I recently hosted a 2-day painting workshop at Paxford Village Hall, deep in the Cotswolds, where we explored a shifting relationship between 'Image & Ground', working with the motif of Beach Huts. The nine artists were asked to bring studies/drawings/photos of their favourite beach-huts as a reference but everyone's beach huts painting developed into something more personal, more ambiguous, more interesting, as much about ideas, process and imagination as the source material.


jancrop CopyThe progress of Jan Bunyan's painting...


The workshop began with a talk, illustrated with many historical and contemporary examples, showing how, in the history of painting, the role of the background changed, from a purely secondary one, supporting the image, to something much more prominent and equal. As always, the talk was followed by a demonstration, and then the artists began their own paintings, alternating between image and ground, shifting scale, colour, composition, even orientation, until the paintings began to emerge.

During the 2 days there were further demonstrations and plenty of one-to-tuition, with many of the artists working on a second canvas

The ambition behind every 'Freedom in Painting' workshop is that instead of painting the subject, we are using the subject to make a painting. In the Paxford workshop, this ambition was achieved by all the participating artists in their painterly, inventive interpretations of the subject.