Painting after Vanessa Bell (Bloomsbury Group) – still life with Melanie Rose

Ref: D2D33818

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About this course

Vanessa Bell was one the foremost painters in the Bloomsbury group who produced a body of diverse work. Taking one of Bell's paintings as a focus, you will produce a painting/s with your preferred materials. The focus of this course is based on still life.

Course Description

Vanessa Bell (1879 – 1961) was one the foremost painters in the Bloomsbury group, combining British Impressionism and Modernism. Bell produced a body of diverse work, including from the figure, still life and landscape. As a master of composition and colour, her paintings are a quiet meditation that force the viewer to slow the mind and look. As a means of creating a framework for painting, Bell founded the Friday Club.

In a similar vein, this two-day course, beginning on a Friday, will take one of Bell’s paintings as a focus, with a mindset that, “the present can only be understood if we continue to keep the past in view” (Graw, 2018).

Working with your preferred drawing and/or painting materials, the session will begin by drawing from still life. From these initial drawings, you will develop compositions from which to make either a series of paintings or one focused painting.

This course forms part of a series of ongoing 2-day courses starting on a Friday that can be booked separately. Each course will focus on either the Figure, Landscape or Still Life, subjects close to Vanessa Bell's heart and core to the body of work she produced. As a suggestion, if you attend more than one Friday Club, you will be able to integrate and layer your drawings to form complex compositions for painting.

Please note this is not a beginner’s course, you will need to have some drawing and painting experience.

Course Materials


Willow charcoal, Indian black ink and white cartridge paper to share amongst the group.

What students need to bring

Suggested materials and equipment:


  • Sketchbook
  • Surfaces to draw and paint onto, for example, canvas board, plywood, good quality paper 300gsm

Drawing materials:

  • Soft B pencils: 2B 4B 6B 8B
  • Graphite stick (water soluble)
  • Charcoal pencil
  • Willow charcoal (various thickness)
  • Putty rubber
  • Fixative
  • Drawing ink (black)
  • Masking Tape


  • Water based paint including Acrylic, water-soluble oil, gouache *consider your surface and the scale you intend to work
  • Paint mediums (retarder/flow etc)
  • Paint brushes appropriate for your paint, including large paintbrushes
  • ​​​​​​​Palette knife (for mixing paint)


Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Daily Timetable

Course teaching day 11am–5.15pm
Students arrive between 10.30am-11am (coffee optional)  
Morning teaching starts at 11am 
Lunch break between 1pm-2pm (lunch is not included)
Afternoon teaching starts at 2pm (15 minute tea break, 3.30pm–3.45pm)
Teaching finishes 5.15pm  

General Information

Short courses are open to anyone aged 18 and over. The course fee covers tuition and materials where stated. You will need to bring all other items listed under the ‘Materials to bring’ section.


Coffee and tea are included in the course fee, but you will need to bring lunch with you to eat in the refreshments room. There are also plenty of other local venues to purchase food.


If you have any specific access needs, we will need to know about your access requirements in advance. Please tell us about your needs in confidence by emailing: [email protected] This venue has steps to the front reception, with limited access via a side gate to the ground floor. There is a small lift to higher floors or stairs.


Short course students are required to sign a safety compliance form as part of West Dean Health and Safety regulations.

Refunds and cancellations

Please refer to our terms & conditions below.


The information given is accurate at the time of publication. However, West Dean College reserves the right to cancel or amend courses if circumstances require.

Terms & Conditions


Melanie Rose

Subject Tutor - BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft
Subject Tutor - Online Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

Short Course Tutor

Dr Melanie Rose explores landscape and place through painting. Working with traditional materials, sympathetic to the environment, her current focus is the landscape set within the bounds of the South Downs National Park, which forms the heart of her PhD research. 

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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 advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). 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.