Falmouth School of Art is currently accepting applications for its summer Intensives – 5-day studio-based courses for artists and art educators. We’re always bowled over by feedback from participants at the end of their week with us, but we have just caught up with some of 2016’s participants to ask them to reflect on their experience nine months on…
Abstract Painting participant Gwenyth Fugard highlighted the benefit she had felt of being among a group of artists for the week, having worked alone for three years since graduating in Fine Art from Central St. Martins. She also experienced a development in her way of working, as a result of the environment and structure of the course: ‘Though my own practice does not respond to abstracting from life, I found the projects set were hugely beneficial. I was taken away from my usual methodologies and the studio spaces provided were fantastic [and] enabled new approaches and ideas to develop quite quickly’. After finishing the Intensive last summer, Gwyneth successfully applied for a place on an MA at City & Guilds London Arts School.
Wales-based artist Karina Barrett, who took the Figure Painting course, similarly valued the experience of community that shaped the Intensive week: “I enjoyed working in a studio with other artists – something I have not done since graduating” Within that context, she recalls, ‘I found the tuition to be of the highest standard and incredibly informative. As a professional, working, painter, I gained a lot from the advice given to me by both Jesse [Leroy Smith] and Ashley [Hold]’. Figure Painting participants also commented that the opportunity to work from a model for whole week was something that they couldn’t easily replicate as part of their day to day routine.
Amanda Jackson chose the Abstract Painting Intensive in order to develop her mostly figurative practice in a more abstract direction, and the course made such an impression that she will be joining us again this year. She observes, ‘The course gave me many ideas and processes, through tuition, critique and lectures, to set this development in motion’. In addition to this, she too cites working alongside other artists as an important benefit to her: “…the great experience of spending a week with other artists, to explore my own ideas but have others’ input and critique and discuss work and network with artists, some of whom I am [still] in contact with via social media’.
Amanda has continued with her practice, and has found the influence of the Intensive staying with her in her work, “Almost a year on, I have continued the work started in Falmouth, enjoying pushing my work ever further into abstraction. I have found that since the course, my work is much looser; I spend more time developing the work through direct painting – that is, exploring ideas on the canvas and seeing where it might lead – rather than planning and replicating.
Her week at Falmouth has resonated in her subsequent studio practice, as well as in the work she has produced since last summer: ‘I am more focused on my work, spending longer in the studio, so the course has given me discipline as well as inspiration…The back drop of the garden and grounds at Falmouth, which was used as a starting point for abstract paintings on the course, has led to a body of work that will be shown this summer as part of Leigh Art Trail’s 20th Anniversary show’.
For many, the Intensives have provided the opportunity to work differently than they would in their own home or studio environment, with learning and experiences that have lingered and resonated in their continued studio practice. For London-based Val Coumant, ‘[it] was exactly what it said on the label – intensive. I haven’t worked so hard since my Psychotherapy training in the 1980’s. Or with such absorption and excitement’. But for Val, ‘the greatest insight was how the pieces I liked best were fortuitous rather than planned. It was like the Zen story about learning to paint bamboo: you go and live in a bamboo grove, and watch the bamboo in spring, summer, autumn and winter; in the morning, at noon, in the evening and in the moonlight; in mist, rain snow and sunlight, year after year. And then you go away and forget about bamboo. That’s when the painting starts’.
The lasting impact of the week of focused creative activity is something we hear repeatedly. Karina noted, ‘I find that the advice of my tutors still echoes in my head, while I work…along with the memories of a truly fantastic week’.
For more information or to make an application to Falmouth School of Art’s Intensives – this year offered in Abstract Painting, Figure Painting and Observational Drawing, see our website:
www.falmouth.ac.uk/fsaintensivesThe application deadline is 28 April.