I worked on bringing the isolated dark right-side into the painting. A day for detail: punctuations of line and colour across the canvas. I'll have a long look tomorrow but I think we are done. As always the title is critical, changing several times already. Favourites for a while were 'Horizontal' or 'Cold' both with duality of meaning. 'Horizontal' references the powerful horizontal in the painting and also the many victims in the novel. 'Cold' acknowledges the palette but also the emotionless boy-killers in the novel. Denice came up with 'Ice', again with a delicious dual-meaning...


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FRI JAN 24 2020

The introduction of the orange tree has stirred things up...


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The triangle of the mountain top in (1) leads to the angled line in (2) which leads to the tip of the diamond shape in (3). Pourings and smearings; interminglings of the expressive and the geometric, the raw and the refined, the intuitive and the analytical. Now we have meat on the bones...freedom and control, freedom and control...What role for the right-hand dark?


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'BOOK 9' is sourced in a cold landscape, an imaginary island in a real place. Yesterday's beginning (below) was without subtlety, an illustration of an idea, proof again that a pre-conceived painting is a fake painting. With each piece, I have to be in a different place with a new set of problems. Back to the studio to 'whiteout' the painting before re-drawing.


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'BOOK 8 - (smile)'   45x70cms   oil on canvas



The blue was a distraction (see below)

From the pure enjoyment of mixing and placing colours to a tougher painting with the introduction of specifics from the novel, the essence of the novel, locked into the language but with a different presence...


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 The only hard-edged shapes in the painting, enclosing an emptiness of yellow with a solitary dot, like a bullring at noon...(an observation, not a clue)


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Looking, brooding over the weekend...brought in some different blues today, cobalt and cerulean, working mainly around the perimeter with cascading shapes and fast marks creating more movement. There is also a new, subtle but critical reference from the novel which of course I can't talk about until the series is complete! I think we are there...


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Is it what you see or what you want to see? 


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Today I brought in light and specifics from the novel. The blues were intensified with ultramarine glazes. I'm enjoying the relationship between the snaking Prussian Blue line and the delicacy of the geometric red-lines, which in turn reinforce the larger triangular motif off-centre. Now there are questions, ambiguities, complexities: is the blue-line free, gestural or controlled, an 'illusion' of freedom? Are the red-lines behind the blue-line or simply smaller? What am I looking at?

This painting is now on a knife-edge. At the moment, the idea of introducing a submarine to bring it closer to the novel seems ludicrous but not impossible - a question of finding the right language,scale and presence. A few different marks or turning the canvas and it becomes Porthleven - now the boards are up in the harbour (below)

 Or perhaps the painting just 'is' - blue can be water or just 'blue'.  


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 SAT 13 NOV 2020

Two books are favourites to be the next painting on the '20 Books=20 Paintings' series...the series needs a rich-blue painting. Starting with paint, marks, colour; then looking for visual connections in the paint to ideas sourced in the novel, before imposing those ideas and looking again...

It's a process that allows for the unexpected and the joy of painting and the flexibility to ride the paintings and change the ideas...


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How to use the beautiful blue? 

A book springs to mind, different from the one's I started with. It struck me that the letters that spell 'BLUE' appear in the name of one of the main characters. Back to the letters again! - It's meant to be. Where to place that submarine?


'20 Books=20 Paintings'    The series so far. 'BOOK 8' will be orange and green...

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A green & orange makeover for 'Porthleven 40'... Clarity, mmmm, ZING!


'Diamond' and 'Zigzag' were painted during the recent Porthleven courses in Cornwall, both working from a drawing of the back of The Old Lifeboat House studio looking out to sea.

Responding to the course theme of 'window', 'Diamond' started with a new yellow made from Primrose and Burnt Sienna. The process below shows how the scale and positioning of the building was established in the composition and how the diamond-roof came to dominate the piece. 

In the final version (above), all fripperies from (4) were removed and the diamond was painted in a lighter, stronger yellow. Now the building sprawls in a deliberate diagonal corner to corner dynamic, its' weight dissolved by colour. The simplicity and geometry of this piece appeals, and the intensity of the yellow is startling. My strongest critic Denise likes this one!




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 'Porthleven 40 - (Zig-Zag)'  

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Looking back at the development of this painting, I am drawn to the rawness and daring of stage (2)? That blue 'roof' - wow!  I might need to take this back into the studio...


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We recently welcomed two groups of artists to our Autumn courses at the spectacular Old Lifeboat House in Porthleven.  As always, with its' changing light and tides Porthleven worked its' magic and the standard of work produced this year for our final-day exhibitions was higher than ever. 


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The 6 day courses began with a visit to galleries in St.Ives followed by a group colour exercise back at the studio. Naturally, the subject for all our paintings was Porthleven, but the sub-theme for the courses was the idea of 'window' and painted frames/borders, something that I'd been exploring in my own work since seeing Bonnard at Tate Modern and the wonderful Bozenna Biskupska exhibition at l'etrangere earlier on this year.


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Day 2 began with a talk followed by a morning drawing session around the harbour. Before leaving the studio, the artists were asked to draw simple frames/borders - all different - on 10 pages of their sketchbooks and then place their drawings outside within those frames. This discipline carried through to all the paintings during the week; a painted frame/border/window to be used, worked with or even discarded, to achieve the aim of a different painting.


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On both courses, there was a fantastic sense of purpose and intensity of working, all the artists seizing the opportunity to make art, talk art, eat and sleep art in a supportive atmosphere in a wonderful location. Being a small group, there was plenty of one-to-one tuition during the week, and also an invaluable group critique. As part of my teaching, on each course I worked on a new Porthleven painting. This year, the studio itself became a popular subject for painting, including both my own pieces. 


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We cleared the studio and hung the exhibition on Wednesday afternoon. Always an exciting time when the paintings are revealed!  A quick scrub up before heading off off to The Square restaurant for our well-deserved celebratory meal.  The Exhibition days on Thursday were a great success, the paintings on display showcasing each artists' talents and individuality in their response to Porthleven and the theme of 'window'.




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'I come away each time more able to think as an artist, gaining a deeper understanding which supports and spurs on my painting practice'. JAN BUNYAN

'Ashley you are a wonderful inspiring teacher. You have such a passion for art, that it really shines through your personality, but equally you are patient and sensitive  in your instruction'  APRIL JONES