Mark has been involved in education for over twenty years. Having worked with schools, colleges, universities, art groups, independent school residency programs and individual tuition at all levels. He has delivered talks on art history and his own practice in museums and galleries. Working with Newlyn School of Art he delivered a range of landscape workshops and was involved with the mentoring course. He has continued to run workshops at his studios for the past ten years. His passion and obsession with the creative process, landscape, painting, drawing, art history, poetry and the human experience are all hugely important in his own practice and this is the fuel that drives his teaching. The intention is to meet whoever he is working with where they find themselves and help them to discover or develop their own voice through the visual language, which can be surprising and is always exhilarating.
If you are involved with an art group, college, school, university and wish to discuss working with Mark in some way please get in touch. He does travel extensively and we will endeavour to make something possible.
CORNISH LANDSCAPE PAINTING COURSE WORKSHOP DATES FOR 2017
Oct 20th, 21st, 22nd cost £240 places available (1)
Over the three days we will be focused on a visual, emotional and physical response to the natural environment of West Penwith with the aim of engaging with and capturing the human experience of landscape, helping to develop your own visual language thus allowing for a very personal response to this raw elemental landscape. The five day workshop in July will allow further development of work back in the studio environment.
Time will be spent out in the landscape of West Penwith working with everything the landscape has to offer. Paintings and drawings are often taken back to the studio and developed further with a more considered approach to resolving works. The workshops are fluid and is never a ridged formula, it responds to weather condition and what students are producing and what their needs might be, this approach has led to people returning many times to further their practice. Students are actively encouraged to use natural materials collected from the landscape including soils and simple tools in their painting process. This workshop encourages an experimental approach to landscape painting which will enable students to see the process of painting in a broader more intuitive way.
Where to meet:
Please meet at Studio 15 Trewidden, Buryas Bridge, Penzance, TR20 8TT. 10am start.
All skill levels, from beginners to those with more experience. A reasonable level of fitness is required as the workshops will include walking up to three miles during the day. The walk is broken up and the group will be stopping at different places to make work. If you have any concerns or doubts re: fitness and appropriateness, please ask whether this workshop is for you.
What to bring:
A5 Sketchbook and a couple of pencils. All paints and other materials are provided. Please bring sturdy walking books and waterproofs. The workshops is for experimentation and somewhere to find the edges for this reason old clothes are recommended.
Please bring a packed lunch.
£240.00 for the three days including materials - fee payable at the time of booking.
£400.00 for the five days including materials - fee payable at the time of booking.
For further detail and bookings please use the contact page.
Telegraph article written by Max Davidson
Easel? What easel? Mark Spray, artist of the Cornish landscape, wackiest course tutor west of Exeter, doesn't do easels. He is happiest in the great outdoors, easel-less, striding into the distance with a rucksack on his back, great clumps of mud on his boots and drizzle in the air.
Forget Rembrandt. Forget Damien Hirst. This is art as rambling: a gloriously unstructured conversation with Mother Nature, featuring wind, waves, prawn sandwiches and a few jokes.
There are four of us on the three-day Cornish Landscape course: me, the out-and-out novice; Sue, the ruddy-faced farmer's wife with hidden depths; Jerry, a picture framer who has a sideline in painting fishing boats; and Paul, a professional local artist. Each of us has a very different agenda, but with Mark as our leader, setting off from the car park at a cracking pace like a burly Fifties scoutmaster, we sense adventure in the air. We could be the Famous Five on a sketching holiday, bounding through the heather with the sea beckoning in the distance.
We pass a stream, a couple of muddy fields, a whitewashed cottage with a crab-apple tree in the garden, then start zigzagging down a steep valley towards the beach. A horse watches us from the side of the hill with a bored expression. He has seen it all before. Amateur painters are two a penny in this part of Cornwall.
"Stop!" says Mark, as we come to a clearing in the heather. "I want you to spend a couple of minutes sketching that group of rocks. It will free you up. Just draw what is in front of you."
As we get out our sketch pads, I can feel a couple of spots of rain. "Just mizzle," says Mark cheerfully. He doesn't like sun, he tells me: his paintings, some of which sell for thousands, are symphonies in grey, poetic in their bleakness.
I look at the rocks, do a few squiggles on the pad, think better of them, do a few more squiggles and end up with something that looks like a plate of spaghetti. "That's brave," says Mark, looking over my shoulder. I puff out my chest and feel as if I have won the VC. Sue, whose squiggles look like the back end of a cow, is also commended on her bravery, and blushes prettily. Paul and Jerry, though not given gallantry medals, are praised, encouraged, soothed with honeyed words. As we relax into our task, the spirit of comradeship is tangible. Whether or not we are producing Art with a capital A, we certainly are having Fun with a capital F.
A few more sketches, done on the hoof, as if we were grazing sheep, and we have reached our destination, a little rocky plateau overlooking the beach. We stretch out big squares of paper, held down by rocks, and set to work with a bewildering selection of tools: pencils, brushes, charcoal sticks, oil sticks, spray guns, paints of various colours. For a novice, it is a daunting assignment, and I keep casting hopeful glances at Mark, expecting Handy Tips for the Beginner. But, as I am fast learning, this is not a neatly structured course, painting-by-numbers: it is a more challenging, more exhilarating process.
"I'm not normally a confident person," says Sue, beaming all over her face. "But I'm starting to get the hang of it."
"This is taking me right out of my comfort zone," says Jerry, rolling up his sleeves. "But that's what I wanted."
"It's the real thing," says Paul, with a note of fervour. "I spent five years at art school, but learnt next to nothing. Getting outside, testing yourself in unfamiliar surroundings, is far more satisfying."
The rain is holding off, just, but the wind howls, the waves crash against the rocks and the seagulls caw, as if in protest. I will be glad of my picnic lunch – prawn sandwiches and a can of cider – when the time comes. It is not a day for fair-weather painters.
To our left, the coastline snakes away towards Land's End, shrouded in mist, and we can just make out the ghostly silhouette of the Longships lighthouse. To our right, a couple of ramblers, rugged up against the elements, inch their way around the headland.
"Not bad," says one of them, looking at my apology for a Cornish landscape, and I feel a little tic of disappointment. From brave to not bad in the space of half an hour! Who would be a painter in Cornwall?
Quite a lot of people, it would seem. Our course is just one of a range offered by the up-and-coming Newlyn School of Art, a not-for-profit organisation launched last autumn on the back of a £30,000 grant from the Arts Council. It is the brainchild of a local artist, Henry Garfit, and with its cutting-edge contemporary tutors, challenges the longer-established, more conservative St Ives School of Art, 10 miles to the north.
Newlyn is the biggest fishing port in Britain and, for the first-time visitor, it is the fishing industry – struggling but refusing to buckle – that gives the town its character. Colourful boats of every description bob up and down in the harbour; the woman in the chip shop has a sea horse the size of a haddock tattooed on her arm; while the regulars at the Swordfish pub look like characters from Moby Dick, gnarled and weather-beaten. Cats slink down cobbled streets, lured by the smell of rotting mackerel.
It is a great place to visit, year in, year out, and if the Newlyn School of Art is new, painters have been flocking to the town since the late 19th century, when there was a Newlyn School of painters, led by Stanhope Forbes. Bohemianism is in the air, and everyone seems to want a piece of it, from the man sitting with his sketch pad in the picturesque fishing village of Mousehole, just south of Newlyn, to the woman I chat to in the pub, who makes mirrors out of driftwood in her garage.
"Art is the one thing that lets you be as selfish as you like and nobody will mind," says Mark Spray, whose aphorisms are as vivid as his paintings. He exhorts us to "push it", find our own "visual vocabulary" and "meditate on our experience"; and, if there is a part of me wishing he would just tell me which way up to hold a paintbrush, there is no mistaking the enthusiasm that is starting to ripple through the group.
We spend our first two days in the open air, tramping across the moors, sketching ancient stone circles, sitting on harbour walls, chomping sandwiches, swapping stories, cracking jokes; then, on the third day, we work at the Newlyn School of Art itself, a converted primary school with a high-roofed studio. We are here to consolidate what we have done on the first two days, i.e. attempt to convert our alfresco squiggles into paintings we could take home and display on our kitchen walls. But if there is a greater sense of concentration now, the fun shows no sign of abating.
Sue, so shy to begin with, hurls handfuls of earth at her painting to give it texture. ("I love your bravery, Sue," says the ever-encouraging Mark.) Jerry sets to work with a hairdryer, a standard accessory in painting circles. Paul clambers up on a table and starts waving a broom about like a policeman directing traffic. (No, he hasn't lost the plot: he is just trying to shoo away a starling that has flown in through the window).
What chaos! What camaraderie! What a wonderfully quirky introduction to bohemian Cornwall! My spaghetti-like squiggles may now look like a blurred cartoon of the Crucifixion, but Paul and Jerry have produced solid, craftsmanlike work, while Sue has played a blinder: a well-textured landscape that would grace any farmhouse.
"One minute you're being reticent, the next you're jumping off cliffs," says Mark, with fatherly approval. As we head off to the pub, there are smiles on every face.