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By the studio


 We recently welcomed a group of artists to our spring painting course in Porthleven, Cornwall, based in the wonderful Old lifeboat House studio at the head of the harbour. As always, the course started on Saturday morning with inspirational gallery visits: this year we saw the spring show at Cornwall Contemporary, 'St. Ives & Modern British' at Belgrave St. Ives and Bo Hilton at Tremenheere Gallery. After lunch it was back to the studio for a group painting session, exploring colour and composition. 


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On Sunday morning, we had a drawing session around the harbour: a series of rapid sketches, getting to know our subject through drawing, gathering information and forming ideas for painting. Always good to stop for coffee and look at each others drawings.


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Afterwards, I gave a demonstration about colour and mark-making. As part of my teaching, on every course I work on a new Porthleven painting for the exhibition. Below is the beginning of my yellow/orange Porthleven 57 (Ship Inn)' painting! 


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During the week there further demonstrations and plenty of one-to-one tuition and also a couple of couple-critiques. We also had a slideshow of paintings of Porthleven including many from our previous courses.  There was was a great work-ethic and supportive atmosphere as the artists steadily built up work for our one-day exhibition. As always, it was a wonderful moment, when the studio is cleared and transformed into a gallery! This year we had seventy visitors, to the exhibition giving plenty of opportunity for the artists to talk about their work. 


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The ambition of every 'Freedom in Painting' course is for each artist to learn more about painting: from history, from contemporary painters, from my input, from each other, building on existing skills to make something different, exciting, interesting. Porthleven is rich with possibilities for painting: below is a trio of paintings by artist Dawn Plant, showing a fascinating evolution of translation and visual language.


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 As always, the artists worked hard and delivered - another great set of paintings for the ongoing 'Freedom in Painting in Porthleven' collection! Perhaps we'll see some of these paintings in the third 'Cornwall, Colour & Coast', exhibition in Henley next year, our bi-annual showcase for art made on our courses in Cornwall.




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Thank you Ashley for an unforgettable, inspirational week. I have learnt so much from you…from starting with an amazing tour of galleries, to being encouraged to develop a freedom to be myself through art, to ending with a fabulous exhibition. I would highly recommend this course and can’t wait to come back! Dawn Plant

Ashley’s Porthleven course offers a brilliant chance for painters of any level to develop a freedom of expression in painting. Ashley is both an easy-going tutor and intense painter. He does not force any particular style but generously helps each person find their own path. I came away from the course with new skills and plenty of enthusiasm. Ben Harrison

Thank you very much for a wonderful course in Porthleven, where you motivated us to try something new in our art and I learned so much both from you and my lovely peers. I enjoyed so much trying out something new, using colours as I wanted and questioning myself how I could be unique and interesting in my art. I look forward to making art with you again, hopefully soon. Eri Kikkawa