Henri Matisse, Harmony in Red (Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), 1908

Matisse - Pattern + Illusion

Oil / Figure / Still Life

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Course details

In this 4 day online course led by artist Alice Mumford learn how Matisse used pattern to create the illusion of three dimensions and immerse yourself in the joy of looking and painting.

Alice Mumford will share with you a process of discovery and exploration, an approach developed for her own painting practice. Matisse transformed his studio into dreamy places, something like a stage set. His flat colours became real spaces we move through as a viewer. Based on some of his renowned paintings we will recreate parts of Matisse’s studio at the School. Discover how you too can create space in your painting using pattern.

Over four mornings work from home alongside Alice and a small group of fellow students while using the inspirational set up in our studio in St Ives. Learn how Matisse and other artist of the 18th and 19th century generated a new visual language, looking beyond the confines of European linear perspective. Learn how this approach can change the way you see the world around you and inspire your own painting.

Benefit from live demos and gain feedback from your group and Alice. The group is kept small at just 15 and you will be able to interact will your fellow students at the live zoom sessions where you will be seen and heard as well as on our image sharing platform.

We record these live sessions so you can watch again on demand for 1 month after the course. Students will have the opportunity to ask the tutor questions prior and during these live sessions as well as have access to a group forum on a secured course platform. This private online space is a chance for you and your group to connect with each other and share progress during the course.

You will need to gather your own materials for the course and have access to the internet. We will have staff on hand to assist with your connecting on Zoom with a dedicated tech session. You will receive a comprehensive handbook on setting up ready for the course covering equipment and materials.

Day to day plan

This is a 4 day course with a daily live and interactive session with Alice lasting three hours. The afternoon will be a time for you to develop your work further.
Each day, upload images of your artwork, which your class and tutor will be able to view, like and provide feedback on over the 4 days.

Tech session

Wednesday 3 February 3pm Live Zoom session

Technical induction with our digital administrator to ensure everyone is comfortable and ready for the first session. By the end of this session you will have learnt how to post your first image on our image sharing platform and comment on other peoples images and check you can take part fully in the live session.

Day 1

Monday 8 February, Live Zoom session 10.00am – 1pm

Context and drawing in charcoal

Alice will talk about the context of the course. Look at how traditional Japanese Prints were such an influence on Matisse’s visual language. Look at Matisse’s scale and compositional devices and then start our drawing on canvas with charcoal.

You can carry on in the afternoon in your own time developing drawings on a number of canvases from a still sent to you of the still life and figure set up.

Day 2

Tuesday 9 February, Live Zoom session 10.00am – 1pm

Palette and painting

We will look at Matisse’s unusual and invigorating approach to setting up his scene using yellows, pinks and greens. We then go on to lay out our palette and start to paint. Continue to develop your painting in the afternoon based on the still.

Day 3

Wednesday 10 February, Live Zoom session 10.00am – 1pm

Painting and making adjustments

We paint until 11.30am. Then the group will listen while Alice starts the process of individual adjustments to students paintings. The session is inspired by the evidence of Matisse’s making adjustments to a painting using cut out bits of coloured paper. We all benefit from watching and learning about this process as a group. We keep working on our painting in the afternoon started the day before.

Day 4

Thursday 11 February, Live Zoom session 10.00am – 1pm

Solving the puzzle of your painting

We continue as yesterday with Alice spending time with the group making individual adjustments and resolutions. For those who have finished their first piece they can start to working on a second canvas later that day. The timings will be adjusted depending on the group. As you develop your work upload onto the sharing platform for your fellow students and Alice to see and comment on.

What you will get out of this course

  1. Understand how space can be created out of pattern.
  2. Learn how colour can be made to have an underlying connection.
  3. learn to use spot the difference when it comes to colour to keep the viewer engaged.
  4. Introduction into “fixing a painting “.

Who would this course suit?

Whether you are a complete beginner in oil paints or would like to build your confidence working with them, this course is a wonderful starting point.

Matisse – Pattern and Illusion

Oil / Figure / Still Life

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

You will receive a comprehensive handbook on setting up ready for the course covering equipment and materials. We will guide you on how best to set up in your own home environment whatever that might be from the kitchen to the studio.

You will be provided with a full materials list and you will need to use oil paint and either low odour white spirit or Zest It, if you are sensitive to solvents.

IT Equipment

You will need a laptop or tablet with audio and camera enabled so you can have a screen near where you are working. A phone is not ideal as you will struggle to see enough. You will also need reasonable broadband connection and speed.

Timings and Breaks

On the Wednesday before the course starts there will be technical session with our digital administrator to make sure you are comfortable with the technology and everything is working correctly.

Key Dates: Live Zoom Sessions

Pre Course Tech session – Wednesday 3 February 3pm Live Zoom session

Day 1 – Mon 8 Feb, Live Zoom session 10.00am – 1pm

Day 2- Tues 9 Feb, Live Zoom session 10.00am – 1pm

Day 3 – Wed 10 Feb, Live Zoom session 10.00am – 1pm

Day 4 – Thurs 11 Feb, Live Zoom session 10.00am – 1pm

These classes will be recorded and available to view a couple of hours after the session ends so you can review and recap before the next morning session.

All recordings will be available for you to watch again on demand as many times as you like for one month after the course ends. This means you can review, pause, rewind and further develop your skills.


Online Broadcast

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

Do I need a webcam/any equipment.

For our webinar sessions which are broadcast on the internet and no webcam or microphone is needed as you just need to be able to see/hear hosts and you can communicate using the chat function. You can watch using a PC, Smart TV or tablet. A phone isn’t ideal as you will struggle to see enough unless you can miracast to a screen or smart TV.

For the longer online courses on Zoom you will need a laptop or tablet with audio and camera enabled so you can have a screen near where you are working. If you have a PC without camera or speakers, you can purchase a plug and play webcam for approx £25 which connects to a usb port. You will also need reasonable broadband connection and speed.

All the art materials and equipment needed to participate in the course will be listed in full on the online learning platform, for live webinars this will be a minimum of two weeks before the session starts.

I have registered for the webinar but I can't find my joining link

You can access all the resources and joining link for your webinar via our online learning platform. You will need to have set up an account on our online learning platform in advance. You can do this during the checkout process when purchasing your webinar. If you are having trouble accessing your online account, please contact info@schoolofpainting.co.uk. You can use a PC or tablet or even cast from your phone to watch on your Smart TV.

I paid for the session but missed it, how can I watch?

Currently all our online sessions are recorded and you can access the recording on our online learning platform until it expires. Usually 60 days for a webinar, 90 – 180 days for multipart webinars or online courses.

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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