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Diane Kettle Studio News
April 2014 and earlier
New studio
 •  Painting trip to Spain •  Mobile Art studio • Group show • Oil painting

This is just occasional news from my studio and definitely not a blog. I would much rather be painting than sitting here at a keyboard, so the updates to this page will never occur on a daily basis! My own working studio is open most weekends or when I’m around during the week, but if you are making a special journey to see me please phone first to make sure I’m in and not down the dale painting! 

December 2014
I hope that you will all have a very Happy Christmas.

This year I have decided to hibernate for the cold winter months of January and February and start my classes in March when hopefully most of the cold weather will be behind us.

The Youlgrave classes need to be booked for the whole term, as we are following structured sessions.   The life drawing class in Bakewell still has the drop in option. I shall look forward to seeing you again soon  Timetable letter as a printable PDF file here
This is the first time that I have not worked in, or been at, a school or college since the age of five.!!!  So I need not keep to school terms!!!.

At the end of January I will be attending a 3D course in Wales and in February an abstract course in St Ives.  

September 2014
hope that you have all had a good summer.   I’ve been away a lot in my camper van,, Wild Wales on zip wires and the world’s largest underground trampoline,  sailing silently down the River Teme in a coracle.  Sunny Norfolk and attending the End of the Pier Show in Cromer.   At Sandringham art show I even attended a Bob Ross’ paint a picture in 35 mins’ and came out with a glittery snow scene.

My barn studio is up and running (see below), much to my delight, and is called Kettle’s Folly  (due to the fact that my daughters thought it a waste of money )

Unfortunately the prices of the life classes have risen this year as the cost of hiring the halls have increased and model’s fees risen  I had managed to hold them at the same price for 11 years.   As before, if you pay £120 you can come to both classes.

I've also started two new general art classes which are themed each week to develop and enjoy learning new techniquess.  These classes are more or less full now.  Have a look at my class timetable for the Autumn.

Studio finished !!!
I'm really pleased to say that my new studio is now in operation.  Each dayI walk along the lane to the studio with Molly and Tilly and enjoy the peaceful ambience of this private space.  The Derbyshire wildlife is abundant all around.  The space is perfect for painting, light and airy. with such a high ceiling. It feels so good to have achieved a lifetime ambition in such a beautiful place. Thank you to all my friends who have helped to make this dream a reality. Your contributions of your time and various materials and furnishings will always be appreciated.  You can see from the photos below that I'm already making use of the space and enjoying every minute!

I am organising a trip with students over to Spain during the Easter Holiday to Tom Brown’s studio.  
Fourth visit  - need I say more?

So if you are interested in joining me please let me know as the places are limited.

New roof with insulation. New windows and doors. External walls pointed leaving holes for nesting birds and bats.  Electrics installed but not connected,. Internal walls rendered giving an open airy feeling to my new work space. Many artists have told me that moving out of the home environment into a dedicated artist studio space promotes new creativity. I can't wait. 

A stable car parking area exists but my real proposals for the natural landscaping will have to wait until  next summer.







My main arty news is the purchase of a redundant stone barn which will eventually become my art studio.   It is about a 10 minute walk from my house in a lovely location overlooking fields and just
above Kenslow Wood.   The roof had fallen in and that has just been repaired so it is just about water-tight ready for this winter.   A lot more work has to be done on it….a floor to be put in  a bat loft to be constructed !   drains to be laid   Doors and new windows put in.   It might be finished by next summer.   So then I will have plenty of room to paint   I will even be able to use my big studio easel and stand up to paint.   I shall feel like a real artist.

PAINTING IN SPAIN Sunday 28th April - Saturday 4th May 2013
Last February 2012 half term I visited Tom Browns Studio in Spain for another painting course…taking some students with me.   I am going again with students in 2013 .. Tom will create a special course according to the needs of the students - CONTACT ME FOR DETAILS, This my fourth visit - need I say more. If my course is full there may be other weeks and other courses at Tom's where I guarantee you would be made very welcome.

During May and June I had exhibitions in Middleton and Youlgrave during the well dressing times.   The Middleton well dressing was a portrait on the Queen.   I have sold most of my coastal painting that I did last year from my travels around the coast line of Britain.   This summer I carried on my journey from Bristol around the coast line to Fowey in Cornwall.   So I have spent many a happy hour drawing and sketching around Somerset ,Devon and Cornwall.   We have such a beautiful coast line…why go abroad ?  I only had three really rainy days when I couldn’t draw out of my whole summer holidays.

I had to revisit my favourite bit of coast line this summer as well, the Lleyn Pennsula. 

Naomi, my daughter, had another baby boy in April .   So I have three grandsons and one granddaughter.   My granddaughter Purdy won an art competition in Kenilworth where she lives.  She drew a fantastic portrait of the Queen for a Diamond Jubilee  exhibition and won first prize.  This was open for all school children in her town.

Another summer has passed by too quickly. This year I have completed my camper van trips to the South-Western corner of the British Isles. Starting at the Bristol Chanel and going along the coast line through Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and finishing off at Fowey where I stopped last year.
I've continued with another trip to North Wales visiting places at a more leisurely pace.

I have become a grandmother again. Naomi had another little boy called Henry. So four grandchildren in total

October I visited Ireland again  and joined in with the music festival in Gort  near Galway.   Met up with all my old friends again and filled another  sketch book with portraits of the musicians.

My landscape classes will restart in the summer of 2013

I was in Spain with six of my students on a Tom Brown painting course during the Easter holiday 2012 which has been specially organised for artists from Derbyshire.  His courses concentrate on and encourage personal artistic development making them suitable for artists of all abilities.  I suggest you check his website for his other painting courses in Spain   The location is stunning with great cuisine and studio facilities. Another of my students is visiting Tom in May on his fifth visit for a painting course there. This has been be my third visit with students from my own art classes - need I say more?

If you wish to come with me to Spain next year 2013 or visit Tom on a painting course then get in touch with me.


The October 2011 half term I spent sketching in Ireland mainly at the Cooley Collins music festival…I loved listening to the plaintive or mad Irish Reels as I drew the musicians.   Over the three years they have got used to me drawing them, and I have left quite a few sketches back in Gort.

Over Easter 2011 I took my daughter Rachel and my two grandchildren Purdy and Jake  to the Gower Peninsular in Wales.  Only a quarter of a sketch book used.   It was so hot and sunny that I found it difficult to draw and paint. (see examples )  lots of looking for marine life in the rock pools .

I visited the island of Gozo this February at half term to get some winter sunshine and to paint.  A lovely relaxed and safe island for an artist on her own.  I felt totally safe walking about the island.   The island is very small and every thing is in walking distance.  I really enjoyed sketching in museums, archeological sites, beaches and cliff tops.



This summer I completed two coastal trips in my camper van. The camper was custom built for me as an art studio and has living space for my two dogs.  For many years I’ve been intending to travel the coastline of the UK. I miss the sea, living as I do, in the middle of England.  I wanted to see my island home and be able to travel the coastline of the British Isles, painting and sketching on the way.

My sketchbooks are bound cartridge paper about A5. Using watercolour pencils, paints and ink pens I filled a few books with drawings and notes of my travels. Often I forgot to take a digital reference picture, photography is something I’ve not come to rely upon yet but the memories reinforced with sketching are good enough.   In practice, the day to day task of living and travelling meant that I didn’t complete any large paintings on site on any trip. Now that I am familiar with the camper and process of moving home every hour

 I’m sure that future trips will less rushed and offer quality time for larger paintings of the coastline.

The first foray started at Cardiff and ended at the Solway Firth four weeks later.

Then I enjoyed North Norfolk to Dungeness in Kent

If you have experiences of travelling the coast with painting in mind then I would like to hear from you ... get in touch ....

I’m expecting to take three or four summers on this project.

Group Exhibition at Gallery Topp
Some of my contemporary landscape works were displayed in a group exhibition called 'Survey' at Gallery Topp at Rowsley, Derbyshire.

14 July 2009 Molly had pups
My daughters and 3 grandchildren visited and played endlessly with 5 black cocker spaniel puppies. What a houseful! I was exhausted when they left. Predictably, I have kept one pup and named her Tillie Kettle. A painter of the same sounding name, Tilly Kettle (1735 - 1786) was a well known portrait painter in his lifetime and the first English painter to work in India. He was born in London, the son of a coach painter. I fondly imagine he was a relation of mine and hope to come across him in my ongoing genealogical research of my own family, who lived in the same area in the same period. Watch this space!

Learning the recorder
I've always enjoyed traditional folk music and this year I felt I should do something new-  outside my comfort zone, as they say. A friend gave me a recorder and a tin whistle so I set about learning to read music and play the instruments. After several months of weekly lessons I have made some progress but it is really hard going for me. I'm quite sure my visual perception is more developed than any auditory abilities! Molly my cocker spaniel still hides under the table as soon as I put the school sheet music on the mantelpiece to have ten minutes practice before my next art student arrives!  My daughter Rachel demonstrated on her recent visit that she can play much better than I can, even though she hasn't played since school about fifteen years ago.

Open Art Derbyshire
I opened my studio and gallery for this annual summer event and met many friends and talked to all visitors about my methods of working.

Youlgrave well dressing week exhibition
I took over the entire Methodist chapel for an exhibition of over a hundred paintings and prints during the well dressing week. 

Middleton Well Dressing
The theme this year was 'Sounds of Middleton' for which I designed the central panel. Some of my students came to help and had a go at petalling. A real labour of love, thousands of petals go into to making the well dressing.  Making artworks that involve the repetition of small marks and gestures over a long period of time can be a very satisfying experience. Each tiny petal is insignificant, but every one contributes to the final composition. The process of building a picture from thousands of tiny strokes and movements of the hand gives opportunity to watch how such a picture or composition emerges over days of work. Impressionist painters often used small brush strokes to interpret their scenes on canvas. These small steps are in contrast to the sudden emergence of drawings that are created in life class where we may work quickly with large decisive mark making.

In March 2009 I returned to abstract painting attending a course tutored by Brian Ryder in Norfolk. I completed a couple of large pictures but predictably I was not pleased with them.  They were based on the theme of 'Holiday' I pursued the idea of a map incorporating some collage words. I take these small steps in abstract painting each year.  Perhaps I will get there eventually. Satisfaction in abstract painting is elusive for me but I won't give up. Realism is a comfortable hat to wear and sells well here in the Derbyshire Peak District.

Oils revisited
I've raked out my old oil paints again and managed to get the caps off the tubes with the help of hot water.  Something fresh to work with and a different medium for new works. 
A day with John McCoombs NDD, ROI, RBA, FRSA, MAFA inspired me to make this move. It isn't often that I get the chance to take a whole day to myself and work on something new in the company and tutorship of a Royal Institute of Oil Painters guru.  The weather was rough so we all painted inside the gallery at Saddleworth using John's landscape photographs. At least the lighting remained the same all day! No cows to lick the paint from the board. Inspiring is a word overused by artists but that is how I felt on leaving for home that day. I've replenished my stock of oils, bought a pochade box and intend to keep it in my car for landscape sketches whenever the opportunity arises.

Ruddock's Art Store
Lincoln provided the location for a Roy Ridsdale RCA life drawing master class recently. I painted several torso paintings during the day and enjoyed being on the other side of the easel for a change.

life drawing class

life model

My own tutored life drawing classes in Bakewell and Ashover  are ongoing. Check the schedule

Sometime I'll photograph or scan some student work and get a page or two published on this website so that you may see the standard of work achieved. We enjoy a great variety of age, gender and physique with my regular models .

All day tutored sessions allow more complex works. Book your place now for the next session! 01629 636763

We often have a man and woman team pose together for us at the Bakewell class and sometimes at the all day at Youlgrave.  This is always well received and inspires some great drawings and paintings from students.  

Diane abstract painting

Abstract again - After a Chatsworth sculpture visit , a group of my associates met in Youlgrave for an afternoon workshop on the principles and theory of abstract painting.  Our tutor was Tim Rose, a British artist who in a former life was an abstract painter. He is now a highly regarded  watercolourist whose pictures depict mainly architectural subjects. However, on this occasion he and we pursued his fondly held idea that anyone could produce an acceptable abstract painting in an afternoon using basic principles of dominant and sub-dominant shapes, colours and tones.  Eveybody went home with a completed abstract painting that day. Most of these treasured works were completed in acrylic on card in about an hour. Acrylic paints dry quickly on card so we had plenty of time to make corrections and inspired enhancements to our masterpieces!


Remember to email me if you wish to be on my mail list for occasional reminders and updates.


I organise painting weekends and days where Peak District  holidaymakers and painters are accommodated in bed and breakfast locally, with personal tuition in my own studio at Middleton by Youlgrave, Derbyshire . They agree a few hours tuition with me, spread out over their time on holiday, and paint in or near the village.  Couples or small groups can share the tuition time. Additional tuition can also be arranged. Everything is very flexible. More information on the painting on holiday page.


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best wishes - Diane Kettle