Still Life: Colour + Composition (rec)

Oil / Painting / Still Life


Course details

We welcome back Martha Holmes into the studio, for what will be a captivating insight into how she approaches the subject of ‘still life’, which has recently become one of her main painting focuses.

After spending some time in Studio 9 at Porthmeor Studios last Summer, Martha Holmes was inspired to create a new collection of paintings which used ‘still life’ as a central theme.  Jugs of flowers, open books, vessels and other day to day items in the studio space started to inform the colour, composition and forms for her paintings.

In this two-part webinar series we will dive deeper into Martha’s methods for extracting the shapes and colours of a still life set up, learning how to compose and paint a successful oil painting.  Throughout this series we will discuss the boundaries between abstraction and representation, working from still life set-ups photographed in the studio as well as from life where possible.

Session 1: Watch Now (this is a recording of a live broadcast, 1.5hrs)

The process of abstracting a ‘still life’ within an interior space will be explored through sketching and mark making, working on paper in both pencil and oil.  There will be a rich focus on the importance of colour and how to form a selected palette for your still life painting, alongside determining the role that shape and form play in the overall spatial dynamic of the painting.

Session 2: Watch Now (this is a recording of a live broadcast, 1.5hrs)

We will be drawing on the techniques used in the first session to form a larger, more considered painting, whilst referencing the works by several St. Ives artists such as Winifred Nicholson and other painters who explore still life such as William Scott and Vanessa Bell.

For those familiar with Martha’s style of painting or who may have completed one of her previous webinars, this series will use similar materials, mediums and techniques but with a new subject matter and focus.  This is a stand-alone webinar, however Martha’s previous landscape orientated sessions would be a great companion course to take to deepen your understanding of abstraction and working in oils.

Who is this course for?

Anyone with an interest in art and design, in particular painting and keen to develop an understanding of the process of abstraction, using still life as a reference.

What will I learn?

1. An understanding into the process of abstraction.

2. How to mix a considered colour palette.

3. A deeper understanding of how to compose a painting.

4. Explore the boundaries between abstraction and representation.

5. Learn about past artists who explored still life as a subject matter in their work.

How does an online session work?

We record the sessions so you can watch on demand, as often as you like, for up to 90 days after purchase. This way you can pause a scene, rewind and finish your painting. You can watch on a PC, laptop or tablet and if you have chromecast or miracast you could even cast to your SmartTV from your phone.

You will be invited to join our Facebook Alumni group so you can share your discoveries with fellow students from around the world. You can also share your work live with others on social media using the #schoolofpainting and tagging us @stives painting

Still Life: Colour and Composition (rec)

Oil / Painting / Still Life


Taught by


View Martha’s Work

Martha Holmes paints from her studio at Morgans in Falmouth alongside working outside on the coast, especially the Penwith coastline. Her approach to teaching is to simply share her love and growing energy for her painting practice. 

What to Bring

A list of materials will be available to see in your account upon purchasing the course.

You will need access to the internet and ideally a PC, laptop or a tablet with audio.

Timings and Breaks

Session 1: Watch Now (this is a recording of a live broadcast, 1.5hrs)

Session 2: Watch Now (this is a recording of a live broadcast, 1.5hrs)

You can revisit as often as you like for up to 90 days after the start of the course via the same links as the live events.


Online Art Courses – All

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 [email protected]. 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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