in the nearby Arboretum with colour mixing as the focus. The College grounds provide uniquely planted areas, and every one suggests its own colour palette and provides material unique to itself. You will learn how to reflect the subtle hues in selected garden spaces, and will be given guidance about economical colour mixing and the integration of earth and site materials will support immersion in contrasting outdoor spaces. All your inspiration will be in the grounds of the College, in the surrounding pasture and Arboretum.

The artwork you create will be fresh, lively and exploratory in nature. The experience will open up creative possibilities, informing your development as an artist far beyond the Summer School week.

As well as painting outdoors, the week will involve an introduction to colour, guidance in the handling of materials and in the use of local materials. The tutor will advise on economical use of equipment for working outdoors and studio based resolution of work. We will discuss palettes and possible ways of responding regularly.

You will make work on location as well as gathering information to take back to the studio base. Studio time is an important part of the course during which Frances will offer group teaching, exercises about colour theory, regular reviews and individual support.

Your tutor offers a wealth of practical experience of working in the landscape using watercolour, gouache, acrylic and found pigments. She is committed to supporting you in developing your own ideas and individual response to the landscape. Frances 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. The experience of these last years has confirmed for her the importance of curious and courteous attention to that which immediately surrounds her Dorset home. She looks forward to sharing dedicated time with that which exists on the studio doorstep.

You will be carrying your materials from the studio. Weather conditions may require us to adapt our schedule. If you feel uncertain about working outside for any reason, this may not be the course for you.

Your tutor will offer an optional ‘dusk into darkness’ painting session for any who would like to join her.

Summer School highlights:

The Summer School week is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• A short creative experience session in another discipline/media or course

• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (if pre-booked)

• An optional lunchtime tour of West Dean Gardens, the historic rooms at West Dean College, or West Dean Tapestry Studio

• A celebration dinner on the last evening, with a surrealist theme inspired by Salvador Dalí, who was one of West Dean founder, Edward James’ friends and collaborators. (Feel free to respond to the theme if you wish.)

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios

As evening events are planned as part of the Summer School week, dinner is included in the course fee to enable all students, including non-residents, to participate fully. A detailed timetable will be given to all students on arrival.

(Please note that plans may be subject to change depending on GOV.UK guidance at the time.)


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

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).

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 should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials


  • Acrylic binding medium, 2 x A1 sheet of Bockingford 300gsm plus some materials shared amongst the group.

What students need to bring

  • All weather gear (everything from sun cream to thermal vest)
  • Stool (you may use College stools unless you have particular requirements)
  • Drawing boards are provided
  • Rucksack or similar to carry equipment
  • Camera to record emerging work and experiences
  • Notebook/sketchbook to record experience over the week
  • Small plastic spray bottle (to keep paint moist) eg cosmetic type spray to fill with water
  • Bring any drawing tools you enjoy using, for example: graphite sticks/pencils, charcoal, oil pastels, soft pastels.
  • Water bottle and smaller stable jar (wide base) to decant into.
  • Masking tape.
  • Please bring a reproduction of an inspirational artwork to the first session: a piece of work you admire for the way the artist has used colour. This will be needed for our first session when we meet each other for the first time.
  • PAINT:
  • Select one paint medium: watercolour, acrylics or gouache. Whichever you select you will only need a limited range of paints to make up a six-colour palette:
  • Colours:
  • 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 Scarlet Lake/Vermillion
  • • (red with blue bias) for example Permanent Rose/Alizarin Crimson
  • 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)
  • This section applies to WATERCOLOUR/GOUACHE painters:
  • Watercolour: the tutor suggests you use watercolour tubes rather than pans.
  • Simply bring the six colours or similar in tubes + white gouache
  • BRUSHES: Most of us have more than we need! Bring a good variety:
  • Half inch flat synthetic brush
  • Round brush with good point approx. size 14 – 16 (sizes vary with brand)
  • An old oil painting bristle brush (if possible with stiff or short bristles) – useful for lifting off paint
  • A ‘large’ Chinese–type brush (large by your own standards) with a lovely point
  • PAPER:
  • 300gsm/ 140lb weight or similar so we do not need to stretch (select NOT or ROUGH surface) – if you have any particular wish to bring along papers/boards you have at home – do so. The College shop has a lovely stock of Khadi papers which are ideal for this course. It might be appealing to some to vary scale: between A1 and A6.
  • This section applies to ACRYLIC painters:
  • When you buy acrylics look out for the paint consistency information on the tubes (for example ‘flow formula’ and ‘heavy body’). Make sure you buy what suits your way of working.
  • Bring the six colours previously mentioned or similar. Select them by the colour bias rather than the pigment name
  • (No need to buy a retarding medium- we will keep our paints moist with a water spray in our own stay wet palette.)
  • PAPER: Acrylic doesn’t require special paper- but it does give you the option of board or canvas as well as paper. Khadi or heavy cartridge is absolutely fine.
  • STAY WET PALETTE: plastic container with lid and a few sheets of grease proof paper/ baking parchment.
  • MEDIUMS: Bring any you happen to have in the way of structure paste or heavy gel- but the tutor will provide a fluid gel medium for everybody. This will be our binding medium for those who woud like to integrate the local chalks/ earths/ site materials.
  • BRUSHES: bring a good varied selection and a decorator’s brush larger than you feel comfortable with

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Palette with separate deep depressions to stock pools of paint (not a plate)
  • Sketchbook
  • Masking tape
  • Stanley knife or craft knife; scissors
  • A variety of paper and paints, brushes and mediums.
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


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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