FDAD Creative development, Part 2 – visual research & development with sketchbooks with Kate Boucher and Rachel Larkins

Ref: SWE09602


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About this course

This course will support you in the expansion and development of your ideas as you learn visual research skills through experimental drawing, mind mapping, primary and secondary sources, reflection and review. It will enable you to advance your creative approaches, develop ideas in richly researched ways and make new work. This course is for current FDAD students only.

Course Description

At the start of the course you will reflect on 2-3 pieces of work you bring to the course from other courses or developed at home. The work can be unfinished, exploratory or completed. Through discussion and a series of practical exercises you will identify areas for potential development and explore these in your sketchbooks to find an underlying theme or subject.

From this you will be introduced to visual mind mapping techniques to expand your initial ideas and subjects for research. You then make and collate both primary and secondary research materials (drawings, photographs, found images and texts). Once you have reviewed your research material you develop a series of drawings using your preferred media, making use of viewfinders to deconstruct and reconstruct your initial observations.

Referring to your visual research in your sketchbooks and group discussions you then make new work supported by further discussion, review and reflection. All students present their findings and work at the end of the day with a plenary session so that you leave the course with both research skills, developed ideas, new work and steps to take forward after the course that support your independent practice.

By the end of the course you will have also increased your knowledge of your subject, how to use sketchbooks to visually research and develop your work, and how to critically reflect and review your ideas in constructive ways


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


Materials shared amongst the group:
A1 heavy cartridge paper
Black sugar paper
Lining paper
Black drawing ink

What students need to bring

Please bring two-three pieces of work you have made from other courses or developed at home. The work can be unfinished, exploratory or completed.

You will also need to bring a camera to make primary visual research observations.

Available to buy

HB, 6B (or similar soft) pencils
Brushes - include a variety of shapes and sizes
Sketchbooks A4 or A3
Oil pastels
Masking tape
Water based paint


Kate Boucher

Kate Boucher is an experienced, enthusiastic and inspirational tutor who specialises in building students' creative confidence in a supportive teaching environment. She trained at Chelsea School of Art and recently gained a Master of Fine Art from West Dean College. She was awarded a prestigious QEST scholarship, was the Edward James Foundation Scholar in 2015/16 and winner of the Valarie Power Prize for Visual Arts. Her dark and evocative charcoal drawings often have unnaturally tilted horizons, hints of a double exposure and foregrounds that appear to shift and slip. Her practice also includes handmade felt and forged metal structures also created as a response to landscape.

Rachel Larkins

FDAD Core Team Tutor and Short Course Tutor

Rachel Larkins is a tutor on the FDAD program and has been teaching short courses at West Dean since 2017. Rachel holds a distinction level Masters in Sequential Design/ Illustration from Brighton University following an early training in Textile Art (BA Hons). Rachel's work encompasses drawing and narrative sculptures and is held in numerous private collections.


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

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