FDAD Creative Development – visual research sketchbooks with Tiffany Robinson

Ref: SWE31691

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About this course

A practical guide to the art of visual research. Use a range of drawing processes to explore a given theme and use reflection and analysis to conceptualise and develop your ideas, process and work. This course is for FDAD students only.

Course Description

This course is a practical guide to the art of visual research supporting students to advance their creative approaches to develop ideas in sketchbooks and make more informed artwork. Learn how to use a range of different drawing processes to explore a given theme, how to analyse your sources to develop your drawings, and use reflection and analysis to conceptualise your process and work. 

We begin considering how artists use different approaches to drawing in their sketchbooks to experiment with ideas in their work. These include drawing for observation, recording, thinking, experiencing, and design. You will then research the subject through a series of drawing exercises. Tutors will support you to analyse and review your chosen artwork and object, and how to apply that to develop your drawings and ideas. 

All students present their findings and work with a plenary session so that you leave the course with both research skills, developed ideas, and steps to take forward after the course that support your independent practice. You can work in your current sketchbook, but if it’s less than A4 size please use a larger book.

By the end of the course, you will have increased your knowledge of your subject, how to use sketchbooks to visually research and develop your work, and how to critically reflect and review your ideas in constructive ways.


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


Black sugar paper, tracing paper, tissue paper, needle and colour thread, PVA glue

What students need to bring

Please bring the following:
-    an image of an artwork of interest to you by a known artist
-    your current and recent sketchbooks
-    your preferred drawing media and tools
-    an object no bigger than the palm of your hand

Materials required not available in the shop:
Used magazines/newspapers
2 small jars with lids

It may be useful to bring a device to do some research online. The media suite will be available to students.

Available to buy

Materials required and available in the shop:
Sketchbook – minimum size A4 (see above)
Ink – black or a homemade dark ink 
Brushes for the ink
Colour oil pastels
Black pen
Soft and hard pencil (eg 9B and 2B)
Pencil sharpener

Optional extras
Spray fixative 
White ink/chalk pen
Glue sticks (alternative to PVA)


Tiffany Robinson - tutor at West Dean College

Tiffany Robinson

Programme Coordinator - Foundation Diploma in Art and Design

Tiffany Robinson studied interactive media for her MA (2005) making art films and immersive sci-art installations on perception and nanoscale. She is currently a tutor, mentor (The Art of Enquiry) and walking artist making intuitive drawings using natural and digital media. Her work deals with a post-modern estrangement from nature towards a being more than human through alignment with nature.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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