Sandra Blow © The Estate of Sandra Blow

Abstract Colour in St Ives

Acrylic / Mixed Media / Abstract / Landscape - Materials included

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Course details

Learn to create striking, bold and contemporary work through structured and guided tuition. Unlock the secret to balancing tone, composition and colour inspired by the colourful world of St Ives abstraction.

Sandra Blow © The Estate of Sandra Blow

Sandra Blow was a prominent artist of the modernist movement in St Ives, and some of her most significant large scale mixed media paintings are usually on display in Tate St Ives. You will explore in depth how Blow used colour and composition to such dramatic effect. Your tutor Liz Luckwell was a friend of Sandra Blow and can give you a personal insight into her extensive work and how her life influenced her making. This study of another artist can be a valuable tool to think about how your own life can be a source of inspiration.
This is an opportunity to learn how to create robust, mixed media paintings that investigate space and colour. It will build your confidence in approaching abstraction enabling insights into how to develop your own personal approach.

Day to day plan

This is a rough indication of what to expect over the course. However sometimes the structure of the days may alter depending on the nature of the group and weather.

Day 1

On the first day we will set the context. Explore how you develop an approach to creating abstracted work inspired by Sandra Blow with a focus on using collage. This will include studying images of her work with discussions on her background and influences. In the afternoon experiment with her technique of working with positive and negative spaces in monochrome.

Day 2

Begin to work with flat colour as well as textured images inspired by Sandra Blow. We will visit Tate St Ives to see original work before creating a series of work inspired by this visit. Working through a series, as Sandra did, learn to look carefully at possible compositions.

Day 3

Make your own textures and coloured papers to give an individual slant to your work. Develop a single piece through the day and introduce other unexpected and everyday materials that can lift and animate your painting. Further development of your own exploration with overlaying with paint and other unexpected materials.

What will I learn?

  1. Increased confidence using unusual materials and varied surfaces.
  2. A better understanding of composition and spacial awareness when creating your own work.
  3. A greater understanding of what influenced the work of Sandra Blow. This can help you reflect on how your own experiences might translate into making work.
  4. An awareness of the possibilities of materials that you can find all around you. Learn how to transform everyday materials you can find at home into compelling and striking art.
  5.  Insights into how to capitalise on the accidental.

Who would this course suit?

Anyone interested in learning guided structured steps to developing a conscious and considered approach to making work. It would suit you if you have an interest in modern art and abstraction. Beginners to making art would find this as a great way in, building your confidence with materials and helping you avoid the temptation of being too precious. The approach will be fun but structured, ensuring you have some inspiring tools to take away so you can continue to enjoy creating modern abstracted collages back home.

Abstract Colour in St Ives

Acrylic / Mixed Media / Abstract / Landscape – Materials included

Book Selected Date

Taught by


View Liz’s Work

Linking my method to the landscape, I take students on Porthmeor Beach to make experimental drawings in the sand, bringing them back to some of man’s first marks and symbols. My teaching is grounded in an understanding for people and their desire to learn. I feel I have a genuine understanding of how nervous and apprehensive prospective students can sometimes be and am able to help them relax and enjoy being creative.

What to Bring

Our studios are fully equipped and we provide you with all the materials you need for your course. However, if you have a favourite set of brushes or any specialist materials that you would prefer to use, please bring them with you.

Timings and Breaks

The first day starts at 10am and finishes at 4.30pm, please aim to arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the start time.

All course days after that start at 9.30am and finish at 4pm and there will be an hour for lunch. There are plenty of nearby places to eat and we will serve tea and coffee at break times during the day.

What our students say

Very inspirational course. Learnt a lot of new techniques. Liz was a great tutor for building confidence and ideas. Thank you. 

Jennifer Kirtland

It was just what I needed – from working on large pieces over along time at home – this has been valuable to focus on colour/balance, composition In a free but structured way – thank you Liz you’ve been great. 

Lorraine Thorne

Had a thoroughly enjoyable 3 days learning to work in a totally new way. it was lovely to work amongst so many other talented people and very inspiring.

Jane Warner

Liz is a marvellous teacher and over the last few days she’s supported and encouraged me to see things differently, whilst nudging when required. I’m feeling so much more confident in letting go and playing with colours and textures.

Excellent and engaging tutor. Very good equipment and facilities and atmospheric building. I learned so much about the artists and my own interests and skills.


Studio Courses

How can I get help in choosing a course?

Our friendly expert staff are always happy to discuss your needs and our courses in more detail to help you with your decision. Please call us on 01736 797180

How do I get my work home?

Tutors have special techniques for transporting oil paintings and the school has plastic folders available in our shop for £3.50 or do bring a portfolio.

For international students we are happy to arrange transportation of your work back home.

What do I need to bring?

Absolutely nothing! All materials and aprons are provided although some people do like to bring their own set of brushes.

What do I do for lunch?

Courses allow an hour’s break for lunch and there are numerous places nearby or you are welcome to bring a packed lunch into the studio.

What times do courses run?

Most of our courses start at 10am and end at 4.30pm on the first day. Subsequent days we start at 9.30am ending at 4pm.

Weekend Courses run 10am – 4pm on the first day but the final day starts at 9.30 and ends at 3.30 with a short lunch break to enable people to get home that evening.

Do you have to be experienced to come to the School?

The School is a very friendly and welcoming place for all ages and experience. Our drop-in life classes and August half-day workshops are ideal for those wanting to have a go for the first time. Most of our longer courses are also fine for novices.

If any of the courses do need a bit of experience we flag this up in the brochure and on the website.

Booking a Course

How can I reserve a place?

We will hold a provisional reservation for 24 hours if you give us a call whilst you find accommodation. Otherwise please book online or by telephone 01736 797180.

You can reserve a place with a £100 deposit; balance is due 12 weeks before course start date.

About St Ives

Where do I park?

The nearest long stay public car parks are the Island and Barnoon Long Stay Car Park, both a 5 minute walk away. In the peak summer months it may be easier to park at Trenwith Car Park by the leisure centre and walk down into town. If you don’t fancy the walk up the hill at the end of the day there is a shuttle bus which runs from outside the cinema.

How do I get there?

Public Transport: If you are coming from further afield the main train line runs into St Erth which is a 15 min taxi ride away or you can take the St Ives Bay Line which runs approx. every 30 minutes. The School is a 10 minute walk from St Ives station.

Driving: M5 will take you to Exeter where we recommend that you take the A30 across Bodmin Moor and into Cornwall. After passing Hayle, leave the A30 at St Erth roundabout for St Ives. Turn right at the second roundabout. This road will take you through Lelant and Carbis Bay into St Ives.

Where can I stay?

St Ives has a huge selection of hotels, guest houses and self catering accommodation to choose from. Please browse the art holidays St Ives section on our website and give us a call if you would like any help.

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