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Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Guy Noble


The journey from representation to abstraction is concerned with bridging the world of appearances and your inner world of memory, feeling and imagination. To abstract is to liberate. On this course we will open up the possibilities  of drawing, paint manipulation, colour and collage, forging your own language within the context of abstraction.

We will refer to contemporary and historical examples throughout the course.

This course is in three parts - term by term. You can do them separately, in sequence or in any order.

To provide you initially with something concrete to look at and respond to, you will each make a still life type of set up inside a cardboard box-a personal “model” for pictorial space. This personal space/place will provide you with a stimulus to work from, an initial springboard for your perceptual and expressive responses. (See materials list)

Entry requirements

A good level of spoken English is required in order to be able to engage with discussions.

To make the most of this course you will need to feel happy to explore your experience with an open experimental attitude.

Course level: All levels

PART 1.  Drawing Materials (Autumn)

Autumn Term (Sept to December) is based in all sorts of experimenting with drawing materials, designed to springboard that move from looking and responding into creating your own expressive language, releasing personal connections between looking, feeling, thinking and making. We will ask what “representation” might mean within the context of abstraction-and contemporary practice. 

We will examine the expressive power of line, tone, texture, touch, movement and space, using collage, black and white paint and any other mixed media materials you might like to introduce. Each day will explore a different kind of stimulus and invention with these materials, bringing alive the visual, the sensual, the imagined and felt. 

In Part 1 we will refer to extensive examples in the development of Modernist abstraction starting from the first Cubist collages at the beginning of the 20th century to American Abstract Expressionism and beyond.

PART 2. Colour (Spring)

Spring Term (January to March) is all about the thrill of colour - colour as a dynamic physical, psychological and expressive power.  We will focus on the behaviour of colour, how to use it to its full potential and control it.  We will understand harmony, contrast, colour interaction, what saturation and tonal value of colour can do and see how understanding these aspects of colour can help you control its function and increase its expressive power. 

We will explore how the role of colour after Matisse (and onwards) is freed up and intensified- no longer illustrating things seen, but creating space and light and feeling itself: colour becomes the experience, no longer a description of it. We will work with the pure, physical force of colour and with abstract colour space, also experimenting with paint handling and material invention. By the time you’ve done this course you will be able to sort out colour that’s “gone wrong” in your paintings and control and maximise its emotional range.

PART 3 Abstraction in Context (Summer)

Summer Term (April to June) focuses on building a contemporary, imaginative abstract language through colour, abstract colour space, subject matter, inventive techniques and handling of paint. 

Referring widely to the historical and contemporary context of painting we will set about freeing up your relationship with looking and ideas about what “representation” and “abstraction” might mean. 

We explore different kinds of pictorial space; examining issues of ambiguity, flatness, illusion and multiplicity. We look at imagery within abstraction, appropriation, and pluralistic styles, strategies and languages. We work with re-inventing qualities of surface, texture, sensation, movement, transparency, layering, pattern and touch aiming to “trap” through materials, processes and ideas, the physical and emotional experiences of your lives.

Please note: This course is for students aged 18 and older

IMPORTANT Information: There is currently no lift access at this site. Access to your classroom is only via stairs-
Please contract short course office if you foresee any issues

Tutor Description

Guy Noble is an experienced tutor and a practising artist who has exhibited internationally. He studied at the Byam Shaw, Spain and Italy. Guy teaches a number of painting and drawing courses at Central Saint Martins, including Abstraction Painting, Painting and Personal Inspiration and Introduction to Drawing. You can check his website at


 Please bring to the first session (of each course):

  • A cardboard box. It needs to be deeper than a shoe box (ideally a supermarket box about 20cm deep by 30cm wide).
  • Some small objects to put in your box - some bits and pieces. These could be totally arbitrarily accumulated; (the first five things you lay your hands on, the contents of your handbag, ten objects the names of which start with the letters of you name, etc) or they could be things that you love (not in a narrative sense) but visually and sensually; a flower, a ring, a feather, a fruit, a small vase, a ball of string, a seed pod, a cork screw, a mirror, etc. Please don't feel you need to justify or understand the selection of your objects - the more intuitive the selection is the better!

For the Autumn Term (starting in October) please also bring:

  • Drawing pencils
  • Compressed charcoal
  • Putty rubber
  • Masking Tape

Later in the course you will need:?

  • A black and white oil pastel
  • Black and white collage materials e.g. black/white tissue paper painted and patterned paper, etc black and white paint.

For the Spring and Summer Term (starting in January and April) as well as the cardboard box mentioned above please also bring:

    • Acrylic Paints. Reasonably good quality colours are essential for successful colour mixing: Rowney System 3 is fine. Some paints will be provided but please bring these colours. White, cadmium yellow, lemon yellow, ultramarine, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, middle red, crimson, emerald green. If you have other colours do bring them.
    • Brushes - 2cm or 3cm synthetic brush for spreading colour flatly and smoothly, and smaller ones for mixing
    • Palette(to mix paints on; could just be a sheet of thick polythene to tape to a table.)
    • PVA glue
    • Jam jar for water
    • Kleenex roll and rags.

    Available dates