The latest Freedom in Painting workshop at Creek Creative explored the powerful opposites of black and white.

Each 2-day workshop explores a different aspect of painting to challenge and inform the participating artists. My own practice is dominated by colour but black has been increasingly creeping in over the past few years, and giving it some thought, I concluded that there is usually a reason behind choosing a black and white palette over colour- there are undeniable associations.  In advance of the course, I asked the artists to think about what black & white means to them, both symbolically and emotionally and to resond to the question: Is silence black or white or grey?

Other questions were posed: are black and white colours or non-colours? What's the difference between a black and white painting and a drawing? 

A brief talk on the use of black and white in painting, historically, from 'grisaille' to Gillian Carnegie (with Spain and the USA in the fifties prevalent) was followed by the first group exercise. Each artist artist was given two pieces of A4 card - one black, one white- glued together along three edges. The artists were asked to tear, cut, collage, improvise, to produce an idea/template for a painting. Would black dominate or white? Newsprint was the grey and and I handed out pieces of a glossy cut up Rembrandt painting (shame!) as a contrasting black. Some very inventive results which led to some remarkable paintings. Have fun matching the studies to the paintings...


studies web Copy 


A short critique of the studies was followed by a demonstration exploring, discussing, mixing the different tube blacks and whites and made blacks and whites on a grid-structure, including using my first ever tube of Paynes Grey which every other artist in the world seems to have. The artists repeated the exercise onto a grid on their own canvas, another way into painting. This exercise too, led to some strong and eclectic work. My canvas was also the beginning of a new painting in the '20 Books=2 Paintings' series, where black & white are significant in the narrative. 

The rest of the time was spent developing the two exercises into paintings and we concluded the workshop with a invaluable review and critique of the work. Congratulations to the artists. For a perspective on the workshop from one of the participating artists please visit artist Margaret Ramsay's Blog. Click here


A gallery of a selection of paintings - where you can view on a large scale - can also be seen on the Freedom in Painting Group Facebook page here 






Hard work, challenging and really enjoyable thanks particularly to the quality of Ashley's teaching but also to the other participants. I certainly learnt a lot from all of you.  AIDEN FLOOD


 It was a great workshop and some really good work emerged. Huge thanks to Ash and everyone there who made it v special. PHILIPPA LANGTON


A huge thank you to Ashley for this week's painting workshop. The best yet!  TEDDY KEMPSTER