2019 newsletter, with 2020 dates and prices

Dear friends,

The 2019 season is over. Despite having to cope with exceptionally hot weather, both sessions went well. A number of old stagers declared their session to be “the best ever“. New students, who came here from either USA or Scandinavia, were equally enthusiastic, most vowing that they would be returning in 2020. It is always a pleasure to see returnees many of whom have become valued friends and the new dynamic brought by newcomers is always welcome. One innovation was giving  my talks towards the end of the day and restricting them to a maximum of only half an hour.

Two innovations were forced on us:

  • As Hélène was not available to provide breakfast at her house, we started the day at La Baladin de la Gresigne, with its capacious terrace and its panoramic views (see photos below). Food was served by the much appreciated Frederique.
  • Angela, who has cooked marvelous mid session meals for nearly thirty years, is not so young as she was and decided to call it a day. As a replacement we decided to take students to a restaurant. We chose La Cabanon in the neighbouring medieval hilltop town of Puycelsi. While all who knew Angela will have missed her cooking, the innovative menu produced by the young chef at La Cabanon was much enjoyed and, as a bonus, we benefited from the chance to do a little tourism. Nobody will be surprised that we plan to do the same combination next year.

As usual my daughter Katherine provided the meals on the first, second and last days. As usual, her her beautifully presented and delicious offerings received many compliments.

For your enjoyment I have gathered a small selection of photos that students and others provided over the summer and I have made a slideshow of them. Sorry there are important omissions but that is what happens if you rely on others with their own agenda. Apologies to anyone who has been left out. It is hard to focus on taking photos and teaching at the same time.



Next year we have to face up to the fact of Sarah’s departure on a two year MFA course in Boston University. She has been a wonderful help for me and to students over many years now. To replace her as best I can, I have invited two former students to help with the teaching. Both studied with me early on in their career as artists. Cathy Layzell first experienced my teaching some twenty years ago when I was teaching sessions in Norfolk, England. Later she came out to Montmiral a number of times. She is now an established artist living in South Africa. Ken Marunowski came to Montmiral for the first of several sessions some ten years ago, before deciding to dedicate his life to painting and is now an exhibiting artist.  Both have experience of teaching. A paragraph and photos introducing them now replaces the one about Sarah at bottom of the “Structure of Workshops” page of this website.

Finally, we have updated the “Booking Information” page.  To meet additional costs, we have decided to to increase the price of coming by €30. We have also decided on the dates for next year, which are slightly different to previous years:

  • Saturday 20 June – Saturday 4 July 2019
  • Saturday 18 July – Saturday 1 August 2019

Notice there will only be two weeks, instead of three, between sessions. One student pointed out that it will make it easier for those like her who wish to come for two sessions.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible next summer.

Warmest regards,



Some more photos for your enjoyment

The other day I took some photos from the terrace of the “Baladin de la Gresigne” where the students now meet for their breakfast. The sunflowers are no longer in their full glory but I think you will agree that the views remain splendid. The photo of the facade was taken some while ago.

Newsletter september 2019
The front entrance of La Baladin de la Gresigne.
Newsletter september 2019
Looking across the fields from the terrace of the “Baladin de la Gresigne”.
Newsletter september 2019
The fading sunflower field that was such a feast of yellows earlier in the year.
Newsletter september 2019
The ancient forest of La Gresigne: Classified as one of the “Great Forests” of Europe.
Newsletter september 2019
A house in the valley.
Newsletter september 2019
A corner of the terrace at the “Baladin de la Gresigne”.




January 2019 newsletter

Hello everybody,
I hope you all received my New Year’s Greetings e-card (copy below). A big thank you to all those who sent greetings to me and Sarah. In case you missed it, I am sending it again here along with the two images that go with it, one of the new back facade of the Painting School and the other our New Year’s greetings card. For your pleasure, I have also added four images of paintings by my friend Stefan Stachowicz, including the one features on the card.
2019 Newsletter
Oil painting by my friend Stefan Stachowicz, fellow student of Professor Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, made in the late 1960s
You will find the three other images of Stefan’s paintings below.

The January 2019 newsletter for Painting School students

Hello everybody,
As always in January, I am sending a newsletter to remind you of the dates for the coming season. They are:
Saturday 15 June – Saturday 29 June.
Saturday 20 July – Saturday 3 August.
Other details can be found on the website bookings page.
I am hoping to see as many old faces as possible, particularly since there is some doubt as to whether it will be possible to continue having sessions in 2020. So far, bookings are very encouraging, so please let me know as soon as possible if you want to come.
A big change that will occur in 2019 concerns Helene Ancelet who no longer wants to be tied to making her house available to us in June and July. As a result, after being such an integral part of the story of the Painting School, she will not be available to help us with breakfasts. After consultation with students, it was decided to arrange for them to be provided at the “Salon du Thé” – Le Baladin”, in “Place de la Rose”. They will be taken either on the balcony, with its splendid views or, if the weather is not suitable, in a dedicated room. Students who have come in recent years will understand why it has such high ratings on Trip Advisor.
Another change is that the time came when I could no longer put off the renovation of the back facade. I much regret the loss of how it was, but I think you will like its new look (see attached photo).
Over 2018, I have been continuing to publish chapters of my books and other thoughts on our website’s “Posts Page” (you will find a list of them when you click on the link). Each chapter has an introductory section which both adds to the ideas in it and provide additional images. I am grateful to all the people who have made comments, partly because of their generally enthusiastic nature and partly because I have been given to understand that the more comments the higher our Google ranking. I also welcome comments on the information and images I have contributed on our Facebook page.
Please keep in touch. I always enjoy hearing from you.
Warmest regards,

The renovated facade

2019 Newsletter
View of the renovated back facade of the Painting School, showing outside of the main studio and kitchen windows


New Year’s greetings e-card

2019 Newsletter
New Year’s greeting card for 2019

More paintings by Stefan


2019 Newsletter
Oil painting by Stefan Stachowicz


2019 Newsletter
Another oil painting by Stefan


2019 Newsletter
The oil painting by Stefan used for the 2019 New Year’s greetings card


Other posts under “Painting School News” and “Miscellaneous”





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Keeping in touch

Each year I put a copy of the annual October newsletter our website,  so here it is:

Annual Newsletter October 2018

Dear all,

The time has come for my annual newsletter.

This has been a special year for the Painting School of Montmiral, for it is now 30 years since our first season. At the end of the evening meal on the last Friday of both the June and the July/August sessions, we celebrated this with cake and candles. To assist me in blowing out the candles for the June session was Marie-Thérèse, who had first come as a student in 1988.

Marie-Thérèse was with me again at the end of the last meal in August, when we were joined by Hugh Moore, who had first come for the same session as Marie-Thérèse in 1988 and who has since come as a student 30 times), and Hélène, who was living with me at the time. I add some photos taken to commemorate the two occasions.

Both sessions went well. On the second session some students, who had been here several times before, said it was “the best ever”. But I was hesitant to agree since there have been so many sessions that I have perceived as going particularly well. I would prefer to say that it was only “one of the  many best”. When I look back over the years and when I look at the “student work” page of the website I feel so lucky in so many of the people who have joined us here in Montmiral. Although, not without its difficult moments (luckily very occasional), it has been a fulfilling experience for me. Thank you all.

As I hope many of you know, I am gradually publishing my four books on the Painting School website. You can find a list of the chapters and extracts that have been made made available so far by clicking on the ”Posts Page” of the website. I would welcome any comments, particularly since it seems that comment activity is one of the best ways to improve the website’s Google ranking.

The dates for 2019 :

Saturday 16 June to Saturday 30 June
Saturday 20 July to Saturday 3 August.

Prices for 2019 (note new information)

As last year, the cost will be €1460, except in certain circumstances. Thus, there will be special rates for:

  • People who wish to share a bedroom.
  • Less well off younger people interested in pursuing an artistic career.
  • Artists and art teachers.

If you, or any one you know that may be interested, are in any of these categories, please contact me about possible reductions.

For more detailed information and the web booking form, please go to the “Bookings Page” of our website.

I do hope some of you can come next summer and, if not, it is always good to hear from you.

Warmest regards,


June Session 2018

Enjoying the food that Katherine cooked for the celebratory meal, which climaxed with champagne and cake
Marie-Thérèse and me getting ready to blow, with Sarah and Jacqueline in the background
The blowing out, with Sarah and Jacqueline looking on.

July/August session 2018

Marie-Thérèse, me, Hugh and Hélène with the cake
Sitting back after the blowing out

Celebrating 30 years-June 2018

The slideshow

We took advantage of the meal at the end of our June session to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Painting School, which had it first season in 1988. In addition to relishing the usual feast made by my daughter Katherine, several of us made toasts, had a cake with candles and  finished with some music. The slide show below shows photos taken, by Sarah and various students, before, during and after the last meal of the June session. It shows:

  • People finding their places and eating.
  • Myself, Marie-Therese and Sarah making toasts.
  • Sarah, my grandson Milo and his friend Khorene, putting candles on the cake.
  • Appreciating the candlelit cake.
  • Marie-Thérèse (who came as a student on 1988) and I blowing out the candles.
  • Sawyer entertaining us with one of his Punk compositions.
  • Katherine* and Loucine doing vocal improvisations to chords chosen and played by Sawyer.
  • The now half empty room.





July Session 2017

Our 29th season is now over

The July session of our 29th season has just finished. As promised to students, I am sending a slideshow consisting of seventeen photos taken by me and three by Sarah. A main reason why it is shorter and less rounded than the one I posted for June session is that I was unable to get very far with my plan of taking photos of students working in the landscape. This was because I was unexpectedly removed from the scene and taken to hospital for four days in the second week, as a result of suffering from what was at first diagnosed as a mini-stroke. Since then, the favoured explanation is a problem with the balancing mechanism in my ears.

I felt bad leaving the students but they seem to have got on perfectly well without me. I was certainly cheered by the quality of the work they showed in the final exhibition. No doubt at least part of the reason for the high standard was that Sarah was on hand to take over the teaching role. The students tell me that she was wonderful. They also spoke of their appreciation of the help given by Jill and Marie-Thérèse.

A tribute to Sarah, Jill and Marie-Thérèse

One of the students, who came from Hawaii to both the June session and the July session, asked me to share the following tribute to Sarah, Jill and Marie-Thérèse..

  • “What a privilege it has been for me to be taken in by this group of women who love and support the Painting School… Each of them is an accomplished artist and it is an education and a delight to be able to watch them put marks on paper. They listen patiently to anyone who wants to chat about their art or any other subject. And they often reiterate Francis’ teachings, which has been invaluable to me for absorbing it all… I never expected to receive the gift that these women bring to the Painting School experience and I want to acknowledge this secret treasure. As a group they bring a richness to the school that can’t be measured.” – Susan (Savanah) Forster
July session 2017

The thirtieth season and beyond

The hospital staff  submitted me to all sorts of checks (brain, heart, carotid artery and more). They concluded that there was no lasting damage and that I could continue more or less as if nothing had happened. One reason I am glad about this is that I had set my heart on reaching the thirtieth season of the Painting School of Montmiral, which we hope to celebrate in style. Please join us if you possibly can.


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June session 2017

“The best ever”

This year’s June session is now over.  We had four new students: Two from USA, one from Canada and one from GB. Stefan, who came for the fifth time, said it was the best ever for him. For me it was one of the many best: Over 29 years now I feel that I have had incredible luck with the people who have come as students. I have made many friends and they have rewarded me with splendid paintings and drawings, some of which can be seen on the “Student Work” page of this website..

Last year I created slideshows for both the June and July sessions (you can find them on Facebook). I have made another for this year’s June session, which you will find below.

The 2017 June session slideshow

Here is the slideshow using photos taken by a number of people, including Sarah, Barbara, Stefan, Julie and myself. Most of the images are either in the studio or on the esplanade, although I have included three that show us enjoying ourselves at evening meals.  I hope you enjoy it

june session

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Below are the contents lists for four interrelated volumes:

1. Drawing (book 1 & book 2)

2. Painting (book 1 & book 2)

3. Creativity   

4. Related Science

A main difference between these volumes and others on the same subjects is that they are strongly influenced by the wide ranging and innovative research undertaken by the author into how artists use their eyes when drawing and painting. spacer


At the bottom of the page, in addition to the chapters from the four Volumes, there are extracts from the ‘Glossary’ (more to be published in the coming months) and a section on “Miscellaneous Subjects” (so far: “A history of Castelnau de Montmiral“, “The University of Stirling Vision Group” and “The Generosity of Genes“).

(Please scroll down to the chapter that interest you, then click to find a link to it, accompanied by introductory material and images)






The chapters so far loaded:




Chapters so far loaded




          The chapters so far loaded:



The chapters so far loaded, all of which deal with subjects that feature in the other three volumes




Request for comments on the chapters from the books.

I look forward to your comments in the section provided at the bottom of each Post. When you have made them, please leave your email address and tick the box “Notify me of new posts by email.”


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