Bonnard + the Electric Light

Oil / Still Life - Materials included

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Course details

Break up those long winter nights with this three-day course looking at Bonnard and the electric light.

Alice Mumford, inspired by a Bonnard painting

Join us in our cosy Porthmeor Studios for this winter-warmer course led by artist Alice Mumford. Inspired by Bonnard’s intimate domestic paintings, you will explore how to capture the warm diffused light of Bonnard’s tabletop settings.

Working almost 100 years ago, Bonnard was exceptional in his depiction of warm embracing yellow light created by the electric lightbulb. The kitchen table surrounded by friends, family and pets was a theme that Bonnard would return to again and again. Flattening the perspective of the table and creating contrast through overhead lighting and half shadows on objects brings closeness and warmth to these paintings.

Alice will demonstrate how artists have explored different ways of depicting light through the ages. Looking at artists such as Hopper, Morandi, Gwen John and Rembrandt, learn how to paint naturalistic shadows and explore colour/tonal scales. Come in from the cold and work from your own cosy still-life set-up here in our St Ives studios.

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.

Day 1: Learning from Bonnard

In the first half of the day, we will look at examples of how painters have used artificial light. We will do some colour/tone scales. In the afternoon, we will be copying a small section of one of Bonnard’s paintings.

Day 2: Taking the Plunge

Alice will start the day with a demonstration leading on to you working from your own still-life doing your own painting.

Day 3: Loose Ends

In this final session, you will continue working on your own painting to solve any problems informed by the studies that you’ve made earlier on Bonnard and one-to-one feedback from Alice.

What will I learn?

  • A better understanding of shadows, and therefore light, in painting.
  • How to use colour and tone to create drama.
  • How to unpack a painting to understand colour and tone better.
  • More about the approach of Bonnard, and other painters, with a focus on his investigations into light and shadow painting.

Who would this course suit?

This course is suitable for any level of experience. Ideal for anyone already working in oils interested in learning more about how to add tone and depth to their paintings. Alice’s enthusiasm and experience create the ideal conditions for new ways of exploring still-life painting.

Bonnard and the Electric Light

Oil / Still Life – Materials included

Book Selected Date

Taught by


View Alice’s Work

“The school of painting is an oasis; a place to share ideas, enthusiasm and adventures into painting. Teaching has helped me to translate my thoughts and reflections about art into practical courses. In doing this I have learnt so much and shared in that adventure. It’s an opportunity to pass on the wonderful sense of being part of a bigger ‘family’ of painters.”

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.


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

Can I pay by cheque?

Please get in touch by phone and we can hold your place for a few days whilst you post your cheque (made payable to: St Ives School of Painting) to us at St Ives School of Painting, Porthmeor Studios. St Ives TR26 1NG

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 both 5 minute walk away. In the peak summer months it may be easier to park at the big top 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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