Mottisfont, Landscape and Abstraction

with Michael Weller

Painting Landscape at Mottisfont from the Grounds, and the Derek Hill Collection

Join Michael Weller, an experienced, enthusiastic and knowledgeable tutor, exploring the gardens, grounds and vistas at Mottisfont Abbey. His relaxed, encouraging approach can be life-changing and is always fun. Past students say so…

I went through a big abstract phase at art college, then a teacher pointed out it was possible to have abstract relationships in a figurative painting. I still find abstraction a good way into a painting. We’ll talk about that. I’d like us to try a few things I find helpful in my own oil painting, see what happens, and enjoy the paint.

Michael Weller
Mottisfont Winter Garden, Royal Oak Foundation

The National Trust property Mottisfont Abbey, between Romsey and Stockbridge in Hampshire, is an 18th-century house with medieval priory at its heart, which was transformed into a Neo-classical home in the 1930s. There is a permanent collection of 20th-century art on display in the house including the Derek Hill Collection. The river Test runs through the estate. There are riverside walkways, an ancient spring, magnificent trees, seasonal planting, and a significant collection of roses. This combined with woodland, wetland, working coppices and farmland views make an enticing landscape for painters, in every season.

This workshop is at the start of the Christmas season – apparently there will be a festive air to the house.

Find out about Mottisfont, the house, history, gardens and grounds

  • Tutor, Michael Weller
  • 27 and 28 November, 2023
  • 10.00 – 4.00 each day
  • £215/2 days including entry to Mottisfont Abbey, House and grounds.
  • Day one will be at Mottisfont, Day two will be in the Mottisfont Village Hall
  • There is a cafe on site for the first day. On day two a warm, light lunch, tea and coffee will be available.
  • There is plenty of parking at both venues.
  • The studio has easels. If you have a field easel you would like to use feel free to bring it with you on day one.

It is a time of year when the weather can be challenging. There are a number of covered outdoor spaces to avoid rain and most gales. Please dress appropriately.

Oil painting on canvas, Leaves and Tree Trunk, by Mary Potter (Beckenham 1900 – 1983), circa 1955-1960.

What to expect on Michael Weller’s ‘Mottisfont, Landscape and Abstraction’ Workshop

We spend the first day sketching the beautiful grounds. Look at possible compositions. Enjoy the place and the company. Mottisfont has the Derek Hill collection of 20th century art, which is well worth visiting before the class starts – Vuillard, Gwen John among others. It has a lovely cafe too.

On the first morning, I do a few demo’s, outlining the big shapes, and doing colour studies. In the afternoon, we choose a view, or two we like and spend longer on them.

On day two, we paint from our drawings and colour studies in a studio nearby.

Rather than a general group crit, I go round and talk to people one to one. There is more help tailored to the individual artist.

In the end, the shapes are clearer and the colours cleaner. The pictures are recognisably the artist’s own work.

The demo’s are in oil paint. Students can use whatever materials they prefer, acrylic, watercolour, goache, pastel – it’s all fine. Some experience of drawing is helpful, but all levels are welcome.

Life-changing and fun. Past students say so!

Michael Weller


The choice of materials is mostly up to you. Below are the materials suggestions for the two days. And warm clothing…

Day 1

  • Scrap paper and card are recommended. Used envelopes. Mountboard. Recycled flat card – like cereal packets.
  • Or a sketchbook, or two. Small or medium sketchbook are easier to carry. A5 size is good. Square sketchbooks.
  • A twig dipped in ink for outline drawings. Quink Ink from WH Smith. Pentel brushpen – cartridges of ink.
  • Chunk of compressed charcoal. Black Bic Pen is great.
  • Soft pastels for putting down colours quickly. Jacksons Art soft pastels are good value. Unison pastels are supposed to be the best.
  • Little Brian Paintsticks (age 3+) are cheap and good for blocking in colour. Like gluesticks or lipstick.

Day 2

Michael uses oil paint. If you’d rather work in gouache or watercolour or acrylic or pastels it’s fine. If you want to keep drawing, it’s fine.

  • Recommended for oil painting.
    • Oil paint – Jacksons Artist Oil zinc white (Michael Harding warm white is nicer but more expensive).
    • Cadmium yellow light.
    • Alizarin crimson.
    • Cobalt blue hue.
      60ml tubes or bigger, and at least twice as much white. Jacksons Artists Colours are affordable, good quality.
    • Low-odour oil-paint solvent. A small jar for the oil solvent. Zest-It or Sansador are fine.
    • Brushes and palette knives. Have some bigger brushes too.
    • Cut-down cardboard primed with white acrylic primer both sides. 13 x 18cm to 25 x 30cm.
      If you have a surface that you like to work on, stick with that.
    • Palette or mixing surface. Paper tearaway palette is great. Wooden palette fine.
  • Kitchen paper or rags. A plastic bag for rubbish.
  • Plastic disposable gloves are great.
  • Apron is good. Don’t be like me and not wear an apron.Some hand gel to wash your paint- covered hands.
  • Newspaper for blotting the paint and testing the colours.


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