Abstract painting with mixed media with Helen Turner

Ref: S3D31711

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About this course

Experiment with different paints and materials, use techniques that allow greater freedom and expression with material, form, and composition, and incorporate the unpredictable quality of chance to make exciting work.

Course Description

Make exciting abstract work on canvas, paper and board using a wide range of materials and paints. These include water-based paints such as acrylics and watercolours, inks, oil paints, pigments, glitter and plaster. Work with collage fabrics, papers and transparent cellophane, together with binding agents such as linseed oil, PVA glue, mediums and wax. This is an opportunity to extend your creativity and do what you haven’t done before. This way of working can lead back into your studio work or be the start of something new, in both figurative and abstract painting.

You will be experimenting and discovering different ways of mixing and applying paint, exploring their unique qualities and how they react with other materials when combined on different surfaces. As you explore the chance factor in your experimentation, forms, shapes and marks will become apparent from the making process.

You will be encouraged to work with shapes, forms, textures, lines and marks spontaneously and intuitively to give you a freeing experience and greater confidence in painting and making art. You will be looking at abstract artists and painters for inspiration, such as Tapies, Keifer, Helen Frankenthaler, Sigmar Polke, Blinkey Palermo, Alexis Harding, Rauchenberg, Gillian Ayres and many more.

There will be demonstrations for each technique, group discussions and one-to-one tuition.

By the end of the course, you will have increased your enjoyment, curiosity and skills at handling all the different materials. You will have a better understanding of composition and materials, greater trust in your decision-making and a greater sense of play in making art.


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 includes the cost of providing some MDF per student and some materials shared amongst the group including wax, decorating filler, Cellophane, PVA glue, pigment, linseed oil, studio safe solvent and acrylic medium to try.

What students need to bring

  • Paints – one tube of an acrylic paint, one tube of watercolour paint and an oil paint, in three different colours, linseed oil, studio safe solvent such as Zest it or Sansodor, acrylic medium
  • 5 sheets of A1 cartridge paper, 5 sheets of A1 newsprint paper, 5 sheets of A1 sugar paper, 1 sheet of A1 watercolour paper, some tissue paper
  • Canvas boards, boards, canvas or heavy duty calico
  • 2 x MDF boards, any size
  • Sketchbooks, PVA glue, masking tape, pencil, ink, glitter
  • Brushes, small and large (decorator’s brushes)
  • Water based varnishes, matt or gloss
  • Overalls and a face mask for when using pigment
  • Gloves for when painting with hands (also available in the studio provided by the College)
  • Any fabrics (e.g. netting, transparent or old sheets, pillowcases)
  • Any household paint you might have, varnishes
  • Any poster paints, pigments, watercolours, oils, acrylics you might have (any quantity or colour)
  • Pigments are available from Jacksons Art Supplies London, Russell and Chapple London and AP Fitzpatrick, London (free delivery)
  • Any visual information that you feel inspiring to work from

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good selection of art materials, including acrylic paints, watercolour paints, oil paints, linseed oil, Zest-it, acrylic medium, A1 cartridge paper, newsprint paper, sugar paper, watercolour paper, tissue paper, canvas boards, canvas on the roll, MDF boards cut to size, sketchbooks, PVA glue, a good variety of brushes, including decorator’s brushes, masking tape, pencils, ink

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Helen Turner portrait

Helen Turner

Helen has successfully been teaching painting and drawing for 20 years. She has a BA Hons in painting from Canterbury College of Art (1986) and Postgraduate Diploma, from Cyprus College of Art (1990). In 2002 Helen was selected for the John Moores painting prize; 2011 was included in the touring show About Painting with a published book, and in 2012 she had a solo show at the Eagle Gallery. In 2014-16 the artist was represented by Wilson Stephens and Jones Gallery. In 2013 all of Helen's work was destroyed in a studio fire in Lewes and it was after this that Helen started to work in a different way using a wide range of materials, experimenting and finding new and exciting ways to make work.


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.