Skokholm Painting Week


I am excited to be running a mixed media painting course on Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire from August 3-10th this year.

The course is designed for a small group of students and is suitable for both beginners and more experienced artists. There will be a relaxed atmosphere and the aim of the course will be free your technique and explore landscape-based abstraction with mixed media, using things like wax, sand and plaster to get to grips with texture. You will have an immersive experience which will fill you with enthusiasm and skills to take back into your painting at home.

Our studio will be at the lighthouse and the course will involve a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities. Throughout the week on the island we will have workshops every morning from 9.30 to 1pm when you will have the opportunity to explore mixed media painting and develop some work from ideas and influences gathered from the island. Afternoons will be your own to work on your ideas from the morning workshops, relax or spend time exploring the island. There will be some evening presentations and the chance to join in with the nightly bird log.

Skokholm Island is a jewel of the Pembrokeshire Coastal landscape. Once the home of the naturalist, Ronald Lockley, the island is famed for its 90,000 Manx Shearwaters, Storm Petrels nesting in the walls around the buildings, Puffins, cliff nesting seabirds and as the site of Britain’s first Bird Observatory. Located 2.5 miles off shore, the whole island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is a rich visual, archaeological, biological and historical resource. Formed of a rich red sandstone the island has a rich history, its remoteness and the nature of the scientific research which has taken place there over an extended period of time makes it a very special place to stay.

The island was designated as Britain’s first Bird Observatory in 1934 and it has recently regained its certification. Scientific monitoring work has taken place for over 70 years. It involves monitoring habitat, flora and fauna and trapping and ringing birds as part of a long term study into bird migration and behaviour. The work that is undertaken there plays a vital role in providing data which feeds into studies of short and long term environmental trends. In addition to the biological monitoring, the island has a rich history. In early August you can expect to see seals, cetaceans and many birds, including puffins, ravens, peregrines storm petrels and Manx Shearwaters . The island has been inhabited since the Stone Age and is currently the subject of a LIDAR study by the Commission for Ancient Monuments in Wales.

Booking and more details at


From Rosebush to Newgale (via Clunderwen).

Work is coming along on my ‘Can yr Oerwynt’ project (funded by the Arts Council of Wales) based on the history of Rosebush, my neighbouring village. I am working on ceramic decals and experimenting with firing imagery onto old plates in preparation for an installation I am planning as part of the project.

I had a fantastic visit to Martin Bellwood‘s foundry in Clunderwen to discuss getting Martin to make a “plinth” for my glass work for the Rosebush project. It was brilliant to begin to put glass together with metal and other materials in his workshop and to see the possibilities for combining media and collaborating with another artist. I am so lucky to have Martin just around the corner – people travel a long way to work with him. He certainly knows his materials and our discussion opened up all kinds of possibilities which I hadn’t really considered. I am thinking of using industrial iron as the basis of the plinth, to reflect the industrial nature of much of the history of the Rosebush Quarry and railway.

This weekend I am teaching a painting course near Fishguard at Indigo Brown. I hire Indigo Brown a couple of times a year as a base for my courses, Maggie and Andrew are the perfect hosts, they seem to think of everything, and we are very well fed by Andrew, who is great cook. I am running an autumn course here (October 4th – 7th) and there are still some places left if anyone is interested!

Lunch at Indigo Brown.

The students are all getting stuck in and are engaging with the theme of breaking out of their habitual ways of painting and seeing. Newgale beach was wonderful this morning at low tide with lots of interesting detail, shifting light and miles of wet sand to keep us happy. We are working in the studio with wax and sand and other textural materials and concentrating on mark making and exploring new ways of working.

Jane sketching at Newgale…where did she get that bag?!
Judith on Newgale.
Judith breaking out!
Sam pondering in the studio.

A great day sketching on Skomer!

My Skomer Bluebells painting course is under way and today we spent the day on the island sketching and making notes to bring back to the studio tomorrow.

I have been coming to Skomer for 18 years, I even lived there for a while when Den was Assistant Warden, but it was the first time I had been to the island this year and Skomer was resplendent in its cloak of bluebells and campion. The island has been so influential on my work and holds a special place in my heart. The colours, atmosphere and wildlife of the place are amazing. I am staying on the island next week to paint and am really excited about it.. Next year I really want to run a residential course on the island – anyone interested?

The season is two weeks ahead of normal schedule due to the warm weather in April and there was a lot of Puffin activity all around the island.

Congratulations to Kenny Gainforth, the boatman,who has just won the individual European Federation of Sea Anglers Trophy in competition in Ireland. Although somehow he didn`t have any mackerel to spare today! Well done Kenny!

Easter painting days in my studio.

“I haven`t had so much fun with paint since I was four years old!”, said Gill, one of the students on my painting course today.

My next course runs 10-13th May and includes a day sketching among the bluebells on Skomer Island.

Back to the studio!

Thanks to everyone who came to my New Year Show. We are now back to visits by appointment until April, so I am venturing back to my studio for some concentrated painting time.

No New Years Resolutions as such, but I know I need to be selective about which ideas to pursue if I am to do anything well this year. It is probably good to have lots of ideas and projects, but it is definitely NOT good to try to do them all!

I am constantly torn between painting and glass, and expressive and conceptual ways of working. I need to make some decisions and stick to them.

Last year, facing the recession I said “yes” to a lot of things I would normally not do, showing in other galleries, being part of a group exhibition in Swansea, teaching etc…and teaching is the one thing I will take forward this year. My autumn courses went really well, my students were lovely, I enjoyed teaching them and they brought me some income at a quiet time of year.

This year I have decided to see the recession as an opportunity to do exactly what I want with my work!

Painting Courses At Last!

I am running a Painting For The Terrified! workshop in the Preseli Hills this Sunday (18th July). More info about this and other one-day and residential weekend courses see my courselist.