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We recently welcomed two groups of artists to our Autumn 'Freedom in Painting' courses in Porthleven, held in the Old Lifeboat House, in Porthleven, Cornwall, in its magnificent location at the head of the harbour. The artists, with different levels of experience, came from all over the UK, looking for inspiration and with the ambition of pushing their practice further. As always, Porthleven delivered...


IMG 2005newweb CopyView from the studio


We began, as always, with a Saturday morning gallery visit, this time visiting Tate St. Ives and exhibitions by contrasting contemporary landscape painters, Paul Wadsworth and Neil Canning. Back to the studio for our first group painting exercise, where the artists were asked to explore the motif of 'stripes', which have been increasingly prevalent in my own work recently. The artists were asked to reference colours from both the landscape and the paintings from the morning in St Ives, with the discipline of giving all the stripes their own character and difference.  Below is a selection of the resulting studies from the exercise, showing some remarkable ingenuity.


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On the Sunday morning drawing session, we continued the theme of stripes, with the artists drawing stripes on the pages of their sketchbooks - horizontal/vertical/diagonal - before entering the landscape. The idea was to adapt the stripes on the page to the landscape, to find connections, to make a different kind of drawing which could lead to a different kind of painting. 

In the afternoon demonstration, I started my own painting of Porthleven, starting with stripes of differing colours and textures, applied with differing techniques, before introducing one of my drawings of the gap between two of the piers, which had caught my eye that morning. The artists followed the demonstration in their own paintings, choosing a favourite drawing to work from. 


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At the end of the day on Monday, we had a group critique with all the artists ready to show their paintings after 3 long sessions. Most artists started a second or even third or fourth painting over the next couple of days, each painting feeding the next. There was continuous one to one tuition and further demonstrations as I worked on 'Porthleven 61'. We cleared the studio around 2 on Wednesday to prepare for the Thursday exhibition, with all the artists contributing amicably to the hang. Always a thrilling moment when the paintings are revealed. 


IMG 1963crop2In the studio early: Dawn at dawn!


Our exhibition is a point of difference to other painting courses in Cornwall and this year we had  200 visitors over the two exhibitions, giving the artists getting a chance to speak with visitors about their work and to have a good look at what the other artists achieved on the course. All part of the learning process.


CARMEN X4CROP CopyCarmen Renwick paintings


The October Course followed the same format with the exploration of the theme of stripes. As you can see below, the September group hung on closely to the theme, whereas with the October artists, the theme is generally more elusive, providing a structure for the paintings. Congratulations to all  fourteen artists: your hard work and ambition has resulted in a fantastic group of paintings. We hope to see you again soon and also see some of the paintings in our exhibition in Henley next October 'Cornwall, Colour & Coast'.










'What a wonderful location to be in. I feel energised and ready to pursue my painting with vigour again. Your one-to-one sessions are so helpful, your insights are brilliant, Ashley. Thank-you.' CARMEN RENWICK

'The course was really helpful  - colour, tone, methods of mixing and choosing colour, line and definition. Ashley - you are a super teacher and so willing to offer suggestions as to the way forward' CHRISTINA HARRISON

'I needed this weeks course to get my art going again, thank-you. Really enjoyed myself, very inspirational and Ashley is an amazing tutor'  LESLEY TURNER