'I think all good painting looks as though the painting has escaped from the thicket of prepared positions and has entered some sort of freedom where it exists on its own, and by its own laws, and inexplicably has got free of all possible explanations' 


'The more courageous that I am in destroying partial success, the more likely it is that I will get something alive and true'


A brilliant 2 day Freedom in Painting workshop at Creek Creative in Faversham, using the ideas, ideals, methods and the work of Frank Auerbach as a springboard for our own search for truth in painting 'clearly and raw'. Without the luxury/challenge of 200-300 sessions with the model to finish a piece, each of the ten artists went deep into painting, acknowledging destruction and change as a neccessary part of the creative process, to push their paintings forward to find the unexpected.

An introductory talk was followed by an intense 2hr drawing session and a painting session after lunch. On the Friday morning, the artists were given the option of erasing the previous days work and starting again, mirroring Auerbach's discipline since the mid 70's. As always, the workshop ended with an invaluable group critique.

 A special thank-you to Sharon Smithers, our model and inspiration for the selection of paintings in the gallery below. 


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'I have learned to be not care but to really be me. It was a profound but not easy experience - I went beyond limits'  KATHLEEN ALBERTER

'Ashley made me take risks & get out of my comfort zone'  HAZEL MCINTOSH

'This Auerbach workshop was extremely inspiring. Ashley's knowledge and enthusiasm shone'  MARGARITA HANLON

'Good enthusiastic class helped by active teacher'  JOHN CACKETT




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'Black Harbour'  80x60cms


Disparate sources providing ideas for the new painting.  Joni  Mitchell's 'Black Crow' from 'Hejira' on the way to the studio- love that album, all-time favourite. The three versions of Dufy's 'Black Cargo'. Richard Diebenkorn's black and orange 'Ocean Park 133'. The dark paintings of Jeremy le Grice at Tremenheere - stirring. 

Inky, dense blacks, mainly Prussian Blue and violet + another: Hookers Green, Magenta, Raw Umber.  A single focus - find a shape, find the shape. Paint poured and pushed towards the edges and corners, obliterating the unncessary.  Shape refined, drawing and re-drawing, exhilerating, Female. The left-side, dark to light to reveal and contrast the beauty and density of the black harbour-shape. The last act: the fat pale- blue brushmark, top to bottom- twice. Spawned by Porthleven, this painting escapes 'place' and simply 'is'.

A last look at the sea: it's relentless, like life...

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The painting from the recent Porthleven course, exploring the course-theme of 'Curve/Boat'.  Playful, graffiti marks - movement though the gaps between piers to the the two paralell lines of the slipway, top-right. Purple to purple. Shapes taken from the landscape. The shape with its scalloped-corners revealed at low tide on the top-right pier. Triangle motif,  green to set off the orange and pink. Pastel-palette- looks different. The key to painting Porthleven harbour is to find the shape- a shape, different each time, to position in the rectangle of the canvas, using the structure to structure the painting. 



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'Porthleven 30 '- beginnings..



From the moment they were resolved, I have wanted to show the two figure paintings as a pair, with the subversive, negative space of the building in 'Prophecy' on the left balanced by the building in relief in 'Coat of Paint' on the right. Side by side, they were interesting but never convincing. This new arrangement excites - the two figures seperated by 'The Space Between'.

It was meant to be- all three paintings the same height.  The dark violet-void the same proportions as the two flanking figures, its curve linking to the curve of their backs. The identity of the dark-space now multiplies: it is Central Park, the 'Space Between' West Side and East Side. It is the view through the window of the Stillman Apartment. It is an alley, through which the figures may walk. It is hierachial, with the central curve higher than the others. It is the third figure - Quinn? It is allegorical. It is the alley from where Quinn obsessively watches the apartment. It is infinity. It is 'Nowhere'. 'And this was, finally, was all he ever asked of things: to be nowhere'*

We go full -circle: we are back once again in Grand Central Station, where Quinn has to choose which Stillman to a madman, one an innocent or imposter...


* p:4, 'The New York Trilogy'

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Fowey River panorama with Village Hall studio bottom-left


Beautiful, unspoilt Polruan was our location for the latest 'Freedom in Painting' course in Cornwall. 

Subject matter was not hard to find: the spectacular diamond-shaped panorama of the busy River Fowey, the intimacy of the small working boatyard and the framed glimpses of river between buildings were the catalyst for the many strong paintings made during the five days. 


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The course began with demonstrations followed by three group exercises designed to enter painting three different ways: through colour & shape, through mark-making, and after a drawing session on location, through abstraction and extreme reduction.  Building on this, from this point on it was up to the artists to explore the relationship between line and colour and decide how much figuration/information their paintings needed or how 'abstract' or 'figurative' they wished their paintings to be.

All nonsense of course to have these labels, but the aim of the course, through the exercises, the response to the landscape, the demonstations, dialogue and a creative environment was for each artist to aquire more knowledge and ideas about painting and its possibilities, hopefully creating a desired shift in their own practice.

And to have a couple of pieces to hang on the wall!


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studio6 CopyCarol Hayslip's drawings


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 'To learn from someone who is passionate about art was fab    SUE FRAY

 'A brilliant course. It fulfilled all my goals of producing an abstract painting and learning how to loosen up my current way of working'   ANITA BONE

'Ashley keeps us on point and spends time to consider and suggest without being emphatic.Great!  CAROL HAYSLIP

'Thanks for your dedication and serious honesty'  GERALDINE FRANKLIN


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'Polruan'  25x35cms      ASHLEY HANSON