Sketching the living world with Maxine Relton

Ref: S3D31319

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About this course

Improve your drawing fluency while engaging more closely with the living world. Learn to respond rapidly to a variety of animals and birds all around you. Distil essential forms and pick out the most expressive and strongest lines, tones and colours.

Course Description

You will be working as much as possible directly from the wildlife and farm animals of the College’s beautiful rural surroundings and nearby coastline and locations, including close encounters with some stunning raptors at a local falconry. Your tutor will demonstrate different tools and approaches at every opportunity, as well as sharing her own sketches and the work of other artists. You will start by being guided through some inspirational visual references before you tackle the challenge of timed and informative speed-drawing sessions.

Your tutor will include some optional, unsupervised evening projects and will offer you useful advice on a compact and versatile outdoor sketching kit to suit the particular style and focus of your own work. She will also provide some well-illustrated books and will suggest ways of developing your sketches into more considered work if you wish.

By the end of the course, you will have greatly accelerated your drawing and painting speed and fluency, arming you with increased sketching confidence and ability in line, tone and colour. You will also have deepened your understanding and developed a closer bond with the living world of our shared planet.

Course Materials


  • The course fee includes some materials to be shared amongst the group and the cost of visiting a local falconry and the nearby Weald and Downland Living Museum. Lightweight folding chairs and basic studio equipment are provided. The tutor will also bring a variety of sketching tools and materials to discuss and try out.

What students need to bring

  • A rucksack containing drawing/painting materials of your choice in a waterproof plastic bag.
  • A sketchbook of good-quality cartridge paper in any preferred size that is comfortable to carry (spiral-bound with a rigid back is practical)
  • If using watercolour paints, please bring sketchbook suitable for wet media or an additional sketchbook containing watercolour paper.
  • You are also advised to bring comfortable, waterproof footwear, weatherproof jacket with hood, separate hat with a brim (or visor), sunglasses and umbrella. A camera for later, secondary reference is useful and, if you have them, binoculars and magnifying glass
  • Painting overall for studio work

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good selection of drawing, painting and colouring materials of all kinds, including brushes, loose-sheet paper and assorted sketchbooks

Additional information

You will be visiting a local falconry during the course, which is included in the course fee. If you wish to speak to the tutor in advance to discuss any aspect of the course, please let the bookings office know at [email protected] who will forward your details to the tutor. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toed shoes or sandals.


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)

General Information


Maxine Relton

Teaching at West Dean since 2005, Maxine works across drawing, painting, printmaking, bookmaking and mixed media. Exhibits widely, runs a 3-floor gallery of her work in Gloucestershire, included in public and private collections around the world. Trained in London at Camberwell and the Slade. An elected member of the Royal West of England Academy.


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

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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.