Mixed media landscape painting on clay board with Laura Dennis

Ref: S4D33413

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About this course

Handmake a clay printing surface on wooden panels that can be used for a vari e ty of different media and applications. Use this versatile and eco-friendly surface to combine watercolour and oil paint to create mixed media landscapes.

Course Description

Gain a unique insight into preparing a specialised clay ground surface which has a multitude of applications in watercolour, pastels, oil paint and mixed media artwork. A ground is used to prepare surfaces for painting; in traditional oil painting, a ground is usually made of gesso. This course offers you insights into alternative surface preparation techniques, using clay onto wood panels. This clay recipe has been developed by your tutor over several years as a means to find a surface that behaves like a traditional watercolour paper but is robust enough to support oil paint. The result is a specialist ground that can be used for creating artworks using both media on one piece of work.

In the first half of this course, you’ll learn specific techniques to create your own clay ground and how to apply it to wood panels in preparation for painting. This surface is particularly suitable as a more textured and forgiving alternative to watercolour paper, with the added advantage of being able to ‘lift’ colour back to white, whilst retaining the bleed-quality of traditional cotton watercolour paper. Unlike paper, the clay can also be used to paint directly onto with oil paint. You’ll learn techniques in layering both watercolour and oil paint to create atmospheric, mixed media landscapes.

Once you have prepared your panels, the course will delve into the huge variety of painting applications of this unique surface, with a specific focus on techniques of blending watercolour and oil paint. You’ll spend time exploring the beautiful surroundings of the college to prepare sketches for painting. This part of the course will teach you how to ‘see’ like an artist, with a focus on techniques of capturing the visual world around you. Once you have prepared sketches, colour notes and gathered inspiration from the environment, you’ll learn how to translate these into mixed media paintings. Your tutor will demonstrate a variety of techniques on how to layer watercolour and oil onto the clay panel. In addition, you’ll learn how to use painting mediums to enhance and manipulate your works of art.

This course is part of our materials week. Our February themed week of short courses for 2025 focuses on CLAY, led by talented artist-tutors:

Sarah Burns – Nature's alchemy: clay resist printing and indigo dyeing

Helen Miles – Classical mosaic making

Grainne Reynolds – Jewellery using silver clay

Sarah Villeneau – Organic sculpture in clay

Gilbert Whyman – Sculpting from life – figure and portrait

Laura Dennis – Mixed media landscape painting on clay board

Each course explores a different aspect of using this versatile material and how it may be used in a variety of contemporary practices.

Each tutor will be invited to give a short talk (10 minutes) about an aspect of their work relating to the theme of the week on Tuesday evening at 5.15pm. Participants will also be encouraged to visit other courses to see work produced across the varied approaches offered in the week.


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 college will supply most of the materials, including the raw materials to create your clay ground, plus three wooden panels (12 x 25 inches). Some water-miscible oil paint to share amongst the group and some watercolour paints will also be available to get you started, plus painting mediums – Liquin, stand oil and gum Arabic, some sandpaper, gesso and white wood primer and some sketching paper and watercolour paper.

What students need to bring

  • Paints – watercolour paint AND oil paint (or water-miscible oil paint if you prefer)
  • Suggested palette colours - Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin/Crimson, Violet, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Paynes Grey/Neutral Tint, Sap Green, Titanium White
  • There will be some paint to get you started; however, you are encouraged to bring your own paint (or you may purchase paint from the College Shop).
  • Please bring a variety of paint colours from the suggested colour palette. Please note that it’s not essential to have every colour on the suggested palette colours list, a basic mix of the primary colours will be fine as the tutor can guide you through colour mixing during the course. Please note that you will need both watercolour paints and oil paints (or water-miscible oil paints) for the mixed media element of this course.
  • Drawing materials for sketching (i.e. pencils and a firm or soft putty rubber)
  • Sketchbook - for notetaking as well as preparatory and explorative drawings of landscapes
  • Brushes - one large flat brush, at least 1 inch wide; a selection of watercolour brushes - larger barrel shaped brushes are ideal; a selection of oil painting brushes
  • Palettes – one suitable for watercolour paint and one suitable for oil paint
  • Additional optional media – the clay surface is also suitable for pastels and other dry media; if you’d like to explore techniques using these media, then please do bring them along.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art and craft materials, including watercolour paints and oil paints and some water-miscible oil paints, paper, drawing materials, sketchbooks, charcoal, pastels, etc.
  • Available from tutor:
  • Raw dry ingredients for the clay ground to use at home following the course
  • Please note, you will not be required to buy additional materials to make the clay ground for the duration of the course.

Additional information

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


Laura Dennis

Laura studied Art & Design at Leeds University. Her practice focuses on contemporary landscape painting, working in oils and watercolour onto clay. She has 10 years of teaching experience and has exhibited throughout the UK and in her own studio and gallery space.


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.