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We have been hosting 'Freedom in Painting' courses at the Old Lifeboat House in Porthleven since 2013 and we recently welcomed our latest groups of artists to the Autumn courses, both ending in a final-day exhibition, showing the fantastic work made during the week.  Our inspiration is Porthleven, which never fails to inspire, with the complexity of the harbour, iconic clocktower and ever changing light, tide and weather. You cannot beat making art to the sound of the sea!


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The course always begins with a visit to the galleries, so on Saturday morning we headed to St.Ives, with a relaxed brief of the views through windows, and the idea of framing image and paintings within paintings. We all enjoyed the vibrancy of the Casablanca Art School at Tate St. Ives, the Members exhibition at the Penwith Gallery, Paul Wadsworth at the Crypt Gallery and visits to the studios of Heather McAlpine and Lynette Pierce.

Back to the studio for the first group exercise, responding to opposites/pairs/dualities, transforming words into marks. This became the startpoint for the first painting.


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On Sunday morning we had a drawing session around the harbour, taking in a many viewpoints as possible, getting to know Porthleven through drawing, and looking for ideas for paintings. 


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For the afternoon painting session, I handed out reproductions of Mondrian's 'Composition with Blue, Yellow, Red, Black and Grey' (1922). This was to be start of the second painting! The artists were asked to 'copy' the painting onto their own canvas, which of course presented an opportunity to mix their own blue, yellow, red, black and grey (and white).


 Piet Mondriaan Composition with blue black yellow and red B 597 Neue Nationalgalerie


The idea behind the exercise, was to provide a strong structure to their painting, a new beginning which could lead to a different painting. Plus of course, the possibility of a window, a painted border, a painting within a painting, The artists were asked to look at their drawings, find a connection and find a way to use the grid or simply place a drawing inside the 'window' and take it from there. As you can see from the gallery this led to some very inventive paintings. 


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Jon Hastings & Dawn Plant from the September course


 The next few days were packed with one-to-one tutorials and demonstations, as all the artists, including myself, worked hard towards the exhibition. Certainly a place to be brave, to experiment, to leave the comfort zone, with the ambition to learn and make paintings that showcase all our skills, express our ideas and emotions, responding to our magical subject, Porthleven, in all its moods.


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We worked until mid-afternoon on Wednesday, where we transformed the studio into a gallery, hanging the exhibitions amicably as a group. Always a revelation - another piece of art! The exhibitions were very well received, with the artists enjoying the opportunity to chat to the many visitors about their work and the course.

The October course coincided with the Porthleven Arts Festival, and we were very pleased to be involved. On the courses, we had sunshine and record temperatures, and storms, sometimes on the same day, the beauty and drama outside, captured on canvas by our talented artists, who, I'm sure, will continue to paint Porthleven from their memories and drawings wherever they are. Hats off to the artists!


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'A pleasure working with a lovely bunch of people - inspiring to see all the different responses to the brief and Ashley was, as usual, very helpful. I particularly enjoyed the Mondrian brief'  ERICA SHIPLEY

'Very useful. Helped me move forward and it was instrumental in hepming me improve my abstraction'  ROGER WILKINS

'it has been another great week in Porthleven with the group. Intense and fun'  LESLEY TURNER

'Ashley gave a lot of individual help and evaluation which was very helpful. I came on the course wanting to move from 'semi-abstract' to abstact and the course helped with this. I liked the two exercises about how to start a painting'  BARBARA ROBJANT