Primal drawing – the forest with Mark Anstee


Ref: SWE11910

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About this course

Learn how to recognise and draw primal forms in the forest from fleeting encounters with flora, fauna and the unknown. Use these forms to create studio compositions and narratives free from rational picture making.

Course Description

Learning to trust and relate what you’ve seen in a purely visual way, is a challenge. The brain kicks-in and interrupts the viewing process in an attempt to make sense of everything. We identify, categorise and name – trees, rabbits, flowers, birds, breaking them down into understandable and re-buildable modules. This rational approach to looking not only distorts our first instinctive encounter with the subject, but also how we draw and communicate this subject to others.

On this course, you will learn to re-engage with your primal self by seeing the world visually as our early ancestors must have – by looking at shapes that attract or repel, movements that quicken the heart and encounters that bring us into the present.

Using a series of drawing exercises in the field, you will be encouraged to engage with nature on an instinctive level, to foster sharper looking, more truthful remembering and more honest drawing.

You’ll learn to edit complex imagery and distil the drawn form. You’ll develop methods to help articulate forms more directly, to expand your drawing language and explore ways of incorporating these ideas and forms into new works created in the studio.


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


  • A large 10m x 1.5m roll of Fabriano cartridge paper 200gsm plus some charcoal, paper and OHP transparencies.

What students need to bring

  • Something to kneel/sit on e.g. gardening pad
  • Some portable sealable containers for inks and water
  • 1 ball of wool (any colour) no smaller than a grapefruit
  • Any items listed in the available to buy section that you may already have.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Black ink
  • Nibbed pen or fountain pen
  • 3 brushes – watercolour 5, 10, 15
  • Gouache x 3 colours
  • 2 graphite sticks (soft and hard)
  • 3 graphite pencils (various)
  • Pencil crayons x 3 colours
  • Oil pastels x 3 colours
  • Conte/chalk pastel x 3 colours
  • A1 drawing paper x 4 sheets
  • Masking tape/knife
Please note, this course will involve time walking in the landscape on uneven terrain so please bring waterproof clothing and suitable footwear Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Mark Anstee

Mark Anstee is an artist specializing in drawing. From singular observational silverpoint studies to large-scale durational performance drawings, Anstee has made work for major institutions including Bluecoat Liverpool, De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill, Fabrica Brighton, University of Manchester, IMMA Dublin, IFFM Belgium, and at Stonehenge. In 2014 he was the lead artist commissioned by IWM North for the centenary of the First World War.


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

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