Found and Ground Art Materials

Everything you need for a natural art kit


9 – 13 May | 26 – 30 September 2022


Caroline Ross, Joan West


Dartington Trust, South Devon


£655 Non-residential | £935 Residential – see below for information on what’s included

about this course

Together we will work with the natural world to make wild colour, ochre paints, botanical inks, quill pens, feral brushes, sketchbooks and containers to store it all in. Using found, foraged and wild crafted materials, this week will show you how to create beautiful plastic-free art materials so that wherever you are you’ll be able to improvise with what nature provides. You’ll go home with an array of your own handcrafted items, and more importantly, the skills to make so much more at home or on your travels.

Join artist Caroline Ross on this journey through art and nature, using techniques from the Paleolithic to the Renaissance to create art materials that do not cost the earth. You’ll leave with a natural container full of inks, paints, pens, brushes and more made from the living world, from materials you have brought along, a selection Caroline has previously collected, and what we find around us during the week. You’ll learn skills that can be applied in almost any landscape, and gain a deep appreciation of our ancestors, who made their art without recourse to plastics or laptops.

Information for Participants


There will be opportunities during the weekend to explore the beautiful Grade II listed gardens at Dartington and the countryside on the estate.
Please bring appropriate outdoor footwear, clothing and a waterproof jacket. If you have a small foraging basket or cloth bag, that’s worth bringing too. All equipment and materials are provided, but you are encouraged to bring found feathers and shells, some rusty iron, any soft colourful rocks from your travels, saved paper that takes your eye, and anything else you think might make something interesting. Also bring old clothes or an art apron, as some of the materials we will use can stain fabric.

Course structure

3pm: arrival
4pm: Opening circle
4.45 – 6.15pm: First teaching session
Tuesday – Thursday:
10am – 4pm
10am – 3pm

The week will include:

  • Paint making through history and an overview of natural art materials.
  • Making traditional natural paints: gum paints – watercolour & gouache, egg paints – tempera & glair, glue paints and more.
  • Making and using different kinds of ink including oak gall ink, tannin inks, botanical, and berry inks. Learning about lightfastness, and the basic chemistry involved when using iron, or when modifying pH of inks.
  • Making traditional quill (feather) pens, reed pens, feather brushes and improvised natural drawing tools.
  • Learning what to look for when identifying and gathering plants, rocks, feathers and more to make our materials.
  • Creating simple sketchbooks sewn with natural fibres
  • A day making from found objects with Joan West.
  • How to make artists’ charcoal

There’ll also be abundant time to experiment and make art with all our newly made kit.
Further information and details will be sent to you before the course.


caroline ross

Caroline started drawing at about the same time she started making mud pies in the back garden, before she could walk. Passionate about nature and art from a young age, for two years she went to renowned art foundation college BPCAD at Shelley Park in Bournemouth. This haven on the clifftop, simultaneously in woodland and by seashore, set the tone for future self-guided studies after she had completed her BA at Kingston University and MA at Chelsea College of Art, and eventually left urban life and London behind.

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Joan West

Joan works with soft materials-jute, sisal, abaca, and leaves such as iris, day lilies, grasses and cordyline palm. She uses various techniques like coiling, twining, random weave and netting. Sometimes the baskets are embellished with stitchery; inspiration comes from shapes in the natural world such as seed heads and ferns.

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On this course, lunch will be provided. These communal meals are a vital part of the learning experience and we strongly recommend you attend them.

Tea and coffee will be available throughout the course.


We recommend that if possible, you stay on-site during your course. All our courses are best experienced holistically: through working, relaxing, eating and staying with other course participants and tutors.

Breakfast and dinner each day – made with fresh, locally-sourced produce by our award-winning team – are included: one less thing to worry about during your stay.

The residential course fee is based on staying in one of our student style single rooms with shared facilities and easy access to the wider estate, the White Hart and the spaces in which you will be learning. They are the perfect base to rest your head, relax and recharge.

It is also possible, subject to availability, to upgrade your accommodation to a single or double en-suite bedroom in our beautiful and historic courtyard. An upgrade to a single room with en-suite bathroom is an additional £25 per night and a double room with en-suite bathroom is an additional £40 per night.

If you would like to upgrade, please first book with residential option included, and then contact our Guest Services team on 01803 847101 or email to check availability. Our Guest Services department is open daily, 8am–8pm.

Choose this option by selecting ‘residential’ at checkout (head to ‘Book now’, below). Please note:

– Accommodation is available at a discounted rate for course attendees.
– For this course, you must book for 4 nights, arriving on Monday and departing on Friday.
– Dinner on Monday, breakfast and dinner on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and breakfast on Friday morning are all included.
– Check-in for all rooms is from 3pm on the day of arrival.
– Check-out for all departures is 11am on the day of departure.
– Accommodation is booked on a first come, first served basis only.

Book now

We are proud to be Covid-secure. With guidance around Covid constantly changing, find out what we're doing to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience here >

Select a time below to begin your online booking. You will receive an e-ticket for this event. You are welcome to email us at with any queries you have.

Monday 9th May 2022

Monday 26th Sep 2022

Offer: Special rate for Dartington Members

Dartington Members will receive a 10% discount, applied when they log in during the checkout process. For more information about Membership, click here (opens in new tab).

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