Media and student comments


Comments from BBC crew with Sue Cook
BBC television crew, with Sue Cook, filming us for the BBC ‘Holiday Programme” in 1995


Sue Cook BBC Holiday Program: “An experience I will certainly want to repeat.”

Leisure Painter: “The appeal of Montmiral is in the quality and substance of the learning experience.”

Artists and Illustrators Magazine: “An artist of formidable talent who has carried out research into how we perceive colour and how we draw.”

The Artist: “The tutor aims to help people free themselves from habits that are holding them back, to get in touch with their feelings and express their individuality… the personal attention and tuition are exceptional.”

The Independent: “The course is unique… Francis uses accuracy as a means of introducing ideas about creativity and self expression… His theories on colour are persuasive. His own paintings demonstrate the power of his ideas. Using thousands of colours, many in shades that hardly differ, he produces stunningly effective pastel paintings and abstract artwork. “

The Sunday Times: “A singular approach.”

BDSA Magazine: “Takes endless trouble to help individuals. Anyone who is serious about painting should think about going, whether an absolute beginner or an experienced professional.”

David Elliot, B.W.S., in British Watercolour Society Catalogue: “It gave me one hell of a stride forward.”


Comments from David Elliot-professional watercolourist
David Elliot on his way back to the studio



The students who wrote the comments below came to the Painting School from England, Scotland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. After the first of them, which is by a beginner son who came with his exhibiting artist Mother, they are arranged in groups reflecting different degrees of experience. A click on any of these categories will take you directly to it.

Beginners”    “More Experienced Students”    “Professionals using Visual Presentation of Ideas”    “Art Teachers”    “Exhibiting Artists“.


An introductory comment

“Francis is the most remarkable teacher of painting I believe you will find. I first encountered him when my mother, who had been a painter for over fifty years, returned from his course with some beautiful and exciting paintings, the like of which she had never done. He had somehow managed to nudge her forward just enough to produce towards the end of her life some brave and surprisingly beautiful landscapes which challenged much of what she had done before. He then took me on, a difficult unschooled banker who wanted to find out if he had any talent as a painter late in life. Francis provided me very easily with the tools, not only to progress and judge my own work, but to give me the means to look at the work of serious painters with a really appreciative and informed eye. His teaching is not difficult to take on board if you have had no teaching before or if you are open to change. He distills the every essence of how the eye and the brain work in looking at images and how this translates into working on a canvas or a sketch book. The reward is self evident in the quality of the output. His influence and effect on me has been transformative. I have an enormous amount to thank him for.” – Paul Zuckerman, Director, CEO and advisor to companies and charities, on behalf of himself and of his mother Joan, an exhibiting artist. After coming to the Painting School of Montmiral as students, they decided to found the “Joan Zuckerman School of Painting” in Norfolk, England, where they lived, and to invite me to teach there for one or two sessions a year, over the next eleven years. Although all but one of the students quoted below joined us on workshops in Montmiral, I saw a number of them regularly in Norfolk.

Comments from joan-zuckerman-Norfolk artist
Joan Zuckerman


Comments by teenagers

I feel I have learnt more in two weeks than in two years at my secondary school. Your talks on colour, eyes and other things left me wondering how I could draw or paint without this newly acquired knowledge” –  Georgie Grant, England, Schoolgirl

“I attended your painting school two summers ago. I am now 18 years old and still recall vividly the fond memories I have of those days. Of course the art tuition was unsurpassed and helped me to develop no end, but far beyond that the whole experience for me was extremely beneficial and enjoyable. I am very keen to visit you again. I learned so much last time, and not just about art. It was such a fulfilling experience I would be foolish not to want to repeat it.” – Andrew Edwards, England, Schoolboy

“Thank you for two great weeks, it was a great experience and I learned a lot” – Johanne Sjorengen, Norway 

“I am very happy to have some photos of our wonderful exhibition! Your program was the most I have ever learned in two weeks. I have had the opportunity to share some of what I learned from you with other students here who also enjoy art. It was a very formative experience for me. Your golden words have stuck with me, and when given the opportunity I try and direct those interested to your website and its resources. I sent an art portfolio to the studio arts college I will attend, and they allowed me to enter a painting course despite my lack of prerequisites.” Dennet Brown, Arizona, USA


Dennet Brown


Comments by adult beginners

“You managed to share your knowledge with an adult beginner and encourage early efforts without patronising. You knew when to praise and when to criticise without destroying a shaky confidence.” – Pat Naysmith, England, Primary School Course Director

“I was such a beginner when I went to Montmiral. Francis was extremely patient, and worked at my level, even though there were others in our group who were very talented and experienced. When I left, I was seeing colors that I had never known existed. I use this “color sense” now in my fiber art. This school is not just for painters, but for everyone who wants to learn to see and use colors in their work.” Karen Smith, USA

“I would like to put on record the intellectual impact of your teaching and my appreciation of your very special knowledge of perspective.” – Frank Esterkin, England, University Lecturer

“You made the whole experience very moving and meaningful. Your quiet presence made it possible to look and learn in an unpressurised way.” – Carrie Gall, Scotland, Housewife

“I first came to the Painting School as an experienced theatre director and teacher, but as a complete novice in drawing and painting. Over several visits, I have learned more about creativity and the process of establishing a creative and safe learning environment from Francis than I ever imagined possible. Experiencing him in the process of coaxing compelling, original works of visual art from a variety of participants with very different backgrounds, informs me profoundly about the creative process.” – Sylvia Toone, USA, Theatre Director and Teacher

“A superb fortnight in which we both learnt a huge amount not just about mixing colours or drawing lines but about how to look at the world” – David and Diana Gibson, England, GP and Counsellor

“I came late to making art but acquired serious basic skills from a dedicated and encouraging teacher in this magical setting. I came away with something that truly enriches my life and with skills I did not know I could exhibit and trust.” – Cathy Lugar, USA, Personal Assistant

“I wanted you to know that, upon my return to the States, I did confirm that my trip to Montmiral was not a dream. I knew it was real from two clues: One, I had a curious mixture of cerulean, ultramarine, cadmium yellow, and orange paint on my left ankle. Two: when I woke up at dawn the first morning back at home, I saw color everywhere! Golds were glowing on the windowsill, purples were vibrating in the corners, cool blues along the edges of things – it was magnificent. And, no two colors were the same. I was looking at the same old scene in a totally new way. And I thank you for that. I really appreciated the time you spent with us in Montmiral. It was a great experience and has changed my perception of the world.” – Anne Meneghetti, USA, Medical Website Manager

“You have proved I have powers to see and to draw that I could scarcely have imagined. You went to prodigious efforts to find, encourage and bring forth such talent as is there.” – Karl Bottigheimer, USA, University Lecturer

Comments from karl-bottigiemer-old friend
Karl Bottigheimer


Comments by more experienced students

“For the first time I know I have the capability to do some of the things I have always wanted to do. If anyone is looking for a radical reappraisal or rebirth of their thinking about art, Montmiral is the place where it could happen.” – Jane Brook, Scotland, Research Officer

“I signed up for the Painting School of Montmiral wondering whether I might learn something that would dispel the confusion that arises in the painting process. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from an American university, and have read extensively – color theory and artists’ biographies – in the twelve years since graduating, leaving me doubtful whether I would learn anything very significant. I brought with me a head full of questions as to how to make a painting “sing” with harmony and luminosity, as well as less tangible concerns not satisfactorily answered in my previous studies. You were able to present a wealth of well-founded ideas and understandings of the process of making art that provided the proper tools for fruitful research, as opposed to the blind groping of my former process. Thank you, Francis. You have put together a well organised school in a pristine location. I wish I had a lifetime to explore its possibilities. The quality of your creation ensures its success.” – Clay Parten, USA, art school graduate, tennis coach

“My experience at The painting School of Montmiral was life changing on many levels. The time away allowed me to go inward and reflect on my life as a creative being while immersed in a beautiful environment. The studio space allowed me to sink into my artwork and take it seriously. I received continued support through rich and productive dialogues with Francis who is not only an amazing artist but knew how to inspire and deepen my creative inquiry. It was a genuine dynamic, nurturing, loving and impactful experience. I will forever hold the The Painting School, Francis and Montmiral close to my heart.” – Kat M. Davis, USA, Counselor

“I liked this mixture of doing my painting, meeting with Francis and talking with other students during mealtimes. It was a good combination of my own work, individual instruction, and group solidarity. From what I hear, the approach to painting and drawing is different to other courses . For example Francis includes information from research that he had done on how the brain processes visual input. Some people get a bit lost in the science aspect but it all relates to painting. If one can be open to what he has to teach, one can learn a great deal. He really cares about his students and wants each person to gain as much as possible from their time at the school.” – Sarah Edelstein, USA, Film Services

Comments from sarah-eddelstein-painting-on-esplande
Sarah Eddelstein


“I really valued the way you looked with me at what I was trying to paint. The fact that your criticisms were so positive was a great help. One of the main things was the special approach to looking you shared; another was the complicated but very practical colour teaching. Finally, you gave me the confidence to tackle things I wouldn’t have dared try out.” – Cathy Walker, England, University Student

“The whole experience was way more than I expected. Thank you so much for being such a great and talented teacher and for teaching me not to worry about what I have done or what I am doing, and also for giving me a way of looking at art that I will carry throughout my life. You gave me a tremendous gift.” – Fiona Laurie, USA, University student.

“Painting has become much more of an adventure.” – Claire Laytem, Luxembourg, Further Education Lecturer

“Montmiral always feels so special and gives me such an energy boost and feeling of renewal.” – Alison Brett-Hopper, Art School student

“It was three years since my sixth visit, and on this seventh time round I was wondering if perhaps the gilt would have come off the gingerbread by now, but far from it, I was again almost foundering, rather deliciously, within an hour under the impact of landscape, history, colour and light. Tools for this journey, as usual under Francis’ direction, were not to be so much practical tips about canvases media or brushes, but everything that makes for thoughtful observation of object, of space, of relationships and most of all of what effect my last pencil line or brushstroke has had on the whole, because it is not possible to know any of this in advance.” – David Gibson, England, General Practitioner and Hospital Chaplain

“I had expected to come to Montmiral to learn a few tricks. In fact I have come back with a very new approach.” – Sue Loder, England, Masseuse

“Since leaving Montmiral – which was very hard to do, as I felt I had achieved so much , I have felt a greater confidence and conviction that I am on the right track regarding my art and that I definitely have something to contribute to the world via my expression. I must say coming to your school has left me totally inspired, along with your teachings and new found friends, with whom I seem to be able to relate so well and who are so supportive. Its going to be hard to carry on my old life in Australia.” – Michael Brierly, Australia, Carpenter

Comments from michael-brierly-carpenter
Michael Brierly


“Montmiral had a very positive effect on my work, especially with respect to the depth of the painting and the subtlety of the colour.” – Moyra Campbell, Scotland, Research Scientist

“More and more of the Pratt ideology sinks in each year I come to Montmiral, and I found the painting very enjoyable and fulfilling. The Internet has brought in a wonderful variety of students from all over.” – Hugh Moore, England, Vicar

“I have made six visits over about eighteen years to the Painting School of Montmiral – I had drawn before but knew little about painting and the attendant difficulties. At the Painting School I have been given many tools with which to explore the possibilities with paint – discussions on light and colour and the importance of exploring and looking carefully are among them but the most helpful to me recently, has been the space and time to paint on my own in such a beautiful place, and the one to one sessions with Francis looking carefully at my paintings and often being encouraged to look at things in a new light. Drawing sessions with a model have moved me on in the same way. It is a challenging experience, but without it I would not have experienced the sheer excitement in this journey with paint.” – Di Gibson, England, Counsellor

“It has been life changing.” – Matyelok Gibbs, France, Actress

“I thought your paintings were very beautiful. I also wanted to say thank you for all the help you gave me. I am still feeling the impact of what I learned from you in just two short weeks. That wonderful experience will stay will affect me and my art for a long time to come.” – Julie Krumpelbeck, USA, University student

“Francis is a world class teacher for anyone seriously interested in exploring their artistic potential” – Frances Meadows, Lawyer

“A deeply felt thank you for a superb two weeks where you “blew my doors off”. Your impartiality, precision and feedback were like a lighthouse on a hill for me.” – Ben Hopkins, New Zealand, Company Executive

“My two weeks in Montmiral and the opportunity to immerse myself in painting and to learn your invaluable principles were immensely worthwhile and exactly what I needed. I found Montmiral to be wonderful and would like to spread the word. I will return one day. That trip opened a door in my life and I have no desire to turn back.” – Jennifer Bennet, USA, Forest Management

“Unique and one of a kind. This Painting School of Montmiral is like no other and I learned far more than I was expecting to – I came away with a new set of tools in my colour knowledge, having had a unique experience” – Kate Horsburgh. Oman, Yoga Teacher

“A very different and vastly more interesting type of artistic education than I have met before.” – Yolanda Hart, England, business woman

Comments from Yolanda-Hart-buisiness-woman
Yolanda Hart

Comments by professionals using visual presentation of ideas

“The days in Montmiral were quite marvellous. For years I have seemed unable to express what I wanted, and felt that my painting was stale and unsatisfactory. Your help and guidance have shown me a completely new world. Your ideas on colour have quite transformed my ability to observe and interpret. Painting has become a much more joyous experience” – Gillian Rix, England, Book Designer)

“A simply splendid fortnight. I am particularly indebted for the seeing and looking philosophy which has really made me look and look again.” – Don Joyce, England, Architect

“Thank you for a stimulating and fascinating fortnight which has given me something more personal to work towards.” – Geoff Huntingford, England, Town Planner and Artist

“As an architect I went to Montmiral with pre-conceived ideas about art. I’m glad to say that in two weeks I was able to dispel them and enter the spirit of discovery and adventure the course offered. I’m not saying it was easy but in this idyllic environment I built confidence and found new ways to express myself artistically… I would recommend this course to anyone who needs to refresh the spirit, find a new way, develop insight into ability, and share the journey in some of the most beautiful townscapes and landscapes in the world.” John Osburne, Canada – Architect

“As a graduate student in Landscape Architecture, I came to Montmiral to improve my drawing skills. You taught me first how to see what I was drawing, then to represent it accurately. This skill enabled me to better understand the nature of my project. I would highly recommend ‘The Painting School of Montmiral’ for anyone in a design field, who would like to improve their drawing and rendering skills.” – Suzanne Vandamark, USA, Landscape Architecture

“Your message is a mind opener. You inspire philosophy and promote looking with AWE. My two visits were life/mind changing and I appreciate the experiences deeply.  I already have a BFA in painting and Printmaking, and have worked professionally in the Feature Animation Industry in California, USA, but this experience enabled me to learn new and valuable techniques.” Judith Tolley, USA, Color Consultant, Disney Cartoons

“I admire and respect your ability to teach and the closeness of our conversations – there is a connection there that is very rare and that I have not experienced before… You are a wonderful teacher… I love your art” – Paula Reason, England, Interior Designer

“I feel I grew a great deal in a small space of time.” – Ann Haggerty, USA, Artistic Director of Fashion Magazine

“This course, with its application and explanation of the latest researches in both colour and line psychology, completely redefines and resolves the anomalies of what we see. The reference to proven research and the patient explanations of its implications with respect to how the brain receives and interprets information provides a fundamentally sound approach commonly lacking in other courses and literature.” – Iain McCowan, Scotland, Architect

Comments from Iain McCowan+architect
Iain McCowan presenting one of his drawings to a local shop owner


Comments by art Teachers

“Montmiral is an idyllic place… I found the freedom that your colour theory gave me allowed me much more confidence in my painting.” – Sarah Thomas, England

“Your help on the use of colour and the process of drawing has been useful both in my personal work and in my teaching.” – Sharon Trotter, England

“I saw considerable progress both in my drawing and my understanding of colour. Your teaching was excellent.” – Mark Aldridge, England

“I had a wonderful time and hope to see you next year, when I shall start straight in with drawing” – Carol Logan, England

Comments from Carol Logan-school teacher
Carol Logan

Comments by exhibiting Artists

“As an experienced artist, trained in color theory, I have been feeling that the color in my paintings is often dull, (except in maybe in patches), and that there is not enough sense of the illusory 3-dimensional space that I seek. Despite all my own efforts and seeking help from other methods of professional instruction, it was not until I met Francis that I have been able to see why this is. Enter Francis’ absolutely revolutionary knowledge he generously shares about observing color in nature and using color in paintings. You must must read his books ! I now have high hopes now for my progress in painting.” – Bethany Trombley, USA

“Yesterday I pulled out an old file of mine which contained some old chapters of your book. I re-read them all and was thinking of how much I have learnt from you and what a privilege and an honour it was to get that depth of learning so early in my career.” Cathy Layzell, South Africa

“You know I credit you with helping me make those changes in my life that have helped me grow as a person and as an artist. I don’t believe I would ever have felt I could draw unless I had met you (it is the foundation, as far as I am concerned for all art). At any rate you gave me something that no one had given me to that point in my life and that was self belief, for this I thank you.” – Mary Yorke, Ireland (who first came 8 years earlier as a complete beginner)

“Thank you Francis for a really rewarding experience. Though I am an experienced painter, your teaching has enriched both my intuitive and analytic repertory. The time with you was a really valuable and, I must say, unexpectedly useful experience which I seem to have stumbled on by good fortune. I must thank you for your generosity in giving of your time and knowledge to myself and all your students. Finally, I think that your publicity should put more emphasis on the high professional standard of the school.”Oliver Gollanz, England

“I couldn’t have found a better place anywhere. I wanted to achieve that experience of liberation and getting completely outside myself… The release or, rather, the rediscovery of that experience, coupled with your teaching on colour, which had a revolutionary effect on my thinking and on my palette, added up to a new feeling about myself as a painter.” – Margaret Parker, England

“Francis’ teachings impacted me deeply, giving me new insights into painting and greatly improving my work and style. They not only touch on painting techniques, but also new (and rare) scientific and artistic observations. Francis has taught me to perceive life and character in so many things before I draw. But the lessons do not lie only in the drawing but also in every day life. Each imperfection in every thing gives them life and character and, in turn, makes them unique in their own delicate way.  Francis also taught me to stay unsatisfied with my work at any current stage and to always feel the need to learn new things to expand my knowledge.” Huifong Ng, Brunei

Comments from Huifong Ng - Fen: intuitive artist
Huifong Ng – Fen


“You know I credit you with helping me make those changes in my life that have helped me grow as a person and as an artist. I don’t believe I would ever have felt I could draw unless I had met you (it is the foundation, as far as I am concerned for all art). At any rate you gave me something that no one had given me to that point in my life and that was self belief” – Mary Yorke, Ireland (Mary came in 1995 as a rank beginner and is now an internationally exhibiting artist)

“Combining his extensive knowledge of art history and science with practical instruction in colour mixing and drawing, Francis manages to help students of all levels fulfil their potential, and unlike many courses he focuses on the students own originality, rather than imposing one or other ‘style’ of painting. It is teaching at its best and in my experience quite unique.”Linda Jamieson, England

“There isn’t a day that goes by when something you have said doesn’t pop into my head. It has taken me a long time to understand and integrate the change in my thinking inspired by your teaching… After the first visit, I spent a whole year drawing and painting and trying to practice everything you taught us like a mantra. You made me really think about what I was doing. I stopped teaching and painted every day… Forcing me to focus on my drawing in such a disciplined way promoted self confidence and a greater trust in my ability and perhaps made me a tad less defensive! I came away from Montmiral feeling for the first time some kind of self validation. You were the catalyst for that change.”Ruth Geldard, England

“I have started a little drawing class for beginners, and I am passing on and using what I learnt from you. Also I am being braver at trying out different ways of painting, combinations of colours, and not being “safe”. “What the Hell” I tell myself, and go for it! I often have your words in my head when I paint.”Mary McCarthy, England

“My experience at the Painting School of Montmiral has taught me to slow down, to observe carefully, and to execute thoughtfully, and all this with respect not only to painting, but also to life itself… Through careful study and informed practice, Francis’ teaching clearly demonstrates that it is possible to fuse passion and the intellect, art and science.”Ken Marunowski, USA

Comments from Ken Marunowski Deluth artist
Ken Marunowski


“You helped me see and understand colours in ways I had not done before… I have found again the joy in painting and I think my customers have noticed the difference.”Charles Summers, England

“After many years of neglect, Francis reignited my passion for painting and taught me to do it properly. He is a marvelous teacher and I owe him a great debt of gratitude.”Penelope Madden, England

“When I first attended your school in 1989, I was a professional marine artist. I found you to be the most knowledgeable art teacher I have met and that includes during my five years study of art and photography at University. I found you adapted quickly and provided exactly what I needed both in terms of improving my drawing skills (I have never worried about drawing since) and exceptionally, my understanding of colour and my own very rare form of colour vision. I do not think any one but you could have done that. Twenty two years later, I use techniques you taught every time I paint or draw.”- Gordon Frickers, England

Comments from Gordon Frickers marine artist
Gordon Frickers


“You ask what I gained from your teaching – MUCH. Most times when I embark on battle with the canvas, one of your golden nuggets will pop in to my mind… especially relating to repeating colours, paying attention to unpainted areas at edges and around shapes – and how and what you think is a problem may not be one at all. Finally – don’t be afraid to take a risk … something which I am getting much better at doing.”Sara Freakly, England

“As well as discovering exciting new information on drawing, colour, light and space, I lost at least some of the blocks between myself and my creativity and now feel I have reached a clear and exciting new starting point.” – Frances Mullarky, England

 “Francis is a remarkable teacher of painting and drawing. I have studied with him now for more than ten years and his approach has enabled me to clarify my objectives and always to improve my work. His personal approach to the need for good observation and understanding of the structure of colour are key to his teaching. Francis always teaches me two things – Observe, observe, observe; and how to think about colour mixing.” – Chris Boddington, France

“A magical place, good company, intensely stimulating ideas and teaching… I came to Montmiral to have my eyes stretched and I do not think I have ever looked so hard.”Unity Couzens, England

Comments from Unity-Couzens-at-work-on-the-esplanade
Unity Couzens at work on the esplanade


A comment on the thirtieth anniversary of the Painting School of Montmiral

Mark Gibbs


“30 years of high quality teaching based on a rare and deep understanding of art AND science. Plus a lovely place to visit” – From the Facebook page of Mark Gibbs, England. A practicing artist who came to the Painting School as a student in 1992, early in his career as an artist, after having first trained as a scientist.


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