Ud i det blå – Field Painting course



(picture:  Ben Woodhams)

Ud i det blå – Field Painting course on Bornholm, with Greg Poole and Ben Woodhams, Sunday the 9th to Saturday the 15th September, 2018

The Course

Drawing and painting outside can be both exhilarating and daunting.

This course will use drawing as a way of ‘active looking’. Staying with our subject and getting to know it more intimately. Testing our understanding and exploring different means of interpreting what we see and feel.  As long as this process is part of an honest investigation of what we are experiencing there can be no such thing as a ‘bad drawing’. It is all part of a never ending process of trying to understand our world better.

The physical challenges of being outside in all weathers can generate a vibrancy and creativity in our mark-making and creative output that can sometimes be lost indoors. Sustained observation and full immersion in the natural environment is the theme underlying this course. In all weathers and for extended periods of time, course participants will embrace Bornholm’s fantastic natural environment, as we attempt to sketch, draw, and paint under the open skies.


(picture:  Greg Poole)

For some the work made outside might normally be a way of collecting raw material that will later be developed indoors. For others the work on the ground may be taken to a finished piece there and then. We will look at how both a quick sketch or a more laboured piece can have their virtues. Both are part of an ongoing process leading towards greater understanding. Working with others exploring similar themes in divers ways gives an inspiring sense of ‘safety in numbers’ as well as a great group dynamism.

Led by Bornholm resident and artist Ben Woodhams and the experienced and highly regarded English printmaker Greg Poole, the course leaders will take you on a journey through the Danish island of Bornholm’s diverse and wide ranging landscape. Visiting some of the lesser-known sites on the island, we will attempt to record and interpret the birds, plants and landscapes that we encounter, in a meaningful and creative way.

During the course you can expect a wide ranging introduction to field painting, natural history interpetation and  ways of working outdoors. The pros and cons of different media, techniques, and outdoor kit will be discussed and investigated. How can we maintain a confident approach when faced with the complexity and dynamism of the natural world? How is it possible to capture the essence of a bird in movement, or the hugeness of the autumn sea?


(picture:  Ben Woodhams)

The course will be taught in English (Greg and Ben) and Danish (Ben).

The Venue

Bornholm is a Danish island situated in the Baltic Sea between Poland and Sweden. A veritable paradise for naturalists and geologists, The island offers a rich and varied natural environment, with deciduous and coniferous forests, farmland, sandy shores and rocky cliffs – all within close proximity to the course headquarters. In September the bird migration will be in full swing, with the island a popular stepping stone in the route south. During the week we hope to visit many different sites on the island, depending on the weather and the wind direction. Højskole – the venue for the course is located in central Bornholm, close to farmland, forest and wetland areas.  Cranes and ravens will be foraging just a few minutes walk from the Højskole . On the sandy southern coast huge flocks of geese mingle with waders and terns on passage. In the rocky north, gulls and peregrine falcons wheel amongst the granite cliffs. If time and weather conditions permit, we may even find ourselves on the rocky and windswept Ertholmer islands off Bornholm’s Eastern coast, a minute archipelago where over 275 bird species have been recorded.


This course is hosted by Bornholm’s Højskole, a remarkable educational institution situated in Bornholm’s forested centre.

Denmark’s ‘Folkehøjskoler (folk High Schools) are an idiosyncratic and very Danish educational movement, initially created in the 1850s to educate Denmark’s peasantry. They now offer a wide range of residential courses to adults from all around the world. Bornholm’s Højskole is a cradle of creativity and inspiration. Participants from the week’s courses eat evening meals together and can join shared social events At the week’s end course leaders and attendees will present an informal exhibition of the week’s work that will be open to the general public.


You! – The Participants

Course participants need not have prior experience of working outdoors, and we expect and hope that attendees will come from a variety of different backgrounds and abilities. This course is all about being outside and looking. Process will be more important than end results. A diverse and supportive group dynamic is what makes a course like this extraordinary and unforgettable. The positive energy that a group of field painters can produce has to be experienced to be believed!

Us! – The tutors

Ben Woodhams


Much of Ben’s work centres around working within a self-imposed framework for his focus whilst painting or drawing.  In his latest project he has pledged that every Friday of 2018 he will walk a pre-planned length of the Bornholm coastline and draw/paint what he finds.  Setting parameters in space and time are maybe what most typify his approach. Ben brims with enthusiasm for the natural world. He is able to take on the depiction of vast changing skyscapes and then swap to studying the minutiae of insect behaviour. He has a quick eye for picking up nuances of form and great technical skill in handling the subtleties of watercolour. Seemingly laid back and amicable, Ben’s resolve in following through on projects is steely.  As a teacher he is empathetic, approachable and sets a great example of learning by doing.


(picture:  Ben Woodhams)

For more information on Ben see here: http://www.benwoodhams.com

Greg Poole


A practiced and knowledgeable observer of the natural environment, Greg manages to capture the essence of a place and its wild inhabitants with a few bold and perfectly measured marks. Originally trained as a zoologist, the apparent effortlessness and simplicity of Greg’s field drawings and studio-based prints belies many hours of careful field observation. Greg’s exploration of field-based mark-making is complemented by his technical skill in print making, all resulting in a vigorous and dynamic approach. Both supportive and candid, Greg is happy to share his experience and knowledge, forged from decades observing and drawing in the field. A passionate communicator, Greg is equally at home discussing the specifics of depicting a kittiwake’s bill or contemplating broader subjects such as composition or form.


(picture:  Greg Poole)

For more information on Greg see here: http://www.gregpoole.co.uk

The Practicalities

Bornholm in September can be balmy and mild, but it can also be stormy and cold. We could be painting in our T-shirts and shorts or wrapped in full rain gear in a freezing gale – it will be important that we are prepared for all eventualities!

Full board and lodging is offered by the Højskole. Participants can choose from double or single bedrooms, with or without ensuite facilities. Bedlinen and towels are provided, and all meals are at least 50% organic and prepared with local ingredients whenever possible. There is Wifi and clothes washing facilities. There is an art studio, conference rooms, as well as a huge canteen and evening bar area.


Transport within the island during the course is provided by Bornholm’s Højskole in the form of a bus, which will drive us to, and collect us from, the various sites we will visit. In the event we are able to visit the nearby Ertholmer Islands, participants will be asked to pay their own way on the ferry (approximately 250kr/£29/34Euro)

The price for the course (including all tutoring, transport during the week, three meals a day and accommodation) is as follows:

  • Double room (two single beds) w/ ensuite – 4,750kr (approx. £560 or 640 Euro) per person
  • Double room (two single beds) w/ shared bathroom – 4,250kr (approx. £500 or 570 Euro) per person
  • Single room w/ shared bathroom – 4,700kr (approx. £555 or 630 Euro)
  • Note: students and young people aged between 18 and 25 years can claim a 1,000kr (approx. £118 or 134 Euro) discount
  • Bornholm residents wishing not to use accommodation can claim a 500kr discount

Registration and payment

For more information about the course content, please contact Ben or Greg directly (info@benwoodhams.com and gregpoole60@gmail.com)

For registration and payment, please see here (link to Højskole’s relevant webpage)

A few days after registration you will be asked to pay a 1,000kr non-refundable deposit. An invoice for remaining payment and more information on the course will be sent 8 weeks before the course starts.

NOTE! The course is limited to 20 participants, and places are offered on a first come first serve basis.

Getting to Bornholm


From Copenhagen Airport, there are several direct planes every day to Bornholm (Rønne airport) with DAT (Danish Air Transport – https://dat.dk ). If you can manage to book well in advance and find a cheap ticket that can match your arrival and departure times from Copenhagen, this is the easiest option (cheapest return tickets from approximately 850kr/£100/115 Euro) .

Alternatively a bus and ferry combination to Bornholm leaves directly from the airport several times a day. From the airport, the bus drives through southern Sweden to Ystad, where the ferry takes you to Rønne on Bornholm. The whole journey takes less than three hours. This is the cheapest option (September prices yet to be fixed, but likely to be less than 500kr/£60/70euro for a return).

It is sometimes difficult to get a grip on the whole travel arrangements, so do let me help (Ben)!


(picture:  Greg Poole)