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



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Pushing this painting further has paid off. A conversation with artist Jane Crane about the angled line lon the right led to the introduction of a horizontal line, bringing a new tautness and tension to the composition, an element counteracting, tugging against, the weight of shape, paint and colour that tilts to the right.

Freedom...and control. 


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There was a kind of pressure to make 'Porthleven 50' a landmark painting and I feel I have achieved that with the five decisive actions in the session this morning. First was a long straight line of shifting colour, to give direction and control to the organic marks, followed by a large black dot to strengthen the two intersecting lines and define the harbour entrance.

Next I simplified the left-side, flattening the colour which made the yellow central vertical pop out even more. Then I brought in a new stronger orange mix towards the top - based on the juggernaut Old Holland Cadmium Orange- slightly lighter in tone which reinforced the weight of the shape.  The final mark was a small, sharp horizontal of Brilliant Rose - towards the bottom of the left corner - to switch the direction of the eye. 


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Looking for weight of become my harbour...

The emerging orange mass is now stronger and clearer (above), the left-side described by a cascade of varied marks of ripped and scraped paint and punchy colour. (detail 1). A new sheet of a liquid Indian Red/Cadmium Yellow mix across its centre adds weight and complexity. Overall, the colour is a little muddy - looking forward to mixing new greens and oranges and bringing more light to the left-edge. 


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A sense that something had to happen in the neglected top-left corner. With the wilder marks, the painting now feels/looks more complete.


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A figurative beginning leads to something far more interesting. This painting is now full of movement, with the repeated motif of triangles, angled lines, levers, openings, fast marks and a powerful corner to corner dynamic. The idea of harbour- stasis and movement - a breakthrough painting.


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A much stronger painting after a rework - escaping the tyranny and fragmentation of the grid. With tuned-up colours and differing scale of shapes, the painting is more spatially complex, the squares now free and moving, popping forwards and backwards and around the canvas. Within the spread of red, the outlined red shape (below) - critical to the narrative - is much more prominent. Green triangle becomes red. Without thought, the painting seems to be divided into three sections, perhaps subconsciously mirroring the structure of the novel. 


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A few adjustments: working the lines, adjusting colours and bringing the right-edge into the painting. Loving the new blue square, top right...


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New painting in the '20 Books=20 Paintings' series, to be shown at Linden Hall Studio, Deal in Feb 2021...

A painting structured in place, anchored and entered by the dynamic 'v', with a palette of the sea...and violent death. 

In a different approach, I chose the city, then found the novel. A tale of crimes, but there is no detective stalking the pages in this one.

The fluidity of ideas across genres: a painting sourced in a novel that in turn references film...and literature: "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide."


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“Photography is about death. It preserves the illusion of a past moment that can never be re-enacted.”



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A city by the sea...