Saturday, 18 June 2016


'Coaster'   30x40cms

The return of image- a fine resolution to a troublesome painting. A small painting is often more difficult to work than a larger canvas because there is no space.  I was actually packing up my space in Open Studios when I thought I'd give it one more go.  I forced a harbour into the over-busy paint - and brought in Mars Violet, Rose and magenta pinks to set off the green and bring space and clarity.  I saw the boat shape and worked with it. I am enjoying the way it sits with its turquoise twist and the rhythm of verticals linking to the vertical edge of the mark at the stern. 


'Pier', 'Porrthleven 27', 'Coaster'

Thursday, 16 June 2016


'Pier'   60x40cms

A continuation of the idea of 'surge', this painting has a rawness and dynamism rare in my work. That sea is an irresistible force, the orange pier frail and overwhelmed...... The canvas-divide provides the only point of stability in the piece....Fast marks/fast thinking.... Fast paint, a twisting, surging, writhing mass...uncontrollable..Tension: the dark blue line visually holds the paint but will it physically hold the paint?   Already a fat piece of blue slid off while I was watching the football...


The beginning, (1) was too static the frozen moment akin to a photograph,  The second canvas was added (2) to diminish the scale of the structure and enlarge the 'surge'. These are my daughter Faye's colours -using her leftover paint- but the canvas a perfect match. The last act was to open up the painting more by taking out the downward movement of the heavy blue line on the bottom left edge

'Pier' is a very personal motif, in my life and in my art. The title is a kind of tribute to Mondrian's wonderful 'Pier and Ocean (Composition No.10)'. and I was secretly thrilled when Janie  said 'where's the pier?' when I told her the title. This of course is a common reaction when seeing Mondrian's painting for the first time! If you know Porthleven you may recognise the pier with its' distinctive kink - here the crisp line leads the eye back into the painting, and forms the tip of the diamond-shape. 

'Pier and Ocean (Composition No.10'   Piet Mondrian




Friday, 10 June 2016

'Surge (Yellow & Blue)'

'Surge (Yellow & Blue)'    30x40cms

We're done. An hour of looking and I added the yellow-line (on the right-edge above). Perversely I put it in to make A work because I felt the heavy yellow was slipping out of the picture.  What it has done, for me, is to make the landscape less literal and strengthens the inner-frame.  The lumps and bumps in the yellow have shifted in the night!

the three paintings made in Open Studios



I feel very lucky to have had two fantastic conversations about this new piece today, with Janie M McDonald at our shared studio and with Yvonne McCann online, where I posed the question about which way up the painting should be And why. All four ways were shown. Once again their analysis and observations were spot on. Both artists highlighted the neccessity of having the heavy yellow at the bottom but differed on which orientation. 

Yvonne talking about 'B': 'I love how the sweep of blue between the two yellow masses sails down and out. The bottom yellow creates a powerful foreground mass pulling from the flat to the 3D and back again' 

I'm still undecided- the painting may need a mark, a touch to convince. Athough linked to Porthleven, with the oncoming tide pouring through the gaps between piers, this piece is more about the idea of harbour rather than a specific place. Of containment. Of fragility. Of futility even, in the face of stronger forces. In B, the fragility of the inner frame seems more prominent, but is it too obvious a landscape?

I have four more small canvases, 40x30cms, same size as this one. I feel a series coming on.

Another week of Open Studios- bliss.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

'Porthleven 27'

'Porthleven 27'  180cms x 60cms

Far, far stronger now - it's done. The verticality of the painting is reinforced by the stacked and levered curves and the long vertical line on the right, cutting through the paint. Much more movement. Poured pinks and purples shake up the colour, setting off the greens. The canvas divide is now integral, linking to the higher horizontal of the green pier. 

In a discussion about the painting, Janie M McDonald, commentated on how the green curve coming in from the left and the reverse curve of the purple made the painting appear 'hinged', 'with the possibility of flipping' where they join, as if the orange strip could flick backwards and forwards 'over and over as an animation..'

detail- 'hinge'

in the studio


I've been struggling with the shape and scale of this piece for the past few days, at 180 cms the largest painting yet in the Porthleven series. I feel I'm getting closer with the colour and harbour-shape (4) There is greater clarity but it's looking a bit too controlled. Much has been lost: the sea has gone backwards, the red/orange is too flat and the bottom panel feels a little disconnected.  I have in mind a fat, off vertical line of force- a slightly paler turquoise with streaks of pink- that runs from top to bottom of the canvas, crashing through the gaps between the piers.  It will bring life/light/movement if I get it right. I'll be re-drawing tomorrow and cutting/scraping through the paint to bring out the hidden colours and energise the surface.




Thursday, 2 June 2016

Freedom in Painting in Porthleven- May Course

The latest 'Freedom in Painting course was recently held at the Old Lifeboat House in Porthleven, Cornwall - a stunning location at the head of the harbour (left above). It was a very intense and very enjoyable week that ended with a one day exhibition,  where we received over a hundred visitors during the day. 

Looking towards the Clocktower from the studio

The eight artists met up on Saturday and set up the studio space before returning the next morning for our first drawing session around the harbour. But there is always a twist: before leaving the studio I asked the group to place a vertical line on 20 pages in their sketchbooks in different positions, including some on the Golden Section. The aim was to find different ways to use that line in the landscape.....the exercise resulted in some very strong and inventive drawings.

The idea of 'The Intruding Line' continued in our first painting session after lunch: the artists were asked to put two structural lines on their canvas on the Golden Section- one vertical and one horizontal. The antithesis of 'freedom' perhaps - I was not the most popular person in the room! - but the artists could choose whether to go with the lines or against them....

There was another, shorter, drawing exercise on Monday morning and a full-on painting day working from the studies. We ended the day with an invaluable, informal group critique before retiring to the Ship Inn next door for a well earned drink and delicious food.  During the day there was also a discussion on time, tide and movement in painting in preparation for the Tuesday morning visit to Marazion. We saw the causeway uncovered and walked across to St.Michaels Mount and as the tide receded we saw some astonishing colours.

In Marazion we also visited a some galleries, including the Summerhouse Gallery and the Market House Gallery, which specializes in 20th Century and contemporary Cornish painting which further inspired our artists. The trip to Marazion proved to be a great success and one that we'll repeat on future courses.

Denise joined us for the day and once again took some great photos.

By now, each of the artists had found their own direction and the paintings started to take off. There was a fantastic work ethic with the artists often working late and coming in early. Hats off to Joy for putting in a 6 a.m.appearance!

In keeping with the idea of 'Freedom' the group collaborated on two paintings, a large piece (below left) and a small canvas where we took it in turns to push the painting forwards. Both pieces were exhibited in the exhibition and Carol was the lucky winner after we drew lots for the very desirable small painting!


We painted until midday on Thursday - though Elizabeth continued battling with her piece. There is always one!  The studio was then transformed into a gallery during the afternoon and as always it was a revelation seeing the quality and quantity of work produced over the last few days. 

Finally the doors were opened- the evening Preview was a great success (with a few sales) and afterwards, as per tradition, the artists went out for a celebratory meal at Amelie's Restaurant nearby. 

Smile please! Dinner at Amelie's

GALLERY- A selection of Paintings

Elizabeth Aspinall
Elizabeth Aspinall

Estelle Jourd

Estelle Jourd

Heather Rachel Johnston
Heather Rachel Johnston

Mitzi Delnevo
Mitzi Delnevo
Hazel Crawford
Hazel Crawford
Joy Saunders
Joy Saunders
Carol Hayslip
Carol Hayslip
Ashley Hanson


'I really think the course has moved me forwards. Ashley devotes himself totally to each learner.' 
Hazel Crawford

'Honest, generous and delivered with kindness!'  
 Joy Saunders

'.....Ashley his usual encouraging and constructive self. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and hope to be back next year'  
 Mitzi Delnevo

Porthleven 26

'Porthleven 26'   100x40cms

Sunday, 29 May 2016

'Porthleven 25'

'Porthleven 25'  100x40cms

A better image- less glare. Made during last weeks 'Freedom in Painting' course in Porthleven. Very exited by this one... I've started a new version, same-size canvas.