Summer Programme 2021

Hertford Art Society Members have traditionally enjoyed painting and sketching out of doors on Tuesday evenings during the Summer months at various venues in the Hertford Area. These events could not take place in 2020 due to Covid restrictions but it has been possible to plan an exciting Programme for 2021 as detailed below, commencing on Tuesday 18th May as groups of up to 30 will be allowed outdoors with effect from 17th May 2021. Should the Government Guidance change a revised Programme will be published on this site.

Members usually meet at around 7.00pm (or beforehand by private arrangement) for sketching & painting, then gather socially in the suggested public house when the light fails. Any local artists from these villages or areas are welcome to come along for the outdoor painting sessions except for those restricted to Members of the Society, as indicated.

Landscapes in PanPastel - On-line Demonstration by Les Darlow

20th April 2021

Les Darlow trained as a Technical and Scientific Illustrator, and now paints expressively and creatively, producing paintings that are based on feeling, light, energy and movement. He paints in many mediums, runs extensive workshops and his book “Absolute Pastels” details his approach to this medium and contains 5 workshop projects. He has a love and passion for weather and landscapes as light and weather change the subject continuously.

Les begins the Zoom session by talking about materials and his choices of paper. Although he does work in traditional pastels (mainly Unison) he is demonstrating this evening working with PanPastels. These are supplied in small pans in various colour combinations - Landscape, Portraits, etc. They have a very fine texture, add colour to the paper without filling the grain, are semi-transparent and contain 40% more pigment then traditional pastels. They are applied with sponges of various sizes, depending on the effect required. The smaller shaped sponges are held on a sort of painting knife and can create sharp shapes and edges. These pastels can be blended with fingertips, can be drawn over with most pens etc. and it can be lifted off with a clean eraser (before fixing). PanPastel can be mixed like paint, a distinct advantage not achievable with sticks of traditional pastel and Les loves the soft effects he can create with this medium.

The first demonstration is on light grey Pastelmat paper which Les describes as a velvety light sandpaper. He has chosen a dramatic skyscape with strong clouds and a golden light. Les positions a spare piece of card to one side to test his colour choices. He selects a square cut sponge and picks up pigment, mixing a pale yellow on the sponge. He applies this with bold, print-like marks, adding different shades of yellow and orange to give a glow to the paper. Working with shades mixed by picking up colour from two or three of the individual pans, Les gradually defines the cloud shapes varying pressure to apply delicate or stronger tones. Glimpses of blue sky add depth. The distant hills are added with a large sponge and a sweeping motion and the foreground landscape is painted with bolder, smaller shapes with some very dark tones. Less mentions that he likes to use black with red added for warmth. The image comes alive with a lake in the foreground - with highlights in traditional pastel, also used here and there for details. He achieve a crisp line using masking tape which does not disturb the pastel.

Les chooses white Canson Mi Teintes paper for the second demonstration. This paper is 50% cotton and very responsive to PanPastels. He begins to work on the sky, smoothing pigment across the paper with a large sponge, layering so that the colours shine through, gradually adding stronger tones. This paper can withstand “scrubbing”. Using a small sponge he add hints of clouds with pale yellow light on the undersides. The distant hills are in a warm grey. This image has very strong dark tones for some dock in the distance and Les makes interesting bold marks using both pastels and pens. A traditional pastel is used to add tiny bright lights to this area. The sea is built up in the same way as the sky but with more texture and variation. The sunlight is finally added with bold strokes of traditional pastel.

Les works from light to dark, rather like watercolour and mentioned that is worth experimenting with PanPastels on watercolour paper. Canson Mi Tientes Touch is also designed for pastels and has a fine tooth. Some papers are more suitable for blending than others where bold print-like marks give the best results. He feels that PanPastels do not generally need fixing as there is so little pigment on the paper. Using PanPastels as an underlayer, with more traditional pastels for the later drawing is a method he sometimes employs. Sponges are washed after use.

The final demonstration was very simple but stunningly effective. On white paper Les applied layers of blue pigment, darker at the top. He then used various shades of warm and cool greys to define the shadow side of clouds. He cut a plastic eraser to provide a crisp edge and then began to “draw” the negative white shapes at the tops of the clouds, varying direction and using broken strokes. The sky immediately came into being. Further darks enhanced the clouds and a layer of dark trees gave perspective. More work with the eraser illustrated that masts etc. on a seascape, for instance can be easily lifted out as even the darker tones do not stain the paper.

Les was warmly thanked for this excellent demonstration, for sharing his expertise and for answering our various questions. The two different approaches, using different papers, were very interesting. Many of our Members have worked with pastels in the past. PanPastels offer a totally different way of working and an exciting way forward with this medium.

“Try a new format” - Untutored Online Workshop

16th February 2021

“Format is traditionally used to describe the shape or proportions of the support, for example the canvas, of a painting or other essentially flat work of art such as a relief.” (Tate website)

In creating a picture, the shape of the paper or canvas is an important part of the composition. Most pictures are traditionally rectangular or square, but there is no rule to say that a picture cannot be any other shape.

Our challenge on 16th February was to try out a new and unusual shape of paper or canvas and for those who were unable to join this on-line workshop it is certainly worth spending some time on this exercise.

If you have never before drawn a circular picture, then this is your great opportunity (e.g. try drawing around a plate to create the boundary for your image). Or you could paint your image within an oval boundary. Or perhaps you would like to try working on a very narrow, tall support. Or on a very, very wide support. If you have previously tried all of these, then you might like to attempt something even more unusual. How about a triangular picture? Or an “organic” freeform image? For a bit of inspiration, please see the images below.


The suggested subject for our drawing evening was perhaps a “still life”, a corner of your own interior space or something from your imagination. So it’ll be a familiar subject but an unusually-shaped picture. This DIY workshop sets out to give you plenty of choice in what you do, whether figurative or abstract.

Any medium is suitable together with one or more pieces of paper, canvas or board cut to a new and original shape.

The only rule is that the picture mustn’t be square or rectangular!

Although an untutored Workshop, Marianne Dorn welcomed the artists to the Zoom session and introduced the topic of “Format”, mentioning works over the ages which have departed from the norm. There was a break for discussion partway through and at the end of the evening we looked at the work produced and discussed how we got on with this project. A great variety of formats was chosen and the evening produced very interesting artworks - painting, drawings and 3D. This is certainly a worthwhile exercise in thinking outside the box. Marianne was thanked for organising this very interesting and enjoyable Workshop.

Online Life Workshop - 30th January 2021

One of our regular models, offered to undertake our January 2021 Life Workshop via Zoom from her home which made it possible to reinstate this Workshop. The model did an amazing job in structuring a very challenging and enjoyable workshop. These are comments from some of the Members who took part together with a selection of images of their work.



“An excellent model. She organized the session very efficiently with a great variety of poses. I would be very happy to have her again.” Pat Mann

“I liked the Zoom session much better than I expected. The model is a natural, even on camera! I particularly liked the foreshortening effect of the model stretching towards the camera – the lens seems to elongate the near view. By & large everyone kept background noise to a minimum so I didn’t feel the need to mute everyone, and it meant we got a bit of chat from time to time which was nice.” Geoff Bennett



“I thought the session was very good and worked very well. A longer pose for painting would be appreciated in any future sessions. Jim Gooch

“I tried something new this time, I wanted to really slow myself down and push myself to focus on the form. Life is crazy for me at the moment with work and home schooling, etc, so the aim was to make myself 100% aware of the cuts I was making. I used my scalpel to sketch rather than drawing any of it in graphite first. It was fascinating to do and not something I’ve done before.” Nicola Dobrowolski

“Enjoyed the session very much” Mikito Murata

“I haven't sketched for a long time, unsure what I would manage, particularly as the Zoom Life Workshop was a totally new experience. The model in her own home, created imaginative moves of various lengths of time. We were told when a position was to change, all in a professional manner. The decor was a treat too. I enjoyed the zoom session and look forward to the next one.” Margo Ward

“Very enjoyable” Chris Baker

“I enjoyed the session though was too slow with the 5 min sketches but with practice, I hope to simplify the basic lines and hope to improve. It was a fun morning! On the mirror picture - Not quite sure if it is possible to make out what is happening here, but it was fun to try! Carol French

“She was terrific very imaginative with her poses.” Ray Ward

“The model made brilliant use of various rooms in her home to conjure up imaginative poses for us. This was a great opportunity for us to respond to a life model within various interesting interior settings, and with the added personality of her own chosen backdrops.” Marianne Dorn

From Reality to Abstract

Online Workshop with Nick Harrison Jones - 26th January 2021

Nick Harrison Jones studied Graphic Design and has won several awards for his paintings. In his work he focuses on a combination of observed architectural, landscape and abstract elements, based on drawing and technical experimentation.

Observed scribble drawing  Sections of imaginative landscapes - 300gsm not watercolour paper
Work by the host, Nick Harrison Jones.

Nick conducted a workshop entitled ‘From Reality to Abstract’, aimed at getting us painting abstract pictures. It was Nick’s first tutorial conducted via Zoom and it turned out remarkably well – below is a shot of 14 households, most displaying the fruits of the evening’s endeavours, plus Nick front and centre.

Observed scribble drawing

Nick got us into the zone by asking us to imagine a beautiful park framed by a couple of foreground trees. We were given 10 minutes to capture the scene with a paint sketch. For the second version Nick asked us to walk through the park in our mind, picking up not just the sights but also the sounds, the smells, the textures. He asked us to think about linear shapes (distant buildings perhaps) and how we might also introduce circular shapes (the sun, a bouncing ball). We should think about how we might use the edges of the paper and about spaces in the composition. Nick suggested we paint on photocopied sheets to add further interest.

Observed scribble drawing  Sections of imaginative landscapes - 300gsm not watercolour paper  Sections of imaginative landscapes - 300gsm not watercolour paper

Observed scribble drawing  Sections of imaginative landscapes - 300gsm not watercolour paper  Sections of imaginative landscapes - 300gsm not watercolour paper

We were then invited to make a third painting, looser than the second, bringing together the above points to give a total experience of our imaginary walk.

The result was a rich array of wildly different abstracts and a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

January 2021 Critique

Click here for the gallery

Each month Members are invited to submit a recent artwork to a Critique session with a professional artist, tutor or art critic. The January 2021 critique took place via Zoom and was hosted by Jean Noble RI SWA, a renowned abstract artist.

For full gallery, click here for more details.

Children’s Book Illustrations

On-line Talk by Michael Radley - 17th November 2020

In response to Lockdown Mk 2 the Art Society held its first ever on-line Winter Programme event on November 17th: a talk given by Michel Radley on Children’s Book illustrations. He based it on material supplied by Annemarie Parker, who was originally scheduled to give the talk, but supplemented it with considerable additional research of his own.

Beauty and the Beast by Walter Crane 1847
Beauty and the Beast by Walter Crane 1847

Michael gave us images of the very earliest illustrations aimed at children, austere woodcuts designed to educate the young without much consideration for their enjoyment. In the 19th Century the huge improvement in printing technology brought a range of attractive children’s books with stories intended to entertain as well as educate. The move from black and white prints to increasingly opulent colour plates speeded this improvement.

Two artists in particular live on in awards made in their names to the very best of today’s illustrators - Randolph Caldecote (‘the father of the modern picture book’) and Kate Greenaway.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle 1969
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle 1969

In the early 20th Century the Arts and Craft appears to have played a part in the design of the images and further encouraged original and imaginative illustrations to hold a child’s interest. Writers and illustrators explored novel ways of integrating text and imagery; a highly successful example is the well-known ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle which at 50 million copies is the most successful children’s book ever published. Interestingly the book that comes in second at 40 million copies is Peter Rabbit with its very dated water colours but a great story line. We also saw wonderfully collaged images by Chris Keeping Wisniewski among many others.

Michael’s on-line talk was well put together, well received, and highly successful: Zoom provides the Society with a new channel to use in these times of lockdown.

‘Preparation for a large scale commission’

Sculpture Demonstration by Rodney Munday

27th October 2020

Rodney Munday is a local artist who created the sculpture of Alfred Wallace and a bird of paradise adorning the outer west wall of Hertford Theatre. He is renowned for sculpting the human and animal form in an impressionist /expressionist style and works in clay or wax for casting in bronze or resin.


Rodney came and talked to us about a commission he is currently working on for two statues for the St John Baptist Church in Cirencester. As he talked he built up a maquette of one of the two statues, John the Baptist holding aloft a lamb - Rodney is a farmer as well as an artist - but equally, he suggested, the lamb could be seen as the Lamb of God. The clay Rodney uses is a red clay which for him gives more of a feeling for the bronze effect of the final product than the grey clay used by most sculptors. Rodney demonstrated how he can gently twist the emerging figure around its flexible armature to explore ways of creating the feeling of movement he strives to impart to all his work.

When he is happy with the maquette Rodney is able to discuss further his ideas with the commissioning committee, before starting work on the on the full sized figure. We were shown slides of how the finished clay figure is painted with several layers of a rubber solution that when set form a surrounding hard skin. The skin is then cut lengthways to form two mounds; the clay core is removed and a liquid bronze or resin poured into the moulds to form the two halves that will be combined to form the final sculpture. The mounds can be re-used, as was the case with a statue of St Edmond Rodney created for St Edmond’s church in Abingdon, and subsequently re-cast for St Edmond’s College in Cambridge and for St Edmond’s School near Ware.

The St John figure will be 2.2 metres tall and occupy a shallow external niche halfway up the St John Church tower, several metres above the viewer. Rodney will make the upper half of the statue’s body proportionately longer than natural to give people standing below the installed figure the impression of a fully proportioned work.

Rodney was warmly thanked for the talk and demonstration which provided an excellent illustration of what goes into the creation of a full scale work of sculptural art.

Workshop - An Evening of Heads

13th October 2020


This proved to be a most enjoyable evening. Still life often presents the problem of how to make it interesting and challenging. An assortment of borrowed stone heads from a rather grand garden did the trick together with a few hips, berries and teasels for good measure. Many Members brought further varied and interesting heads and indeed there was almost one each.

The still life groups were set up beautifully with proper lighting etc. and the colourful display of artworks below illustrates a wide range of media and technique.




Pastel Demonstration by John Tookey

22nd September 2020

East Anglian artist John Tookey resides in the picturesque market town of Saffron Walden, Essex. John trained in Graphic Design and Fine Art at the Sir John Cass School of Art in London during the Sixties. He is justly famous for his dynamic, bold watercolours and pastels that sparkle with light. He has exhibited work with many prestigious galleries, is an author and tutor and a Member of the Pastel Society. John works in all mediums and trys to capture the essence of the subject rather than a very topographical likeness. He will frequently work on-site or from sketches completed at the scene, the effects of light and atmosphere on a subject particularly interest him.

30 HAS members filed into our Cowbridge Hall that was well prepared with CV19 restrictions; it looked like an exam room as the chairs were placed at the required distances. It was good to see familiar faces - partially - as we were all “masked up” as necessary.

John started by informing us about the “Mount Board” he uses that suits this medium, because it doesn't cockle when a water-based paint is applied. He used a grey board as a good neutral base for the picture he was going to demonstrate - “A Street Scene in Cambridge” which he frequents with his sketch book as it is vital to have a sketch from which to produce a picture. He advised that even if we plan to paint from a photograph it would be a good idea to make a sketch of the photo first.

The pastels he had were the softer quality as, in his view, the harder ones are not worth buying. “Choose the softest that you can afford”, he suggested. Always make notes of the colours as you sketch for future reference. He attached his sketch to the edge of the mount board and started to draw the outline of the street scene with a thin dark pastel; he said one could use a pencil or charcoal for this too. He went back and forth from the board to check that this outline was correctly proportioned.

Surprisingly he then went on to use water colour as a base for this pastel picture saying that it somehow gave a better base to his picture. Using large brushes he roughly painted in the darker bits of his picture eg: deep reddish colour for the roof / dark brown for the windows / yellow core for another stone building / lighter brown for the side of one of the other buildings / dark green for the bushes on the side etc. He added shadows where required as it was important to assess where the light was coming from. The first photograph of his painting shows his picture at the water colour stage. He kept going back and forth making sure that all the darker bits of the pictures were addressed rather roughly but properly and then dried it all with a hair dryer.

The next stage was to add colour with the pastels starting with the roof outline edges and then white walls of the building and so on till the windows and chimneys were all coming to life so to speak. To give contrast he added lighter shades of green to the bushes and touches of white for railings and bicycles leaning on them as they do in Cambridge. He filled in the car and people along the street in a very rough and suggestive manner with not a single detail outline as such and yet it all looked remarkably full of life at the end of this session. He used colour on the people in order to pick up on the main centre of interest - he dotted and dashed additional colours that brought the painting to life as we sat watching in wonder of his skill.

John ended by saying he did “Suggestive Pictures” with not too much detail of outlines etc and I would add an adjective to that by saying his picture was a “Wonderfully Suggestive Picture” as you can see from the second picture attached to this write up.

John was warmly thanked for sharing his expertise with us. This demonstration was accomplished and exciting and many of us will feel inspired to try and create a pastel painting using his method.

Winter Programme 2020 - 2021 / Update

2020 was a very difficult year although many of our Members have been able to lose themselves in their imaginary world of creating artworks as a temporary respite from the real one outside. It looks as if this is an escape route we are going to need for some time yet.

Our two annual Exhibitions in 2020, the Open Exhibition in April and the Members’ Show in November, took place on-line. It was rewarding to be able to see such varied and exciting works displayed in this way. It was possible to meet for sessions at the start of the 2020 - 2021 Winter Programme in September and October, with appropriate measures in place, and to hold some Life Workshops. Zoom sessions were a great asset and enabled further sessions in November and December.

We plan to keep to our Winter Programme as far as is possible. Forthcoming Tuesday evening events will, where this can be arranged, go ahead via Zoom. Members will be sent links via email. Please click on link to Calendar for details of these sessions.

The Life Workshops scheduled for 30th January, 27th February and 27th March 2021 will go ahead as Zoom sessions and Members will be able to draw and sketch our model during the morning session, from 10am to 1pm. There will be no charge. The Saturday Life Sessions are only available to Members and prospective Members who should contact the Workshop Manager in advance if they wish to join the class by emailing [email protected]. A link will be sent via email. Please click on link to Life Workshop details. Life Workshops at Cowbridge Halls will resume in September 2021.

It is hoped that the Society will be able to hold the 2021 Open Exhibition from Saturday 17th - Saturday 24th July (Handing-in on Saturday 10th July) at Cowbridge Halls, Hertford SG14 1PG. In the Autumn it is planned to hold our Members’ Show on 29th, 30th and 31st October, also at Cowbridge Halls.

New Members are always welcome so if you would like to participate in the forthcoming Zoom sessions and submit work to future exhibitions please click on link to Membership details.

Saturday Life Workshops

WHY LIFE DRAWING AND PAINTING? – Some may say it is old fashioned, but practising Life Drawing enhances observation and accuracy. Interpreting the shape of the human body trains the artist to see almost every curve line and subtle undulation found in nature. The satisfaction of producing an acceptable image can be quite intense. It does not happen immediately and demands a great deal of practice to achieve.

Hertford Art Society runs Life Workshops in Cowbridge Halls, Hertford, SG14 1PG on the last Saturday of 9 months during the year. Although these are primarily run for Members we welcome enthusiastic visitors at £17.00 per session (£9.00 per half day), 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. The photographs below illustrate the exciting variety of work produced by the artists.

There are many different approaches to life drawing which become very obvious during the sessions. We are a very enthusiastic group of artists and in a relaxed atmosphere we learn from each other different skills and methods of working, as well as experimenting with different mediums etc. 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. So why not join us if you haven’t already.

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.

Life Models Workshops within HAS Winter Programme for 2020 - 2021

  • Saturday - 26th September 2020
  • Saturday - 24th October 2020
  • Cancelled - Saturday - 28th November 2020
  • Saturday - 30th January 2021 (10am - 1pm) Available to Members via Zoom.
  • Saturday - 27th February 2021 (10am - 1pm)
  • Saturday - 27th March 2021 (10am - 1pm) Available to Members via Zoom.

If you are interested please contact [email protected] for further details.

Summer Programme 2020 - Cancelled

Following Government Guidelines (Issued on 22nd May 2020 which state that all public gatherings are prohibited by law, the Hertford Art Society Summer Programme 2020 has been cancelled.

To see Guidance, click here for more details

Should the Guidelines alter, it may be possible to reinstate events later in the Summer at which time a revised programme will be published.

The Society’s Winter programme of Talks, Demonstrations and Workshops is scheduled to begin on Tuesday 8th September 2020 at Cowbridge Halls, Cowbridge, Hertford and it is hoped that it will be possible for this to commence from this date.

Please refer to this website for updates.

28th May 2020

Summer Sketching Evenings 2019

The 2019 Summer Evening Open-Air Sketching Programme opened on 21st May with a visit to an indoor venue. Hertford Art Society Members were invited once again to sketch at one of the Hertford Choral Society’s rehearsal evenings. This was an evening full of music and movement and was greatly enjoyed.

Evening, Folly Island - Trevor Chamberlain - Watercolour Billy and Friend at Westmill by Stephen Lowe - Oil

Stanstead Abbotts - Ray Ward The Hertford Allotments - Stephen Lowe - Oil

The following week saw us enjoying the bright evening sunshine on Hartham Common and the Folly Allotments. This particular evening turned out to be probably the best evening weather of the Programme.

Painting the villages of Bayford and Brickendon on 4th May was disappointingly cloudy, and the following week was no better at Sawbridgeworth Maltings with only 4 Members attending. However, the painting weekend at Aldeburgh on 7th to 9th June was enjoyed by about 19 Members.

Hertford by Ray Ward  Hertford Lock by Ray Ward

Rainy weather on the two following Tuesday evenings was disappointing. July improved with a sunny evening at Standon and a well-attended evening at Hertford Lock, despite a dull evening.

Stanstead Abbots on the 16th July was more as a summer evening should be. After another sunny evening at Westmill Village it was back to a dull, cold evening at Stanborough Lakes on the 30th. On 6th August a handful of members painted Ware Town and the Programme concluded with a very enjoyable meal out for the hardy artists.

Lock number 1 Hertford - John Jarratt - watercolour  Near Stapleford - John Jarratt - Watercolour

Sawbridgeworth - John Jarratt - Graphite  Westmill - John Jarratt - Watercolour

Above Standon - John Jarratt - WatercolourAdvance Notice

During our Summer Sketching Programme next year, the Quakers are very keen to have us paint/sketch in the Friends Meeting House in Hertford as part of the celebrations to commemorate the construction of the building 350 years ago. One session would be on a Thursday evening and one all-day Saturday. Dates to be advised.