Painting with earth with Peter Ward

Ref: SLW31593

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About this course

An introduction to the ecological process of paint-making and site-specific expression through the collection and use of locally sourced earth pigments and natural materials.

Course Description

This course will offer a practical understanding of earth pigments found in the UK and how to use these in your art practice. You will gain an insight into your tutor’s art making process, the evolution of making with foraged materials, including the ecological respect born of geological and historical understanding, alongside hands-on pigment processing and paint-making demonstrations. You will use a range of traditional binders such as gum Arabic, egg, linseed/poppy oil and acrylic medium. Buckets, cups, sieves, pestles and mortars, muller and glass will be provided for processing pigments and paints for the duration of the course. You will make work both in the studio and out in the environment of West Dean.

In addition to pigments gathered in your tutor’s native Devon and Cornwall, you will be invited to gather materials from the locality. You will then develop familiarity with these materials and processes through experimentation and self-expression. You will be asked to produce and reflect upon your work(s) both individually and communally to assimilate your newfound knowledge and experience in relation to the immanent West Sussex ecology.

Whatever we think or believe about the condition of the contemporary world, open-minded contact with the materials and processes with which it is made can only further enrich and inform our lives.


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 tutor will supply all of the materials including:
  • 500g raw and processed earth pigments from North Devon and Cornwall
  • Paper, 6 x 1.5 metre pieces of raw canvas
  • A range of binders including gum Arabic, linseed/poppy oil, egg and PVA glue/acrylic medium with respective dillutants and extenders (vinegar, siccative, soap and vegetable oil)

What students need to bring

  • Additional brushes, mark-making tools, paper and surfaces for personal experimentation
  • Containers/bags for gathering materials
  • Camera for documenting work in process
  • Outdoor clothing (waterproofs, boots etc.)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art and craft materials.
  • Available from tutor:
  • 500g raw and processed earth pigments from North Devon and Cornwall will be included in the course fee but if you wish to purchase more this will be available from you tutor. (Card payment available)

Additional information

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


Peter Ward

Over the past 20 years, Peter Ward has become one of the foremost authorities on earth pigments in the UK.


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.