Port Isaac


Cornwall was really at it's best for our September painting holiday, treating us to an array of both glorious and wild weather - perfect for capturing our artists imagination in their work made during the course.

Glorious Trebarwith Strand


We were once again delighted to have on board a few familiar faces along with our new artists looking to discover their own personal 'Freedom in Painting' experience - with Ashley's help of course! The group were a great mix of varying abilities and as well as benefiting from Ashley's group exercises and individual tuition, they were able to learn and engage with each other's work, through group discussion and the sharing of ideas.

As always, everyone excelled themselves and there was was some fantastic work made by the end of the week. Here is an insight in to the week.....


Philippa painting in Port Isaac

Day 1 - The North Coast. Port Isaac was our first point of call. Now famous for the Doc Martin series - we love it for its multitude of spectacular view points from above and below, its unique fishing harbour and backdrop of dramatic granite cliffs beyond. Ashley began the morning with some quick sketching exercises from different viewpoints to get the group warmed up before the artists were encouraged to find their own special place to sketch or paint from. He then worked his way round to everyone discussing their sketches and ideas. What luck - we witnessed a seal swimming out to sea and a couple of a rainbows - all in the same morning!


Trebarwith Strand


Lucinda sketching in Trebarwith


It was then on to Trebarwith Strand for a delicious lunch, overlooking the bay at The Port William Inn. Trebarwith never fails to deliver with its wild crashing seas and view of Gull Rock in the distance - it has a special magic all of its own! Ashley kicked off the afternoon by taking the group to a spectacular viewpoint for some more drawing challenges and then everyone discovered their own favourite place to work from.



Ashley with Janet in Polperro


Day 2 - The South Coast. Charlestown was to be our original morning location but we had discovered the BBC were filming the second series of Poldark, so rather than risk any unwelcome interruptions, (unless of cause you prefer more figurative painting!) we headed off to the fishing village of Polperro - full of Cornish charm. Here the group enjoyed the contrast to the north coast's landscape and Ashley got them thinking about putting down ideas for paintings, once back in the studio. By midday everyone had worked up a good appetite and the excellent lunch provided by The Blue Peter Inn was a welcome break.


Amazing skies in Polruan


Lucinda's sketchbook


We then headed down the winding lanes to Polruan - another favourite spot and the last of our four inspiring destinations. Here Ashley introduced some linear drawing exercises from this amazing panorama and for those who wanted, there was more to sketch and paint, on the way down the hill and at sea level with the 13th century Blockhouse, harbour and shipyard. Our artists were ready, excited and maybe just a little apprehensive of what Ashley had in store for them in the studio over the next few days!



Days 3 - 4 In the Studio. Our studio base for the next two days was the excellent Village Hall in St Breward, located high on Bodmin Moor and in Ashley's words 'this is when the holiday ends and the hard work, really begins!' The first morning was devoted to group colour exercises- experimentation and having some fun with colour. After a hearty lunch at The Old Inn Pub, (next door) it was then time to begin work on the artists own paintings.


Ashley demonstrating




Catherine with her painting in progress


Over the two days Ashley showed the group a wide range of tips and techniques and opened up many new possibilities for working with paint. As well as plenty of demonstrations, there was time for Ashley to discover what each artist hoped to achieve in their work and Ashley set out out to help them achieve this. He also introduced the group to a number of artists that have had a major influence on his own work.

There were plenty of surprises and although the artists were sometimes out of their comfort zone they enjoyed being challenged and seeing a totally different outcome. By day two in the studio the paintings were really starting to take shape and some really exciting work was evolving.


Margarita painting


Malcolm's painting in progress


As always the last studio day ended with an invaluable group critique about the work made with everyone learning and contributing from each other.


Janet's painting


Mandy's painting


Roberta's painting


Joy's painting


Philippa's painting

Margarita's painting


Our painting holiday finale wouldn't be the same without our celebration meal at the wonderful 'Asquiths ' restaurant in Lostwithiel, (after a swift pint at The Globe Pub beforehand.) It always seems like a fitting end after all the hard work put in by everyone throughout the week!


Christina's painting


Detail of Lucinda's painting in progress


Lunch at The Old Inn, St Breward


A BIG thank-you to all our artists who signed up - we really hope you found Ashley's tuition and guidance beneficial and also another BIG thank-you to all our contributors, who help to make our painting holidays such a success, as we couldn't do it without you!


Kathleen's Diptych


Muriel's painting


Juliet's painting


Carolyn's painting in progress


Catherine's painting in progress


If you would like to join us on one of our Freedom in Painting holidays in Cornwall next year, the dates are :

9th - 14th May & 19th - 24th September 2016

To find out more about Ashley's art practice, painting holidays and courses see our website here .

If you would like us to keep you updated, join our mailing list and we can let you know as soon as new details are released along with any special offers available.



Their are some very talented artists joining Ashley and it is sure to make for an exciting exhibition. Porthleven (Cornwall), continues to inspire many of Ashley's own paintings and he is hoping to complete number 21 in the series .

As well as paintings, sketchbooks and sketches will be on display, helping visitors engage with each artists painting journey.

The Preview is on Friday 9th October, 5- 7.30pm, where you can meet the artists and share a glass of wine and the exhibition continues on Saturday 10th October , 10-5pm. Entry is free and we would love you to join us!

For more information call Denise on 07957 665378

Black Beach 60x60cms 1991
'Black Beach'    60x60cms   oil on wood 1991


It's about time I put a painting up - 'Black Beach' won Second Prize at the Hunting Art Prizes, back in 1991, presented by Sister Wendy. The painting went to Australia shortly afterwards, one of the girls who worked in the Mall Galleries where the exhibition was shown. If you are out there please get in touch. Still looks strong, one of my best pieces, I worked on it for nearly a year. Every mark belongs, a still centre, almost a still-life in a landscape. Beautiful blacks, all made. Innovative - I remember cutting and rolling/removing paint around the edges to make the frame- obviously influenced by Howard Hodgkin. In the Observer, critic Brian Sewell commented that the painting 'looked like the tarred surface of a London street'. Still not sure if that's a compliment!

Sue Cavanagh's painting


We were delighted with the response to Ashley's latest Freedom in Painting workshop at the Sculpture Studio, Canterbury Christchurch University, with another full house. As always there were new ideas to explore and this time, using two different life-models, on alternate days, each drawing and painting had to contain - '2 Figures', with all its possibilities of narrative.The challenge was to create a strong composition in each piece, with a variety of standing, lying and sitting poses.



The first morning was spent drawing our first model Sharon. With a mixture of traditional life poses and inventive exercises the challenge for the artists was to go beyond analytical life studies and look for ideas for painting. After lunch it was time to get down to painting with some longer poses and referencing the drawings from the morning session.



Well worth a photo David Carnegie!


The possibilities for painting were further explored on day two with the introduction of our second model Louise. After an intense group drawing session, each artist had the opportunity to work individually with Louise, repeating a particular pose they needed for their painting. The artists were free to compose their composition of '2 Figures', using identical or different poses with one or both of the models.

The final session was spent refining the paintings without the model, followed by an invaluable, in depth critique of the paintings. The work made over the two days was very exciting and as always there was a striking diversity between each artists interpretation of '2 Figures' . Below is a small selection of some of the work made - before Ashley's IPhone ran out of battery!

Penny Watts Painting

Deborah Pugh's Painting


Jo Eden's Painting


David Carnegie's painting


We really hope that those of you who attended, found the concept interesting and worthwhile. Thank you for signing up and a big thank you also to our two models Sharon Smithers and Louise Hughes, whom Ashley really enjoyed working with.

Look out for our next, Freedom in Painting workshop at Canterbury in December - 'Red'.

Here are a few comments about the workshop:

It was very helpful. Jumped me way out of my comfort zone, lots of inspiring exercises, great models, interesting, pacey, exploratory, got lots of new ideas. Thank-you very much Ashley.
Jo Eden

I wanted a course that encouraged freedom of ideas/colours/paint- technique and was very happy with Ashley's approach. I will definitely continue to use his ideas and feel much braver about taking risks!
Susie Rotberg

It gave me the confidence to make composition with more than one figure and creating narrative. Thank-you for the very constructive feedback; each person was treated as an individual.
Margarita Hanlon

DSC 01501800web2
'City of Glass 33 - (Buried)'     100x100cms

June 11 p.m

The dots/perforations worked, closing the gap between Manhattan and the left side and also referencing the notebooks of Quinn & Stillman. Space & scale more intriguing/ambiguous.

June 11 a.m

Unable to sleep - 'Washington Square' as a title is too innocuous. The painting is what it is, dominated by the heavy yellows. I cannot get past the image of a post-apocalyptic New York choked/drowned/buried by oceans of sand.

June 10

Four days in, very close- the colours and their proportions are working now. Manhattan is trapped/held by the heavy yellows, like an archaeological find. 'Sea of Sand' and 'Buried' were the more dramatic, alternative titles at one point. Like how the image sits on the bottom edge. I was happy with the piece at the studio but as soon as I got home and saw the image on screen more ideas emerged that I'll try out tomorrow. I suspect there is a stronger composition if I put in a vertical row of dots/perforations near the left edge which will pull Manhattan towards the left side and subvert both space and scale. It feels a bit tight, lacking in movement but it could be it's just a different kind of painting. Let's find out.

I also have the idea of putting in a differently angled line from bottom left to top right slashing across Manhattan. The image of the tightrope between the Twin Towers: if Manhattan is that far below, how high is the building the viewer peers down from?

In this painting instead of orientating Manhattan on the vertical, like the other paintings in the series, to break the square I have used the (real) 60 degree angle of Manhattan to create a dynamic diagonal.

In the novel*, Quinn ambles across the square during his meticulously described walk from his home to the southern tip of Manhattan, and then back up the East Side to the Stillman Apartment on E69thSt.

Washington Square was chosen simply because of the shape of my canvas. It is actually not a square but a double square. Now a small yellow blob, the (double) square originally filled the canvas. The strong angled lines, almost hidden, structure the painting.



colours from 'Buried'

* 'The New York Trilogy', by Paul Auster