Back Once Again With The Renegade Master…


IMG_8409It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since I last spent the day painting in Penzance with Glyn Macey. In fact it was a year ago that I came to a one day workshop held by the local acrylic legend. That day was a beauty as you can see if you look back through the photos from last time and today we were treated to the best of Cornish spring sunshine again. After the initial introductions and a quick coffee we grabbed our pre-packed matching painting bags and along with easels headed out en masse in search of a subject. Five wannabe painters and the professional artist let loose down Chapel Street and making a beeline for The Jubilee Pool. Not for a swim of course although we later encountered plenty of open sea swimmers who apparently go in right through the year!? Glyn was guiding us to Battery Rocks, a sheltered spot behind the Eastern wall of the Jubilee Pool which with its reflective whitewashed walls, level concrete path and epic views has to be one of the best plein air painting spots on the planet. Glyn has really got these days down to a fine art (forgive me) with our bags packed with exactly matching kit, the bare-minimum-travel-light painting set with just what you need and no more. We set up the easels in a line with Glyn setting up just in front of us so we could follow his lead. Even though I’d ‘done’ this before I felt like I was learning all over again and this is down to Glyn’s simple no-nonsense approach to explaining what he does. I’d liken the process to Glyn handing me the keys to his way of doing painting (now I just need to figure out how to drive the thing – I digress). This was a great refresher of things we’d gone over last time and while I’d forgotten most of it, Glyn was very consistent with the previous course.

Just being outdoors in Penzance with all the painting kit makes you feel like a legitimate artist regardless of what kind of painting you make. The buildings are sensational and the Kodak moment views are everywhere you look.

I was happy with the fruits of my morning’s labour and was pleased to have a painting looking something like the view (although we were as much trying to capture the feel of the place as the scene).


St. Michael’s Mount from Battery Rocks – Alex Simmons 2018

Happy with my efforts and ready for a rest, from out of nowhere Kerry (Glyn’s wife) appeared carrying old apple crates laden with hot pasties fresh from her oven and likewise warm saffron buns. We sat on the rocks chatting and eating pasties washed away with glasses of Rattler in a true Cornish dream. Even the seagulls just calmly gazed at us, no hustling us to hand over the grub. One great aspect of these workshops is meeting other people with interesting stories who are there to learn too. After a spectacular lunch we headed back to the studio for something completely different. Glyn set about showing us more techniques and we gradually built up an evocative harbour scene with a bit of collage and some deep blues etc. The paintings kind of emmerged from layers of seemingly wrong colours which when complete suddenly become right.


Harbour Walls – Alex Simmons 2018


Day Two

The walk to the studio is fascinating enough just checking out the buildings and exploring back streets.

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After the quick catch-up and coffee we wasted no time in heading off on the two minute walk down from the studio in Chapel Street to The Abbey Slip where (Glyn tells us Stanhope Forbes had stood and painted many years before – so no pressure then).  The sky was a much more subdued cloudy affair today and with the tide in creating a deep green pool to reflect the iconic buildings and skyline of Penzance we faced a tricky challenge for the second morning. We pitched our easels on the slipway and again followed Glyn’s lead with some more insight into composition and how to tackle such a complex scene. My drawing went ok and I was pleased with my painting but the time flew and in some ways it felt like I was just getting going when we needed to head on up for lunch. I will definitely return to try again as I felt I was really learning. I’d love to try a sunny day, or if I’m feeling brave even a night which Glyn tells us can be great with all the lights… hmm?



Abbey Slip, Penzance – Alex Simmons 2018


Today’s lunch was a lovely picnic in the studio with super scotch eggs and sausage rolls, cake and clotted cream! (More Rattler too!) Lovely! In the afternoon we tackled a different subject and painted a picture on it’s side mostly. We built up layers to create a sea and beach scene which again was a really useful exercise. I found everything that we tried a bit of a revelation and hope to weave all the techniques into my toolkit for future paintings.

Two fantastic days learning and having fun with great people in a lovely place. What’s not to like?


More information about Glyn Macey and his workshops can be found by clicking here… 

With sincere apologies to Fat Boy Slim for twisting his perfectly good lyric into my tenuous title!


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