The extended sketchbook with Annabel Tilley

Ref: S3D13484

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About this course

Make your sketchbooks a private place of invention where anything is possible. Use a series of rapid collage and drawing techniques, with one idea leading to another to turn old books into new sketchbooks.

Course Description

On this course, you will learn how to create and sustain a sketchbook over a period of intense experimentation, exploring the creative process and making use of old maps, books and catalogues.

The aim of the course is experimentation. By working in a spontaneous and unpremeditated fashion, where one idea quickly leads to another, you will gain in confidence and benefit from embracing a variety of new topics, techniques and materials.

You will explore the sketchbook in two ways: firstly, as a place to record and try-out new ideas and, secondly, as a book in itself, where a single idea, theme or motif can be pursued to its logical end through drawing, composition and collage.

Working from your imagination, as well as being inspired by the stunning West Dean environment, the course will start with a series of rapid drawing and sketchbook exercises to develop topics of interest and explore how to work quickly and open yourself to serendipity. You will then proceed to develop and expand your own themes and motifs by creating an extended sketchbook. This will involve working in, and transforming, existing old books. Please see the note below on bringing a selection of three old books for use during the course.

At the end of the course, you will have created and filled several sketchbooks. You will have originated a series of individual themes and motifs. You will have experimented with a variety of paper-based materials and explored different techniques as well as the creative process. You will leave the course with a new understanding of how valuable and enjoyable a sketchbook can be.


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


  • The course fee includes the cost of providing materials shared amongst the group, including:
  • archival glue, needles, thread, some paper and paper-based collage material, and other drawing-based materials to try-out like inks, gouache, etc.

What students need to bring

  • Please bring a selection of three old hardback books that you will be happy to cut up, take apart, draw and paint in and stick back together. You might buy these inexpensively from a charity shop. A variety of small and/or large sized books would be useful (approximately: A5, A4 or A3) – picturebook or text-only, either are fine.
  • Scissors and a variety of collage material, such as: maps, postcards, wallpaper, tracing paper, textured or coloured papers, magazines, newsprint, cardboard, light materials and anything else you would like to use, etc.
  • In preparation, the tutor invites you to consider what a sketchbook means to you, and how you might use it to usefully to explore a theme or project or to create a book in itself.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A wide range of art materials including: paper, drawing materials and painting media.
  • Available from tutor:
  • A limited selection of old secondhand hardback books are available at cost-price £1-£5.

Additional information

A small amount of basic stitching will be involved in creating the sketchbooks, and the tutor will be on hand to help or guide you with this. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Annabel Tilley: Old masters ink on paper

Annabel Tilley

Annabel Tilley, graduate of the University of Brighton and shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize, has a drawing-based and sketchbook practice and has exhibited widely and undertaken several residencies. She is a lecturer, co-author of What they didn't teach you in art school (Octopus Books, 2016) and co-Founder of Zeitgeist Arts Projects (2012-2015).


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.