Composition, Intuition + Instinct in Painting

Acrylic / Mixed Media / Abstract - Materials included

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Course details

An introduction to finding ways into creating lively, expressive paintings through intuitive and instinctual responses to the world around you.

Iona Sanders

It can be hard to find the content for your work or the confidence to put paintbrush to paper or canvas when you don’t really know where to start. How do we find focus when there are so many possible distractions in our day-to-day life? And how do we be ‘present’ with our art when everything seems to pull us away? Over three days, artist Iona Sanders will explore new ways to connect with your practice and self. See how to be more responsive and intuitive to the things, people and landscapes around you, and learn new ways into image-making. This course encourages you to look at things afresh and to realise that the fragment of a tile, the colour of a flower or the atmosphere of a place can all be used to inspire work.

The aim of the course is to inspire new ways of painting so that you leave the course buoyed up, energetic and enthusiastic going forward. Iona will show you how she starts and develops her own paintings but will encourage you to find your own voice. Come to the class with ideas about the things, landscapes and paintings that inspire you, and leave with the confidence to go on creating art, and to make more space for it in future. Ideal if you can’t find a way to start your painting practice, or even if you just need a few days with a fresh set of eyes and inspiring space to do so!

There will be some walking and exploring on the mornings of the first and second days, where you are encouraged to record your experience via notes, sketches and photographs. Using this information, as well as your own memory, experiment with various ways forward back in the studio. See what you are drawn to, and what you’re not. Iona is an energetic, inspiring and supportive tutor who will help you to trust your intuition in this process.

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

Following an introduction, head outside and gather ideas through sketches, notes and photographs. See what you are drawn to. In the afternoon, spend time experimenting with colours, mark-making and textures.

Day 2

Re-visiting the same location you visited the previous day, go back with a deeper understanding and knowledge of that place; see how to build a piece from the combination of gathering material, memory, feeling and understanding. In the afternoon, work on several smaller pieces and begin to focus on some finished works, or a series of works.

Day 3

The final day will be a chance to gather everything you’ve learnt and to develop either one, or a series of, paintings. Iona will demonstrate how she works towards finished pieces, guiding you through your own compositions. There will be a chance to share your work with your tutor and peers at the end.

What will I learn?

  1. Gain inspiration from your everyday surroundings. Learn close observation and how ‘being in the moment’ can help you make more intuitive, abstract work.
  2. Build confidence in drawing and mark-making.
  3. Find new ways in to creating expressive and lively paintings.
  4. Leave buoyed up and energised and confident in various ways to move your painting practice forwards.
  5.  Transform your observations into abstract paintings or figurative paintings.

Who would this course suit?

This course is suitable for anyone. If you are interested in loosening your approach to drawing and painting, as well as finding new ways of capturing the environment around you, this course is for you. Most importantly, this will be a chance to explore and experiment without judgement.

There will be some walking on the morning of the first and second day.

Composition, Intuition and Instinct in Painting

Acrylic / Mixed Media / Abstract – Materials included

Book Selected Date

Taught by


View Iona’s Work

My approach to teaching is to give students the confidence to be free and intuitive in their practice, to lose themselves in their creativity, and to find their inner voice. Focusing on their own journey, banishing doubt and building positivity will be key to their enjoyment and fulfilment on the course.

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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