Sketchbook into paintings with Katie Sollohub

Ref: S5D31597

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About this course

Working in the house and grounds of West Dean College, you will spend two days working directly into sketchbooks, followed by three days painting in oils or acrylics.

Course Description

Have you ever wondered how to maintain the freshness of your sketchbooks while making a painting? It’s not enough simply to copy. Instead, the sketchbook itself has to become the subject, a fresh source of inspiration, to be walked through like a landscape, to surprise and inform you, to pick and choose what you want from it. This course is suitable for those with some drawing and painting experience and a basic understanding of their materials, or those willing to experiment from the outset.

During this course, you will be working in the house and grounds of West Dean College. You will spend two days working directly into sketchbooks, followed by three days painting in oils or acrylics (acrylics are best for a mixed media approach, but please bring whichever paints you feel most comfortable with).

During the course, you can expect to fill a concertina sketchbook, and begin two or three paintings, working towards completion of some or all of them, if this feels appropriate. Or, with discussion, taking work away to complete at home.

You will be encouraged to experiment and take risks throughout, both in your sketchbooks and in your paintings. The aim is to bridge the gap between the freedom often felt in sketchbooks, being unprecious and immediate, and the constraints sometimes felt in the process of painting. By repeating exercises in the painting process, already executed in the sketchbooks, you will practise taking risks with your work, accepting accidents and surprises as a way of moving forwards, rather than following a predictable path.

Taking your sketchbook with you, gathering different viewpoints from around the location, layering, mark-making, using mixed media, throughout the pages of the concertina book, you can transfer these different viewpoints from your sketchbook into your paintings, layering, changing as you go. You will work on three or more related paintings simultaneously, for the last three days of the course, treating them more like pages of a sketchbook than as finished paintings.

As with the tutor’s own practice, daily meditation and breathing exercises will be introduced. Connecting the breath and body to the art of painting will help loosen up, focusing on the process, rather than the product, and being surprised by what emerges.

On the first evening, you will start with a practical exercise in a miniature sketchbook to introduce the course. You need only bring a pencil and pen for this preliminary exercise.

Immersive Art School Week

This course is part of our new ‘Immersive Art School’ group of short courses for summer 2024, led by talented artist-tutors Emily Ball (painting), Tim Johnson (basketry), Jane Fox and Jane Sampson (printmaking), James Hunting (textiles) and Katie Sollohub (painting).

There will be tutor talks on the Tuesday evening from 5.15 to 6.15pm in The Old Library as part of the course. Studio visits are encouraged to share work and experiences (out of core teaching hours).


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


  • A concertina sketchbook each and some acrylic mediums to share for painting

What students need to bring

  • Materials to bring for sketchbooks:
  • A range of drawing materials, including charcoal, pencils, graphite, pens (your choice, your tutor recommends POSCA pens), oil and chalk pastels, black and white gouache preferable, black and white acrylic paint if not
  • Any other mixed media pens/pastels, including water soluble ones you may have
  • Willow charcoal, ink
  • Scraps of paper, coloured, patterned, found, tissue, etc. for collage in sketchbooks
  • Scissors, glue – Pritt stick or PVA, masking tape, rubber (hard plastic rubber), rags, tissue, baby wipes
  • Materials for painting:
  • Oil or acrylic paints in a range of colours, starting with a basic 6 colour palette - 2 blues, 2 reds, 2 yellows: e.g. Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White. Additional optional colours could include: Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Violet, Magenta, Turquoise and a favourite green.
  • Optional extras - oil bars, posca pens
  • Primer - if you need to prime your surfaces (mainly for oil painters)
  • A range of brushes from large to small, including a rigger brush (small, long, fine) and something for large gestural marks e.g. household decorating brush
  • Palette knives for mixing and a palette at least 40cm square - flat plastic or wooden sheet is fine, to be covered with greaseproof paper. Stay-wet palette for acrylic painters only.
  • Kitchen towel
  • Pots/jars with lids for water/mixing mediums
  • Oil mediums – linseed oil, non-toxic thinner such as Zest it or ShellSol T and any other gloss medium
  • Acrylic mediums - one runny e.g. pouring medium and one stiff e.g. gel medium (matt or gloss) and retarder (optional)
  • 3 painting surfaces - you can choose to work on paper, card, board or canvas
  • These should all be the same size and format, any size (if working small, bring 6 so you can work in a series).

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good selection of art materials, including willow charcoal, pencils, graphite, pens, water soluble pencils, oil pastels, chalk pastels, black and coloured inks, scissors, glue (Pritt stick and PVA), masking tape, plastic erasers, oil paints and acrylic paints, black and white gouache paint (acrylic paint if not available), gesso primer, a good variety of brushes from large to small and rigger brushes, palette knives, acrylic (Perspex) palettes 50cm square, linseed oil, Zest-it, gloss medium, acrylic paint mediums - medium, gel medium and retarder, a good variety of papers, card, boards, canvases and concertina sketchbooks
  • Available from tutor:
  • A1 paper at 20p/50p per sheet and any additional materials may include oil bars and specialist pens, depending on availability

Additional information

You do not need to prepare for this course, as all sketchbook work will be done on the first two days. You can come with nothing but the necessary materials. However, if you have previous sketchbooks you wish to refer to, or discuss with the tutor, you may bring them. Likewise any paintings. These could potentially be worked on during the course if relevant, but are mainly for reference only. Please do not expect to work on them until after discussion with the tutor. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open toes or sandals).


Katie Sollohub

Katie studied Anthropology and Fine Art. She teaches freelance and in 2014 she received an Arts Council Award for a residency at Turner's House. Working in charcoal and oils, her work has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize, the Lynne Painter Stainers Prize and the RA Summer Show.


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.