‘You can do certain things with painting that are unique to painting that you cannot do with anything else. With a painting you can contain within borders a lot of experience, narrative, emotion, poetry, idea, thought, time, references and so on, all within a frame … Painting has a unique potential to stop time and compact feelings and experience'  SEAN SCULLY     


On the recent 'Freedom in Painting' workshop, held in Paxford, in the Cotswolds, we looked at the work of influential abstract painters Hans Hofmann and Sean Scully. Their contrasting ideas, methods, language, provided a fascinating insight into colour and space, pattern and repetition in painting. The workshop began with an introductory talk about their life and work, followed by a group exercise, where in a symbolic entry into abstraction, the artists collaged floating rectangles of colour over reproductions from Matisse's 'Notre-Dame' series!  


JAN crop CopyJan Bunyan: study...in progress...final piece


The exercise was aimed at exploring Hofmann's 'Push/Pull' theory of how space, depth and motion in a painting can be affected/controlled by shapes of varying colour temperature, saturation, tone & scale, and the studies produced became the template for the first painting.


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Derry Sharman: study...painting...


'I don't paint space, I paint things.'  The way in to the second painting was the grid, the structure of all Sean Scully's work. The artists were asked to draw several grids/patterns/possibilities before selecting one to take forward into painting. Like Scully, some of the grids were a synthesis of life-experiences, others pure invention, but another set of strong, punchy paintings emerged. Hats off to the artists!