Experimental drawing, collage and painting from natural forms with Joe Packer

Ref: SLW31708

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About this course

An investigative course responding to nature through experimental drawing, collage and painting processes. Explore alternative ways of evoking the feel of a place and constructing space, rather than illustrating it.

Course Description

Work between direct ‘plein air’ drawing and painting out in the College grounds and studio based processes using a variety of collage and painting techniques.

You will be introduced to different ways of approaching working from nature, starting by looking at a range of artists and painting languages, with a discussion about the possibilities through the open approach you will be encouraged to take, out in the landscape the following day.

On the first day, you will be working predominantly from life, initially working in black and white only. Finding interesting stimulous in the natural structures, light and shade around you, making multiple quick drawings in response. Using a variety of materials, including soft pencil, charcoal, thick acrylic and thin washes, as well as exploring experimental approaches to drawing and mark-making, you will build up a library of resource material for the rest of the course. You will continue to work this way and start incorporating colour in the afternoon.

On the second day, you will start using the visual library you accumulated on the first day, as both direct material and as starting points for work to be made back in the studio. You will be introduced to collage, paint transfer and glazing and layering processes. You will be making a series of small scale quick collages, exploring a playful approach and the idea of thinking of them as ‘visual poetry’.

On the third day, you will carry through the aspects of the work made on the second day that seemed to most interest or excite you into making one or more large collage paintings. These can be black and white or colour, depending on the direction of your interests. There will be several practical demonstrations throughout the course.

By the end of the course, you will have investigated different approaches to experimental drawing from nature. You will have explored the potential of collage and painting glazing techniques for dynamic image making, and how space can be constructed in a two-dimensional artwork. You will have developed a better understanding of the spatial relationships of forms in relation to the picture plane as a visual language. Also, you will have learnt how an artwork can have its own internal visual logic.

Please bring weather appropriate clothing for the conditions forecast. There will also be a studio set-up of plants and foliage in case of poor weather conditions or for anyone for whom getting out into the grounds is difficult.


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 some of the materials, including some acrylic paint, charcoal, masking tape, PVA glue, newsprint and cartridge paper to share amongst the group.

What students need to bring

  • A good selection of a range brushes - sable, hog and decorators brushes, at least 2 that are 2’’ inch or wider
  • Scissors, Stanley knife or scapel (optional), palette knife
  • Mixing pots – 2 large (1litre) and a range of smaller – margarine tubs, yogurt pots, jars, etc.
  • Acrylic paints in black, white and a range of colours
  • 1 litre of PVA glue (minimum)
  • Masking tape

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • The shop stocks a good variety of art materials, including general drawing materials, a variety of papers and sketchbooks, soft pencils, charcoal, PVA glue, a good range of acrylic paints and brushes.

Additional information

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


Joe Packer

Joe Packer studied painting at The RCA. He is a Mentor for Turps Correspondence, and Offsite Hastings courses, and a tutor for Emily Ball at Seawhite. He was awarded The Contemporary British Painting Prize in 2018. He exhibits widely including work in The Towner collection. He is a committee member for Contemporary British Painting.


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.