Workshops and Retreats

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Shadowed Places – Past and Present

Northumberland, October 2023

I am over the moon to be sharing my local area of Northumberland for another workshop. This time we dive deep into history and a sense of atmosphere and place – the castles and ruins that dominate this landscape and remind us of times long since passed. 

We will explore iconic historical landmarks such as the gloriously decadent Alnwick Castle and Gardens – Ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland (and, of course, made famous by the story of a certain boy wizard Harry Potter). 

Holy Island is a very special place – separated from the mainland by a tidal causeway, the Priory is the scene of the Viking invasion of Britain, and the Lindisfarne Castle is an instantly recognisable silhouette on this tiny island. 

Warkworth Castle is my favourite castle in the area and is fascinating in its darkened and shadowed chambers, passageways, and archways. Wonderful, mysterious and sure to inspire our creativity during this workshop. 

There are so many hidden and treasured locations to explore in Northumberland. It’s a challenge to pick only a few! Layers and layers of history, shape, texture, atmosphere and narrative are abundant, and we will gather lots of inspiration to create unique interpretations of our response to all that is to be discovered here. 

Doorways, arched windows, crumbling walls, ancient textures and text. Silhouettes and shadows. Heraldry and statues. Decadence and decay. The marks left by those long since departed. The colours in the landscape and ancient buildings. We will gather personal interpretations of all these things, which we will use to spark even deeper exploration back in the studio.

I will be demonstrating various simple ways of gathering inspiration from the fascinating multi-layered forms of castles and the priory. The shapes we find in ruins will be the spark that will inspire sculptural book forms with mixed media with an additional focus on texture and atmosphere. Shadowy, inky colour washes, flowing, gestural lines and wonderful mark-making and textural details. Layers that fold out to form fascinating interpretations of the wonderful ancient architecture of the area. 

These books could then inspire some larger mixed media interpretations and compositions that build history and atmosphere, lost and found structures and evocative details layer upon layer. 

This workshop is organised by Kathie Vezzani of Bellissima Art Escapes. Please visit her website for further details and registration information.

What Students are Saying

I just want to thank you for all the time and hard work you put into this course. You are a very gifted teacher and I am grateful that you are so willing and open to sharing your techniques and insights with your students. Because of you, I am not only becoming a better artist, I am becoming a HAPPIER, more expressive artist and that is more important than anything. Thank you!”

Louise Duhamel

I can’t say enough about this course. I think it was the most fulfilling course I’ve ever taken.

Alyse Sanders

I feel this course is helping me to achieve full circle in my quest to find my true style. I am still working my way through all the insightful lessons and find myself re-visiting the videos, because every time I do I find something I did not grasp before. It has most definitely met my expectations and so much more…It does not spoon feed but rather encourages one to experiment and explore.

Tania Bain

“As a beginner, I’ve wondered how do you mix paints?…use pastels?…what papers? surfaces? pencils or charcoal? And how DOES one use the colour wheel? So many materials, methods, and all so confusing. Can’t someone please explain it all? Well, Gillian has. It’s all here, beautifully demonstrated in excellent video. Gillian is the most talented, generous, inspiring teacher. I’ve gone back over the lessons again and again, each time deriving more benefit and seeing improvement in my work. I’m so grateful for this extraordinary course.”

Arlene Lombardo

“Thank you so much for such an amazing course! When I try to describe it to friends I say that it is like an entire bachelor of fine arts curriculum in 6 weeks! That is what it seems like because it is so packed with information and exercises. I will be working on these lessons for many months to come. Thank you for your insights, generosity and gorgeous work.”

Anne O’Connor

“I want to share my extremely wonderful experience of taking Gillian’s class Unearth Gather Create. As a returning painter with years of no active drawing or painting, this thorough, intense complete class of wonderful tutorials, content, tips and writing exercises revived my passion for art. I have done many drawings, paintings and sketches. I have redone a porch to use as a studio and I am working in my journals to ready myself for two new series of paintings. Please take this class and trust you will have a wonderful journey.”

Joan Tucker

“I have LOVED the class and will enjoy continuing my study as I slowly work my way through. You are not only a gifted artist, but a generous and kind person. I thank you for your giving spirit which shone through each and every video. I hope to someday take a class from you in person!”

Beth Cole

“I have been taking classes for the last year or so pretty regularly. Gillian’s class is totally different. I feel like I am in art school! The first week was more info then a lot of month long classes. Gillian comments on every piece shown on the page and is there daily encouraging and prompting us. I would recommend it to everyone.”

Sandy Belt

“I have adored Gillian Cox’s work for several years now. When I found out she was teaching an online workshop, there was no hesitation. I signed up. Now I have taken many classes and not always, but sometimes my expectations are much higher than what the class actually is. Not so with Gillian. I just wanted to watch her work because her work is so deep and thought provoking and unbelievably beautiful. She is an excellent teacher. She is talking as she is creating and able to really explain what she is doing in such exquisite detail.”

Kate Thompson

“She teaches the foundation of drawing the portrait which is so important to all levels, for beginners to learn and for more experienced artist to revisit. She then demonstrates expressively her creations which gives the students the ability to take from foundational work into a more expressive and personal direction. Absolutely the best class I have ever taken.”

Kate Thompson

“Gillian is an amazing artist and an equally amazing teacher. What a comprehensive, professional, creative, responsive, beautiful presentation with superb videos and art instruction, gorgeous images and written materials to enhance learning, and creative inspiration to enable students to unearth their own inner vision for their art. Every day I come to the online classroom with so much renewed passion for art. And proof that the best teachers are also always learning themselves, Gillian frequently asks if we have any feedback for her as an instructor. The environment she has created is supportive and welcoming of everyone at every stage in their own creative exploration. This is so much more than an online art course. It is art school with a group of friends that includes the brilliant, generous instructor.”

Joanne Rose

“Unearth Gather Create has been a revelation, delivering so much more than I’d hoped for (and my hopes were high to begin with)! Rich in content, it will provide food for thought and creativity for months (and probably years) to come. Gillian is a natural tutor – patient, generous, and always encouraging, her passion for art is infectious. I quickly forgot this was an e-course, as it feels like she’s explaining everything to me in the same room! Can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Magdalena Moon

 “So delighted I signed up for your course, Unearth Gather Create. I really did not know what to expect and have been so impressed with your approach as a tutor, the course content and your ability to connect with your ‘students’. Watching you model a technique, listening to the clarity of your explanations and receiving your constructive feedback is allowing me to develop important understanding and knowledge while inviting me to find my own voice. I am excited by the way in which you are allowing me to think, to see and to connect with Art. I would recommend your course without reservation and wish you every success in the future.”


Dalene Robertson

 “I would recommend your course without reservation and wish you every success in the future.”


Dalene Robertson

 “I was in art school as of last year and everything I learn from you is just as valuable if not more than art school. What you are teaching and how you teach is one of the greatest gifts to give someone who has never been to art school and/or can’t afford it. It’s my dream to create an online school teaching art to kids and adults because of those reasons I mentioned. So I admire you and you have been an inspiration.

Jennifer Perry

 “Wonderful content, superb teacher, fine art instruction without any the worry of my skill level, but thorough & comprehensive…Artfully & Thoughtfully Done!

Lynne O’Neal

Watching you paint and draw is immensely useful. I learn so much. And I love the way you write about artistic expression.

Sharyle Doherty

I love everything about her style – her teaching – just everything!!!!!

Suzanne O’Mullan

“I was highly impressed by the amount of content in the course, it was like a college semester worth of information!”

Amber Walker

“Drawn to Expression is great and strong in all strands! Structure, presentation, practical videos, inspirational quotes, incredible content and words from an Artist/Tutor who is passionate to share her knowledge and expertise with her students. For me, each strand enriches my own journey.”

Debbie Gould

“Your videos demonstrate a technique and how you use it, how to express with the mediums/technique. Then the assignments dovetail in such a way that everyone experiments and produces something different…different expressions. This is not a paint by numbers course.”

Mardi Driftmier

“Gillian, the class I took from you, Drawn to Expression, was absolutely incredible. My art has grown, deepened, and loosened in such positive ways, by what I have learned from you. A totally exceptional class!”

Suzy Norris

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