Welcome to the Hertford Art Society Website

Call for Entries – Hertford Art Society 65th Open Exhibition 2017

Hertford Art Society is fast approaching its 65th Open Exhibition. One of the most prestigious Open Exhibitions in the South East, it welcomes amateurs and professionals alike. The exhibition takes place at Cowbridge Halls, Cowbridge, Hertford SG14 1PG and runs from Sunday 30th April to Saturday 13th May 2017 (closing at 2.30pm).

To enter, you will need to pay £5 on handing-in day to become an Associate Member (temporary member for the duration of the exhibition). You can then submit up to 6 pieces of work at £3 per entry. Works to be exhibited will be selected by a judging panel of four professional artists who are completely independent of the Society. Last year, the judges were Roger Dellar ROI RI PS, Keith West, Keith Hornblower FSAI and John Spielman

Handing-in day is Saturday, April 22rd between 8.30 a.m. and 10 a.m. only.

There are two private views: Saturday, April 29th in the evening and Sunday morning, April 30th.

So, whether you are a ceramicist, a painter, a sculptor, if mixed media is your thing, or perhaps you prefer pastel, graphite, printing, in fact, pretty well any artistic medium with the exception of photography, here is your chance to exhibit with the best.

For full information, please download an entry form and labels from our website, read the terms and conditions carefully and bring along, on handing-in day, the completed entry form, your entry fee and your finished work/s ready for hanging/displaying. Unselected works will need to be collected from 3:00 to 4:30 on the afternoon of Saturday 22nd April.

This is a great opportunity to exhibit, perchance to sell.

Summer Programme

Every summer following the indoor Winter Programme and the Open Exhibition, Hertford Art Society Members enjoy painting and sketching out of doors on Tuesday evenings at various venues in the Hertford Area.

Painting in the grounds of Hertford Castle
Painting in the grounds of Hertford Castle

Any local artists from the villages or areas to be visited are welcome to come along for the outdoor painting sessions etc. Parish dignitaries or councillors are also invited to join Members socially later.

Talk and Show - Mixed Media by Val Pettifer - 31st January 2017

Val Pettifer visited HAS on Tuesday 31 January and gave us an interesting evening called “Talk and Show” on Mixed Media.

Right: Val Pettifer - Les Trois Filles - Collage Acrylic

The evening started with a large selection of materials and books laid out on three long trellis tables and a few examples of finished pictures in mixed media with a variety of finishes. She introduced herself as having a passion for art in childhood and after retiring this passion was rekindled. She did various courses with great enthusiasm over a few years before investing in the "Old School Studios” in Whittleford Cambridge - just off the M11 at Duxford. She runs various Workshops and Drop In days. These are very convivial surroundings and Val is encouraging and works to each individual’s strengths. She also has visiting artists leading some of these courses.

For full report, click here for more details.

Birds of Prey - An opportunity to draw and paint four birds of prey presented by Kirsty Allen, Falconer - 24th January 2017

Harris Hawk Kestrel Lanner Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Harris Hawk, Kestrel, Lanner Falcon & Peregrine Falcon.

Pennine Falcons is situated in the heart of the Pennines and is led by Kirsty Allen; a young falconer who has been practicing the sport since 2007. She has had a lifelong passion for all birds, particularly birds of prey. She has experience working with the BBC and Silverback Films, Vogue Magazine with Helen Macdonald, has featured in the National Press and is highly regarded within the industry. Kirsty is the daughter of Member Denise Allen and we were delighted to welcome her and four of her Birds of Prey for this very different Members’ evening.

For full report, click here for more details.

Tonal Values Workshop with Chris Christoforou - 12th November 2016

Chris Christoforou has been a professional artist for 30 years and has built an international reputation for his work, since he started as a commercial artist. He is well known for his depictions of wildlife, although he enjoys painting all manner of different subjects. He has written many articles for art magazines on various art materials, including his own painting techniques. He visited us on the “Critique” evening that began our Winter Programme for 2016 and when he was invited for a workshop with us he suggested the topic of “Tonal Values” as this subject had arisen during the Critique. Thus this was the subject for the day and it turned out to be a very interesting and enlightening tutorial.

The workshop began with monochrome sketches using photographs which the artists had selected as suitable for this exercise. To create an image with a clear foreground - middle ground - background in black and white for example you can use just black (ink or paint) and progressively dilute it to get a vast range of tones from initial black all the way through shades of greys by reducing the strength of it till it reaches no colour at all. This tonal range can also be achieved in pencil or charcoal. Chris suggested that we experiment (later) with creating a “Grey Scale” for our own use.

For full report, click here for more details.

The 19th Members’ Art Show and Sale

28th - 30th October 2016

For only the second time in its history, this took place at the Cowbridge Halls, Hertford. Once again the Members rose to the occasion and put on a varied and vibrant show of work of a very high standard. The light and spacious surroundings made this a show which was a delight to walk around and, of course, there was the lure of tea and homemade cakes at the back of the hall! Visitors have told me and other stewards how much they enjoy this show and what a credit it is to the Society. Thirty six paintings were sold and also many cards (always a popular feature of the show).

Left: 'Spirit of St. Pancras, Renaissance Hotel' by Bob Boenke. Right: 'Shed Window at Walberswick No.1' by John Jarratt.

As always, the subjects of the paintings were many and varied but I did notice that the effects of light on the subject, be it landscape, portrait or still life, were a strong feature of this show. Atmospheric lighting was evident in all the award winners' paintings.

Left: 'Autumn Glow' by Rita Dare. Right: 'Lunch' by Craig Lee.

Award winners were:

  • John Godden Award (Members' Choice): 'Autumn Glow' by Rita Dare - a painting which lived up to its name with glowing colours.
  • Visitors' Choice Award: 'The Soloist' by Chris Baker - a moment of stillness as a ballet dancer pauses, beautifully lit and in a restrained palette.
  • May Bennett Award (Still Life): 'Lunch' by Craig Lee - a little gem of a painting of bread and luscious cheeses which looked positively edible!
  • Mark Ely Award (Most Innovative/Intriguing Work): 'Spirit of St. Pancras, Renaissance Hotel' by Bob Boenke - a fascinating digital monochrome image with the famous spiral staircase and ghostly images - very appropriate for the Hallowe'en weekend.
  • The Marie Goldsmith Award (for a Member who has not received formal recognition but continues to show a high standard of work). A new award in memory of a much missed Member: This goes to John Jarratt for both past work and his painting 'Shed Window at Walberswick No.1', a masterly painting which drew crowds of admirers in the show.

'The Soloist' by Chris Baker.

There was great variety of paintings, in a range of media - something to suit every taste. In addition to the framed paintings, artists contributed unframed works and some 3D items. Our 3D artists are encouraged to contribute more of their work in future shows as the Cowbridge Halls is an ideal space to display sculpture and other 3D items.

Finally, our thanks go to all those Members who worked hard for their Society's Show, whether setting up or dismantling, stewarding or making teas (and cakes!). You are too many to name but we all know who you are and we all appreciate the time you put into making this show such a success.

Demonstration in Acrylics by Hashim Akib - 11th October 2016

Hashim Akib originally worked as an illustrator. This gave him valuable experience in developing drawing skills, conceptual ideas and various painting techniques. Throughout his career he has won many awards and exhibited in many prestigious galleries. His first book entitled ‘Vibrant Acrylics’ was published in 2012, has been translated into French, German, Italian and Dutch and includes a companion DVD of the same name. He has further books - ‘Cityscapes’, ‘Absolute Beginners’ and ‘Portraiture’ - in the pipeline. He contributes feature articles to many art publications and runs regular workshops.


Hashim asked the audience to choose from three portrait photographs and had prepared a large canvas with a turquoise ground in acrylic. He prefers to work with a vibrant ground colour on his canvasses, always has a selection prepared and chooses one to compliment the subject. He uses Daler Rowney System 3 Heavy Body acrylics for his demonstrations. Having worked with them in their relaunch of these paints he finds them most suitable for his style of painting. He has a palette prepared with a range of vibrant colours in deep pans and works with large flat Daler Rowney square head brushes and Liquitex paddle brushes.

For full report, click here for more details.

Pastel Workshop - 27th September 2016

Following Les Darlow’s pastel demo the previous week we all set-to on Tuesday evening to emulate his bold, confident wielding of bright and dark colours. A large skyscape was projected onto the hall’s end wall and the lights dimmed at that end. Of course this had the side effect of making some of us work in near darkness with difficulty choosing colours. A couple of sensible members next to me got by with the use of torches!

Despite this and in the better lit end of the hall much excellent work was done including other references. Complete silence reigned for most of the session. The standard of work was quite excellent and, hopefully, much was learned from the exigencies of having to use a medium possibly rarely attempted.

Light, Energy and Movement - Demonstration in Pastel by Les Darlow - 20th September 2016

Les Darlow trained as a technical and scientific illustrator (with a 5 year diversion playing in a rock band!) and produced photorealistic images. His art was transformed when someone bought him a set of pastels. He found this medium perfect for painting freely and expressively, creating paintings based on light, energy and movement. He now considers himself an impressionist and loves the medium of pastel for its colour and intensity.

He showed us some examples of recent paintings, introduced us to his chosen materials and announced that he would be producing three paintings over the course of the next couple of hours. The audience was intrigued.

Many artists struggle with pastels and Les feels that this is, to a large extent, due to inferior materials. He often teaches groups where most of the painting ends up as dust on the floor. Having experimented with many different brands he now recommends Rembrandt and Jackson (hard pastels) and Unison (soft pastels) together with Canson “Mi-Tientes” pastel paper containing more than 50% cotton (which reduces absorption of pigments), comes in 50 colours and has one smooth surface and one with an “orange peel effect”. This also comes in a micro abrasive surface, Canson “Touch” (like fine sandpaper). Coloured backgrounds can be created on this paper using inks. He also feels that there is a temptation to use pastels too thickly - in his view “less is more”. The chosen background colour is important as, using his technique, this will be an integral part of the painting, setting the mood.

For full report, click here for more details.

Summer Programme 2016 - Gallery of Work

  • 2016-summer-john-jarratt-goldings.jpg
    Goldings “The light was good although failing and for about the first time I managed to capture a landscape in a manner that satisfied me considering the short time we had.”
    John Jarratt
  • 2016-summer-john-jarratt-manor-farm-walkern.jpg
    Manor Farm at Walkern “I have painted this place before and found it a little easier this time as I cut out a lot of fiddly bits to get the basic units portrayed.”
    John Jarratt
  • 2016-summer-john-jarratt-rye-house-mansion-gatehouse.jpg
    Rye House Mansion Gatehouse “I have never heard of this place so it was a pleasure to come across it. The weather was the best we have had and by painting furiously I just managed to get the feel that I wanted in the hour and a bit we had.”
    John Jarratt
  • 2016-summer-craig-lee-walkern.jpg
    Walkern field study “On arrival at the Walkern Ford it was pointed out to me by a fellow member that there were some nice surrounding fields worth a look. A short walk later I came across this lovely view which suited me down to the ground, as I only had around 90mins of good light left.
    I was happy with the end result and felt I managed to captured a feel for a summers evening. Painted in Oil on a 10 x 8 panel.”
    Craig Lee
  • 2016-summer-craig-lee-river-lee-ware.jpg
    Ware, River Lea “I had decided to go larger than I would usually paint Pleinair and used an 11 x 14 panel. Needing the extra time, I decided to turn up an hour earlier than the suggested 19:00 so I could make the most of any reflections upon the water because it was such a sunny evening. As it happens the view that caught my eye was this one along the shaded part of the river, where the sun was just peeking through the tree tops to the right just highlighting the side of a barge giving some interest. The cyclist that I feel helps depict the painting as the river Lea was added at a later date from a photo taken on location. Okay, so it's probably not my greatest achievement to date, but I like it. It's a large spontaneous and loose Pleinair oil painting which I managed to put some expression into. (Great fun!)”
    Craig Lee
  • 2016-summer-persis-limbuwala-dovecote-walkern-high-street.jpg
    “The image is of a private home along the High Street in the village of Walkern - that was originally a Dovecote and the owners have sympathetically turned it into a family home. It is a basic pencil and charcoal sketch. I have made notes on the sketch to recall the colours in order to make a painting out of this sketch at a later time.”
    Persis Limbuwala
  • 2016-summer-ray-ward-hertford.jpg
    Hertford “ Last evening of the summer, decided a pencil sketch due to limited time as we were all meeting up for the end of summer meal.”
    Ray Ward
  • 2016-summer-ray-ward-walkern.jpg
    Walkern “Chose a sketch format of interesting barns as it was a low cloud evening.”
    Ray Ward
  • 2016-summer-ray-ward-broxbourne.jpg
    Broxbourne “Searched for a time to find something to catch my imagination, this limited time, decided to do a pencil sketch.”
    Ray Ward
  • 2016-summer-margo-ward-the-barge-folly-island-hertford.jpg
    Inside the Barge Pub, Folly Island “Nasty wet evening. Phoned earlier to get permission to paint inside the pub. Managed an acrylic sketch but found the low light difficult to finish the painting.”
    Margo Ward
  • 2016-summer-margo-ward-datchworth.jpg
    Datchworth “The sky was interesting, made an attempt to capture the stormy feeling. Acrylic is my main medium at the moment.”
    Margo Ward
  • 2016-summer-margo-ward-walkern.jpg
    Walkern “Sighted myself on the bridge over the ford. Tried to paint the light reflection in the water, almost an abstract but like the colours. Certainly a subject I need to practice.”
    Margo Ward

For full report, click here for more details.

Painting Weekend at Christchurch and Mudeford, Hampshire 1st - 3rd July 2016

The wind and rain became our companions over the weekend but that only spurred us on to greater things mainly in the wet into wet style!

Painting Weekend 2016

Most of the party of eight arrived at Christchurch on Friday 1st July after a painting stop-off at Bolder in the New Forest. Some of the better results came from this stop-off as it was more out of the wind. That evening the group dined out bohemian style at Pinocchio’s Pizza restaurant an eatery full of Italian character and worth revisiting one day. The serious painting started on Saturday as most of the group took the ferry from Mudeford Quay to Hengistbury Head. In spite of my research the parking authorities still managed to empty our pockets somewhat. I should have suspected this might happen as the area is renowned for pirates! All day Saturday the sun came in and out from behind some heavy clouds which occasional dropped their burden of rain on us but we in turn dodged in and out of the showers through invites from friendly beach hut owners who offered shelter.

For full report, click here for more details.

Winter Programme 2016 - 2017

From September each year Society Members and visitors enjoy a Programme of talks, critiques, demonstrations and workshops. These sessions are on Tuesday evenings from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Cowbridge Hall, Cowbridge, Hertford SG14 1PG. Approximately half the evenings in the Winter Programme are for Members to paint or draw either from still life arrangements or a life model. The remaining evenings are taken up with talks, critiques of paintings brought along by Members, demonstrations from a professional artist or workshops. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the non-practical evenings - see separate Programme.


Hertford Art Society 64th Open Exhibition 2016 - May 1st - 14th

Award Winners

  • The John Goss Prize for the painting the judges considered best in show - 'Hydrangea', Stella Green.
  • The Lady Laming Award for Abstract Art - 'River Bank', David Quantrill.
  • The Bill Dale Award is chosen from works by Members who regularly support the whole of the Society's activities - 'Old Bluecoats School Hall', Trevor Chamberlain.
  • The Mayor's Award for the best 3D work - 'Queue of Life, Bus Stand 7 figures 7 stories', Maria-Luisa Wilkings.
  • The Edward Mason Brushes Award for the best watercolour - 'Instant Colour', Anne McCormack RI, SWA.
  • Visitors’ Choice Award - ‘Show me the way to go home’, Jill Rolfe.

Visitors’ Choice Award
Show me the way to go home by Jill Rolfe - Watercolour

The Exhibition was decidedly Representational this year although there are some abstracts and near abstracts but they are well dotted around.

For full report, click here for more details.

East Herts Decorative and Fine Arts Society

For the last five years sponsorship of the award judged to be the best piece of 3D work at the Open Exhibition has been provided by EHDFAS – East Herts Decorative and Fine Arts.

The 2016 winner was "Queue of Life" Bus Stand - 7 Figures 7 Stories by Maria-Luisa Wilkings. Actually it’s 8 figures, I think Maria got carried away when she was submitting her figures. Each one comes with a short back-story documented in a mini-booklet accompanying the figure. Their future stories have yet to unravel: Maria says we may well be seeing what happens to at least some of them at a future exhibition. This saga could run and run.

EHDFAS Members enjoy monthly talks at the Spotlight Centre in Broxbourne on a wide range of arts subjects well beyond the decorative and fine. Among other things we also go on visits to outstanding buildings and galleries, hold Special Interest days and sponsor Young Art in local schools. Our most recent success has been this batik abstract (‘Lollipops’) entered by a 14 year old Sele School pupil into a National competition where the subject was ‘Edibles’. It won first prize in the 14-16 year age group.

Several members of the Hertford Art Society are members of EHDFAS. For more information on EHDFAS please visit their website.

Still Life Workshop Tutored by Paul Curtis NEAC - 9th April 2016

Commuting between London and Sheffield, Paul Curtis delivers workshops and courses on painting and drawing throughout the UK, whilst painting full-time. He is a regular and popular visitor to Hertford Art Society, giving demonstrations and critiques, tutoring workshops and has been a judge for the annual Open Exhibition.

A still life set up was created, spanning the hall and using a variety of levels to create interest. Paul’s treasure trove of objects included jugs, pots, vases - many of which were in shades of white. Flowers and foliage added an extra dimension to the scene.

This was a full day workshop, which gave time to sketch and draw before moving onto a larger work on canvas or paper.

For full report, click here for more details.

Illustrating Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius - A Concert by Hertford Choral Society - 19th March 2016

Our Society was again invited to illustrate Hertford Choral Society’s Easter concert, held in All Saints Church, Hertford on 19th March 2016. This year’s concert was Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius: a significant endeavour involving 140 singers, 55 orchestral players and three brilliant soloists.


Illustrating The Dream of Gerontius proved more challenging than previous HCS concerts. No Great Whales to paint (Haydn’s Creation), no magisterial Pharoes (Handel’s Israel in Egypt), no chariots of fire (Mendelssohn’s Elijah). Instead Gerontius is all thoughts of death, visions of purgatory, spiritual thunderbolts and glimpses of God. Dramatic stuff but not too many strong visual images to get onto canvas.

For full report, click here for more details.

Demonstration & Workshop – Abstract Art by Chantelle Stephenson – 8th March 2016

Chantelle Stephenson is a professional artist who specialises in abstract painting, printmaking, drawing, alternative photography techniques and felt making. She teaches at "The Settlement” in Letchworth where she offers a variety of courses in different art forms. Chantelle has had her work shown in a London Gallery and has travelled to Japan recently where her style of working has been of great interest to the Japanese artists. Obviously she has also brought back a lot of new ideas from that country which will no doubt be shown in her future art classes.

For full report, click here for more details.

Saturday Life Workshops

Hertford Art Society runs Life Workshops in Cowbridge Halls, Hertford on the last Saturday of 9 months during the year. Although these are primarily run for members we welcome enthusiastic visitors at £14.50 per session, this includes coffee, tea and biscuits, available all day.

The sessions are untutored and last from 10.00am – 4.00pm with a break of 1hr at lunchtime. We work in in all mediums including prep work for sculpture. Bring whatever medium and equipment you require with you. These photographs are from a recent workshop and illustrate the exciting variety of work produced by the artists.

We are a very enthusiastic and relaxed group of artists and welcome looking at each, others’ work (the best way to improve). Even so, we try to keep the working area reasonably quiet. There are normally 2 models unless the group is small, when there is only one. We do not have a set programme of poses, but usually include short poses, mostly in the morning and longer poses for artists who wish to produce a more finished piece of work.

Workshops take place on the last Saturday of the month for nine months of the year. They do not take place in April, August and December due to the annual Open Exhibition and holiday periods.

If you are interested please contact workshops@hertfordartsociety.co.uk for further details.

Society's aim

The Society's aim is to encourage interest in the visual arts and to provide opportunities to practice, study and exhibit art in Hertford and the surrounding area.

It is well regarded for the high standard of artworks on display at the annual Open Exhibition. Submissions are received from across Hertfordshire as well as other parts of the country.

Members work in a range of media and styles from traditional painting in oils, pastel, watercolours and acrylics to printmaking, collage, multi-media and digital – computer based imagery. Three dimensional work in wood, clay, stone and metal is also well represented.

This diversity and an approach to art which values traditional skills alongside contemporary art forms combine to make Hertford Art Society a leading light in the local art world.