Exploring Abstraction


COURSE DATES: Fridays, 19th April – 7th June 2024

TUTOR: Clare Wilson


TIMES: 10:30am – 4:30pm

EXPERIENCE LEVEL: Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced

FEE: £500 + £10 materials fee

LOCATION: Art Academy London, 165A Mermaid Court, SE1 1HR

Develop a greater understanding of abstract painting. You will look at technical and methodical approaches to painting in a very broad sense, but also critically consider abstraction and abstract painting. You’ll develop a visual and verbal vocabulary allowing you to talk about your own work with more confidence and potentially develop areas for further exploration.

Learning outcomes:

  • Analyse the work of others and apply findings to your own work
  • Create abstract paintings and collages that experiment with colour, media and surface
  • Use research material as a starting point for abstract paintings
  • Explain how ideas can be communicated through abstract imagery

This course is part of our Elective Skills Workshop series. You will be studying alongside students from our pre-degree and degree programmes.


All attendees must be aged 18 and over.

Our Intermediate courses are suitable for students who have considerable prior knowledge of the taught medium or have completed a Beginners/Beginners + course with the Art Academy. These courses tend to be less structured and instead are tailored to the classes’ needs and the direction they want to advance in. Choose an Intermediate course if you are looking to improve your skills and have more critical discussions around the work you produce.


All attendees must be aged 18 and over.

Choose our Advanced courses if you have considerable knowledge in the taught medium. You are expected to be able to work independently and have critical discussions around your work. Our Advanced courses include our Masterclasses.


Additional Costs

There will be a cost of £10 per student to cover clay, mediums and sundry materials that the Academy will provide.

This is payable at the start of the course.

The Academy is a white spirit and turpentine free environment and only odourless spirits, such as Zest-it or Sansodor, are permitted on the premises. You must provide your own spirits, which can be recycled for longevity.

We request that you bring 2 small glass jars (one with a lid, one without) to hold your spirit, and a few cloth rags for brush cleaning (such as an old cotton t-shirt).

Below is a list of what is currently required for the course. Please also check the ‘what to bring’ sections above. Your tutor will advise if further materials or equipment are required as the course progresses.

  • A variety of surfaces/canvases (handmade or collapsable stretchers, cotton duck, MDF board offcuts, pieces of wooden surfaces)
  • Gesso or acrylic primer
  • Masking tape (frog tape is the best choice)
  • Scissors, craft knife (please have your own)
  • Paints (acrylic or oil)
  • Palette knives
  • Brushes
  • Cloth rag for cleaning brushes
  • A palette (a piece of glass, perspex or a ceramic tile)
  • Ruler
  • Only odourless spirits, Shellsol T, Sansodor or Zest-it (the Academy is a white spirit free environment)
  • collage material


If you do not have your own painting materials, there is an option to order a Painting Pack at the time of booking which will be available when you arrive for your first class.

If you do not have your own materials, we recommend you order one of our Painting Packs when booking. You can purchase this at the checkout. Once ordered, packs will be available when you arrive for your first class. There is also a mini shop in the Academy that supplies the basics such as canvas boards, paints, Zest-it etc. (card purchases only)

The Academy is a white spirit and turpentine free environment and only odourless spirits, such as Zest-it or Sansodor, are permitted on the premises. These can also be recycled on site. If you are using oil paints you must bring 1 small jar with a lid to hold your solvent as this should be reused each week. If you want to dispose of your solvent please speak to your tutor as these cannot be poured down the sink and must be disposed of correctly.

Please also bring an apron or old clothing to wear.

    The Oil Pack contains:
  • A set of bristle brushes, both flat and round
  • One tear off palette (9”x12”)
  • One palette knife
  • One bottle of Zest-it (250ml)
  • One 10″x12″ canvas board
  • One 10″x14″ canvas board
  • Two 12″x16″ canvas boards
  • Eight Daler Rowney 38ml Georgian oil tubes of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, Coeruleum Blue and Burnt Umber

      Please note that pack contents are subject to change at the discretion of the Academy at any time.

      Please be aware that depending on the course structure, you might need to purchase extra canvas boards, on top of the ones provided in the pack.

Clare Wilson completed an MA in Fine Art at The University of Leeds in 1996. She is a tutor at The Open College of the Arts on the Painting, Drawing and Fine Art degree programmes. Clare lives and work in London and has regularly shown her work in group and solo exhibitions. Recent shows include: Seeing, feeling, forgetting, APT Gallery, London Seedbomb, Terrace Gallery, London. Prosaic Mosaic: A survey of New painting, Bloc Projects Sheffield. Letter Home: Contemporary British Drawing, China Academy Of Art Museums. Blackweir Hollow (solo show) Blyth Gallery, Imperial College London.

She has also been artist in residence at Cill Riailig Art Centre (2019) Aberystwyth Arts Centre (2011) Ballinglen Art Foundation (2006) Florence Trust Studios (1998)

Clare’s work investigates ways in which the process and materiality of painting relates to the experience of landscape and the tension between real and imagined spaces. Tonal shifts and a restricted palette refers to the diffused light and intervals of landscape, and its potential as a place of transition and transformation. Her paintings evolve out of a process of layering, removing, reworking and pushing oil paint to find a form that leaves evidence of its evolution. She is intrigued by the detail of a moment, curious shadows, subtle plays of light, memory, and the materiality of paint and canvas. Unveiling form through process.


Terms and Conditions

  • By booking onto one of our courses you agree to our Short Courses Terms and Conditions.
  • You will need to have paid in full before the first session of your class. Your place is not guaranteed until we have received full payment. Please book early in order to guarantee your place on the course.

Materials & Equipment

  • If you purchased a pack online this will be given to you on the first session of your course upon your arrival. Packs can be booked on our Materials Page or on this page when you book the course
  • Please don’t wear your best clothes as there is always a chance you will get messy. If possible bring an apron or overalls.
  • All artwork at the Academy MUST be taken home at the end of the course or it will be disposed of.
  • Please ensure that your mobile phone is switched off or is on silent during the class.
  • Health and Safety Guidelines will be provided to you a week before the start of your course.

Concessions and Discounts

We offer a number of concessions and discounts, please find more information on what we offer here.

Gift Vouchers

If you would like to purchase a gift voucher to be used on our courses then you can purchase these here.