How to make the most of a course

How to make the most of a course

Learning from Lewis Nobel

Last month (September ‘18) I was so lucky to be able to join the lovely Lewis Nobel for a three-day class in Ashbourne, Derbyshire along with my friend Colette.

In fact, it was Colette’s idea to go and I will admit I was concerned about being on a course for three days, miles from home and no knowing if I would A) Be physically able to climb up the hills and down again what with all my back issues of late, B) What if I didn’t like him or the other people on the course, I would be stuck there for three days and C) What if they (all the people on the course) would not be nice to Colette and me because we are not local. I have been on courses where this has happened. Fortunately, I had no need to worry. Everyone was lovely.


So, what made it such a great experience?

Well to be honest, I think I am only just, in the past year or so, really properly understand how to listen to what people like Lewis are actually saying.

I know this might sound strange, but we generally don’t really listen to what people say and furthermore we hear what we want to hear not what is actually being said.

So in reality Lewis wasn’t actually saying anything I hadn’t been told before; it was just that this time what he said and the way that he said it, really resonated with me and I really heard the message. Then all I needed to learn what to do was to implement what he was teaching. Easier said than done but as least I am now hearing properly.


Day 1. We drove into the magnificent hilly Derbyshire countryside, it is truly stunning and one of my very favourite counties. I still can’t actually decide between Derbyshire and Dorset!

We spent the morning producing sketches of the stunning surroundings using charcoal, ink and water and were instructed to produce as many quick sketches as we could in response to the amazing views.

In the afternoon we were instructed to take the morning sketches and cut out the best bits, stick them in a sketch book and add other bits from our sketches to make an interesting composition.


Day 2. We drove out to a different spot with a beautiful steam, lots of inquisitive ducks and lots more hills. This time we were required to make as many quick sketches as possible again but this time using colour. The afternoon was cutting up and rearranging the coloured pieces in the same way as we had with the black and white.


Day 3. The whole day was spent in the studio producing work in response to the sketches we have done and cut up on the previous two days.


So to summarize, day 1 was tonal sketching, day 2 was colour sketching and day 3 was producing work from our sketch books.


When you really listen to what someone is saying and then break it down into the language you understand yourself, you learn so much more.


I will take the skills I learnt from Lewis and apply them to my outdoor sketching in future and hopefully one day my work will have the effortless appearance his work has even though I now know just how much goes into him producing his amazing pieces of finished works.


Below are my cut up sketched in black and white and colour as well as the beginning or under paintings for further exploration. I can certainly see the possibilities using this method of composition.




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