Experimental painting with Michelle Ussher

Ref: S3D13255

Book now

Places available

About this course

Through a series of different painting games that use the power of tonal, warm, and cool colours you will explore and develop a visual language to discover your own and others' aesthetic.

Course Description

In a series of fun, collaborative, acrylic painting workshops using colour, you will explore how to create unanticipated compositions with unexpected meaning. Simple drawing games will introduce techniques to empty the mind and reveal your existing visual language, which can be understood as "things" and "symbols". These "objects" will be used to begin each of the proceeding exercises that accommodate both the figurative and abstract painter. These exercises include: understanding the power of tone, understanding the power of cool and warm, and understanding the power of a personal colour language.

Each collaborative exercise is supported by your tutor and uses a limited colour palette to reveal your natural perception of colour and expose your tendencies towards preferencing colour combinations, techniques and mark-making, which your tutor can either support you to enhance or challenge. Drawing on your individual level of skill and experience, the exercises will build confidence to paint playfully and allow for unmediated exchanges between painting styles and co-authoring across artists. Each daily session will end with two exercises led by your tutor to assist in developing the ‘power of elimination’ and the ‘power of critique’ to playfully learn skills to select work and gauge how your paintings are embedded with meaning. Building on these exercises, you will develop a final composition with the choice to work individually or collaboratively.

By the completion of the course, you will be able to choose from a selection of paintings to take with you as resources to develop further. In a relaxed manner, you will have acquired new painting skills related to transparency, blending and mark-making whilst discovering new methods of making unselfconscious imagery.


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


  • On this course, the tutor will supply some of the materials, including a variety of different sized brushes and containers.
  • On this course, the College will supply most of the materials, including paper (300gsm cartridge A1), acrylic paint and medium and charcoal (for drawing).

What students need to bring

  • Different sized brushes (your tutor recommends flat size 3 or 4)
  • Disposable palettes

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • The shop stocks a good variety of art materials, including acrylic paints, brushes and disposable palettes.

Additional information

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


Michelle Ussher - Tutor at West Dean College

Michelle Ussher

Subject Tutor - BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft
Short Course Tutor

Michelle Ussher is a transdisciplinary artist working across painting, textiles, ceramics, text, sound, and performance. Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne in 2002, Ussher's work has been exhibited in the UK, Italy, Switzerland, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. In 2021 she completed an MA in Aesthetics and Art Theory, supervised by Catherine Malabou at the Centre of Research in European Philosophy, Kingston University. 


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 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.