Portraying the Human – form, quality and relationship

Course Availability: Full Time

4 Jan - 5 March 2021



Our nine-week visual arts programme explores ways in which the experience of being human can be depicted, using techniques of drawing, painting and modelling. 

The programme is made up of three courses. Each of the three courses can be taken separately, but great benefit will be derived from attending all three, experiencing the different tutors, approaches and media, and following the progression from the human figure, to the soul qualities of memory, feeling and imagination, and finally to the new dimensions which arise when two figures are brought into relationship with each other.

The experience of supported artistic work in the magical winter environment of the Emerson campus can bring a deepening and renewal of our creative resources, sense of identity and purpose.




Painting and Drawing the Human Figure

4 to 22 Jan 2021
with Martin Gutjahr

By discovering and learning about the human figure, and how it can appear through drawing and painting, we will explore our three-fold nature of thinking, feeling and willing. These three dimensions lead us into different ways of working on the human figure:

  • The thinking part belongs to the observation and study of proportions
  • The feeling aspect will allow us to become sensitive about the use of colours and how they reflect our soul qualities
  • The will element brings life and expression to the drawings, which, in this method, are born out of movement

When all three dimensions come together, we then can focus on the Ego aspect of the human being: How do we stand upright within our surroundings and how does our inner world meet the outer world?
This course offers a step by step progression in the use of material such as pencil, coloured pencils, and charcoal for the drawing part, and pastels as well as water colours for the painting part. Through daily practice we will gain security in finding the right proportions. The study of gestures, and the question of how we can allow them to appear two-dimensionally on paper, will be part of our exercises. The understanding of colours, which we will explore, then allows us to discover and express the soul qualities of the human being.
In the learning process of this painting and drawing course we are actively engaged as our own individuality. Therefore it is more than illustrating the human figure, it is an active engagement and reflection of our human nature. 




A Trick of the Light

24 Jan to 12 Feb 2021
with Richard Heys

  • Week 1: The Colour of Memory
  • Week 2: The Colour of Feeling
  • Week 3: The Colour of Vision

The question is, can truth be found in painting? Can we explore the medium and come to an experience of ‘presence’ in our work? Can we find; the right balance of colours, the right amount of light and darkness, the right amount of line, tone, mark and mass, depth, surface and image?
The anthropologist Michael Taussig describes colour as “Polymorphous magical substance”. This immensely subtle medium is the largely unsung element in the visual arts and in painting in particular. All colour arises as almost shadow, as a song of the fall of light into matter. As Sonia Delaunay said ‘Colour is the skin of the World’, colour is feeling.
Each of us has a vast inner wealth of knowledge and experience of living. We are each a ‘little world’. We have in our lives developed a sense of life, an ennobled sense of the ‘right’ way. Painting can become the record of such action. Can we develop this as a playful sense of ‘rightness’? Looking into our memories, exploring our feelings, calling up imaginations and possible futures?
Can we come together and learn to approach the canvas as a beginning, the crafting of an image, the surprise of beauty, as a conversation? Can we approach the canvas as a question, and find answers in the resolution of imperfect elements into a balanced whole?
We shall take our lead from a number of contemporary artists, looking closely at how the answer to the question of painting has been resolved by these masters. We may even walk in their shoes for a time, always asking, what is being said here?

We shall work with acrylics, and will work together from 9 until 12.30, with a 30 min break. After lunch break you will have your own time in the studio from 2 until 5pm. Three hours taught time and three hours studio time each day. I shall be in my studio at Emerson in the afternoons, but available if needed.




Relating Two Forms

14 Feb to 5 March 2021
With Nick Weidmann

A 3 week clay modelling course where we will work on the many wonderful ways 2, or more, forms can relate to each other.

Through getting to know the fundamental language of sculpture, we will use gesture, movement, weight, tension etc., together with a knowledge of the three principle directions of space, to create interacting 2 piece works.

Many social situations – including our present one of distancing - can provide an alert artist with the initial creative spark and enthusiasm to begin such works: the tug of war between a fish and a fisherman for instance, or the enfolding relationship (or otherwise) between a mother and child, a dawdling dog/impatient dog walker, lover/beloved, flying trapeze artists – who knows what other observed dualities could awaken your inspiration and produce smiles all round. 

As well as the shear fun of creating such pieces, there are many more subtle aspects with which we can work: Can the movements of the clay convey the emotions of the depicted scene? Is the very shape of the empty space between the forms important? Can the various viewpoints of the 2 forms express different aspects of their relationship? What about the shape of the whole group?

The course will run for 6 hours per day, half of which will be guided and half given over for you to work by yourself. (The studio venue also has drawing equipment and materials and an extensive library of Art books that can act as an aid to that first glimmer of an idea.)

Come and join us in this social experience of creativity and constructive group observation – all taking place in a beautiful college setting where learning together is just the only possible and right thing to do . . .



  • 9 weeks £2000*
  • 6 Weeks £1450*
  • 3 Weeks £800*

*The price includes materials but excludes accommodation, meals and travel costs.



You will find all the necessary application information available to download in the 'Booking Information' column in the top, right-hand-side of this page. 

To apply you will need to fill out the Application form and email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The application process, from Emerson’s receipt of completed application and deposit to final acceptance or rejection of application, will normally take 3 weeks.  However, this can be delayed if supporting documents are delayed.  Candidates will receive email acknowledgement of receipt of their application within 3 working days of receipt. 


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