A Sense of Place, With Sarah Chalmers

Immerse yourself in nature and find the voice of the trees.

The Ancient woodland of chalk downland where Hampshire and Wiltshire meet is a magical place. From the top edge of the wood you can see Stockbridge Down, Danebury Ring, and other hill top strongholds. Walking through the woodland you have a sense of other travellers, others working in the space, coppicing, for example, is still practised as it has been for centuries.

Record the Sense of Place inside the wood, it’s atmosphere and story.

  • Tutor, Sarah Chalmers
  • March 21st/22nd
  • 10.00 – 4.00, at Ramshill East Winterslow. (directions given on booking)
  • Suitable for all but will be outside in roughish terrain
  • £160/2days
  • Please bring a picnic and a thermos of coffee – we will have cake!

More about Ancient Woodland

Walking around this patch of Ancient Woodland with Sarah Chalmers we chatted about the nature of woods. The glades, paths and tracks, fallen trees and freshly worked areas make the space feel alive. Each area and space has a different identity. Below is part of a note Sarah sent to me as a reaction to meeting the wood, and her experience of working in similar ancient spaces.

By spending real time, looking and drawing, you get to know a woodland. I find this particularly with trees, after all, they are alive, with individual characteristics.  

Slowly, like a meditation, you will find your personal interpretation of their time, their pace. This can be one of the most rewarding things to do as an artist. Through concentration/meditation, and just being  outside in nature, you can allow yourself some transformation of mind and spirit. Once you let go, you will find the woods come in and take you over, as though they are directing the work you make.

We will be making our own charcoal with Somerset Willow and then drawing trees with trees. Developing those drawings until they just start coming through you, and playing with marks, texture, tone, lights and mysterious darks, and colour. By keeping an open mind, the intensity of a place becomes a true experience . 

You will spend time in the woods, exploring the different areas, making numerous quick sketches, writing notes, and making charcoal. The afternoon of day one and all of day two will be working towards more finished pieces

Watch this Youtube video with Sarah talking about making charcoal. She talks about charcoal and watercolour but is happy for students to use whatever medium they feel most confident using .


You will be making charcoal but bring whatever materials you feel most happy with. You may want to stick with charcoal, or embark on a mixed media approach, or paint with acrylics, watercolour or oil. It doesn’t matter which material you choose but you must endeavour to bring everything you need.

Make sure you have a sketchbook and a pencil for notes and thumbnail sketches, and larger paper to work on. Bring whatever support you think will be needed for your materials.

Dress appropriately, whatever the weather. There is a barn to avoid spring showers! Make sure you have something to sit on that is easy to carry. If you have a field easel feel free to bring it but don’t worry if you don’t have one.

This is working en plain air and is a bit like camping with art materials – bring what you need but be prepared to adapt.