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We recently welcomed six artists from around the country to our latest 'Freedom in Painting' course in 'Porthleven, held in the wonderful Old Lifeboat House. As you can see from the gallery above and from the comments below, all the artists pushed the boundaries of their practice, learning new skills, techniques and making new friendships too.


IMG 2990900 CopyView from the studio


 After setting up the studio on Friday, our first morning was spent in St. Ives getting a flavour of the art of Cornwall, both historical and contemporary, Our visit included Tate St. Ives, the Penwith & Crypt Galleries, where we saw of work of Paul Wadsworth and Francesca Owen and also an inspiring visit to the studio of contemporary coastal artist Heather McAlpine. On our return to the studio, we had a demonstation and group exercise, working from colour inspired by both the art and the landscape we'd seen in St. Ives.


 x411 CopyMorning drawing session around the harbour


On Sunday morning, we had a drawing session around the harbour, sourcing ideas and inspiration for paintings, with exercises designed to see and respond to the landscape in a different way. The weather was glorious - Porthleven never fails to inspire!


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 studioweb Copyin the studio


The objective now was to take those drawings, ideas, memories, feelings into painting. Over the next few days, there was a series of demonstrations, discussions, group exercises, with plenty of one-to-one tuition.  As part of my teaching, I worked on a new painting - 'Porthleven 67'. The artists were encouraged to work intuitively, to use paint and colour freely, to ask questions of their work, to take risks, to make something new. There was an incredible creative atmosphere and work ethic in the studio as the artists revealed their Porthleven in the paintings. As always, on the Porthleven courses, on Wednesday afternoon we transformed the studio into a gallery for the final-day exhibition. 


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The exhibition was a great sucees with over 80 visitors. Hats off to the artists! They produced an amazing body of work, during the week, all strong and highly individual.

On a personal level, Denise and I enjoyed meeting and working with you and best wishes from us for the future and looking forward to seeing your next paintings of Porthleven. We are very proud of our painting courses in Cornwall and beyond  - thank-you to the artists who chose to find their 'Freedom in Painting' with us (and for your help with 'Porthleven 67'!)

 IMG 5924800 CopyCelebratory dinner!


 If you would like to find your 'Freedom in Painting' in Porthleven, we have places on on both our Autumn courses, 16 - 21 September & 30 Sept - 5 October. See COURSES


DSC 007111800 Copy'Porthleven 67 (The In-Between)'




'The course was fantastic. I never had the confidence/ idea how to start with abstract painting and this course gave me that skill'  ELLEN STUDER

'Unbelievable amount of support from Ashley. So very grateful for his time, conversations and solutions to visual problems. Its has been life changing. Thank-you form the bottom of my heart'  MARGRIET VAN NIEUWBERG

'Ashley’s one on one time to discuss work and progress was invaluable. It was a lovely week and really re-ignited my desire to paint in new ways. I learnt a lot!' MARCELLA KATIC

'It broke boundaries and cultivated a desire to push further my practice. Explore more with oils and allow yourself to go big, be more expressive with use of materials'  ANTONIA MILLER

'A lovely week with a very generous artist, great group of ladies, excellent resources, precious time. Thank-you. I think the small group allowed for greater time with Ashley on a one to one basis. Generosity with sharing ideas, materials and his extensive knowledge'  SARAH CROOME


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WED 24 MAY p.m.

Fickle! Comparing (1) and (2), I missed the energy of the earlier version and the subtle extension of the diagonal beyond the pier, prominent in the drawing. I went back in with an angled cut-line and a new blue into the bottom-right - the darker tones under the pier now less isolated - the exploding brushmarks bringing in more weight and vitality (3). The title provokes questions: hanging from what? From telegraph wires? From the headland? From the house on the hill? From the linear framework - from the curve coming in from the right?

Reality is disrupted; this painting is its' own world.

Freedom in painting - we're done.


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WED 24 MAY a.m.

A session this morning: reworking the bottom blues which I thought were too sketchy in the earlier version (1) and leading the eye out of the painting. Now the blues and the violet streak are punching upwards through the gap (2). A couple of tweaks of colour, a sharpening of the diagonal above the pier and an extension of the red line on the right into orange. The painting feels more complete - full of life and movement with the red linear framework linking well with the slab of pier... 


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A few drawn lines become a painting...initially working from a drawing of Trebarwith Strand with a 'hanging' Gull Rock, I went for the dynamism and strength of design in this drawing of Port isaac, showing the white house on the hill with its distinctive windows and  the pier beyond.


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'A 2 day ZOOM workshop mixing/making/working with the beautiful and evocative colour BLUE...Why blue, which blue, how blue?  The colour blue in painting is rich in symbolism, meaning, emotion: working with our own subject, over the 2 days in the workshop we’ll explore the qualities, differences, and uses of blue in our paintings'


A celebration of 'Blue' in our latest 2-day online painting-workshop...


As a way to explore the qualities and difference of the colour 'blue', in the workshop the 10 artists were asked to produce a 'blue' version of one of their own paintings, making studies in advance. The workshop began with a Powerpoint presentation of the history and uses of blue in painting with a selection of works including Titian, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Helen Frankenthaler, Peter Lanyon & William Scott and several of my own blue paintings. 

In the demonstration and group-exercise that followed, the objective was to find contrast when mixing a range of blues covering the canvas: finding difference using colour-temperature, tone, texture & transparency.


ASHLEYX2CROP Demonstration & finished painting


 A second demonstation followed, introducing the subject, in my case, The Ship Inn, Porthleven, which had appeared in a couple of my recent paintings, but painted out. The artists then began their own paintings, introducing their subject onto their blue canvases.  The discipline for the day was to work exclusively with blues, working on contrast and special blues found in the colour-exercise. The afternoon was taken up with one-to-one tutorials, with the artists emailing images of their paintings in advance to discuss, and a further demonstration.


jenny x2crop CopyJenny Kellington


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On Friday, the rules were relaxed with aceent colours now permitted! The day progressed with tutorials and further demonstrations, with many of the artists working on a second painting. With ZOOM, of course, the artists were able to listen in on tutorials and conversations about other paintings, which many found useful. In the afternoon, we had a couple of hours 'silent working-time', with the artists looking to advance or even resolve their paintings. The final versions were emailed to me to put together in a presentation for an invaluable Group Critique at the end of the day.

As you can see in the gallery, some fabulous 'moody' interpretations emerged, showing an extraordinary range of blues. Hats off to the artists!


 barry x2crop CopyBarry Kellington



'The format of the workshops is really effective. Ashley's illustrated talks are very helpful, based on lots of research and giving plenty of source material  to shape ideas. Individual tutorials are a rare luxury in online workshops and help each artist with personal development.'



'I loved it and found the whole thing very inspiring. Best bits were my tutorials and watching Ashley work on his painting – it will encourage me to be braver.'  SUE PRYOR


'We both enjoyed the workshop and found it very satisfying and really useful to carry some of the techniques over for future work. The content and balance was right.' JENNY & BARRY KELLINGTON


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A celebration of blue...

Like an oncoming tide, a new blue floods into the centre-channel (harbour): now the Ship Inn has the right weight and presence, balanced by the pale shape and dark bar, bottom-right. Line, colour and brushmark punctuate and dance around the blues and dominant verticals. Yellow glows, reds sizzle, white line talks to white line.

Details are refinements/adjustments that the painting needs. Now, everything belongs... joyful.


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The idea came from a drawing of two views of the Ship Inn, where I saw I could put my harbour in the space between them. The two studies that followed became the template for the painting. The motif of the Ship Inn had appeared in two recent Porthleven paintings, but didn't add to the painting and were taken out. With this piece, the title came first, the Ship Inn the main focus. And blue.


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'Ship Inn Blue' began as a colour-exercise on the recent online 'BLUE' painting workshop, mixing a variety of blues, before crowbarring the drawing into the painting (1). Then I broke down the shapes, varying the scale, finding out what belongs, bringing in new flowing blues with knife and brush, blue on blue, blue through blue (2). Redrawing, and a punch of red and yellow, bring context and contrast but the four windows of the Ship Inn grabbed too much attention. (3). The new, warmer, brighter blue on the left does a better job, added depth and authority (4). Getting there but still a question about the similarity and weight of the two centre verticals. 








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A dramatic 'forest' of paintings from the recent 2-day 'Freedom in Painting' Workshop at the Queens Park Art Centre, Aylesbury!  


In advance of the workshop, the 12 artists were asked to make studies of their own special tree, real or imagined, and were also send a Powerpoint presention of an extensive selection of tree paintings from art history, including works by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Mondrian, Soutine, Joan Mitchell, Frank Auerbach...This ensured everone had a clear focus and direction for the workshop, with possibilities for painting....


ant study900Antonia Glynne-Jones: Tree-study


 After a brief introductory talk, I went straight into a demonstration, making new studies for my Porthleven tree painting, pushing the idea of strength and delicacy with acrylics and a single brush, an exercise which the artists then followed. It was enjoyable to view their studies, as a group, the artists now loosened-up and full of ideas for painting. 


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A second demonstration followed, where, surrounded by studies and possibiliies I made my first foray into painting, on a yellow ground which I 'borrowed' from Cezanne...

What qualities does a tree bring to a painting? Tree as structure, tree as movement, tree as volume, tree as drawing, branch=line... 

During the demonstration, and a third one after lunch, the painting went through many changes, showing perhaps that pre-conception or first thoughts are not necessarily the best solution to a painting!




The artists took these thoughts on board, and over the 2 days pushed their paintings forwards, informed by their studies and memory, but also by new ideas and the exciting things that happen in the process. Also by what the other artists were doing aound them, all with different ideas and approaches. 

The painting-process isn't just about doing - it's about looking, analysing, finding ways to make the painting stronger. Sometimes the changes made were dramatic, other times more subtle: see the quiet strength that Brenda Hurley revealed in her painting, below. 


before and after...


The 'forest' emerged, a strong (and delicate!) set of paintings from a group of committed artists, willing to leave their own comfort zone and go deeper into painting. The workshop finished with an invaluable Group Critique, the paintings a revelation when the studio was cleared. I very much enjoyed the one-to-one tuition and conversations with the artists over the two days and seeing the paintings develop.  A big thank-you to all the participating artists for your hard work and a special thank-you to Antonia Glynne-Jones (and cats) for her hospitality and organisation and to Katy Garrod for taking a series of videos of the demonstration in the workshop. 

 And great to see the artists carrying on with the 'TREE' theme after the workshop - Diane Bedser's latest painting: 


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'Really enjoyed the course and felt I have achieved a step forward in my understanding'  KATE WATKINS

 'What a super group of artists and Ashley's support was fantastic'  HAZEL CRAWFORD

 'The course gave me the impetus to return to oils and to experiment'  CLAIRE ROLLINSON

'Ashley makes time to provide personalised insight into everyone's work'  KATY GARROD

 'Three days would be good!'  DIANE BEDSER & BRENDA HURLEY