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A Finny Story

Following the announcement by our Dear Leader it seems that we will be confined to quarters for the foreseeable future. Zoom it is.
We heard mutters about restrictions being slackened by March but we’ve heard that sort of thing before.

What that means for us is that we will be unable to have artists in the studio. This is a great sadness to us, on a personal level we’re not immune to the effects of isolation and at a business level it prolongs a very hard year. We are doing our very best to keep going and we sincerely appreciate your support as we navigate what is going to be a bleak midwinter together.

We can of course help each other. Whilst Zoom is unlikely to be many people’s first choice it is very effective for distance learning and to practise, it adds in technological complexity but you do save on travel time and cost and you are encouraged to establish a home studio practice which is immensely valuable. It may just keep us sane and if our Zoom courses and events are well attended we live to fight another day.

Any teachers out there?

With the schools being closed and online education being a bit patchy it occurred to us that we could support teachers who want to deliver classes to their youngsters but don’t have the space or equipment to do it. If you are a teacher, we could help you set up and deliver some classes from our, now well resourced, digital studio. Email us if that is of interest.

A finny story

Winslow Homer- Casting Number Two

Notes from an idle painters diary

As a naval child I grew up with the chilled brine smashing into my face and fresh mackerel on my plate. Later, as a schoolboy I lived by the gently roiling Thames, bothering gudgeon and bleak in the long summer months. I am no fisherman but I know enough about the routine of casting a line to sense the connection with the inner hunter gatherer in us all. Certainly enough to spin a tenuous creative metaphor.

The thing about fish is you cannot see them. You know they are there, sometimes they even ripple the water just to tease you, but you cannot be sure exactly where or at what depth or which bait or lure will be the one to snag them.

Experience teaches us their habits, the languid pools within which they lurk or their taste in wiggly worms or cheese or fly. Ultimately though we cast our bait where we sense they may be, there is always an element of faith and mystery.

As artists we may find this familiar. We can go through the motions: we prepare our surfaces, our colours, our implements; we try a new pen, sketch from a different angle, look and record but essentially we are casting our line into the creative pond, sure there is something there but unsure as to how to snag it. With the honest application of routine, a little time and patience it may be that we get a bite.

When the fisher girl feels the bite it is sometimes the gentlest of tugs, so delicate that she may feel she has imagined it. If she strikes too soon the fish will flee and the commotion will clear the waters for some time. If she judges it right her line snaps taut and she can feel the shimmering vitality of her quarry, she is awake and in the game. The fish must be played, if too eager the line may break, insufficient tension and the fish will gain the upper hand, all of her skill is required to land her prize.

The artist too can learn to sense that first twitch of the rod, they notice a shape or colour or juxtaposition and feel something rising up within them, a sense of possibility, the vitality of creative energy, a clarity of purpose. Gently now, just aware and curious and then with more certainty. When seen there is no doubt, the game is on. Some will get away: we scrape down, crumple and toss; but when we land a big one we learn where and how, we may well return to that glistering pool again.

To land the prize takes skill, that is a craft. To sense where the big fish play, that is art.

Having said that I think metaphors can be stretched a bit far at times as in this delight from beyond the fringe by Alan Bennet.

Happy New Year.

These courses still have places – hurry, starting this week!

Tuesday Evenings start 5th Jan – Introduction to Painting From Life with Alex Tzavaras
Wednesday Evenings start 6th Jan – Portraiture with Alex Tzavaras
Thursday Mornings start 7th Jan – Landscape with David Sawyer
Monday Evenings start 11th Jan – Introduction to Life Drawing
Thursday Evenings start 14th Jan – Intermediate Life Drawing

Most of our events are accessible from this page.

Tuesday Evening Freya’s Fast Poses 7.00pm-8.30pm on Zoom

Adrian @modbodadrian

“Drawing with flow and non-expectation” is Freya’s theme to commence the New Year with special reference to @arturdornellesferreira

This is creative life drawing where the emphasis is on experimenting and making the marks your body was made to make rather than conforming to someone else’s ideas about what drawing should look like.

You can join us on Zoom from 6.45pm and get to know us and any other drawers before work commences at 7.00pm.

The cost is £8 but if you can convince us you’re a student we’ll give you a code to get the session for £5: drop us an email.

Click here to book

Wednesday Portraiture 2.00pm-5.00pm on Zoom


Vivian is in traditional dress with some pretty punchy colours. She will sit for us this Wednesday to finish the pose she started before Christmas, so do join us to finish your work or, if you were absent before Christmas, pull up a chair and see what you can make of her in three hours.

Zoom fee is £15 Please book here

The session fee will be reduced to £12 if you use the discount code PESTE2 at final checkout.

Saturday Long Pose Life Drawing 10.00am-1.00pm on Zoom


Anna sat for a portrait last year, which we enjoyed and this Saturday she will be giving us a figure pose. She is tall and willowy.

Zoom fee is £15, in-studio fee varies.

Please book here

The Zoom session fee will be reduced to £12 if you use the discount code PESTE2 at final checkout.