STUDIO 11 CopyOur studio: the Old Lifeboat House, Porthleven


Once again we welcomed artists from all over the UK to our two Autumn 'Freedom in Painting' courses in Porthleven, Cornwall, held in the fabulous Old Lifeboat House (above). Both courses ended with a final-day exhibition, showcasing the exciting and varied work produced during the week.

This year's courses began with a visit to the Kurt Jackson Foundation in St.Just to see his latest exhibition 'Kenidjack', followed by a quick drawing session at nearby Priests Cove, the subject of several paintings in the exhibition. Back at the studio, the drawings inspired our first colour-based painting exercise, with the challenge of the palette for each artists' painting drawn by lottery...


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Drawing played an important role during the week both as a response to the landscape and a source for the paintings. Artists were also encouraged to draw during the painting process, to work through ideas and possibilities for their paintings. On both courses, typical to Cornwall, we had an ever changing range of weather and light to inspire our artists: wild seas, high tides, rainbows, and beautiful, calm sunny days.


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Looking out from the studio


The September course co-incided with the inaugural Porthleven Arts Festival and we took a time out to hear a wonderful talk and slideshow about the making of Peter Lanyon's great painting 'Porthleven' (1950), given by Chris Stephens from The Holbourne Museum, Bath.


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The course was punctuated by further group exercises, demonstrations, group critiques and plenty of one-to-one tuition. As the week progressed each artist found their own focus, all encouraged to take risks and push their paintings further. It is a joyous thing when you have in front of you something new and unexpected and fought for. 


JAN X2EDIT CopyThe development of Jan Bunyan's 'Clocktower'


It's always a wonderful moment when the the studio is cleared and transformed into a gallery and the paintings are finally revealed. The final-day exhibitions make our courses unique and allow the artists to talk to the public about their paintings. And the rota system also gives the artists an opportunity for a bit of well-earned R & R after their labours during the week!


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 On each course, as part of my teaching, I work on a new Porthleven painting for the final day exhibitions. Here are my two from the Autumn courses:



 You can find details on our Painting Courses in Cornwall for 2022, from here 

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16 SEPT 2021

'Yellows on a wet Red-Oxide/Phthalo Green ground first...then the beach-huts. Work the imge, work the ground, re-draw the image with the ground...move the image, get the spacing right, open up the image, allow the ground equality: this is colour, this is drawing, this is composition, this is instinct, this is knowledge, this is now, this is art history, this is painting...'





I recently hosted a 2-day painting workshop at Paxford Village Hall, deep in the Cotswolds, where we explored a shifting relationship between 'Image & Ground', working with the motif of Beach Huts. The nine artists were asked to bring studies/drawings/photos of their favourite beach-huts as a reference but everyone's beach huts painting developed into something more personal, more ambiguous, more interesting, as much about ideas, process and imagination as the source material.


jancrop CopyThe progress of Jan Bunyan's painting...


The workshop began with a talk, illustrated with many historical and contemporary examples, showing how, in the history of painting, the role of the background changed, from a purely secondary one, supporting the image, to something much more prominent and equal. As always, the talk was followed by a demonstration, and then the artists began their own paintings, alternating between image and ground, shifting scale, colour, composition, even orientation, until the paintings began to emerge.

During the 2 days there were further demonstrations and plenty of one-to-tuition, with many of the artists working on a second canvas

The ambition behind every 'Freedom in Painting' workshop is that instead of painting the subject, we are using the subject to make a painting. In the Paxford workshop, this ambition was achieved by all the participating artists in their painterly, inventive interpretations of the subject.


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The aim in all the 'Freedom in Painting' workshops and courses, is to offer a space where can artists can embrace new ideas and challenges, expanding on existing skills and knowledge, in the pursuit of something new, different and exciting in their work. 

We recently held our third online 'Freedom in Painting' workshop, this time looking at the world of interior spaces in all its' guises: narrative, the autobiographical, the decorative, the symbolic, the intimate, the playpen for exploring pattern, textures, design, colour, light & space.

The 10 participating artists were asked to bring two pre-coloured canvases to the workshop, together with studies, drawings, ideas of a real or imagined rooms, with or without the figure.


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Jane Crane                                                                                       Karen Martin


After the artists introduced themselves and their ideas to the group, I gave a Powerpoint presentation of the many uses, styles, interpretations of the interior in painting thoughout art-history, including many contemporary examples. As artists, we all part of one, big, continuing story...

After two demonstrations in the morning session, the artists were encouraged to begin their paintings in 2 different ways, the first using tone, with a light source and the second springboarding from colour. The 'interior' in my painting was an imagined one, taken from fiction, a new 'City of Glass' painting. 

In the afternnon, personal tutorials were interspersed with further demonstations and instructions for the artists to follow, with the aim of creating a shift, an alternative to explore in their work. On Day 2, there were further demonstations and tutorials followed by silent working time. Everybody enjoyed the opportunity to share and discuss the work made in the Group Critique at the end of the day. As ever, with the focus and intensity of working there were many surprises and evolutions over the 2-days of the painting-workshop, resulting in another strong body of work. Hats off to the artists...






'Thank you for an interesting two day workshop. I found it both thought provoking and challenging.' Karen Martin

'Brilliant painting days, thank-you so much..still painting in my head.' Jane Crane

 'I really enjoyed getting the inspiration and having a reference from the slideshow of other artists who had tackled the same subject matter. And just having the opportunity to play with no agenda.'  Sam Pentin

 'Really liked Ashley's research on artists who had painted rooms. I liked seeing other artists work and hearing their views.' Peter Waters


MON 29 MARCH 2021

After a 4 year gap, a new 'City of Glass' painting': 'the triad of selves', (p:6, 'City of Glass'), the interchangeable identities of Daniel Quinn, William Wilson, Max Work - author, pseudonym, fictional detective. The painting focuses on Quinn's return to the now empty apartment on E69th St in the novel's final pages, as he reflects on 'the life he had lived before the story began'.  For many reasons, this had to be a blue painting. The trio of identities are referenced by the three linear circles of the empty plate on the floor, the rounded light fitting and the middle circle in the column of dots, in turn a representation of Quinn's red-notebook...

The breakthrough was in painting the same circle, then the associations came flooding in. The circles, of course, bring in spatial complexities and ambiguities: if they are same-size, are they on the same plane or is it 'illusionist' co-incidence, i.e. they are different sizes but 'appear' same-size. The question distorts and twists the space incessantly...

The painting has a satisfying visual and contextural harmony - looking forward to showing it for the first time in 'Painting the Novel, at Linden Hall Studio, at the end of June. 


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The painting was started in the 'INTERIOR: Painting the Room' online workshop that I hosted recently. For my painting, I chose the small empty room in the Stillman apartment on E69th St, where 'City of Glass' ends. A room of sadness, reflection and despair - this had to be a blue painting. What to include? A room 10 x 6ft, four white walls, a wooden floor, a small window, a light fitting, a tray with a plate of food and carafe of wine, an adjoining windowless bathroom. The most important item, Quinn's red notebook, the last pages filling up fast, the last sentence: 'What will happen when there are no more pages in the red notebook?'


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'Painting the Novel', a solo-exhibition at Linden Hall Studio, Deal, 27 June-17 July 2021'