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Painting Holidays In Cornwall: Artists Q & A

Autumn is the perfect time of year to capture changing colours of the season in the moderate climate of Cornwall with a paint brush!  So why not consider a painting holiday in Cornwall for an autumn break?

We’ve got two fantastic painting breaks on offer during this September and October that can help you cultivate the artist within, aimed at complete beginners and artists at intermediate or advanced level.

Ray Balkwill and Tony Haskell are well-known and highly talented West Country artists who are keen to share their experience, skills, and the love of their craft with you.

We caught up with them to give us a broad brush on what each painting course offers.

Pen & Wash Painting with Tony Haskell

Q Tony, what is pen and wash?

It’s a well known and commonly used technique popular with artists from Rembrandt to Tissot.  It involves etching or drawing in pencil or ink, sloshing the colours on, then drawing in crisp lines.  It’s that simple.  You just need a bit of ink, a bit of colour and within an hour you can create something quite remarkable.

Q Who is the course suitable for?

Beginners are welcome as they get going really quickly – you learn a lot in a short space of time, including losing fear of putting paint on paper.

Each member of the group gets at least 45 minutes of one-to-one tuition during the painting holiday so it’s a great way to pick up skills fast in a friendly and non-pressured environment.

Q What does the course involve?

I’d liken the experience to taking a quick snapshot of a scene. We sketch an outline in pen for about ten minutes and go through choosing and mixing colours.  The group also focuses on perspective and composition which is very important and helps people loosen up.

Q What do you paint?

We travel to a number of locations on the Lizard Peninsula to paint different types of rural buildings as architecture is my specialism, including farm yards, churches, cottages and the like, and we have lunch.  Most of the locations have a car park and toilets too, which is a great bonus.

Q What is a common obstacle experienced by novice painters?

If I had a pound for every time someone ran out of paper I’d be a millionaire! What I mean by that is when approaching the page a lot of beginners forget composition.

They focus on detail before sketching the whole picture out.  When it’s too late, they realise their church spire won’t fit on the page. I help students overcome this common problem.

Q What can someone expect from the holiday?

Usually people return to Mullion Cove Hotel full of beans and enthusiasm and by the end of the course there’s some very good work created.  By the end of each session, people have worked up an appetite so it’s nice to chat about the day in the Glenbervie Bar or Atlantic View Restaurant afterwards.

Tony’s Top Tips for Beginners:

  • Contemplate the angles and structure of a building before you put pen to paper
  • Be aware of composition and how your painting will fit the page
  • Paint with other people around to familiarise yourself with the feeling
  • Folding chairs with no arms are great for painting easily and comfortably

Ten Minute Teaser: Tom Jones on  how to paint stone and bricks:

Seascape Painting with Ray Balkwill

Q Ray, what’s your biggest painting passion?

I paint marine subjects and landscapes in watercolours, pastels and oils and love painting en plein air. My main objective is to capture the mood and spirit of a place and that’s what I try to inspire within my students.

Q Is your painting holiday suitable for beginners?

No, my sessions are suited to intermediate or experienced painters only who are confident working outside.

Q What types of mixed media can people use?

Artists can use water and pastels, oils and charcoal sketching. To be honest I leave the choice open to students, which allows painters to find their own voice.  I demonstrate using different mediums each day to give people options and encouragement.

Talland Bay – Mixed Media

Q What does the course involve?

We travel to different locations across the Lizard to paint beautiful marine scenes that are truly exclusive to Cornwall during which I offer demonstrations and tutoring.

For sites a little further afield the group tends to car share.  In the evenings we undertake critiques and I give a power point lecture in Mullion Cove Hotel’s purpose-built studio. Non-painting partners are also welcome to attend these.

Q What do you paint during the course?

A great plus point for the Lizard is that all our painting spots are only within 15-20 minutes of each other so they’re right on Mullion Cove Hotel’s doorstep.  This means there’s a great range of marine scenes to capture from the harbours of Porthleven and Coverak to the estuaries of Gweek and the Helford, and the coasts of Mullion and Kynance.

Pounding Surf – Mixed Media

Q What if it rains?

Inclement weather never stops the class!  Instead, I encourage students to nip out and take some photos or bring some with them to the course.  Alternatively, artists can work from their own sketchbooks or choose imagery they’ve downloaded on an iPad to create some unique work.

Q What can someone expect from your painting holiday in Cornwall?

Being in a group of like-minded people is very rewarding.  It builds confidence which plays a big part in painting.  Every artist needs feedback and encouragement and that’s what I offer during this painting break.

Ray’s Top Tips on Composition:

  • Search for the form in everything
  • Simplify lengthy observations
  • Try to keep a restful area somewhere in every painting
  • Look for harmonies in composition, shape and tone


Dartmoor – Mixed Media


During this month, Ray will be filming his next DVD in Cornwall which will be available for sale next year with an accompanying book named Travelling Light.

In the mean time, get a flavour of Ray in action: Painting Estuary Moods.

Book Today

For more information about each of our painting holidays and to book, please choose one of these links:

Limited spaces are available so make sure you secure your place!

September 16, 2013 No Comments by Mullion Cove Hotel