Abstract Adventures

6 TUTOR: Karen Carter

Looking at the work of artists, including Ben Nicolson, Paul Klee and Matisse amongst others, you will venture into the world of abstraction. You will create images with multiple viewpoints, simplified shapes, collage, layers and texture. The emphasis will be on experimentation and exploration of approaches and materials rather than finished paintings. There will be demonstrations, exercises and individual help throughout the workshop. You will be working in mixed media and acrylics. This workshop is suitable for anyone wishing to broaden their approach and explore a variety of techniques and materials. Bring an open mind, a willingness to experiment and a big apron!

1 Full Day
Full day course

Course Notes


Crossing the bridge between realism and abstraction can sometimes seem daunting but this fun & informal workshop aims to give you a variety of creative ways to push your work forward.

There will be step-by-step demonstrations & exercises, followed by time to work with & explore the different ideas at your own pace in a friendly and informal atmosphere.

Working with Collage - Matisse

We will begin with a single object such as a jug, and using collage as our main medium, play with ways of creating an abstracted image from a simple starting point, looking at positive and negative space and the simplification of form. This will then be enhanced and modified using linework & paint to break up the solid shapes of the collage.

Still Life:Simplification & Multiple Viewpoints - Ben Nicolson

Working over a textured ground we will do drawings of simple still life arrangements, working with the concepts of transparency and overlapping shapes, adding washes of colour to drag and merge the lines.

We will then move onto multiple viewpoint drawings, simplifying and editing the image, and picking out positive and negative shapes as solid areas to contrast with the linework.

Colour & Stylization - Betty Franks

Using natural forms as our inspiration we will explore pattern, mark-making and stylization.

Working with a limited colour palette to hold the image together, and repetition of shapes to create rhythm, we will layer the paint creating glimpses and fragments of previous layers to make a rich complex image.

Pattern & Shape - Paul Klee

We will look at flattening the picture plane and simplifying the shapes in an imagined townscape. This will be further enhanced with selective linework, details and pattern. We will use acrylic paint layers combined with simple printed shapes & oil pastel.

Bringing it all together!

We will use the last session to work further with the exercises done over the previous days, developing and pushing them forward. Often with journeys into abstraction one starting point can lead to a myriad of possibilities and a whole new raft of ideas.....have fun and see where it takes you!

PLEASE NOTE:All materials used during this workshop are water-based (with the exception of the oil pastels) - all cleaning up is done with soap & water but please bring barrier cream if you know you have an allergy to any of these materials.

Artists to reference:

Betty Franks (Colour & Stylization ); Ben Nicolson & William Scott (still life); Paul Klee (pattern & shape); Henri Matisse(Collage)

Useful Books(copies of these will be available to look at during the course)

Learn to Paint Abstracts: Laura Reiter; Painting and Understanding Abstract Art: John Lowry;

RealisticAbstracts: Kees van Aalst

Students 'To Bring' List:

Photos / sketches of landscape or townscape subjects; photos of flowers / flower gardens; inspiring still life objects to work from i.e jugs, fruit, seedheads etc (the tutor will bring some reference material if you would prefer to work from her source material.)

Kitchen roll, apron,

Pencil, rubber, scissors

A selection of brushes (whatever you have) - the tutor will also have some available to borrow


The tutor will bring collage materials, oil pastels, water-soluble crayons, & heavy watercolour paper……please feel free to bring your own if you wish.


Course Tutor

Karen Carter

About Karen

Karen is an enthusiastic and experienced tutor specialising in printmaking and acrylics. Her method of teaching is both informal but instructional, aiming to bring out everyone's creativity in an encouraging and friendly atmosphere. Having studied design and illustration at art college she worked for many years as a commercial artist. She now divides her time between teaching and pursuing her own work, with involvement in exhibitions, studio trails, residencies and private commissions.

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 8 Jul - 12 Jul

WK 2 15 Jul - 19 Jul

WK 3 22 Jul - 26 Jul

WK 4 29 Jul - 2 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM