Barry Swarbrick

I have just completed the Pet Portraits Course with Gayle Mason and I was thrilled to find out I received a distinction. I enjoyed the course more than I thought possible and can’t thank tutor Gayle Mason enough for her expertise, encouragement and helpful guidance.

Before I started this I had only done a few shaky pencil drawings. The process takes you through different stages using various media. I never dreamed I would venture this far. My hare drawing was in coloured pencil which is a medium I am starting to favour and more versatile than I thought.

The ‘Weimeraner’ Portrait was drawn in pastels and I love the alert pose of the two dogs. My favourite has to be ‘Bella’ our friends miniature Schnauzer. This was painted in Acrylics and I was lucky to catch this lovely pose of her on camera in our kitchen. I can’t recommend this course enough to those who are thinking of venturing into the world of animal art!

Barry Swarbrick
Pet Portraits Diploma Course


Anne Price

Tutor Stewart Roberts :-

I don’t usually submit my student’s work for blog posts but this one seemed to exemplify the idea of examining an artwork firstly without any prior knowledge and then subsequently researching it. The student was Anne Price on D4 History of Art – Art, a World History responding to an assignment on a sculpture she had never seen before.


UNIQUE FORMS OF CONTINUITY IN SPACE – Umberto Boccioni (São Paulo original and bronze cast)

Firstly, this sculpture will be assessed naively, as if seen for the first time without any prior knowledge of its production, then it will be placed in the context of when and by whom it was created.

This is a substantial piece (1.11m high x 0.9m x0.4m) cast in bronze. It evokes movement and power. A figure, obviously male, seems to stride along as he is observed. His sturdiness and body position with the long line of body and leg suggest he is unstoppable but also stable, strong and determined. Fixated on his journey, he is unaware of the effect he is having on his audience or his surroundings, nor does he care. The wide shoulders, narrow waist and thick muscular thighs imply strength. His buttocks are stylised. The loose clothing suggests he might be wearing a cloak, with flaps or perhaps flames shooting back from his heels. However, the numerous flat surfaces imply some kind of metallic armour, and he may be wearing a helmet. From the front, the figure is streamline and aerodynamic, but the face is non-existent and, shockingly, in its place is a cross. This is unexpected and poses questions about its purpose. From behind, there are many projecting pieces, implying turmoil and turbulence. An interpretation might be that something is moving purposefully forward and leaving behind unrest. The many sharp angles give the feeling of unapproachability. Despite this, the piece is extremely tactile, the smooth inner thigh, the possible shoulder blades projecting from the shoulders demand to be touched and stroked.


Under the chin is a small pit of unidentifiable purpose. Knowing that every good artist includes details only if they add to his purpose, the viewer wants to touch this small indentation, as if fingers could interpret what the eye cannot. A small dagger-like projection comes from the right foot. These (the cross, the indentation, the dagger) are alien to the overall message of purpose and determination. Together they create an unsettled feeling, the naïve observer receives ambiguous messages and cannot form a coherent theory of what this piece represents. The title “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” by Boccioni 1913 gives few clues, other than that the date may suggest a preview of the turmoil of the Great War. This creation, though well crafted, is certainly an abstract, well-considered piece of art; designed to disturb rather than to please. Its amalgam of man, superman and alien strongly suggests that it is meant to be symbolic; with a creator who has a warning to society: here is something with which it may feel very uncomfortable, but it cannot be halted. Alternatively, for those open to change, a possible interpretation could be one of excitement: there are changes ahead which will be powerful, energising and exciting.

Anne then went on to research the work in question and identify the context in which it was produced:
This sculpture was created by the Italian Umberto Boccioni, who was also a painter. His most famous painting Three Women (1910) shows great emotion; it belongs to the Divisionist style, a branch of Neo-Impressionism where colours are painted separately as dots or patches (as opposed to Pointillism where the colours are premixed before application). His The City Rises (1910) was of a very different genre showing the stylised construction of a power station, with huge horses trampling over the construction workers. This style was called Futurism. It emphasized speed, technology, industry and violence. His painting The Laugh (1911) is the epitome of Futuristic painting. Boccioni had signed Mannetti’s ‘Manifesto of Futurism’ which committed to rebellion and socialism. This political group glorified the modern mechanistic age and the violence of the machine.

Boccioni is regarded as the founder of the Futurist school of art. The Cubists had explored perspective by drawing the same object from different angles; for example, in Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending A Staircase (1912), while The Red Horseman (Carra, 1913) shows a moving horse with multiple limbs, similar to flash photography. Boccioni rejected these approaches and made a huge leap into the representation of movement in space and how it changes that space itself. He had already explored this in the 2D painting Elastica (1912), which is colourful and depicts the pure energy of a horse. In 1912 he visited Paris where he was influenced by Braque, consequently he decided to be a sculptor. He explained the ethics of Futurism: “we synthesise every moment and then paint the picture”, “These days I am obsessed by sculpture. I believe I have glimpsed a complete renovation of that mummified art. Not a still sculpture but one that moves” (in Pittura e Scultura Futuriste, 1914). He aimed to create a “synthetic continuity” of motion, not to imitate motion but rather to convey the truth of motion through abstract means. “Boccioni’s gift was to bring a fresh eye to reality in ways that we now recognise” (Michael Glover, The Independent, 27/1/2009).

The idea of the interaction of mass and space had been developed by Einstein a few years earlier; the scene was set for Unique forms of Continuity in Space. With this knowledge the piece can be viewed again in the light of a celebration of energy and movement, echoing the dynamism of modern technology. The strong figure thrusting its way through space and creating eddies in that space can be taken to represent modern industry and technology forcing the way into the future and consequently creating turbulence and change in the world around it. Progress is portrayed as unstoppable. The flames or flaps of clothing no longer represent the figure, but the space through which he is moving and his effect on it. The continuity in the title could represent the continuity of effect – how one thing affects the other things around it.

Change affects us all; nothing is isolated. This does not represent a man moving through space; it is a representation of movement itself. Boccioni has deconstructed solid mass and in its place he has constructed a piece that represents motion. He said “We … proclaim the absolute and complete abolition of definite lines and closed sculptures, we break open the figure and enclose it in the environment”. This piece is regarded as the quintessence of Futuristic sculpture (and is now on the obverse of the 20 cent Italian euro coin). It was originally cast only in plaster, a material which does not last. In that medium the effect may have been different; the limited lifetime of the piece would mirror the ephemerality of progress, as soon as something is created it is replaced by something allegedly bigger and better. The bronze casts are harsher, harder and unyielding with sharp edges; however, the machined look would have reflected Boccioni’s mechanistic view of the world.

Boccioni died in 1916 at the age of 33 after falling from his horse during a cavalry training exercise. Many of his sculptures were destroyed in 1917, but his fellow Futurist Marinetti saved Unique Forms of Continuity in Space from workmen who were clearing the studio after his death. A bronze version was cast from the plaster original and others from this. The plaster original is in Museum of Contemporary Art USP, São Paulo. There are also 14 bronze casts in existence located in the major museums of the world.

Anne Price – History of Art – Art, A World History

Anne Grimer

Anne Grimer is a beginner in drawing and painting portraits and she has started using graphite pencil to practice drawing portraits of people. She is working with tutor Alan Dedman on the Portrait Painting Course and is coming along really well. We love the way Anne is using a clip board to work on and it is very portable and you can twist an turn the board to help shading at different angles rather than turning your arm or body to shade. Anne has created some lovely flowing lines and she is also using weight of line in her work which is excellent! Congratulations Anne on some superb studies!

Ann Hunt

I have just received my Diploma for the Watercolour Course and am thrilled to have gained the added bonus of Distinction. I cannot thank my tutor, Jem Bowden enough for his patient and encouraging critiques. I started the course as a very novice artist and spent the first few months learning and developing techniques without being sure where my direction lay.

Towards the end of last year I found an old album of photos from a safari in Kenya and that was the turning point. My love of watercolour has turned into a passion for wild life art. This is the direction I want to go. I also thank my tutor for pointing me in the direction of some exceptional wild life artists. This has given me a focus and helped me develop a looser style.

I have been inspired to book on various courses relating to wild life and hope to go on another safari in the future with an art tutor. I attach a few of my paintings which I would be happy for you to put up in the gallery if they are good enough. My long term aim is to be able to sell to have more money to donate to conservation charities. Receiving a Distinction may give me a small boost in this direction.

Ann Hunt
Watercolour Course


Alethea Jack

Perhaps some of our readers of our blog may not know that we not only teach adults, we also teach children and young artists too! We have two wonderful Drawing for Children courses for ages 7 and above and Alethea Jack is one such student. We know that you will all be very impressed with her artwork, particularly her landscape! Note how she has successfully shaded the cliffs, sea and grass using directional shading to describe the shape, form and surface of the objects and texture. Very advanced drawing!! We hope you enjoy viewing Aletheas work.


Beatrice Anderson

Beatrice Anderson studied our Pet Portraits Diploma course and these pieces were from her first study set. The course starts with a drawing refresher as it is important to be accurate when drawing and painting animals.

Beatrice drew an earthenware pot, a still life set up of her wellingtons and a Chocolate Labrador.  Her drawing skills are superb in all three pieces and we are looking forward to seeing more of Beatrice’s work in the coming months!

Alison Hughes

The drawings below are by student Alison Hughes who studied our Coloured Pencil Course. The first two drawings below are from the still life assignment. Students are asked first to draw a still life in graphite pencil to help them understand the tonal ranges in the scene. They then set to work on the colour version.

Most students send photographic reference for their work so their tutor can see the still life that was set up and you can see this inserted into the drawings below. The final drawing is of a beautiful autumnal tree, again shaded using coloured pencil. \

All of the drawings here are superb and we can see Alison is enjoying using coloured pencil as a medium. If you would like to join our course, pop over to our website and take a look at the coloured pencil course page.


Raul Saria

Raul Saria has painted two wonderful watercolour paintings which we have added below. The first painting is absolutely stunning. The wet in wet washes are very accomplished and the way Raul has painted the wet road is superb. The second portrait is so colourful with much detail, we have added a close up from the painting itself at the bottom of the blog post. We hope that you find Raul’s watercolour paintings inspirational!

Valerie Anstey

Valerie Anstey is currently studying on the Portrait Painting Course and we are thrilled to be able to add her work here on our blog. We have added two of her paintings from her assignments below and we feel they are superb! Im sure that our readers will agree!

I have always enjoyed enjoyed arts and crafts of any time but never had the opportunity to develop any particular avenue. I am near retirement and have more time to do the things I enjoy. I have been told I have some talent for portrait painting and would love to develop it further for my own enjoyment.

Valerie Anstey
Portrait Painting Course