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One last brushmark sets off the pink and brings light into the painting...


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Went back in to tune up colours, particularly the carved-out yellow, and introduce detail: pink dots and tentacles (railway lines, if you wish). Unique to this series, the source novel was a gift, sent to me 3 years ago from a couple of friends in Australia, who enjoyed the 'City of Glass' series. 'Hope you enjoy the detail and the obsessiveness'. I certainly did!  Thank you Genevieve and Phil - hope its been worth the wait.

One more blast of David Bowie's 'Station to Station' - we're done. 


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I'm enjoying this painting more and more. Book or window? The rose mark hovers towards us and the skeletal 'map' appears tucked behind. One more session...


Now we are getting somewhere (4). Time to clean some brushes and reflect. The palette of the novel is a bit grim: unrelenting grey, a summer sky 'almost blue' and accents of rose. I'm not so good with drab but we do have some grey.  Also a blue made from a King's Blue and Payne's Grey mix. The stripe on the right-edge is a reference to the tan raincoat of the main character, sort of. A striking Burnt Sienna/Naples Yellow mix with a touch of Cadmium Yellow. The breakthrough came with the freeing rose-mark that echoes in shape and scale the yellow 'map' on the right, a visual shift, I hope, from left to right, that implies movement, time passing. 


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A book within a book, fiction within the fiction or a murder mystery that might be real. The novel has a complex structure, fliting backwards and forwards between past and present. I've tried to capture this concept of shifting time with the repeated motif of the map - a key element of the novel - in (2). It struck me that only two maps were needed, reflecting the pairings of Cain and Abel and the two sisters in the novel. (3). 


 'Stay' is becoming my new favourite on 'Station to Station'...


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'BOOK 19 - (Station to Station)' will be shown in my solo-exhibition 'Painting the Novel' at Linden Hall Studio, 3 - 24 April 2021.


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A good couple of days in the studio - BOOK 18 may be done. A sweep with a fresh blue through the heavy central dark cobalt in (2), now slightly overlapping the yellow, has brought back the openness and flow of the space in (1). Blue and yellow, the surprising palette of the novel - getting the proportion right the key to the painting. Love the strangeness of the yellow drawing/image, which hits the sweet-spot of working for the painting and referencing the novel. The yellow square is a gem too. I stumbled across the title on a re-read (p:100) - perfect.


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I'd been wanting to use this palette in a painting for a while, after seeing Titian's blue/gold skies in the staggering 'Love, Desire, Death' exhibition at the National Gallery.


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A sequence of events: re-watching a film (from a novel) that influenced my work in the 80's, inspired a journey. Later, I remembered a novel that featured the same location, with a motif of blue and yellow, a novel that I'd rejected as a source for the '20 Books=20 Paintings' series a few months ago, failing to find a hook...


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This latest painting in the '20 Books=20 Paintings' series can be in seen my upcoming solo-exhibition 'Painting the Novel', at Linden Hall Studio, Deal. 3 - 24 April 2021. The possibilities of painting in crime-fiction...



Reflections, refinements. A jolting blue mark, a line of yellow dots, new reds - now a rhythmic stack up the right-side.

Deeper into painting (6). This surface is worked. A smear/tongue of rust-red in the top-left corner brings difference and direction. Subterranean: cutting through, peeling back layers (5), the reveal of the underpainting. This mark has a presence, part of a trinity of incident. Detail is not always reaching for the smallest brush. I'm enjoying the looking: the meditation of the process, leading to insight. Dense colour and space, emptiness... and silence, in sync with the landscape of the novel. Somehow the canvas-divide allows a shift in scale...


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The shape of place (4) and some new reds...


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Narrative/image...facts from fiction (3). Placement, scale, language: what works for the painting?


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Location (2)...


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The mark that excites, that brings the painting to life with its' purity and difference, rivalling the powerful centre. What a red, what a finale! (8). Now a series of shapes of diminishing scale from bottom left to top-right. Black, white and red - the palette of the novel... We're done (9). Looking forward to seeing this painting on the white walls of Linden Hall Studio.

Starting 'BOOK 17' tomorrow - 'Oceans'.


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A stronger central horizontal that secures the floating black shape into the painting (6): now a mesmeric intersection of lines in sync with the idea behind the painting (7)


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Re-drawing and scraping back along the bottom-edge (4). A sense that the painting was too minimal. Whites more complex and varied. Red-dots and black-dots introduced, forming their own movement.  A relationship established between the centre-circle and the circle in the top right corner (3). Getting closer (5)


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Working the whites, a large red circle going off the canvas becomes a small red circle (2). The left-side must be a white-wilderness. The drawing has lost a bit of life...





White, black, red - the palette of the novel. Working with different whites, different tools, different brands even, to bring complexity to the pure. (1). I would like the white to hurt the eyes...A large red circle next and perhaps a meandering strand of barbed wire...

 'The Three Princes' sounds like a Sherlock Holmes story...

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We recently welcomed 10 artists to our Covid-safe autumn Porthleven painting-courses, held as always in the wonderful Old Lifeboat House studio on the harbours edge (see below).  In their responses to Porthleven, all the artists were seeking to push their practice forwards, to find their own 'Freedom in Painting'. The pandemic was not going to stop us painting!




The courses began with an introductory talk including a look at the fascinating artists' journeys of Paul Feiler and Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham, both closely connected to Cornwall. This was followed by a drawing session around the studio, moving through the landscape, annotating shifting relationships between the studio and pier behind and the extraordinary changing shape of the studio roof which became a favourite motif on both courses. 

On the first group exercise after lunch, we abstracted from the drawings, and working with collage and colour, created a template for the first painting.


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The second morning was spent drawing around the harbour from all aspects - getting to know Porthleven through drawing - collecting information and ideas to feed the paintings...




After lunch, for the entry into their second painting, the artists followed the instruction of interpreting twelve words in paint. A different beginning can lead to a different resolution....


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Over the next few days, the artists pursued their ideas, producing many striking paintings. As always the intensity of working and the supportive atmosphere helped move things along, with lots of one-to-one tuition and group critiques. 

On Thursday morning, we transformed the studio into gallery, welcoming many visitors during the day. Below is a section of the paintings from the two courses. For a more comprehensive gallery (and larger) images, see the 'Freedom in Painting Group' Facebook page HERE






"Exhilarating to be on the Cornish coast out-of-season in October! To paint solidly for 6 days and discuss colour, technique, line and shape while listening to waves crash onto the rocks right below your studio. As an architect who painted mostly in a realistic vein, I was introduced to new ways of experimenting with line, colour and abstraction by the ingenious teaching techniques of Ashley Hanson who became a reliable mentor and critic for the week. His teaching and approach to painting has re-set my mind-set in a new and positive way. I thoroughly recommend his courses''     John Lyall FRIBA FRSA. Architect

''This feels like the start of an exciting journey. I have launched out into new ways of seeing and expressing ideas. All the hard work you put into setting this course up and making it a success in spite of all the problems of the pandemic were greatly appreciated. Ashley’s relaxed and encouraging teaching is a catalyst for development and I look forward to joining future courses when possible.''   Beryl Hawker

'Ashley has that magical quality of being able to draw you on to discover and develop new ground in your painting'  Jan Bunyan

 'Really appreciate Ashley's effort to set us on task. Good introduction, exercises and very encouraging critiques. Possible to create a great working environment where COVID-19 restrictions are adhered to.'  Di Oldfield

 51newsletter1'Porthleven 51 - (Weight of Colour)'  60x60cms