Painting and perception with Kate Hopkins

Ref: SLW31612

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About this course

On this oil painting course, you will learn how to look effectively for still life painting: develop your awareness of the surprising issues of our perception of size, shape and colour in the light shed by the psychology and neuroscience of visual perception.

Course Description

Understanding of visual perception has shifted dramatically in recent years, with the revolution in neuroscience. This course is designed to develop your awareness of the surprising issues of our perception of size, shape and colour in representational painting.

This practical still life painting course explores strategies that inform working from direct observation, and examines some unexpected phenomena about how we perceive the world. Through painting exercises and talks, alongside a still life project, you will scrutinise scale, shape, tone and colour, in the light shed by the psychology and neuroscience of visual perception.

This course is designed to help you set up and respond in more nuanced ways to a still life practice, by offering perceptual insights, with the potential for inspirinig new ideas. You will learn to carefully and effectively observe relationships between objects and the space they occupy. Drawing strategies will be explored with paint, leading to a thorough examination of colour: hue, tone and saturation, as well as perception of colour – considering relativity, as well as the important role of expectation in our perception of colour.

Structured studies will inform how colour can be used to create illusions of light and form – a pictorial colour space, and to consider colour relationships, perceived and on the palette, as well as illusory edges and other phenomena fascinating to artists.

This course proposes strategies that inform painting from observation and is inspired by ‘Eye and Brain’ by Richard L. Gregory, explaining “how we see and what we see, including the strange phenomena of illusions”, alongside more recent developments in cognitive neuroscience.


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 some of the materials, including primed paper, suitable for studies, and coloured card/paper for still life sets.
  • The college will supply some of the materials, including low odour solvent, 2 MDF boards, gesso primer, flowers, foliage, fruit and vegetables to paint.

What students need to bring

  • Oil paints: Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Blue, Titanium White
  • Brushes, palette knife and palette

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials including oil paints, brushes, palette knives, palettes, low odour solvent, canvases and boards.

Additional information

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


Kate Hopkins

Kate Hopkins is a painter with still life at the heart of her practice. Always working from direct observation, she has a particular interest in visual perception, which underpins her teaching.


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.