Painting as experiment – colour as matter with Joe Packer

Ref: SLW32691

Book now

Places available

About this course

An experimental painting course that explores a range of exploratory painting processes through colour, mark-making, and other approaches that reveal the diverse nature of paint as a medium and its potential.

Course Description

A course in which you will explore experimental painting processes. You will be encouraged to think about the physical nature of paint, as matter as well as colour and explore its potential through a variety of approaches. You will look at ways of thinking in abstracted terms about how to make a painting that is not about creating an illusion or illustration, but rather how you can create something with its own internal visual logic, with a kind of visual poetry.

On Day 1 you will exploring a wide variety of ways of using paint, experimental application and mark-making, as well as looking at colour relationships through a series of short exercises with the intention of broadening your understanding of paints potential. This will be a kind of ‘limbering up’ for days 2 and 3.

On Day 2 You will amalgamate processes and techniques that you learnt and found successful/interesting from day 1 to explore ways of creating an invented space in a painting, investigating the relationships between colour, form and the picture plane and how a playful approach to applying paint and glazing processes can produce unexpected invented space and surprising compositions and visual sensations.

On Day 3 You will be using a culmination of all that you have learnt from days 1 and 2 to make one or more paintings that you will push further, through a more prolonged investigative approach, incorporating all that you gained and learnt from the previous 2 days of painterly exploration.

On the first evening we will have a slide show with a brief look at the history of non-representational painting, relevant artists and movements, and have a discussion about what we understand by the term ‘Abstract’? At the start of each full day, we will have a quick slide show where we will look at relevant artists from the early 20th century up until the present day whose work is considered non-representational or abstract.

By the end of the course you will have a produced a body of work demonstrating a good understanding of the versatility of paint and exploratory painting processes. An understanding of how colour, form, and spatial relationships with the picture plane underpin non-representational painting. An insight into creating invented space and how a painting can be a non-illusionistic thing in itself with its own internal logic.

Course Materials


  • On this course the College will supply some of the materials including cartridge paper and newsprint per student and some PVA glue and masking tape to share amongst the group.

What students need to bring

  • Good range of paintbrushes, including some wider 2-3 inch decorators brushes and any old, scruffy and splayed ones if you have them
  • Palette knives, scissors, scalpel or Stanley knife
  • Rag cloths and sponges
  • A good range of acrylic paints, including at least 3 primary colours, a red, yellow and blue in a larger quantity -250 or 500ml pots.
  • Anything you think you might be good for mark-making experimentation such as old combs, forks, toothbrushes, small decorators rollers etc
  • Paint pots for mixing including 2 larger ones
  • Optional but not essential - acrylic painting mediums such as Liquitex pouring medium, Artstudio acrylic medium modelling paste, or Daler-Rowney texture paste.
  • 1 or 2 stretched canvases or cradled wood supports (such as Seawhites) A2 or above, if you would prefer your final day pieces to be on a canvas or wood support.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials including general drawing materials, a variety of papers, acrylic paint, brushes, paper and canvases that you may need for this course.

Additional information

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


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)

General Information


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

Drawing to making

23 to 25 Aug 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Natalie Ryde |
Suitable for all

Introduction to abstraction

Buy course
Tutor: Nick Bodimeade |

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.