To all of my wonderful creative friends around the world!
I travel down a narrow cobbled lane where the springtime heat bounces off the high stone walls. The air is scented with fresh baking and something more; the sense of an ancient road well traveled.
Around the next corner, I have arrived at The Painting School of Montmiral in France! As I enter the building, I am at once at ease in the cool air and heavy stone walls supported with huge old wooden cross beams.
Coming down the stone stairs to welcome me is Francis Pratt, a true Master of Painting, Art Education and Science! It is my pleasure to introduce to you this brilliant person and his passion for sharing his knowledge!
FRANCIS PRATT AND THE PAINTING SCHOOL OF MONTMIRAL
Francis Pratt’s quest for knowledge is only surpassed by his passion for sharing this knowledge. His many years practice as an artist, of research into questions relating to drawing and painting and of working as an Art Educator informed his decision to move to France and begin his own art school. It took Francis Pratt just a few months to organize and establish The Painting School Montmiral in May, 1988.
With excitement he gathered up all of his collective artistic and scientific knowledge and his skills as an Art Educator to create the Art School courses. His years of seeking the truth about creativity along with his years of teaching art became fully expressed in the content of the Courses offered at the Art School. He then refined and tailored his Courses to individually facilitate for the students.
As a testament to the success of his vast knowledge and experience, The Painting School of Montmiral has been operating with success for twenty eight years. Thousands of students from beginners through to professionals have taken his Courses and each one leaves with confidence, a new way of viewing the world and practical skills to enhance their future paintings.
“A very different and vastly more interesting type of artistic education than I have met before.” Yolande Hart
“A magical place, good company, intensely stimulating ideas and teaching. I came to Montmiral to have my eyes stretched and I do not think I have ever looked so hard.” – Unity Couzens
“This course, with its application and explanation of the latest researches in both colour and line psychology, completely redefines and resolves the anomalies of what we see. The reference to proven research and the patient explanations of its implications with respect to how the brain receives and interprets information provides a fundamentally sound approach commonly lacking in other courses and literature.” – Iain McCowan
Francis Pratt is writing, what I consider to be, a manifesto that is very important to our contemporary art world. We are in an age of rapid scientific discovery and his writing includes this along with many other areas of his studies to redefine how we view art and making art. Here he shares his thoughts and a brief sketch of his writings.
“As for my writing, apart from contributions to the scientific literature, I have written articles for popular art magazines such as The Artist, the Artist and Illustrators Magazine and Modern Painters. Currently, I am writing four interrelated books, all of which are the fruits of a lifetime of pursuing my quest for a deeper understanding of the subjects of creativity and self expression.”
Below he outlines his four interrelated books and/or his manifesto.
1: “What Scientists can Learn from Artists” describes the scientific experiments and ideas that played such an important role in determining the content of my teaching. The research had its origin in a critique of the strengths and weaknesses of established artistic practices and teaching methods that emerged from my efforts to help my students at every level.
2: Drawing on Both sides of the Brain” is a compendium of two books that concentrates exclusively on line drawing. They are “Drawing with Feeling” and “Drawing with Knowledge”. The approach is, first, to explain what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of traditional artistic practices and teaching methods and, then, to suggest how the weaknesses can be overcome using the new ideas coming from my research.
3: “Painting with Light and Colour” is also a compendium of two books: “Painting with Light” and “Painting with Colour”. As with the two books on drawing, both provide critiques of traditional ideas and practices, many of which have been submerged by the processes of history. The remainder of the books resuscitate submerged ideas in the light of recent research and add many new ones. Topics dealt with include “illusory pictorial space, whole-field colour and lightness relations, harmony/discord, shadows, shading and highlights and new perspectives on local colour interactions.
A principal underlying both practical books is to spend as little time as possible on topics that have been well dealt with in the past.
4: “New Perspectives on Creativity” is relevant to all domains of creativity, although the bulk of the new ideas presented come from a combination of my scientific studies and my research into the history of Modernism in Painting and the cornucopia of new approaches that it spawned, a subject that runs as a leitmotif through all four books. It is argued that the roots of all subsequent progressive painting and conceptual art are to be found in the last decades of the nineteenth century.
Francis Pratt – EDUCATION
At the Academic Community of the Wilno University in London Francis Pratt studied under Professor Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, Polish artist and teacher. Bohusz-Szyszko influenced him so deeply that these teachings became the foundation of his life as an artist and later as a scientist and art educator.
During the following years, Francis Pratt spent twelve years at the University of Stirling, first, as Cottrell Memorial Fellow and, then, as Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology. The first of these two appointments was as an artist and enabled him to work on a project that involved exploring new approaches to colour in painting. The the second of them allowed him to do research on how artists use their eyes when drawing and painting. During this time he worked with colleagues from various departments, with expertise in the psychology of perception, developmental psychology, neurophysiology and computer modeling. He says, “I took on the Research Fellowship because I saw it as an opportunity for at least seeking answers to many seemingly insoluble questions that had arisen in the classroom and in my own work during the previous twelve years, during which I had been teaching painting and drawing at all levels from evening class to postgraduate.”
He attended the Bath Academy of Art earning a degree equivalent Dip AD and then he studied at the University of Bristol, Department of Education earning an ATD which is an art teaching qualification.
His activities included wide ranging research into
- the psychology of perception,
- developmental psychology and
EXPERIENCE AS AN ART EDUCATOR
Francis Pratt has taught figure drawing and painting in various Institutes of Further Education and, as a Visiting Lecturer, has been employed at all levels in Art Schools, especially for his knowledge of colour. For more detailed information please see the Course Director page on the Painting School of Montmiral website.
It is rare to find a Painting School not only based on individualization for each student but a Painting School that includes the enormous professional research in both art and science that Francis Pratt has achieved.
“Francis is the most remarkable teacher of painting I believe you will find. I first encountered him when my mother, who had been a painter for over fifty years, returned from his course with some beautiful and exciting paintings, the like of which she had never done.
He had somehow managed to nudge her forward just enough to produce towards the end of her life some brave and surprisingly beautiful landscapes which challenged much of what she had done before.
He then took me on, a difficult unschooled banker who wanted to find out if he had any talent as a painter late in life. Francis provided me very easily with the tools, not only to progress and judge my own work, but to give me the means to look at the work of serious painters with a really appreciative and informed eye.
His teaching is not difficult to take on board if you have had no teaching before or if you are open to change. He distills the very essence of how the eye and the brain work in looking at images and how this translates into working on a canvas or a sketch book.
The reward is self evident in the quality of the output. His influence and effect on me has been transformative. I have an enormous amount to thank him for.” – Paul Zuckerman, a banker, on behalf of myself and my mother Joan, an exhibiting artist.
Francis Pratt at The Painting School of Montmiral aims to help students to be better able to solve their own problems so that when the course is over they go home with confidence and the knowledge to assist them in their future paintings. Francis Pratt comments, “I have been delighted that the courses in Montmiral have attracted students of all levels, using a wide range of mediums and with very different goals, from slavish accuracy to abstraction and self expression.”
The Painting School of Montmiral is the very essence of Francis Pratt’s ever increasing knowledge and creative skills. For Francis it is all about each student fulfilling their own aspirations!
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Very Best Wishes to Everyone
International professional painter
Vancouver area, B.C. Canada