Matisse Conversation
'The Conversation', Matisse


'All artists have their influences. Many have taken this further and re-worked and re-interpreted the work of other artists...'

We recently held our second online ZOOM painting-workshop, 'INTERPRETATION: Re-working the Masterpiece', with the artists choosing a favourite painting to work from. Their selection included works by Matisse, Pieter de Hooch, Gauguin, David Hockney, Klimt, Bonnard and Cezanne.  A formidable task, with the ambition for each artist to put their own individual stamp on their chosen work.  However, the focus and intensity of working over the 2 days resulted in some striking and inventive paintings.

The workshop began with each artists introducing themselves (and their chosen painting) to the group. This was followed by a talk and Powerpoint presentation, showing the many different ways that artists - both historical and contemporary, have responded to the work of other artists. 

The group were then asked to produce four drawings from their 'masterpiece' - each with a different emphasis, injecting the personal, giving four options and ideas for a painting.


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Hazel Crawford's studies from 'Garrowby Hill' by David Hockney


The rest of our time was devoted to painting, with further demonstrations, with each artist having a personal tutorial on both days.  During the workshop artists were asked to email images of their paintings to help with their tuition. For our Group Critique at the end of the course I put together another Powerpoint slideshow so we could all see and comment on the many fine paintings produced.






1. Beryl Hawker: from 'The Conversation' , Henri Matisse

2. Jenny Kellington: from 'The Pink Studio', Henri Matisse

3. Catriona Campbell: from 'The Virgin', Gustav Klimpt

4. Ruth Dalzell: from 'Courtyard in Delft', Pieter de Hooch

5. Ashley Hanson: from 'The Large Bathers', Paul Cezanne

6. Hazel Crawford: from 'Going up Garrowby Hill', David Hockney

7. Barry Kellington: from 'Are you Jealous?' Paul Gauguin

8. Hazel Crawford: from 'Garrowby Hill', David Hockney

9,10,12. Suzanne Jones: from 'The Conversation', Henri Matisse

11. Barry Kellington: from 'The Table', Pierre Bonnard 



'I cannot thank you enough for two amazing days I was very apprehensive at first with Zoom but it went well. I was blown away by the explosion of colour particularly  happy making in these peculiar times. I learnt so much and hope I can take part another time. Meanwhile I have fallen back in love with my oil paints and feel inspired to use them again'  SUZANNE JONES

'I really really enjoyed the course and meeting the other participants. My best bits were the individual tutorial time with Ashley, watching Ashley work on his own painting and the group crit at the end. It was also great to have some general chat time, which we would have had at lunch and breaks on a physical course. I  also tuned in some times to other people's tutorials while I was painting and I enjoyed that too. The course was the right balance of teaching and practical time for painting'  RUTH DALZELL

'We really enjoyed the workshop, which was just at the right time amidst this terrible lockdown.  It gave us a ray of light to lift the spirits and to get us painting again. I enjoyed the initial talk you gave Ashley and understanding how the great artists had copied other pictures. The quick drawing worked for me and I will use again. In fact I am hoping to use the entire process again'  BARRY & JENNY KELLINGTON

'I’ve attended a few workshops with Ashley in real life so wondered what the virtual experience would be like. I was pleasantly surprised and as usual felt inspired by Ashley’s presentations and demonstrations.   The tutorials worked very well and it was good to see everyone else’s work throughout the two days and in the critique at the end. To anyone hesitating about doing an online workshop with Ashley I’d definitely recommend you give it a try. You won’t have to carry your materials and the time you save on travel you can use to do more painting!' CATRIONA CAMPBELL


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Selected for Wells Art Contemporary 2022. Exhibition runs 30 July - 28 August


The possibilities of painting in crime-fiction...


SAT 28 NOV p.m.

We may have reached the end of the series! The flatter blue has transformed the painting, pulling down those blues from above. Ditto the black-side. I've tuned up some of the colours in the top band and the white -stripe on the left, now sharper & clearer. It is very satisfying seeing an idea from the novel, making it visual but without compromising my own ideals and ambitions for painting. I'm enjoying the contrasting drawing on the left and right sides and the crafted, musical marks in the top bands. And the elusiveness of the imagery, there but not there...


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 SAT 28 NOV a.m.

 Things are happening. The novel is about a strange symmetry and of course the twin-canvas format allows that. But this is emphasised by the placement of the location as a balanced dynamic chevron, Brooklyn Bridge as the canvas-divide...

There have been a lot of blues towards the end of this series - I need a very special blue to simplify the area above the chevron, something less gestural...


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FRI 27 NOV pm

Two rows completed...


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Three different ways to go with this painting...


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The '20 Books=20 Paintings' series will be shown for the first time in 'Painting the Novel', a solo-exhibition at Linden Hall Studio, Deal 3 - 24 April 2021. 


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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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SAT 7 NOV a.m.

Palette (1)...