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'City of Glass 31 - (A Study in Violet)' 180x100cms


A reference/homage to 'A Study in Scarlet', the first Sherlock Holmes story - after all, 'City of Glass'* is a detective novel. The painting was originally worked as two canvases side by side, and planned as a much larger version of 'Celestial' with a less sweet blue/black sky. I had great problems dealing with the scale, lots of bitty areas, confusion. After separation, the colour-scheme was pared down, the composition strengthened with the introduction of the violet/black stripe, an extended Central Park. There are obvious connections with 'City of Glass 29- (The Space Between' and intriguing ambiguities. Is the violet stripe a sinister tower? A violet void - the entrance to the alley where 'detective' Quinn obsessively watches the entrance to the Stillman apartment? Love the play with the violet-black curves of Riverside Drive and the horizontal of 42nd St - in my eyes, the painting is exquisitely balanced. Perhaps because of the scale, the paint is less all-over heavy, with staining and transparent layerings bringing areas of light to the piece.

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The main idea for my (unsuccessful) applications to the Pollack Krasner Foundation, Triangle Arts Association & the Tate St.Ives Residency, was to make a suite of paintings, each containing one of the letters that spell T.H.E.T.O.W.E.R.O.F.B.A.B.E.L. Maybe this is the first painting in that series within a series....(L). Might need some funding though - these are substantial canvases! The concept still excites me, it is a piece I have to make, somehow, sometime. Because the 15 paintings will be arranged/hung with the greatest visual coherence, the letters will inevitably be all jumbled up, forcing the viewer, like Quinn, to discover the letters that spell T.H.E.T.O.W.E.R.O.F.B.A.B.E.L.


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*from 'The New York Trilogy', a novel by Paul Auster

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Rock and the Camel Estuary


We were very much looking forward to meeting our May painting holiday group as we had a number of artists returning from previous years (Sigi from Canada and Elizabeth and Antonia from last year's holiday) along with welcoming our new artists who had all signed up to the 'Freedom in Painting' experience.

A fantastic week followed that inspired the group to produce some amazing results by the end of the holiday. Here is an insight into what we got up to...

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Elizabeth sketching at Rock


Day 1 - The North Coast. Rock and the Camel Estuary looked breath taking. The sun shone on us all day and the changing colours of the sea and altering shapes of the sandbanks were quite magical. Ashley brought the group together to begin the day sketching before everyone was encouraged to find their own special place to draw or paint from. He then chatted and discussed the sketches and studies individually with everyone throughout the morning. Our artists were just warming up!


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Rocky beach at Porth Quinn


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Hazel sketching at Port Quinn


After breaking for a delicious lunch at the Longcross Hotel, we headed five minutes up the road to Port Quinn our location for the afternoon. This place is a wonderful contrast to the calm sea of the Camel Estuary and the group enjoyed the diversity of the landscape. Once again Ashley began the afternoon with a drawing challenge on the small rocky beach before taking the group up onto the cliff tops, for some spectacular views to work from.


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Polperro Harbour


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Antonia painting at Polperro


Day 2 - The South Coast. Polperro our morning location was just waking up when we arrived, so an ideal time to visit this traditional Cornish fishing village and harbour. Ashley began the morning with a series of sketching exercises from different viewpoints and he then encouraged the group to start looking/thinking about ideas for paintings, whilst making their studies. A hearty lunch followed at the Blue Peter Inn and we were then refreshed and ready to move on.


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Kate painting at Polruan


Polruan was our final south coast destination and it didn't disappoint. The 360 degree panoramic views were stunning as always and here Ashley introduced some linear exercises before our artists were encouraged to draw or paint from their own personal viewpoint. For those who wanted, there was more amazing landscape to see and paint/sketch from along the way down to the ancient ruins of the Blockhouse and harbour. The difficult task of processing and editing all the work from the past two days would begin in earnest tomorrow!

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Carol's studies in the studio


Day 3- 4 The Village Hall at St Breward , high on Bodmin Moor was our studio for the next two days. The first morning was devoted to group exercises exploring colour and composition with the artists editing and abstracting from their own drawings. After a break for lunch at The Old Inn pub (conveniently located next door) the artists began working on their paintings. Everyone was asked to work on two pieces simultaneously developing their studies and ideas further.


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Ashley 'in action' demonstrating techniques


Over the two days Ashley discussed the work of some of his favourite artists and demonstrated many of his painting tips and techniques, including numerous ways of mark- making and applying paint . Under his guidance everyone was encouraged and inspired to move out of their comfort zone and take their painting somewhere new. The finale as always was an indepth group critique which the artists found both enjoyable and invaluable, a wonderful shared experience.

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Ashley working with Hazel


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In the studio


After the intensity of working over the past few days our artists certainly earned their celebratory dinner on Friday evening and enjoyed a quick pint at The Globe Inn before settling down to a superb three course meal at Asquiths Restaurant in Lostwithiel.

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Thanks once again Sally and Graham for looking after us so well.


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Antonia Glynne Jones painting


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Diane Bedser's painting


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Philippa Hutton's painting


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Elizabeth Aspinall's painting


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Kate Watkins painting


We had a terrific week with you all and the dedication you gave to your paintings really shone through. Thanks for joining us and we really hope you felt the benefit of Ashley's guidance and tuition . We would also like to thank all of our contributors that help to make our painting holidays a success.

We do hope to see you again soon!


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Philippa Langton's painting


If you would like to join us on our 21st - 26th September painting holiday in Cornwall 2015, there are still places available. For lots more information see the website here. If you would like to make an enquiry or booking contact Denise or call 01208 77656.


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Hazel Crawford's painting


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Carol Hayslip's painting


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Sigi Johnson's painting


Porthleven 20 80x80cms
'Porthleven 20'     80x80cms


One of the great benefits of teaching is that it presents the opportunity to restate principles and beliefs about painting. Without a doubt, this helped with this painting, which I worked on during the recent workshop at the Lifeboat Art Studio in Porthleven.

As in all my paintings, there were many wrong turnings during the process. There is usually a point where a painting looks like something you have made before: this piece was exposed when hung alongside 'Porthleven 19' and I was also forced to look again by the clarity and quality of the work of the other artists in the group.

In comparison, this painting was bitty/fragmented, inconclusive & static. The colour was not working, the deep pink was too sweet and distracting, cancelling out the blue, the painting tediously divided into three equal sections, with the group of four piers almost dead centre. Day 3- Day 4 was definitely backwards. It was a mistake to square off the bottom right corner of the harbour, losing the beautiful 's'-shape though we did see the introduction of the dynamic parallel lines of the slipway on the bottom edge. Above all I had failed to come to terms with the square, whose perfection has to be broken.

'Simplify- always look for a bigger shape within the canvas, a stronger composition.....'


Now all the elements within are larger. The new thing is the procession of lines and the curves creating movement towards the top right corner/the open sea. Drawing holds this piece together. I have been drawing more, especially now I'm drawing not teaching in the Thursday life class.

The painting has been on the wall for a week- no changes are needed. It looks different which is how it should be. It could not have been made without being in this place (Porthleven) with these artists at this particular point in time. The drawing and exercises we did together, the discussions we had both in the studio and the Ship Inn, the group dynamic and the intensity of working, all contributed. See here for blog post on the April 'Freedom in Painting' Porthleven course and exhibition.

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day 4


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day 3

Freedom in Painting Canterbury Workshop June 2015


Our next 'Freedom in Painting ' workshop will be held once again at the Augustine Art Centre at Canterbury Christchurch University. On this workshop, using the life-model, the challenge for all participants is to explore the idea of '2 Figures' in a painting, with it's possibilities of narrative.....

We will spend the first morning drawing extensively from our first model building on our observational skills before starting on our painting and as usual Ashley will have a few surprises for you! On Day Two, we will introduce our second model into the composition.

To book and guarantee your place: email or call 01208 77656

Comments from our last workshop

As always, stimulating, challenging, exhausting! I look forward to more.
Teddy Kempster

Ashley's very approachable, gentle and sensitive while being a clear and dynamic tutor and workshop leader. Thoroughly enjoyed my journey! Big Thank-you and to Denise for exceptional admin skills.
Selina Firth

Very supportive approach and good teaching style. I feel more confident.
Katrina Jean Dallamore

WP 20150422 009 webThe Life Boat Art Studio - Porthleven


The artists had a fantastic week, (weather included) and this year our exhibition days coincided with the Porthleven Food and Music Festival bringing many more visitors to the town and the studio to view the work. Most of the artists had worked with Ashley before but as always he came up with some new challenges and surprises and the end result was some really exciting work! Porthleven is an extraordinary place with its iconic clock tower, double harbour and beaches and its ever changing light, weather and tides - it never fails to inspire.


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The artists gathered at the studio Sunday afternoon to set up their space, followed by an introductory talk where Ashley discussed the aims and principles of the course.A perfect opportunity for the group to meet each other before visiting the Ship Inn (which became known as the unofficial office!) for a bite and a pint.


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The first morning was spent drawing around the harbour from a variety of viewpoints, collecting information and finding inspiration and ideas. After lunch the artists returned to the studio and took part in a series of drawing and colour exercises before Ashley let them loose on their paintings.


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Day two was structured in a similar way but then the studio became the focus as the artists pushed their paintings further. Ashley was on hand to give individual mentoring and there was lots of opportunities for groups discussions and critiques which the artists found invaluable.Once again everyone enjoyed seeing Ashley develop his own painting, giving an insight into his working process, demonstrating tips and techniques along the way. With the exhibition looming the artists were totally committed, often working into the early evening before retiring to the office for some well earned food, drink and laughter!


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This year the group benefited from an additional half day on Friday morning to finish their paintings and a full day exhibition on the Saturday. Friday afternoon was spent transforming the studio into a gallery in preparation for the Preview on Friday evening and what a transformation! Colour and strong line filed the room, the paintings complimented by the drawings and studies. It looked amazing. Ashley's working painting 'Porthleven 20' was also exhibited but he is still not sure if it has been resolved..., what do you think?


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Helen Herbert's Painting

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Ashley Hanson's Painting

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John Robson's Painting

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Jane Crane's Painting

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Mitzi Delnevo's Painting


A BIG thank-you to the Porthleven Food and Music Festival for supporting us and helping to spread the word about the exhibition via the website , Facebook and Twitter and it was great to meet you.


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Gallery Ready for Opening

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Dinner at Amelies


After the Preview we celebrated the week's achievements, together with  the younger Hansons at Amelies Restaurant , thank-you to Paul James (who was one of the performing chef's at the Food Festival) for a lovely dinner.Before the opening on Saturday, Ashley brought the artists together for a final critique of the work. The exhibition was very well received and the artists enjoyed their many conversations with visitors to the show.

As well as the increased numbers to the exhibition an added bonus was that all the group got to see and participate in the festival during the weekend.



Well done to everyone, the quality of work produced in just one week was exceptional. From your comments , we are so glad you enjoyed it and hope you are not left too exhausted! As soon as we have the dates in place for next year, we will let you know!

Ashley was interviewed by the Porthleven Food & Drink Festival organisers. Here he  speaks about the Art Exhibition, the artists work made during the week and their commitment to the course and their art practice.

Our October Porthleven 'Freedom in Painting' course for this year is now fully booked but if you are interested in joining us next year or finding out more about our courses and holidays see courses or would like to join our mailing list email Denise here.