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Painting: Colour Workshop

Expand your understanding of the principles of Colour Contrast

Key details
Falmouth Campus
Course duration
5 days

Course overview

This practical five-day painting course is designed to present the principles of colour contrast. You will learn how to use colour and how to organise your thoughts around it.  

This colour workshop is led by Mary Mabbutt, a practising painter and teacher who has taught as a part time lecturer in Painting on the Fine Art BA(Hons) course at Falmouth University for over 30 years. During this time at Falmouth she has developed and extended her interest in teaching the principles of colour contrast.

Course dates: 1-5 July 2024

Price: £850 - £1,100

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Course details

In this course, Mary will present the principles of colour contrast. The course involves finding colour by painting and then making some personal collages with the knowledge gained. The initial focus of attention is on learning and seeing colour and then exploring the creative and imaginative possibilities. 

You will work on a small scale with gouache colour, firstly by painting and then by collaging. Mary will guide you through a series of practical exercises that develop your awareness and understanding of the qualities and characteristics of colour.

Learning how to use colour and how to organize your thoughts around it is helpful for so many reasons! This colour workshop is both a challenging and enjoyable experience.

You'll have a dedicated shared studio with enough space for you to develop your skills, and the studios will be open from 09:00-21:00 each day. On the final afternoon, you'll come together with students from our screen printing, colour etching and drawing courses for a private view and opportunity to discuss your work.

It is useful to have some familiarity with brushes and paint but this is not essential, and Mary has worked with students of all ages and abilities.

Mary is a practising painter with over 30 years of teaching experience here at Falmouth University. Much of Mary’s understanding and use of colour has been developed during her years of painting, with some key principles of Colour Contrast derived from the work of Johannes Itten in the Basic Course at the Bauhaus.

Feedback from previous students:

The Colour and Composition projects gave me greater confidence and control of paint, colour and tone. Essential learning for an illustrator.

The simple exercises introduce you gently to a basic understanding of colour, which is very useful for people who fear working with colour (like me).

Helped me so much with understanding how colour works. Really helped to push and develop my work.

What you need to know

This five-day short course will run from 1 to 5 July 2024.

With dedicated studio access at our Falmouth Campus, you'll have the opportunity to develop your creative practice through a balance of taught technical skills during masterclasses in the mornings and supported skill development and practice in the afternoons.

One day will feature a trip to Porthmeor Studios in St Ives and the Tate St Ives to gather ideas in response to what you see.

Our Falmouth Campus is set in subtropical gardens and is just a few steps from Falmouth town centre or a short stroll to the shores of Gyllyngvase beach.

Find out more about the facilities, access, cafes and more at Falmouth campus.

All you'll need is clothing that you are comfortable to paint in - please be aware it can get messy! 

You're welcome to bring a change of clothes, and any other personal items to make yourself comfortable during your time on the course.

All materials you will need will be provided. 

Accommodation is not included in this course cost.

If you would like to book accommodation, please find some suggestions below. Please note that we are not responsible for any accommodation costs incurred, including as a result of the course being rescheduled or cancelled.

There are a range of hotels and B&Bs available in Falmouth, within walking distance of our Falmouth Campus. We can facilitate a corporate rate for the following hotels if booked via us. If you would like to take advantage of this for your booking, please contact us


Merchants Manor

Address: Western Terrace, TR11 4QJ  

Contact details: 01326 312734

Distance from Falmouth Campus: 0.2 miles  

Parking: 60 spaces available on site  

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St Michaels Resort  

Address: Gyllyngvase Beach, TR11 4NB  

Contact details: 01326 312707  

Distance from Falmouth Campus: 0.2 miles  

Parking: Reserved for overnight guests on a first come first served basis   

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The Greenbank Hotel

Address: Harbourside, TR11 2SR  

Contact details: 01326 312440  

Distance from Falmouth Campus: 0.9 miles  

Parking: Handful of marked bays in front of hotel plus underground car park  

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Penryn Campus

This course is based on our Falmouth Campus. If you would like to stay on-campus at our Penryn campus, our Penryn student halls accommodation can be booked. This is a simple and affordable accommodation option and there is a regular bus service from Penryn Campus to Falmouth. A mix of double and twin bedrooms are available, each with bed, desk and en-suite shower room. Bedding and towels are provided. You should bring your own toiletries. There are shared kitchen facilities.

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Lunch and tea/coffee included each day on campus, and all diets can be catered for. 

On the day-trip to St Ives, lunch is not included as there will be a break in the middle of the day to visit a café of your choice, or choose a takeaway lunch to take to the beach!

Course programme

This is an outline of what to expect for the week.  Each day will include lunch, with time to socialise with your fellow students.

Day 1

After an introduction to the principles of colour contrast with written handouts and visual examples, you’ll start by working with paint brushes and gouache at a small scale focusing on Tone and Temperature. In the afternoon, you’ll work on improvised painted paper collages with the limited colour palettes discovered during the morning’s session.

Day 2

Trip to St Ives. A day for looking and drawing in sketch books during visits to Porthmeor Studios and the Tate St Ives.

Day 3

Back in the studio, day 3 will focus on Complementary Colour, again working with gouache and brushes followed by collaging.

Day 4

We’ll research paintings to work from. The day will then be spent making tonal studies followed by differing ways to use colour – which is more exciting than it sounds!

Day 5

The final day will focus on Colour Inventories, searching paintings to find colour palettes to then use freely either with collaging or to make your own final painting.  In the late afternoon the course will conclude with a mini-exhibition / Private View of your work with our other Art Week course participants and a chance to celebrate your achievements.

Mary Mabbutt profile photo
Mary Mabbutt

Mary Mabbutt

This course is taught by Mary Mabbutt, a practising painter and teacher.

After completing a BA in Fine Art at Loughborough she went on to the Royal Academy of Art where she gained a post-graduate diploma.

Since 1979 she has taught in numerous Fine Art departments in England and Wales, including as a lecturer in Painting on the BA(Hons) Fine Art course at University College Falmouth for over 30 years.

During this time at Falmouth she also worked with the BA(Hons) Illustration & Textile Design courses where she developed and extended her interest in teaching the principles of colour contrast. This led to her role as Colour Consultant to the BA Textile Course.

She has exhibited her paintings extensively. Her most recent solo shows of painting were held at the Gallery, Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens (2023) and The Table Hay Gallery at Hay-on-Wye (2022). Her works are held in a number of private and public collections which include Metropolitan Museum, New York, Usher Gallery Lincoln and Arts Council London.

Image of painting collage
Mary Mabbutt painting colour project

Where will the course take place?

Lamorva, Falmouth Campus  

Nestled away just a stone's throw from the centre of town, our Falmouth Campus is composed of industry-standard facilities, relaxed learning spaces and a vast subtropical garden. 

On our campus, you'll be within walking distance from Falmouth's bustling high-street and you'll also be just up the road from Gyllyngvase Beach. 

The campus is close to a large public car park and also just a short walk away from Falmouth Town train station if you're using public transport from Penryn, Truro or further afield.

Find out more

Download our Falmouth Campus map below

Explore our Fine Art facilities

Important information

Our Falmouth campus is not fully accessible, with some activities in early Victorian three storey buildings. Please contact us if you have questions about mobility and access. 

We are currently refurbishing our library building on the Falmouth Campus. Please note: there will be some noise in and near this building, which is located opposite the Printmaking studios. Please contact us if you have any questions. 

Download our Terms & Conditions below

How to apply

Who is this course suitable for?

This course is suitable for people who have some familiarity with brushes and mixing/applying paint, although experience is not essential and Mary has worked with students of all ages and abilities. You do not need to be a practicing artist to enjoy this course and build your artistic skillset.

Please note: to apply for our Summer Short Courses, you must be 18+ years of age.

Book now

Click the button below to book your place. You can choose to reserve your place with a deposit or pay in full. If you have any queries please contact us on

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Fees, costs & funding

You can choose to reserve your place with a deposit or pay in full.

Rate  Price Date available until
Super Early Bird £850 30 April 2024 
Early Bird £950 30 May 2024 
Standard £1,100 16 June 2024 

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How to find us

Falmouth University is split between two campuses, approximately four miles apart. Regular buses run between the two, with a journey time of 20-25 minutes.

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