Mindful Ways to Abstraction (CW)

Mixed Media / Abstract / Landscape - Materials included

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Course details

Capture the Cornish landscape in reduced and simplified forms, using the drawings and paintings of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham as a starting point along with the sights and sounds around St. Ives for inspiration.

Kitty Hillier Mapping Movement Wilhelmina Barns-Graham
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Orange Sky 2, 1982 © Estate of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham/Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust

Take a pause from your day-to day life and join artist Kitty Hillier for this journey into ways of abstraction. Enjoy slowing down and spending time in nature on this three-day course, inspired by the studies and drawings by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham of the Cornish sea and rocks.

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham moved to St Ives from Scotland in 1940. Inspired by the rugged Cornish landscape, her drawings and paintings simplified the distinctive rocks, cliffs and coastline to abstracted shapes and forms.

Drawing inspiration from Barns-Graham’s iconic images of coves, cliffs and water, follow Kitty as she demonstrates how to find inspiration from the sights and sounds around St Ives. Take a walk across Porthmeor Beach and create your own Wilhelmina-inspired sand drawing. Collect natural and man made objects along the way, to inspire your studio work and see how focusing on your breath and being ‘in-the-moment’ can help you work more intuitively.

Back in our studios, transform your beach drawings and found objects into sketches and paintings. Following examples by Kitty, explore various ways forward in drawing and painting, see what effects can be achieved when using ink and your own unique drawing tools and experiment with textures and mediums. See how rubbings and relief, or fabric and stitch can add to your topographic studies, experiment and have fun!

Working on panel, canvas or heavyweight watercolour paper, continue your studies made over the first few days and work towards resolving abstract paintings inspired by the work of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham.

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Rock Theme, St Just 1953, oil on canvas
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Rock Theme, St Just 1953 © Estate of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham/Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust

What will I learn?

  1. Learn how to approach your paintings and drawings more intuitively.
  2. Build confidence in composition and expand your visual language.
  3. Loosen your approach to image making.
  4. Learn how Wilhelmina Barns-Graham captured the Cornish landscape in reduced and simplified forms.

Who would this course suit?

This course would suit artists at any stage in their creative journey; whether you have an established practice or are just starting out. Ideal if you are looking for ways to increase skills, experience and experimentation.

Mindful Ways to Abstraction (CW)

Mixed Media / Abstract / Landscape – Materials included

Book Selected Date

Taught by


View Kitty’s Work

It’s always great to hear that after trying some of these quick mark-making and drawing exercises, people are keen to repeat them at home regularly as a way to relax or reset. My approach encourages play, experimentation and trust in our gut intuition. 

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 end at 4pm. 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

The course was excellent, Kitty really enabled me to re-frame the way I think about art and creation, giving us the tools and the space to be free to explore and experiment. It’s been an incredible experience that has reignited my creativity and left me buzzing with ideas.



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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