Between May 6 - 10 I shall be on a Charles Reid workshop at Stow-in-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. This area is called the Cotswolds and is one of the most scenic areas in England. Judi Reid told me it was her favourite painting venue in the UK.
This is my fifth and probably final CR course. I have enjoyed them all and hope to go out on a high note. My first one was at Burford, close to Stow, where the following weeks workshop will be held. I believe Charles is then travelling to Norfolk to make another DVD with Town House Films.
When I first attended Burford I was taken aback by the high standard of the students, some of whom were professionals. I struggled and was certainly in the bottom three of the 18 or so participants. It was a steep learning curve and the lesson I learned was to work pretty hard. My wife and I then went to Spain so I could attend another CR workshop, under the auspices of the charming Angela Barbi of EPC (Enjoy Painting in Catalonia). This worked both as a painting workshop and a holiday, especially important as my wife doesn't paint - apart from decorating. This was an excellent workshop split into two four day periods with a day off in the middle. The standard was not quite as high as Burford, which was very high, so much so that Charles remarked on it. There were also professionals in Spain, notably Judi Whitton, who produced some beautiful work, Don Glynn who is or was associated with Angela and EPC, and several good Spanish artists, although I don't think they were professionals. Charles had brought some paintings from America for one of them and the same person bought three of Judi Whittons workshop paintings.
My work there was certainly fairly average, but on my return I made a conscious decision to go for it and put in a lot of work to try and improve. I tend to think improvement comes (or should) in the following months when one has digested the lessons - providing you work at it!. One of the things that has struck me about some fellow amateurs, who I know and have painted with, is there is no discernible difference in their work following workshops or courses with professional artists. Many courses are holidays with painting rather than serious workshops and if that is what is preferred so be it. Avoid those that say `all levels welcome'.
My third CR workshop was at Urchfont, a Wiltshire village, apparently a favourite of Charles and Judi. Charles had got to know some of the local characters on previous visits and thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with them. Urchfont, which is run by the local council, is a popular venue but certainly not a hotel. It has good facilities for painting with two large buildings, mostly spent in the larger one. This was again fairly tough and was the workshop where I first met Mick Carney of The PaintingStruggle blog. Mick and I, fellow North-Easterners although I moved South many years ago, got on like a house on fire and were put in the same building, a house at the far end of the grounds. The food, served in the main house, was good and plentiful but the accommodation very poor, not even up to average B & B standard. Students were spread around and some of the others were not happy so we weren't alone. I was asked for my views, as someone must have raised it, and said I wouldn't go there again - nor would I. This was a shame because everything else was fine. A very good French artist, Gilles Durand, who I had met at Burford, was also at Urchfont and there were others like Genevieve Buchanan. On the last day I finally produced something I was really pleased with, a flower/still life study and Gilles complimented me on it. That was the final painting though! It is framed and hangs in my `studio'.
I thought Urchfont was to be my last Charles Reid experience only to be seduced once more when his next workshop was scheduled at Crantock Bay in Cornwall. My wife and I had previously been to Crantock four times with Judi Whitton and both of us thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The venue was the Crantock Hotel located on a cliff top facing the sea and bay. A wonderful venue, sadly it closed for good shortly after the workshop finished. Having worked hard since Urchfont I was pleased when Charles told my wife, on the final day and exhibition of students work, that my painting had improved. Gilles Durand, who greeted Mick and I like long lost brothers, although a little reserved on previous courses, said the same to me. Coming from two such artists I positively glowed! Yes, I am aware I am still far from the finished object, and probably never will be, but compared to my work a few years ago things have moved on.
That's it basically. I shall report on the course in a similar manner to Crantock with one post on each day with photographs. This should commence soon after my return home on the 11th.