Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Just Released - Our Painting Holidays in Cornwall - 2015

5 Day Painting Holidays in Cornwall

11 - 16 May & 21 - 26 September

We are celebrating our 5th successful year of running our 'Freedom in Painting' holidays in Cornwall this year, and as a way of sharing our celebrations with you, we are offering everyone a £30 discount - if you book by 28th February. So if you've ever thought about coming along - this is definitely the year to do it!

Our holidays are a wonderful opportunity to spend 2 days working in 4 stunning locations on Cornwall's north and south coast followed by 2 full days developing the paintings and ideas in our village studio, high on Bodmin Moor.

Prices from £420 include:

  • 5 nights accommodation
  • 4 full days tuition
  • 1 to 1 tuition
  • Group critiques
  • All lunches
  • Ferry trip to Polruan (Sep Hol)
  • Celebratory last night evening meal 

There are lots of accommodation options available depending on your budget and requirements -  you can hire a cottage on your own, share a cottage with friends or make new friends sharing a cottage. You can even book the holiday as a course only for £360 or come along as a non-participant at a special rate.

In collaboration with Great Art and Discover Art magazine, we offered a free place on our September holiday  in a competition last year and the winner Nicola McLean was asked by Discover Art magazine to write about her experiences with us. You can read Nicola's write up here.

You can be assured of the highest level of teaching throughout the course. Ashley has a wealth of experience both as an artist and tutor. He has been a Visiting Lecturer at Canterbury Christchurch University and the National Academy of Art, Bergen, Norway and has shown at many galleries nationally and internationally including selection for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the National Open art Competition and the Discerning Eye. Ashley has recently been elected a member of the Newlyn Arts Society.

We feel very privileged to have made so many great friends on our holidays along the way, with many of them returning year after year. We often here how Ashley's tutoring continues to inspire and benefit artists long after the course.

I had some really good feedback from the new work I produced after my course last year - have really tried to introduce Ashley's brighter colour palette to my paintings.
Debbie Zoutewelle 2014

My course with Ashley has moved my art work in a different direction. I have happy memories of my Cornwall week.
Fiona Robertson 2014

I'm impatient to have time to explore working now loosely on landscapes - Ashley's workshop has potentially set me on a new road artistically.
Nicola McLean 2014

I always love to see how your work is shaping, and the pics from each course you run. When I can , I'd love to come back again, as your ways are so inspiring and I can see how they are there in my work now, methodology and language.
Phil Longhurst 2014

Penzance 4 - Ashley Hanson

To Book

To find out more about this year's holidays and prices see here or email

Remember - don't leave it too late! Book before 28th February and get a £30 discount.

You can find lots more information about Ashley's art practice at
For write ups on previous holidays, courses, art and exhibitions see also

Thanks to artist Heather Rachel Johnston for the use of selective photos.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Canterbury Workshop - 'The Space Between'

Katrina Dallamore's painting

Ashley's  much anticipated 'Freedom in Painting' workshop at Canterbury Christchurch University was yet again another full house. This time the theme was 'The Space Between' and in advance of the course the artists were encouraged to look at two paintings by Matisse, 'Open Window, Collioure' (1905) and 'Window at Collioure (1914)

Ashley with the groups drawings
Bridget Thompson & David Carnegie's paintings

The workshop started with a simple still life and the group were asked to do 10 - 12 drawings of different arrangements and view points of the 2 objects, concentrating on the space between them. These studies became the basis of the first painting.

Laurie Porter's Painting
Everyone brought along a second canvas and with this painting, the artists had the option to switch to a view through an open window, concentrating on the idea of the space between.

On the morning of the second day Ashley demonstrated the idea of 'freedom' and exploration of the subject, which the group seemed to enjoy and gave them something to think about.

Kate Sexton's painting

A lot of ground was covered but the artists all rose to the challenge and as always, some very exciting, highly individualistic work was produced - some figurative, some abstract, some in the space between.....

The workshop had strong links with his own work. Ashley has been exploring this theme himself in his recent paintings see recent Blog post & November post

Kat Wiles painting

Most of the group had 2 paintings to discuss and so the group critique took a bit longer than anticipated. Ashley would like to apologies for over running - given the chance Ashley would talk all day about the paintings, but he has promised to improve his time keeping for the next workshop! He really enjoyed working with you all and came back exhausted and exhilarated! 

Sarah Stokes painting

Thank-you to everyone who attended and for all your very useful feed back. Special thanks to Antonia and Sarah for allowing me to use their photographs. We haven't been able to include everyone's paintings in this blog post - and they were all so good it was impossible to choose, so there are lots more on this link to facebook. 

Antonia Glynne Jones painting

Teddy Kempster's painting
Ashley went on the next day to give a talk and demonstration at the Weald of Kent Art Group. Thank-you to John and the rest of the group for your wonderful hospitality.

We do hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a successful, creative New Year and hope to see you again next year!

Best wishes

Denise & Ashley

Some comments from the workshop:

Very supportive approach and good teaching style. Feel more confident
Katrina Dallamore

Ashley's very approachable, gentle and sensitive while being a clear dynamic tutor and workshop leader. Big thank-you, thoroughly enjoyed my journey!
Selina Firth

As always, stimulating, challenging, exhausting! I look forward to more.
Teddy Kempster

Useful drawing, fantastic subject, title/brief and great enthusiasm.
Antonia Glynne Jones

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

'City of Glass 28- (The Space Between)'

'City of Glass 28 - (The Space Between)'  60x50cms

The space between left-side and right-side, between West Side and East Side. The space between the front and back of the painting, between interior and horizon. The space between shifting planes of colour and between lines. The space between figurative and abstract, fact and fiction, between map-truth and painting truth.
I have been working on this painting for the fast few days and it is directty connected to the forthcoming Canterbury workshop 'The Space Between.. and the ideas from the last painting in the series, 'The Stillman Apartment'. Once again 'the space between' is Central Park and I have been exploring ways to make it dominant, the subject of the painting. The link to the novel* is obscured: the proportions of city blocks and the park with Columbus Circle anchoring the painting on the bottom edge. But these 'facts' are ambiguous and subservient to the painting. The black/violet space is deep and seductive.  I spent an hour staring into that space late last night. Ceramic artist Paul Jackson saw the painting today and posed a question about the grey/green shape hanging in the violet from the horizon/69th St.  The comment made me look hard again but I decided the shape must stay: it is an escape, a way out and is where the eye comes to rest,
A breakthrough piece.

in progress
in progress

* 'The New York Trilogy', a novel by Paul Auster 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

City of Glass 27- (The Stillman Apartment/ the Space Between)

'City of Glass 27'  160x80cms  VERSION 1

It has taken a while but the latest 'City of Glass'* painting has emerged with satisfying ambiguities.  There are even two titles, two ways in, even two possible solutions. (I removed the ziggurat shaped top section but it's worth another look now the painting has moved on).
The blue block is of course Central Park, 'the space between' West Side and East Side, but continuing the themes of the series and my interest in the play between the plan view of New York, the grid of the streets and frontal view, I have also made Central Park an entrance, a gateway to a space beyond.
During the process I had the figure of Stillman walking through the opening but the idea never worked. Colour replaced image, much more intriguing, the last of my Williamsburg paint -'Sevre Blue' and 'Courbet Green' - boosting the intensity of the block at the southern end of the Park.
The dividing line between the canvases is 69th St, highlighting the location of the Stillman apartment but the painting can also read as an interior, inside the apartment.  Referencing Matisse's 'French Window at Coulliere', the blue block is an opening, a view to outside, but the denseness and emptiness of the negative space dominate. The blue is both inside and outside. 8,7,6,5th Avenues below Central Park become a balcony. I love the uncertainty of the definition between vertical and horizontal planes.

I am still coming to terms with this piece - it inhabits the space between abstraction and figuration but the blue is something else, something sensuous, seductive and undefinable.


In the alternative ending (VERSION 2), you lose the idea of being physically inside the apartment but the ziggurat- topped tower- shape is the apartment building on 69th St and links to the Tower of Babel in the story. With the severity of its' shape, the increase in greys and the abrupt ending of the blues at 110St, the tower-shape is oppressive resonating with the darkness in the novel and with the atmosphere inside the apartment when Quinn meets Peter and where of course the story ends. This version is more about image and object and claustrophobia, the other more about colour and the senses.

I love the idea of the two alternative endings/versions. It happens in literature, 'The French Lieutenants' Woman (and The Magus?), and in film, the two versions of Apocalypse Now!, why not in painting?
I may change the name of the first version to 'The Blue Space'


'What is not possible is not to choose'    Jean-Paul Sartre. 

All the artists who have been on my 'Freedom in Painting' courses will recognise this quote, often nailed, Luther-like to the studio door.  However, with this piece, with the two versions, two solutions, I have decided not to choose because I believe they both work in their own, different way.   I find it exciting, that with one screw, I can make the severest of editing, and make a very different painting.
We have had the 'roof' on for a couple of days, now it's time to take it off and enjoy the interior of the apartment.  

I have, however, been decisive with the title, it is now simply called The Stillman Apartment.

'The space between...' is the theme I set for the forthcoming Canterbury workshop and the words and concept have been constantly in my thoughts in this piece. The idea will drive the next paintings in the series. I was in St.Ives, Porthleven and Falmouth on a perfect day yesterday, enjoying the moment but painting in my head, ideas, colours, words, compositions. Smaller canvases next- I wish to make something as powerful as the blue in 'The Stillman Apartment'...the detail above gives a clue to the direction I will be taking..

This painting happened because I was in the studio day after day- it is the only way to work, to focus. I had a fascinating talk with curator Charlotte Davis at Falmouth Art Gallery yesterday. She organised and participated in a 24 drawing session. It is a bizarre concept but poses many questions; is it possible to focus for 24 hrs?  Because of the intensity of the session will the work go somewhere new?  I'm going to take part in the next one, work on a painting for 24hrs...catch a train home! 

* from 'The New York Trilogy', a novel by Paul Auster

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Paul Auster speaks......

Denise recently sent a catalogue of the 'City of Glass' series to Paul Auster's agent in New York, to introduce him to the series and as a way of saying thank-you for the inspiration. Yesterday I was thrilled to receive the following response:

Dear Mr. Hanson,

Incredibly moved by your magnificent paintings. They are strong and
beautiful -- and haunting. To think that my book could have inspired such
vivid colors. I am very happy. 

All best thoughts to you, 

Paul Auster

My paint-spattered copy of The New York Trilogy

A post about the latest painting in the series, working title 'City of Glass 27- (Shadow)' will follow shortly.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Freedom in Painting in Porthleven with Ashley Hanson

Sun 19 - Sat 25 April & Sun 4 - Sat 10 October 2015
 5 Day Course & Saturday Exhibition Day, Cost £350
This course is a unique opportunity to work in a small group with acclaimed colourist and landscape artist Ashley Hanson in the Lifeboat Art Studio in Porthleven, Cornwall, dramatically positioned on the edge of the harbour facing the open sea. Ashley has recently been elected a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists.

Porthleven 17 - Ashley Hanson

Ashley has a very special connection with Porthleven; the paintings of Peter Lanyon (in particular 'Porthleven' made in 1951) have had a major influence on his work and this unspoilt fishing town, with it's double harbour and iconic clock tower was the inspiration for Ashley's first series of paintings about Cornwall.

Artist Sara Bor Painting in Porthleven
Working in the studio

"Image, structure, movement, all the ingredients are here to make paintings. This workshop is an opportunity for artists to explore and respond to its richness, rawness and complexity. It's a special place for me, - so far there are 19 paintings in the series and each time I visit there are ideas for more".

During the workshop Ashley will inspire and encourage participating artists to produce their own personal interpretation of Porthleven, adding to its rich tradition.

PV of Exhibition
The course will start with an introduction and an opportunity to meet the other artists on the Sunday afternoon, followed by four and a half intense working days in the studio and around the harbour. From Friday afternoon the group will transform the studio into an exhibition space, leading up to a Private View in the evening with the exhibition continuing through to Saturday, giving artists the opportunity to show and sell their work.


Course Information

 In order to get to know the subject and provide information and ideas for paintings the first morning will be spent drawing and making studies around the harbour, with opportunities for further drawing exercises during the week.

Ashley mentoring artist Jan Bunyan
On the course there will be a mixture of group exercises, demonstrations and discussion to help artists engage with their painting and take it somewhere new. Colour, mark-making, space and composition are all areas that will be explored during the week and by working in a small group there will be plenty of opportunity for one to one tuition with Ashley. He will also be working on his own Porthleven painting and using this as a teaching tool for demonstrating techniques and ideas. The group loved this last year and found it a great way to build on their existing knowledge and pick up tips.

There will be a group critique of all the work on Saturday morning prior to the exhibition opening.
Ashley's 'Porthleven 19'
Jane Crane's Painting & Study
The course is designed for painters who wish to enhance their creativity and look towards abstraction and beyond the representational. Ashley looks forward to sharing his wide knowledge and passion for colour, landscape and oil/acrylic painting with the group.
Sara Bor's Painting
Joy Viegas' Painting

Chris Salmon's Painting

Helen Herbert's Painting
Jane Crane's Painting

 Your Tutor - Ashley Hanson 

Ashley has over 30 year experience as a professional artist and this combined with his teaching as a Visiting Lecturer at Canterbury Christchurch University and the National Academy of Art, Bergen, Norway, ensures the tuition you will receive throughout the course will be at the highest level. In addition he has run many popular and successful workshops of his own around the UK.
Ashley's paintings have been shown nationally and internationally. His work has been selected for the Discerning Eye (2012 & 2014), the National Open Art Competition (2012), the Ludlow Open (2012 & 2013) and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2011). He was also joint prize winner of the 'Canvas & Cream Art Prize' in London in 2012. Ashley is a former recipient of a Boise Travel Scholarship from the Slade School of Art and a prizewinner in the Hunting Art Prizes.


Above Beach Cottages have a good selection of cottages and can also arrange a Sunday to Sunday let on certain properties. Porthleven Holiday Cottages offer a 10% discount if you advise them you are booking this course. They also have some excellent bed and breakfast en-suite rooms in The Artist Loft and once again a 10 % discount is available to participants on the course . See also for alternative B&B's and accommodation available.

To Book

Email or call 01208 77656. As we can only take up to a maximum of 8 artists on each course, bookings will be taken on a first come first service basis. Early booking is recommended to secure your place. A £70 deposit is required at the time of booking and full payment made 8 weeks prior to the start of the course.
View a write up on our Porthleven 2013 and Porthleven 2014 course here.
For a further insight into Ashley's art see
Ashley with Artist Petra Rohr-Rouendaal
Our Freedom in Painting holidays and courses continues to inspire and challenge artists of all levels of ability with many participants finding they continue to benefit from the tuition and experience long after the course.

Quoted from February 2013 edition of 'The Artist' magazine by editor Dr Sally Bulgin
"Ashley's concern as an artist and teacher, is to unleash the emotional response to the subject matter that enables the painter to take risks, discover a 'personal colour palette that excites', and to provide the fresh vision of Britain's natural beauty that places him within the long tradition set by the masters of the landscape genre"


Ashley is a very fine and energetic tutor- plenty of ideas. He sees things in our work that even we don't see! I have been much encouraged and inspired.
Joy Viegas - October 2014
Ashley always gives so much that one automatically works towards ones goals and stretching ones expectations. A half hour discussion about a pink spot is fundamental and portrays the integrity of the course.
Jane McClement - October 2014
Enjoyed the company and Porthleven, which I came to adore. Ashley was the perfect host, artist and tutor!
Alison Garner - October 2013
The course lived up to my expectations and more. Since returning my work has moved on, Wonderful environment - wise criticism - excellent company.
Helen Herbert - October 2013

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Freedom in Painting - October Course, Porthleven, Cornwall

Porthleven with studio on the left - Photo courtesy of Heather Rachel
Our second 'Freedom in Painting' course in Porthleven was once again a great success and although the weather was unpredictable, it added to the drama of the location with the fantastic light, surging seas and extreme high tides. We were delighted to welcome back 5 of our artists, who were all brave enough to return to another Ashley Hanson lead course!

After setting up the studio on Sunday, Ashley gave a talk about the aims of the course and the programme for the week ahead, before the group retired to The Ship Inn next door for the all important pint!

The next morning was spent drawing the harbour from a variety of view points as a way of getting to know Porthleven and find inspiration and ideas for painting. It was then back to the studio where the first painting session began with a group colour exercise. 

Ashley with his painting - courtesy of Heather Rachel
This year the group really enjoyed the benefit of seeing Ashley working on his own painting during the week,  as a way of demonstrating tips and techniques and how he approached the transformation of drawing into painting. Ashley made sneaky visits to the studio in the evenings and early mornings and when they arrived the group could see the dramatic changes that took place. (To see the blog about Ashley's painting 'Porthleven 19' click here )
Heather working hard
Jane Crane, Mitzi, Ashley & Jane McClement working in the studio

Ashley discussing Jane McClement's work
It was fantastic having Porthleven on the doorstep as a point of reference. Some people chose to work both around the harbour and in the studio, whilst others preferred to pursue their strong ideas in the studio. Each day the artists received individual mentoring and and there was also time for plenty of group discussions about the work.With the exhibition day on Friday looming, the group worked on their paintings with intensity and focus, often until the early evening.But there was still time for a bit of fun and frivolity in the evenings, although the group didn't do so well in the Ship Inn pub quiz- there wasn't a single question about art!

The studio - before- courtesy of Heather 
The studio -  after- courtesy of Heather
Friday morning was spent transforming the studio into a gallery space, followed by an invaluable group critique. The end result was a really impressive exhibition that the artists should be proud of, each found their own Porthleven and the work was really strong, colourful, full of personality and ideas.

During the Open House - photo courtesy of Heather

Joy Viegas' Painting

Jane Crane's Painting

Mitzi Delnevo's Painting

Heather Rachel's Painting

Jane McClement's Painting
Helen Herbert's Painting

We all celebrated the week's achievements with a great evening at the Seadrift Restaurant in Porthleven, joined by the junior Hanson's who kept the group thoroughly entertained!
Friday Evening Celebration at the SeaDrift

Well done to everyone and thank-you for coming along, we are already looking forward to next year. 

We are delighted to announce we will be running 2 Porthleven courses next year, in the Spring and Autumn. The course will be run over 6 days, giving artists an extra 1/2 day painting, a Friday evening PV and an all day exhibition on the Saturday.

Dates for next year are:

Sun 19th - Sat 25th April & Sun 4th - Saturday 10th October 2015.

Contact Denise , if you would like to find out more about next year's courses.