Chairman’s Newsletter

Chairman’s Report April 2018

Review of Activities

The Art Circle has enjoyed another successful year and I am pleased to say that all the practical activities: the Portrait Group, the Life Drawing Group and the Saturday Workshops have continued to grow in popularity. The new Summer Workshop with Francis Bowyer was also fully subscribed.

I am sure all the members who take part in these painting/drawing groups would like to thank: Lesley Fisher and Chris Head, who run the Life Group; Muriel Lacey and Pam Hemming who organise the Saturday Workshops; and David Weight who did so much work to make sure the Summer Workshop at The Southwold Sailing Club ran smoothly.

The attendance at some of the Friday afternoon talks has occasionally been disappointing. This is a pity. Those who have turned out on what I must confess have been some very cold days, have been well rewarded. Jack has worked hard to persuade a wide variety of speakers to visit us and members who have taken a risk, so to speak, and made the effort to come to a talk which they weren’t sure about have usually been pleasantly surprised. It is important not to underestimate what we, as practising painters, can learn from painters whose approach, subject matter and style maybe very different from our own.

Review of the Annual Summer Exhibition

The total sales last summer were £5,315 (compared with £4,040 in 2016). 40 paintings were sold (44 in 2016). Card sales were up from £152 in 2016 to £265 despite the drop in visitor numbers, down to 769 from 959 in 2016.

So well done everyone for putting on another successful show; I have heard that many art clubs are struggling to maintain sales in these strange and uncertain times

The variety of subject matter and individual painting styles continues to amaze visitors and the feedback in the Visitors Book is always both positive and encouraging.

The Future

I am very pleased to report that Laina West has agreed to become the Exhibitions Officer and is recruiting a team of helpers to organise and run the summer exhibition. Laina is already planning a long overdue review of the exhibition and has come up with some exciting ideas. This year the screens will be refurbished and arranged in a more open layout. It seems appropriate to invest profits made from previous exhibitions into future exhibitions and use the money to enhance the presentation of member’s work in line with rising standards. New lighting has been purchased and the advertising banner and hand-made boards will be replaced by professionally made promotion notices.

John Dawkins has agreed to become the Publicity Officer.

This year marks the end of an era. After many years of dedicated service David Weight and Jane Pollock have decided to give up their posts on the committee, although both have kindly agreed to help out when necessary. It is impossible to measure the immense contribution David and Jane have made to the Art Circle in the past, particularly as most of their work has been carried out, without complaint, behind the scenes.

We have had to replace David with a team of members (and a paid professional to prepare the accounts) as the number of jobs David has been carrying out on our behalf is only now becoming apparent. The question, “What will we do without him?” has never been more appropriate.

And I must acknowledge the often thankless work Jane has faithfully carried out, such as keeping the minutes of the committee meetings and thoroughly checking the paper work on Exhibition Handing-in Day. We are looking at ways of marking their contributions to the Art Circle.

Finally, I have to say, we are about to find out something I have long dreaded, which is how I will manage without their support.

Thank you

There are many other members who work in the background, whose work we all take for granted, for example: Barry Tolfree produces all the posters, Alan Wiltshire can always be relied on if there is the opportunity to do any heavy lifting and Lenny Townsend is our go to handyman.

Finally, I would like to thank our President, Jack Stephenson, for his support, encouragement and friendship and all the members who have generously entrusted the Chairmanship of the Southwold Art Circle to me.

Thank you.


Southwold Art Circle – Chairman’s Newsletter, December 2017


Please see the programme of activities accompanying this Newsletter. If you receive your Art Circle correspondence by email the Talk Programme as well as the details of the other activities will come as a separate email.

The Saturday Workshop flyer/booking form is also a separate document/ separate email.

The Annual Exhibition in 2017 - A brief review

The total sales this year were £5,315 (compared with £4,040 in 2016). 40 paintings were sold (44 in 2016). Cards sales were up from £152, last year to £265, although visitor numbers dropped to 769; down from 959 in 2016.

So well done everyone for another successful show; I visit many East Anglian Art Clubs so can report that, despite these uncertain times, compared with our painting colleagues in other places are sales and visitor numbers continue to be encouraging.

David Weight and Jane Pollock

I think I once remarked that I hoped I never had to find out what running the Art Circle would be like without the support of David and Jane. We are about to find out. Both David and Jane have indicated that they plan to step down from the Committee at the next A.G.M. in April 2018.

I will say more about their immense contribution to the Art Circle later, but in the meantime we are obviously looking for a Membership Secretary and Minute Secretary. Please email me if you would like to take on either of these two important roles.

I have to say that we have all taken David and Jane for granted and it is now apparent that the work they have both done will probably have to be shared round several members. With this in mind, we are planning to establish an Exhibition Team who will be responsible for planning and organising the annual summer exhibition. Again, if you would like to join this team please contact me: Email:

Final Quotes

"A painting is a picture about something, not a picture of something". (My italics)

“There are countless ways of creating a good painting, but there is one certain way of creating a bad one: depicting precisely what you see”.

Kees van Aalst

A very happy Christmas and healthy, fulfilling New Year.


Southwold Art Circle - Chairman’s Newsletter, August 2017

Please see the Autumn Talk Programme and details of the other activities on the Events page of this website.

Some dates for your 2018 diary: Muriel Lacey has arranged the following Saturday Workshops for next year: 27th January – Wil Harvey; 24th February – Rachel Thomas; 24th March – John Patchett. There will be more details of these workshops with the next newsletter.

Summer Workshop with Francis Bowyer - Note from David Weight

Twenty of us attended a three-day workshop on 8, 9 and 10 August on Blackshore, Southwold. We were lucky enough to have as our tutor the distinguished artist Francis Bowyer who lives part of the year in Walberswick so knows the local scenery well. By means of sketching exercises and encouraging participants to work outside he helped us to deepen our understanding of our varied local landscape and to capture its essence in a medium of our own choosing. We are deeply grateful to Francis for his insights and helpful advice. We would also like to thank Southwold Sailing Club for the use of its premises which were particularly appreciated on the second day when it rained all day. Fortunately we enjoyed warm sunshine on the other two days. David.

The Annual Exhibition in 2017

I am writing this before the exhibition has opened but I can report we have received a large number of entries; more details in the next newsletter.

Final Quote

Leo Tolstoy had a lot to say about what art is. Here is a sample:

"To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it oneself, then by … lines, colours… , so to transmit that feeling that others may experience the same feeling – this is the activity of art."

"The business of art lies just in this, - to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible."

"Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen."


Brief review of the 2016 exhibition

All the paintings submitted were accepted by the judges. They commented that the standard was very high. This year there were slightly fewer visitors than last year; the exhibition coincided with a two week period of very hot weather, and, although fewer paintings were sold, the total income was similar to previous years.

David and I were pleased to see everyone followed the selling/deposit taking instructions this year so finalising the exhibition accounts was a lot more straight forward - thank you.

Once again I must thank the small army of dedicated helpers who do so much unseen work without which it would be impossible to mount such a large exhibition. It is just a pity that we all rely on the same people every year to give up their time. And, once again, I must mention the immense contribution made by David Weight. I hope I never find out what it is like to organise the annual exhibition without him.

Next year's exhibition

Some dates for your diary: in 2017 the annual exhibition will again take place in the Southwold Scout Hall. Handing-in day will be on Saturday, 19th August. The exhibition will run from Monday, 21st August to Sunday, 3rd September.

Some reminders

The annual subscription for next year is now due. Please make sure you pay your £10 promptly if you have not set up a direct debit/standing order.

We urgently need some new blood to assist in the running of the Art Circle, either as a committee member, or someone who is willing to take on a particular responsibility. For example, we are looking to replace Muriel Lacey who wishes to step down after two very successful years of organising the programme of Saturday morning workshops. Please speak to David or me if you are willing to get involved.

Finally, remember that all members can become a Featured Artist on the Art Circle website. Several members have been contacted through this page to teach or undertake commissions.

Saturday Workshop Programme

The schedule of workshops and booking form will be sent as a separate email.

Once again, Muriel Lacey has worked extremely hard on arranging an interesting and varied programme. I know Muriel is very conscientious and has gone to great lengths to satisfy members requests. Thank you, Muriel, for all your hard work. I know it is very much appreciated by regular Workshop participants.

Final quote

"I feel rather ridiculous at not wanting to sell that sketch, especially when such a friend and such a knowing one lusts after it - But if my sketches are not here, how could I prove to myself and others that I am not a duffer ...These sketches keep up my morale and I never sell them".

John Singer Sargent in a letter to William Gair Rathbone.

N.B. Sargent often referred to his watercolour paintings as "sketches".

Very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.


August/September 2016


As I write this letter the annual exhibition has only just opened, it has, however, been a slow start, probably because it is so hot. It will be hard to imagine this high temperature when I write a full report in the next newsletter near Christmas.

Here is a list of all the autumn activities – the talk programme and meeting dates of the painting/life groups. The Saturday Workshop schedule is a separate flyer.

Friday Lecture Programme

Friday, 30th September at 2.30 p.m.

John Craig will talk about his life as engraver: Three Books and a Press.

Friday, 28th October at 2.30 p.m.

Bill Crow on the remarkable career of Samuel Rabin.

Friday, 2nd December at 2.30 p.m.

Forbes Taylor will entertain us all on Motion Pictures.

Life Drawing

The first meeting will be on Thursday, 22nd September, in Reydon Village Hall, 4.30 – 6.30 p.m. The cost of 10 sessions is £45. Art Circle members may attend individual meetings at a cost of £7.50 per session. If you are interested telephone Lesley Fisher on 01502 724638.

Portrait Group

This informal painting group meet in the Guide Hut in Gautley Road, Southwold on Mondays, at 10 a.m. for 2 hours. The first meeting will be on Monday, 12th September. The cost is £3 per morning session. Just turn up if you are interested in joining this popular group.

Saturday Workshops

Muriel Lacey has worked hard to organise a varied programme for the autumn – see the flyer accompanying this letter/separate email attachment. Send completed forms with payment to Muriel straight away; these workshops soon get booked up.

Final Quote

“In a picture of a laughing boy … the whole canvas should be full of laughter.” - Robert Henri.

Enjoy your painting


Summer 2016


The main subject of this newsletter is the Annual Summer Exhibition.

Details of the Autumn Talk Programme, Workshops and other Painting/Drawing Groups will be in the next Newsletter.


There should be two copies of the Exhibition Entry Form with this Newsletter. Members who have opted to receive all their Art Circle correspondence by Email will need to print off two copies of the Entry Form

This year the Exhibition will take place in the Southwold Scout Hall and run from Monday, 22 August to Sunday, 4 September.

The Private View is on Monday evening, 22 August, at 7.30 p.m. and I hope as many members as possible will attend. Members are welcome to bring guests.

The Exhibition Entry Forms have all the details. Please read and follow the instructions carefully.

The judge/selectors are Derek Chambers and Jude Lockie, two active professional artists. Please make their job as difficult as possible!

Annual Subscription

If you have forgotten to renew your membership you will receive a reminder from our Treasurer with this Newsletter. Please make sure you have paid for this year to qualify to take part in the Exhibition.

Open Competition

Wenhaston’s Inspired by Becker Art Society is holding a plein-air painting competition on Saturday, 6 August from 10.30 – 1 p.m. The competition is open to all. To take part, register at St. Peter’s Church, Wenhaston on the 6 August between 10 and 10.30. Visit for more details.

Final Quote

“True artists are almost the only men who do their work for pleasure.” - August Rodin.

Good luck to everyone with their paintings in this year’s exhibition.


December 2015


First of all, apologies for the delay in sending this Newsletter, but I have had to wait until our son came home for Christmas to sort out a major computer problem.

This Newsletter comes with a number of other documents – The Saturday Workshop Programme with Booking Form (sent as a separate document by email), a subscription reminder/request from our Treasurer, David Weight and printed on the back of this letter is the full programme of activities and talks planned for the first half of the New Year. David has also included a note to Members who are Featured Artists on the Art Circle website. If you receive your Art Circle correspondence by email, please ensure you scroll down to view all these documents.

The Annual Exhibition in 2016

Unfortunately the Scout Hall is not available during the week of the Southwold Festival next year. However, David Weight has managed to book the Scout Hall for the last two weeks of August, the time when we traditionally held the annual summer exhibition. It will be interesting to compare the sales and footfall we get during this busy holiday period (it includes August Bank Holiday Monday) with the Festival exhibition figures of the last two years. There will be more details in the next Newsletter, but for the time being please note the Handing-in date is planned for Saturday, 20th August and the exhibition will run from Monday, 22nd August to Sunday, 4th September.

Annual Subscription

Please remember to send/give your annual subscription (£10) to David Weight by the end of January, unless, of course you pay by standing order, or have been super-efficient and have already paid. Thank you.

Final Quote

I have recently been re-reading The Art Spirit by Robert Henri; a book any serious painter should keep by their bedside and regularly dip into. If you haven’t got a copy it would make a great Christmas present. Here’s some advice that so many of us tend to forget sometimes:

“Paint with pleasure!”

On behalf of the Committee may I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.


August 2015


Welcome to a new season of the Art Circle. This Newsletter has all the details of the various events taking place this autumn.

The schedule of activities, including the Friday afternoon Lecture Programme, the start dates of Life Drawing and Portrait Groups are listed together on one page. The booking form for the Saturday Workshops should be sent to Muriel Lacey – see the separate flyer.

Brief review of this year’s summer Festival Exhibition

All the paintings submitted this year were accepted by the Judges.

959 people visited the exhibition – about the same number as last year. 44 paintings were sold (42 were sold in 2014). The average price of the paintings sold was £105; the average last year was £104, although this year the maximum price achieved was £300, as opposed to £185 last year. It was also nice to see a good spread of sales across the membership

I am grateful to Stephen Curtis, our exhibition treasurer, for supplying these statistics.

Congratulations to all prize winners.

The general feeling is that this year’s show was a success. And from the committee’s point of view the exhibition went very smoothly. This was largely due to all the members who kindly volunteered to help: Mary Taylor, Jane Pollock, Keith Stringer, Lenny and Frankie Townsend, David Walsh, Brian West, Tim Gilbert, Mike Holtom and Richard Newnham – thank you all.

As usual Barry Tolfree designed the posters and Stephen Curtis kept a record of the sales, a task which gets bigger every year with the increasing number of red spots.

David Weight made his customary huge contribution to the smooth running of the exhibition, much of it unseen but all essential: booking the Scout Hall, contacting helpers, organising the entry forms, preparing the rota for stewards, all the picture labels (over 200 this year), organising the catalogue and prize winner’s certificates – work we all take for granted largely because David does it with so little fuss.

On behalf of the members I would also like to thank Alan Wiltshire for his “heavy lifting” contributions. Alan not only turns up to help with the screen lifting for the exhibitions, but also for the other activities - workshops and group sessions - which require furniture to be moved.

Alan is an example of a member who is not on the Committee but nevertheless is always ready to help. We can always do with more help so if you would like to contribute please speak to David or me.

I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone who helped make this year’s exhibition such a success, but thank you all the same.

A website worth checking

Laina West has asked me to draw your attention to this website: It has details of thousands of East Anglian artists. Laina said many entries, including hers, had irrelevant and incorrect personal information. Please check and contact the website owner if necessary.

Saturday Workshops

Muriel Lacey has taken over the organisation of these popular workshops from Marie Paine – see the enclosed leaflet.

I would like to thank Marie for all the work she has done in running these sessions so efficiently over the last two years; happy “retirement” Marie.

Southwold Art Circle website

Please visit the website for the latest Newsletter and details of all the events.

All the current Featured Artists and anyone who has already approached me about joining this page on the Art Circle website will be contacted during September about up-dating their statements and refreshing their pictures.

Local painting classes

A number of members of the Art Circle are experienced tutors and run regular classes and workshops in this area – Jack Stephenson (oil portraits), Dawn Pretty (various mediums and subjects) and Andrew Pitt (watercolour landscapes). If you are interested in joining any of these weekly classes please contact the tutor direct.


I am grateful to Maryrose Rintoul who suggested Katherine Hamilton as a possible speaker and put me in touch with her. Katherine will be talking about her life and work on the 27th November and it should be an interesting talk.

If anyone else has ideas for topics and speakers please speak to me or Jack.

Personal Note

I will be showing a group of recent watercolours at The Serena Hall Gallery in Southwold during October. All painted “in the field.”

Final Quote

This has become one of my favourite quotes since I stumbled across it while viewing an exhibition. It demonstrates how sound advice cuts across geographical boundaries (the Atlantic Ocean in this case) and across the ages (from the 19th to the 20th century).

The American painter, Fairfield Porter said once, “When I paint, I think that what would satisfy me is to express what Bonnard said Renoir told him: Make everything more beautiful”.

Very best wishes and happy painting,


April 2015


This Newsletter comes with two copies of the new look Exhibition Entry Form. Please read it carefully before filling in. On-line members should print two copies. They will need one for reference as it is important to note your stewarding times and keep them free.

I have also included a full schedule of planned Art Circle activities, that is, the dates of the Portrait and Life Groups, the dates of the two remaining Friday meetings and the key dates of the Annual Summer (Southwold Festival) Exhibition.

Other News

New Projector

The Art Circle has recently purchased a new projector. In the past we have had to rely on using our President’s equipment. The new projector will be used for the first time when the Chairman gives an illustrated talk in April at the time of the A.G.M.

Southwold Art Circle website

I am very pleased to report that we finally have a new website. It should be “live” in April, so please take a look. All members are welcome to become one of the Featured Artists, that is, have four painting images together with their contact details and a short statement on the website. Current Featured Artists will be contacted individually about up-dating their pictures. There will be more about the new website in the next Newsletter.

Saturday Workshops

For the last two years Marie Paine has done a fantastic job booking and managing the Saturday Workshops. Unfortunately, Marie has reluctantly indicated that she will be unable to continue in this roll, so we are actively (or should I say, desperately) looking for a replacement. These Workshops are one of the key activities of the Art Circle.

Anyone interested in organising these very popular events can count on Marie’s full support in the change-over. Please speak to either David Weight or myself – like most things in life, it won’t be as bad as you think and it would be a great pity if we no longer offer the opportunity for members to try new techniques and mediums. By the way, one perk of the job is that you get to attend the Workshops at half price.

Southwold Arts Festival – Reg Carter Exhibition

The Art Circle has been asked if we can help steward this exhibition as one of the conditions of lending some of the paintings is that the show is manned at all times.

The exhibition is open from Wednesday, 24th June to Tuesday, 7th July at the Buckenham Gallery in Southwold. Obviously, it is important that any times you offer to man the Reg Carter Exhibition do not clash with your Art Circle stewarding times. For members who are not exhibiting with the Art Circle this is an opportunity to get involved with the Festival.

We will send out more details about how you will be able to offer your services in a few days’ time.

Jack Stephenson – Still Working

Members are invited to an exhibition of our President’s paintings at the Peter Pears Gallery, 152 High Street, Aldeburgh. The exhibition is open daily from Thursday, 9th April to Wednesday, 15th April, inclusive, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drinks will be served on Saturday, 11th between 12 and 2 p.m.

This is a show which really demonstrates the validity of my first quote this month (William Blake) – see below.

Some Final Quotes to Ponder

I made a note of this when I heard Melvyn Bragg quote William Blake on the television the other day (incorrectly as it happened, when I checked!). However, Melvyn Bragg’s version is modern and succinct. This is what he said - apologies to William Blake:

"All art is unceasing practice"
“The more wonderfully Mr (John Singer) Sargent paints, the more wonderfully do his omissions seem”. Laurence Houseman.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus”. Mark Twain.
“In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine”. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus”. David Hockney.

Good luck with your paintings in the Exhibition.

Best wishes,


November 2014


This newsletter has details of all Art Circle activities planned for the first half of the New Year, including the start dates of the Portrait Group and Life Class. I have also listed the titles of the Friday afternoon Talks and the schedule of the Saturday Workshops.

There is a reminder about paying your annual subscription and news of a couple of important decisions the Committee have taken recently.

Please note the dates of next year’s annual exhibition. Although June probably seems a long time in the future, I can assure you that it will upon us very quickly. It is never too soon to start thinking about the work you plan to show in 2015.

Saturday Workshops

Once again Marie Paine has prepared a full programme of the popular Saturday Workshops – see the Workshop flyer included with this newsletter. Anyone interested in attending one of these workshops should return the Booking Form with payment direct to Marie as soon as possible. It is a great way to try a different medium/technique and these tutored sessions tend to get booked up very quickly.

Annual summer (Festival) 2015 Exhibition

This is just an early warning of the dates of next year’s exhibition. Again we are fortunate that David Weight has managed to book the Scout Hall for the Art Circle so that the second week of our show coincides with the Southwold Arts Festival week.

The Art Circle Exhibition will run from Monday, 22nd June to Sunday, 5th July. Handing-in day will be on Saturday, 20th June. There will, of course, be more details of this event in the next newsletter.

Studio Notes

Following on from John Bennett’s talk on beauty, I have included, with this Newsletter, a set of notes I have made over the years, collected from numerous sources, which attempts to list some of the characteristics of a successful painting. It is only a guide and not in any way definitive. It is, however, a useful list of questions to ask yourself, if, like me, you are all too often, trying to work out why a particular painting hasn’t worked. I hope painter members will find it useful.

Annual Subscription

If you do not pay your annual subscription by Direct Debit then you should find a note from the Treasurer with this Newsletter. The £10 annual subscription is now due. This covers your membership for the year beginning January 2015.

(If you have recently joined the Art Circle then the subs you have paid will also cover the period to December 2015.)

I have visited a lot of art societies and I have to say that the subscription to the Southwold Art Circle is the cheapest I have come across. Because it is so reasonable it is easily forgotten. Please remember to give/send a cheque (£10 payable to the Southwold Art Circle) to our Treasurer: David Weight, 4 Long Marsh Close, Reydon, Southwold. IP18 6RS (01502 724705).

Thank you.

News from the Committee Meetings

We have all known for some time that the Art Circle website is need of updating, despite Barry Tolfree’s valiant efforts to maintain the site with the latest news. The committee have had several lengthy discussions about the sort of web site the Art Circle needs. David Weight has carried out a lot of research, and although it has been a slow process we are now much clearer in our minds about the direction we want to take. Developing a new website will be expensive so the Committee have understandably taken a cautious approach before finally committing the Art Circle to a big expense. We should have a fresh site in operation next year, if all goes according to plan.

I will be pleased to hear from any member, or spouse of a member, who is interested in looking after the website after it has been set-up.

More expense: for many years we have relied on Jack Stephenson to help with the delivery of the illustrations for the talks; he has kindly allowed the Art Circle full use of his computer and projector. At the last committee Meeting we decided to purchase our own projector.

The Schedule of Talks

The dates and times of the painting groups/classes and the programme of talks on Friday afternoons are all listed on the next page of this newsletter.

On-line members may find it useful to print this page so they can refer to it and avoid missing anything.

Some Final Quotes to Ponder

I think this little quote, which I came across the other day, is a really succinct description of the cause of the frustration we all have with our paintings:

“Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression.” Issac Bashens Singer.

I’d be pleased to narrow my valley to just a chasm!

“Draw your pleasure, paint your pleasure, and express your pleasure strongly.” Pierre Bonnard.
“If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” Edward Hopper.
“Art…you lose and find yourself at the same time.” Thomas Merton.
“The principle of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” Jerzy Kosinski.

Finally, on behalf of the Committee may I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a peaceful, healthy New Year.

Best wishes,