Painting trees and woodland in oils with Tom Benjamin

Ref: SLW31811

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About this course

Paint in the landscape and examine composition to create form, texture and light. Studies are also made in the studio of tree branches and roots, and one or more finished pieces.

Course Description

Working at the arboretum in the West Dean Gardens, you will be painting with oils directly in front of the landscape. You will also work on still life studies of tree branches and roots in the studio. The aim is for you to learn how to create a sense of form and growth in your paintings, ways of structuring a painting to create a feeling of light, form and texture, and approaches to composition. This course is best suited to those who have some basic drawing skills.

During the course, the tutor will refer to a wide range of different artists’ work, with the aim of stimulating your sense of invention to help you develop your response to the subject. Your tutor will sometimes be painting and you can watch him demonstrating and talking about his approach.

You will be working outside wherever possible, so be prepared for all weathers. Tuition includes whole class talks, individual discussion and practical help while you are working. Subjects include tonal studies, painting the sky, foliage and forms of trees and woods, choice of subject matter, composition and capturing light.

By the end of the course, you will have developed confidence in your response to a subject, have a series of studies to refer to in future, as well as at least one finished piece, and discovered new approaches to painting and composition.


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


  • Some MDF boards are provided, plus some gesso, white spirit and studio safe solvent to be shared amongst the group.

What students need to bring

  • Sketching easels are available to borrow, but, if you have a favourite of your own, do bring it.
  • A digital camera if possible
  • Paint rags
  • It is important to bring warm clothing for outdoor work. It is much colder painting outside than going for a walk.
  • Oil paints: Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue/Winsor Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine, Pthalo Blue/Winsor Blue, Ivory Black
  • Sketchbook size A4 and your preferred drawing media
  • Canvases/painting boards
  • Brushes in a range of sizes
  • White spirit /turps for outdoor work only (studio safe solvent will be provided for studio work.)
  • Long ruler

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good range of art materials, including oil paints in Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue/Winsor Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine, Pthalo Blue/Winsor Blue, Ivory Black. A4 sketchbooks, drawing media, canvases/painting boards in a range of sizes, brushes in a range of sizes, studio safe solvent, long rulers

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the working outdoors and also for the studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toed shoes or sandals. Layers of clothing to keep warm, sun hats if hot etc.


Tom Benjamin Publicty Photo

Tom Benjamin

Tom Benjamin paints landscapes, town and coastal views in oils, outside in front of the subject, in all weathers. He is represented by Sarah O'Kane Fine Art.


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.