Painting Sussex landscapes with Robert A Newell

Ref: S4D32342

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About this course

The landscape geology, archaeology, forms and features of the Sussex Downs present challenges and stimuli that are both visual and non-visual. Using media of your choice, you will draw and paint outdoors and in the studio.

Course Description

This landscape of hill forts, Bronze Age barrows and rolling Sussex Downs presents challenges and stimuli that are both visual and non-visual: spatial, historical and even metaphysical. Using media of your choice, you will be drawing and painting outdoors and in the studio, working towards a creative compositional interpretation, developing ideas, technical and perceptual skills.

Studies made entirely in situ and works made in the studio will develop in dialogue with each other. The aim is to develop an interpretation of the subject that manifests the integration of perception with knowledge, imagination and formal resolution.

The South Downs area provides a great opportunity with regard to its forms, geology, archaeology, woodland, etc. There is a rich artistic legacy for the subject and a range of interpretative themes can be developed from this human landscape that is replete with both ancient and modern features. The Trundle, an Iron Age hill fort, will provide the outdoor working location. This site is a short drive from the College, with a good parking area, and the minibus may be available.

The course will commence with a slide talk on landscape painting and materials. Two days will be spent working in situ, two in the studio. While there are aspects of common interest in all of this, individual aspirations and ideas are fundamental. There will be plenty of individual tuition, as well as group critiques/discussions.

If very adverse weather conditions occur, adaptive working in locations in the grounds and buildings of West Dean will provide a substitute for being out on the Downs. Emphasis will still be placed on observation and interpretation.

By the end of the course, you will have learned how to combine the practicalities of open air observational studies with the more imaginative development of subject matter in the studio. You will have been encouraged to develop your perceptual skills, understanding space, scale, light and colour, and you will have engaged in the discussion of meaning found in the landscape, relating to your own work.

It is important to be reasonably fit and prepared for outdoor conditions.


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


  • Drawing boards and lightweight portable easel for use during the course.

What students need to bring

  • Backpack for all equipment used outside
  • Drawing boards - these are available from the studios, but you may like to bring lightweight ones of your own. They need to be rigid.
  • Cord to carry drawing board
  • Warm clothing and waterproofs
  • Walking boots/shoes
  • Sunglasses and visor or broad-brimmed hat (if weather requires)
  • Water bottle
  • Optional:
  • Lightweight portable easel (also available in the studio)
  • Camping stool or shooting stick
  • Map: O/S Explorer 120 Chichester, South Harting and Kelsey, 1: 25 000
  • Fishing umbrella (with string and tent pegs) (Hopefully won’t need to use this!)
  • If able to do so, explore ‘The Trundle’ hill fort, draw and take photographs in order to think about how to develop visual ideas. Look at work by Stukeley, Ravilious, Nash, Sutherland, Piper.
  • The following items are generally available to purchase from the shop:
  • The following list is the most generally needed. Lacking any of the pairs of primaries and white could result in encountering a colour you cannot achieve. This is a guide only; you may have similar colours that will be fine. With developing practice, many artists work with a narrower palette of colours.
  • Titanium White (Use Chinese White or Permanent White gouache with watercolour)
  • Ivory Black or Lamp Black
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale or Cadmium Lemon
  • Cadmium Yellow Middle
  • Cadmium Red
  • Alizarine Crimson or Permanent Rose or Rowney Rose
  • French Ultramarine Blue
  • Cobalt Blue or Prussian Blue
  • Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre
  • Indian Red
  • Raw Umber
  • Hog bristle for oils: filberts – about six or more ranging from small to large. In addition, mongoose or sable or synthetic, round/pointed – around two or three.
  • Synthetic hair or hog bristle for acrylics: filberts – about six or more ranging from small to large. In addition, mongoose or sable or synthetic, round/pointed – around two or three.
  • Sable brushes or synthetic fibres for watercolour: round to a point, a range of sizes. Chinese brushes can be very good.
  • Palette
  • Painting knife, medium size (for mixing oils or acrylics)
  • Gummed paper tape (for use with watercolours and drawing media)
  • Studio safe solvent (for use with oil paint such as Zest-it), is a non-toxic, low-odour bio-synthetic alternative. This is a requirement for studio work. (Turpentine and white spirit are not permitted for studio use.)
  • Containers for mediums, dilutents, water, etc. (with lids where required)
  • Rags
  • Natural sponge for watercolour
  • Prepared canvas or board (for oil or acrylic)
  • Paper and sketchpads
  • Stanley knife
  • Ruler
  • Graphite pencils – a range of around four, from 2H to 6B
  • Charcoal (willow sticks, uncompressed and compressed)
  • Fixative
  • Stanley knife
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Bulldog clips (need to be prepared for any windy weather!)
  • Masking tape
  • Sketchbooks/notebooks
  • These can be useful for rapid studies outdoors. As with soft or chalk pastels, you find that you accumulate a rather large number of variations and tints. When starting out, one of the standard sets of 24 or so pastels can be useful as a basis (these will include the primary and secondary hues), but you always need to accumulate certain hues and available tints and variations that you find particularly useful. Among these, for landscape, I recommend as many greys as possible, variations in tone and warm to cool (the basic sets will never provide enough of these), plus earth colours, including subtle de-saturated versions. White is important as well.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good selection of oil, acrylic, watercolour and gouache paints are available in a variety of colours, brushes – hog bristle, synthetic, sable and Chinese are available, palettes, knives, studio safe solvent, canvases and paper and other general painting materials and equipment, general drawing equipment and oil pastels.

Additional information

If able to do so, explore the landscape of The Trundle, draw and take photographs in order to think about how to develop visual ideas. Look at work by William Stukeley, Eric Ravilious, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, John Piper. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.



Robert A Newell

Robert Newell is a landscape painter and member of the Royal Cambrian Academy. He studied Fine Art at Wimbledon School of Art and Goldsmiths College, and he holds a doctorate of the University of Wales. Robert was senior lecturer in fine art at Swansea College of Art, University of Wales Trinity Saint David. He has exhibited at Royal Academy Summer exhibitions and other galleries in the UK and abroad. Robert is a member of the Turner Society and Guild of St George.


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

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