Courses,  In Person Sessions & Zoom Classes

“Mary does not ‘teach’ as such;  she introduces a painting (or an artist, or an idea) and then enters a process of mutual discovery as a co-explorer, always stimulating an attitude of ‘gazing’ and encouraging a heart response.   She fosters the development of  individuals having an openness of vision to perceive what is going on in themselves as well as what the basic intention of the artist might be. Mary’s classes are inspirational.   They have a spiritual dimension in the broadest sense, and encourage the participator to find their ‘inner eye’ to perceive not so much facts and figures about artists and art history, but how art can change us.   At the same time, Mary is very kind and attentive to all her students, and respects everyone’s contribution.   Her classes are wholly accessible both to folk who have in-depth experience of ‘art appreciation’ and those who have little.”

Veronica Bennetts

 

 

The Art of Seeing  

Reclaiming Ourselves: Art as an invaluable guide in today’s world  

 

Thursday 20th January 2022,  7-8pm (UK time) by Zoom

“It is easy to think of art as an add on, but it is best to think of it the other way round – that it’s the doing it, seeing it, participating in it which makes us. We become fully ourselves.” Antony Gormley, Sculptor

 These online sessions on The Art of Seeing, run every month. You do not have to commit to any number of sessions and each session will take a slightly different, explorative approach with just one work of art.
For the first Art of Seeing session for 2022 we will consider the work of art as an invaluable teacher and guide for us today. As we emerge in our world during the ongoing pandemic, for many of us, our plans and usual ways of living have been altered because of the changes we have had to implement. We will consider how art may be a valuable and often overlooked source of wisdom which can help us navigate our way through our world and lives in challenging times.  Engaging with art in deeper and more thoughtful ways can help us move beyond just the ‘personal’ to seeing a vision of something larger, and yet this a vision that is frequently obscured by the current dominant rhetoric.  During this session, we will take one work of art as our focus, observing attentively and quietly in order to really see and feel our own responses. This will be followed by any words, thoughts and insights you may wish to share.  We will then explore the image further which will include its historical/ philosophical context. As usual the work of art will not be revealed until the evening but I can tell you that the image we will be seeing is one which was created during a time of immense changes in the Western world, changes which bear some resemblance to our own today, and where a more profound vision of what it meant to be human was reclaimed.
The Art of Seeing – Overview
We know how to read a book and get lost in the other world of the imagination, and we allow ourselves to be moved emotionally and viscerally by music, but have we lost our visionary capacity when it comes to looking at works of art?
Just one work of art will be the focus of our attention and discussion each month. By slowing down and taking time with each work of art, we are able to relax and un-wind, observe detail, character, emotion, gesture, atmosphere, nuances and subtleties presented through the image that are simply not possible from rushed or fleeting glances. When we spend longer than a few minutes looking, we are also able to engage more embodied responses which include imagination, visualisation, contemplation, meditation and reflection, all modalities of knowing and seeing that are just not attainable from a rational mode of looking. Space will be created for you to share what you see, perceive and feel as well as learning a little about the context of each work of art.
This class is  £10 per household. Email me directly to book at info@maryattwood.com or you can use the PayPal button below. This session will be recorded so if you are unable to make this time, you can still purchase the recording. 

 

How To Look at Art 

  Five Week Course, Mondays 10th Jan, 17th Jan, 24th Jan, 31st Jan, 7th Feb 2022 

10am – 1pm, via Zoom

When it comes to looking at art, there is so much more than meets the eye. But often we do not know how to look. In our modern times where our eyes flit from one thing to the next many thousands of times in a day, have we lost our powers of observation and how is this impacting us? And more importantly, what are we missing when we don’t know how to look. Looking at art in ways the go beyond just analysis can open entire new vistas of understanding and perceptions and yet we also need the practical and historical to find a way in. This course will take you through the practical steps of looking at the components of art, before we move into the layers of meaning in art which will include the four senses of interpretation. You will discover how to approach and better understand art, and how to change your attention towards it so you can get beneath just surface interpretations. We will look at both painting and sculpture and how these require different forms of understanding and engaging. By the end of the course, you will feel more confident when it comes to looking at works of art. There will be plenty of exercises for you to do as well as time for discussion and questions. If you have attended this course before, there will be different works of art we have not looked at before, as we track art from ancient to modern times. 

 Please bring pen / pencil and a notebook. This course will be recorded for all participants so if you cannot make the live session or will miss some of the sessions you will be able to watch in your own time.

£101 for the five weeks.

Medieval Images and Imagination 

  Saturday 5th February 2022 

10am – 1pm, via Zoom

The Medieval period in Europe bore witness to some of the most significant and obvious changes in art. From the 1200s and into early Renaissance (1400s) the rise of the image  as being a powerful vehicle for conveying messages and ideas really began to flourish, and key to this was the understanding of the imagination not as fantasy but as something divine. The division we currently understand between the sacred and the secular didn’t exist at this time and this entire period pre-empted the Renaissance. We also see at this time a re-discovery and application of the art of sacred geometry in architecture, we see the rise of the Mendicant orders beginning with Francis of Assisi, and works of art themselves begin to come alive with a new vitality and understanding of the human body and emotions, which was underpinned by great skill and discovery. We will look at works of art and architecture from Italy, France, Northern Europe and Germany. Please bring pen / pencil and a notebook. For more information and to book, click here. 

 

Stories and Myths in Art 

  Five Week Course, Mondays 21st Feb, 28th Feb, 7th March, 14th March, 21st March 2022

10am – 1pm, via Zoom

Venture into the fascinating world of art and the stories they convey and that have inspired people for thousands of years to the present day. Visually and viscerally enter the world of the stories of art and discover a world rich in history and in the imagination.

In this five week course, we will journey through the stories and myths in art. Whether stories of Christian or Pagan myths, through mysterious and hidden meanings, stories of land and sea, stories of dreamscapes and other worlds or stories of the every day, the rich panoply of the stories in art allow us to connect to these images in a more meaningful and direct way.   Stories evoke emotions and connection and when these are played out in art, they work through deeper layers of the psyche, the imagination and the heart. This course will build on past learning, week by week, to develop new abilities. You will find your own progress much easier if you attend every lesson.

 Please bring pen / pencil and a notebook. For more information and to book, click here. 

 

 

The Creative Genius of Leonardo da Vinci  

Intelletto (Intellect) , Invenzione (Skill & Discovery), Fantasia (Imagination) and the Sensus Communis (Common Sense)

  Three Week Course Sundays 6th, 13th & 20th March 2022 

3- 5pm, via Zoom

Leonardo da Vinci barely needs an introduction. His name is associated with genius, a man whose insatiable desire to discover what lay behind the world of natural phenomena led him to become the archetypal renaissance man equally adept at painting as he was with creating ideas for warfare and entertaining the court. Yet Leonardo was also a human being who encountered his own struggles and worked incredibly hard, incorporating a number of different qualities and cognitive faculties which co-existed alongside each other. During the Renaissance, the separation we might see today of the artistic with the scientific and with the sacred and secular did not exist. The artistic was brought together with geometry and mathematics,  and with that, the Renaissance artist allowed different ways of thinking and seeing to mutually inform each other and his/her practice.  Inventor, scientist, mathematician, painter and more, this course will explore the qualities Leonardo possessed or nurtured in order to create what he did. Leonardo was not simply divinely inspired in his creative genius, but developed and nurtured a number of different qualities that go into the broad term ‘creativity’.  We will look at the qualities of intelletto (higher Intellect), invenzione (skill and discovery), fantasia (imagination) and the sensus communis (common sense) as they were understood during the Renaissance in Leonardo’s quest to become one of the greatest human beings of all time.  We will  follow Leonardo’s life chronologically and ask what we still might be able to learn from his work and approach today as we explore his works of art, finished and unfinished, some of his inventions, and his thoughts and words.

 Please bring pen / pencil and a notebook. For more information and to book, click here. 

 

 

The Classical Tradition in Art

  Saturday 12th March 2022

10am – 1pm, via Zoom

 

Why has the classical tradition been such a constant source for architects, artists and sculptors? How did this ‘style’ or way of showing its visual forms evolve and develop? For ancient cultures, the classical proportions, harmony and beauty shown through architecture, sculpture and painting were a means of conveying the divine proportions of the cosmos, expressed through mathematics and geometry, and of revealing the higher aspects of the soul and other beings or ‘Ideas’. These archetypes of Beauty, Love, Wisdom -and also War – and so forth are expressed in the most exquisite images in sculpture and painting at the centre of which is the human body. And architecture was understood as the highest expression of the cosmos in physical form. In this session we will look at the beginnings of the classical tradition from ancient Greece, beginning with the work of Phidias and the Parthenon and follow it through to Roman times, the Renaissance, when it was revived after a long period of dormancy, to the neo-classical period and finally to today and how artists and architects have re-appropriated it. Please bring pen / pencil and a notebook. For more information and to book, click here. 

 

 

ALL COURSES LISTED BELOW ARE PREVIOUS COURSES

 

Seeing Masterpieces with Fresh Eyes 

 Saturday 27th November 2021,  10am- 3.30pm  

First in-person teaching session since lockdown! 

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, HP9 1RN

This day workshop is my first time teaching in person since lockdown so I am very much looking forward to it. This session will invite you to look at some well-known works of art with a different perception, or ask if that is even possible. Have we become complacent when looking at great works of art because they have appeared in adverts, on chocolate boxes and all manner of commercial products? We will look at some ‘masterpieces’ of art close up, discover different ways of seeing and engaging with these great works, ask ‘what makes a masterpiece?’ and look anew with fresh eyes. The course is for all abilities. The aim of the course is to give you the opportunity to look at great works of art in more detail, and form your own opinions as to what you think makes a masterpiece. You will also have the opportunity to share your own views, insights and perceptions about these works of art. Please bring pen / pencil and a notebook. 

 

The Post- Impressionists

 

Five week course via Surrey Adult Learning, 

Fridays 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th November and 3rd December 2021,

10am- 1pm  

via ZOOM 

 

Be inspired and intrigued each week as we look in-depth at the world of the Post-Impressionists as well as some of the works they created. At a time when we are becoming less engaged with each other, and in a world where the virtual is taking over from the real and experienced, exploring biographies of great artists helps to re-engage us with character and with uniqueness – qualities which enhance our minds and lives. The Post- Impressionist artists each established their own unique style but were united by a shared intention to change the appearance of art established by the French Impressionists. This course will look at the work of Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Seurat and others, following both the ideas behind their work as well as their artistic styles and approaches. Rejecting the naturalistic colours and light established by the Impressionists, this group of artists discovered new techniques and approaches which turned away from accurate perspectival space and depth opting for distorted perspective or blocks of colour which sought to capture the new ideas emerging about perception. We will also consider this movement in the broader historical and philosophical context of the changes occurring in Europe at the time. There will be time for participation and discussion. To find out more and to book, click here.

 

Why We Need Art 

Exploring ways of seeing Art: Neuroscientific, Psychological, Philosophical and the Mystical  

Sunday 5th December 2021, 3- 5.30 pm (UK time)   

  via Zoom  

This session will include both theory and participation as we take a journey through the ways in which art can be perceived; from the neuroscientific, the psychological, the philosophical and the mystical, and the implications these approaches may have on us, the viewer,  by seeing through these different lenses. For millennia Western art has been a means through which humans sought to understand their place in, and relationship to, the world. But in modern times, many of these approaches have been lost. As we track the points in our history where these changes occurred from the Reformation and subsequent Enlightenment, we will take a  journey through the works of art themselves as artists sought to either express a loss of enchantment from the world, or conversely embrace it. Drawing on modern neuroscience, psychology, ancient Greek philosophy and the mystical traditions, each of these modes of knowing and approaches to art will be considered in turn as examples of great architecture, paintings and sculpture are explored. The work of ancient Greek and Renaissance philosophers, psychiatrist and author Dr Iain McGilchrist’s theory on the left and right brain hemispheres,  Drs Carl Jung and James Hillman, and the mystical as expressed through ancient wisdom traditions will reveal different ways of seeing and attending to art, which claim to have the potential to be transformative for both image and seer.  

 This session will be £15 per household. To book please click here which will take you to the website for the Centre for Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred.

 

Summer with the Impressionists –

Monday 16th August 2021, 10am- 1pm (UK time) via Zoom

 The Impressionists each had their own style which sought to portray the changing landscape of the late 19th and early 20th century. But they were united in their desire to break with the established tradition of history painting. As industrialisation created the impulse of the move from rural to urban areas, this group of artists told the story of that change and created paintings that simultaneously expressed both the beauty of nature and captured the tension the new changes brought to society and life. In this session there will be time for discussions and some writing and observational exercises as we look at how these artists expressed light, colour and space – and time – in what was considered utterly revolutionary at the time, and not always liked.  

 This session will be £20 per household. To book email me directly at info@maryattwood.com or book via the PayPal button below.

Lives of the Great Artists – Six Week Course,

Mondays  10am- 1pm, 22nd Feb – 29th March 2021 – live online classes via Zoom 

This course will delve into the biographies of some of the world’s greatest artists; their lives, characters, inspirations and psyches from Giotto to Giorgione, Michelangelo to Monet, Botticelli to Brancusi. Discover the fascinating stories about their lives as well as some of the works they created.
Each week we look in-depth at the lives of just a few great artists as well as some of the works they created. At a time when we are becoming less engaged with each other, and in a world where the virtual is taking over from the real and experienced, exploring biographies of great artists helps to re-engage us with character, with personality, with individuality and with uniqueness – qualities which enhance our minds and lives. Spaces for this course is limited. Price – £117 for the course.

 

Caravaggio- Master of Light, Dark & Perception

Friday 19th February 2021, 10am- 1pm live class via Zoom

Following on from the popular session I ran in 2020, in this session we will return to the life of Caravaggio and his extraordinary works of art. This session will focus in detail on some of Caravaggio’s most famous works of art as well as those lesser known. His works are viscerally alive, full of drama, movement and emotion, often concealing deeper meaning, and ask the viewer to be an engaged participant. We will also explore his ideas of perception and us, the viewer, who he invites – or more so confronts – with his images. He continually plays on ideas of perception, of seeing and being seen, and paints himself as the characters he portrays.  We will discover his innovations, his inspirations and his life story which has made him one of the most famous and influential artists in the world. This session is £20 per household and can be booked by clicking on the PayPal button below. Alternatively you can email me directly if you would rather pay by bank transfer at info@maryattwood.com.

 

The Art of Romanticism

Friday 12th February 2021,  10am- 1.00pm live class via Zoom 

This session will look at the Romantic artists who arose from the world of the Enlightenment and subsequent industrialisation. In a world changing faster than they could keep up with, where the machine and industrialisation was reducing the living world to something dead and inanimate, these artists sought to address the growing imbalance they could see in the world by painting both its harsh realities as well as the inner and outer reaches of the mind and imagination. We will look at works by Theodore Gericault, William Blake, Casper David Friedrich and more. 

This five week course will be a visual feast of great works of art but when it comes to looking at art, there is so much more than meets the eye. These sessions will introduce you to a few known ‘masterpieces’ and reveal some little known facts about them. From the efforts Leonardo Da Vinci employed to entertain his famous sitter, the mysterious figures in Van Gogh’s Parisian terrace to the skull at the base of Hans Holbein’s painting, you will discover aspects of works of art you may never have even considered. Spaces are limited. To find out more and to book, see here.

 

Leonardo Da Vinci – His Life and Work 

Two week course via Surrey Adult Learning, Wednesday 4th November and Wednesday 11th November 2020, 7- 9pm – ZOOM classes

Often heralded as the archetypal Renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci was truly one of the great polymaths of his time and arguably unrivalled since. Scientist, mathematician, inventor, painter, sculptor and writer, Leonardo had an insatiable yearning to discover what might lie behind the world of natural phenomena. Leonardo wrote, ‘all our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions” which is commonly misunderstood today as just referring to that which we can see. But during Renaissance Italy, when Leonardo lived and worked, the eye was considered the window to the soul.  This class will take a voyage through his life and beautiful works of art, from finished masterpieces, unfinished works, drawings and explorations of the human anatomy, which provide some insight into this fascinating figure from history. Spaces are limited for this. To find out more and to book, see here.

 

Reclaiming Beauty – Sculpture: from Myron to Michelangelo 

via Surrey Adult Education,  Friday 20th November 2020, 10am – 1pm – ZOOM class

To echo the words, ‘reclaiming beauty’ from Sir Roger Scruton, this course will focus on European Sculpture from Myron to Michelangelo, Rodin to Giacometti with an emphasis on the changing face and meaning of beauty.
From the ancient Greek sculptor Myron to Renaissance genius Michelangelo, from the revival of classical art through French sculptor Rodin, to the elongated figures created by Giacometti, sculpture has changed through millennia. This session will look in- depth at great sculpture with a specific focus on the sculptor’s intention of encapsulating beauty, what beauty meant to them, and how the meaning of beauty has changed over time. Spaces are limited.