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The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

Norfolk Painting School artist in residence , Martin Kinnear on the amazing artistic benefits of learning to see the world from different perspectives.

Oscar Wilde - he of the doughnut quote - had it right. How we choose to see the world matters.

Seeing is a fundamental skill for artists, so it always amazes me that so many

decide not to look as soon as something they don't appreciate or understand comes into view, which is why I'm so thrilled by the amazing - not let's say it - transformational - work created by Norfolk Painting School students.

So I'd like to start this newsletter/ blog (maybe we need a new word - this 'Newsblog'), with this amazingly motivational quote from one of our community.

'Wow, something about Joan Mitchell has really hit a chord with me, it is amazing how much confidence I have gained since signing on to Studio Talk.'

Joan Mitchell chose to see - and paint - the world in a way that our students found 'expressive' , 'exciting' , 'liberating' and 'enjoyable', to quote just a few of their letters to us.

So if you don't find your painting expressive, liberating, enjoyable or exciting then it may be that she - and we - have something transformational to share with you.

Re-learning to see the world in a fresh way is the single biggest step you can make towards reinvigorating your painting practice, and incidentally the Raison d'être behind our most popular service StudioTalk

All subjects - all genres - a recent StudioTalk demo

StudioTalk is a weekly community art club demonstration, with a remit to keep everybody engaged with useful and instructive painting projects.

We do landscapes, still lives, interiors, portraits, and abstraction. We also do all periods - this week was a classic Constable which could easily have been painted by any Caravaggisti from 1600 forwards and just the week before we were in the colourful 20th century.

Engaged by StudioTalk? Once you just love a subject and want to make it your own, we have practical intermediate Focus On courses that show you exactly how to do that.

More Help? We offer our classic Simply Oils program - the best way to check you are doing it right since 2007.

More Creative inspiration? Then that would be our Masterclass program with its showcases of great artists and the best paintings in their style?

Three easy ways to transform how you see the world.

1: Use a Value Plan - the most famous is chiaroscuro, but there are many others. We teach Value planing on the Classical Skills module of our Simply Oils Course and use it in almost all of our classical masterclasses and relevant Focus On Courses - look for ones with a traditional bias such as the new Nocturnes course.
This week's StudioTalk challenged students ideas about Value

What members are saying

'Oh gosh, here is my study of Constables Weymouth Bay. I stopped short of the finish because achieving the chiaroscuro effect blew my mind. I need to think about it for a while.'

'I was so absorbed in painting this, so enjoyed it, and would never have tried the style if it weren't for Martin and the Norfolk Painting School !'

2. Use a Colour Plan - painting the colours you need rather than just the ones you observe, puts you in creative control. Its not intuitive so we teach this on all of our Focus On Colour courses and you'll see it in practice on almost any contemporary Masterclass.
Composition and and abstraction - our most popular StudioTalk this year?
3. Use a Compositional strategy - slavishly painting what you see simply puts the subject in charge, but composition is difficult, so many artists don't have the confidence to challenge what they observe. With this in mind compositional design is central to most of our contemporary masterclasses.

What members are saying

'Joan Mitchell take two. Martin’s method, with thanks. It is a challenge to let go of it being something and let it be abstract. I hear Martin saying “what do you want the painting to achieve?”.'

'Study of ‘Sunflowers 1969’ after Mitchell/Kinnear. I used an old 20x30 inch textured gesso board. Really enjoyed doing this one but found I could have so easily over egged it (if I haven’t already ) so had to make myself STOP. Thank you Martin and Bryony found this one very thought provoking !!!!'

Focus On Impressionist Landscape our new class is transforming member's work

What members are saying

'Focus On Impressionist Landscape. Thanks Martin, absolutely wonderful class, packed full of information. Coffee break halfway through the class I looked around the garden and suddenly saw all the colours as warm and cool, like a switch in my mind allowed my eyes to see colour temperature. I have known and thought about colour temperature for years, but never been able to see it so clearly. So Thank You a real breakthrough for me.'

'Just beginning to understand how much "value" can be achieved with a good choice of camaieu or imprimatura. This Focus session has been great for freeing up brush marks - brilliant demos, thank you'

Quick Links to change how you see the world

StudioTalk - weekly inspiration - now half price for a one month trial membership for a limited time. Find out More

Focus On - In depth technical courses for intermediate painters, take one or take a full structured year's tuition. Find Out More

Masterclasses - one off insights into great artists and their greatest works including a how to do it step by step. Find Out More

A huge thank you to all of our clever , creative, talented and hard working Members who write to us each and every day, and whom I have chosen to quote anonymously - you make it all worthwhile.


  • Read all of our member's reviews on our Norfolk Painting School, and Norfolk Painting School StudioTalk Facebook Pages

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1 Comment

Audrey Davenport
Audrey Davenport
Mar 12, 2021

All three comments are so true but the third intrigues me as I am sure all of us have joined NPS because we want to keep changing to further our art. I’ve signed on for the portraits just because until lockdown I had never been drawn to the intrigue of the human face, only to animals and their anima. Look forward to it hugely. Loved the Peploe but my Constable sky

needs something special that’s missing after yesterday’s really absorbing attempt so. It’s a case of if at first......etc. Love. the variation and challenge so thank you Martin for all your teaching skills and the trouble you take to make us improve not just our painting but our thought proce…

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