art school drop in

October 2, 2012  in inspiring places

painting - Sania Pell

tubes of oil paint by Sania Pell

At the end of the summer holidays I spent a joyful two weeks back at art school, listening to lectures and painting with a friend. It was a wonderful experience to have the freedom and time to paint. I usually fulfil my creativity at home by making, stitching, photographing and painting furniture, or for work it may be painting onto canvas as props for shoots but it’s not usually just painting art. I do get strong urges to paint, but it’s only on rare occasions (like here and here) that I have been able to make a few hours at a time to do it – so to have two weeks dedicated to this was bliss. I also wanted to discover my painting voice. Having worked as a textile designer producing over 500 hand painted designs a year, I could work in many different styles to suit different markets and trends but now I wanted to find a particular direction to paint in.

colour pigments by Sania Pell

colour pigment by Sania Pell

colour pigments by Sania Pell

We learnt so much, like how to mix pigments and make our own paints and were pushed to experiment and try new ideas and step out of our comfort zones. I have always worked in acrylic, a medium I am comfortable working with, so I have also now bought some artist oil paints and am trying these too.

fine art school by Sania Pell

art school by Sania Pell

The building itself was beautiful and working in such an environment could only be inspirational. Corridors with high ceilings and huge windows letting in light onto the simple white and grey interior. I loved the paint splattered chairs and furniture that were everywhere, proof of the creativity of the hundreds of students that had worked in these spaces over the years.

fine art school by Sania Pell

fine art school by Sania Pell

art school sink by Sania Pell

painting by Sania Pell

fine art school by Sania Pell

painting by Sania Pell

I stepped away from my usual colour palette and started with some brightly coloured abstract paintings that were quite expressionistic, inspired by the colours of the Adriatic I had seen on holiday. I gravitated back to the more subdued palette of my current favourite greys and indigos with the occasional pop of mustard yellow or dusky pink. Some of my “work in progress” is below.

Abstract painting by Sania Pell

paintings by Sania Pell

Abstract painting by Sania Pell

painting work in progress by Sania Pell

The joys of college life included mixing paint colours, canteen lunches, wearing old painterly clothes (or one of my husband’s old shirts!), standing up in front of the class and being critiqued, the camaraderie of fellow class members, having a break outside with a cup of tea on the steps, reminiscing about being an art degree student, listening to fellow students’ ideas and passions and the joy that comes when you paint a canvas that you are really pleased with. It was lovely to share it all with a good friend too. (Thank you H for taking the pic of me below!)

Sania Pell

It’s almost twenty years since I left art college and it was great to be back. I don’t believe it’s ever too late to learn, there is always something new. I really enjoyed this time and now have lots of paintings stacked around the house. I can highly recommend going back to school and studying again and I think I am hooked. Taking a new course may well become an annual summer event.

I will definitely be continuing my painting and my dream would be to have an exhibition in the future, but who knows.  It’s good to have dreams and goals.


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  1. I really enjoyed reading this after our chat about your course a few weeks ago, Sania. As for the exhibition? I say: GO FOR IT! I’m right behind you 🙂

  2. Ooh how exciting San-I just did an on-line course to get me back into drawing, but I think being part of a group would be so much more creative, but as you say-so great to try it again. I’m going to look out for a little course locally. Lovely! x

  3. Laura says:

    Sania, you are always so inspiring! Look forward to your first show.

  4. Polly says:


    I’ve been looking forward to seeing this so much! Your paintings look gorgeous. I also love the paint splattered taps and tables. I can’t wait to see more!!


  5. Juliette says:

    This looks so fun -and inspiring! Working with new people can be so rejuvenating; glad you have the opportunity. I’m really loving your style btw, it’s a good balance between calming and energetic.

  6. sue says:

    How fun! I started back to school last winter… I am currently taking my second studio painting course and loving it! Yesterday I brought my 11 year old daughter to the studio and it was so sweet to watch her sit in my painting chair and in my painting space… it felt so right. I enjoy your work so much, Sania! Thank you for sharing. Your blog is one of my treats ~ Sue

  7. elisa says:

    sania, what a brilliant thing to do. so wonderful to see your work this way. i’ve been considering doing some studies that are very much like this – in art and art materials! this is inspiring, i’m going to see if i can return to the old printmaking studios. x!

  8. The paintings look fabulous – distant horizons, poised and full of dark and colour! 2 weeks to think and work and be a student again – ‘heaven on earth’

  9. Beth says:

    Looking forward to seeing where you take your talent. Sania, your paintings are a joy.

  10. Sania Pell says:

    Thanks everybody!

    @Will Thank you! I would love to exhibit though I think it will take a while to build up enough work!

    @Caroline Would love to see your drawings!

    @Sue Thank you, that’s so sweet. Love that your daughter was inspired by your painting too!

    @Elisa Go for it!


  11. You’re a girl after my own heart Sania. That’s my dream too. We’re in the throws of renovating an ugly old shed into something of a studio space. I did some short courses at the National Art School in Sydney last year and found myself getting a bit teary walking through the gates. One day!! Stick with it.

  12. Muriel says:

    Lovely, the simplicity goes straight to the point, really lovely.

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Sania Pell freelance interior stylist London.

Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, art/creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 20 years, and is well known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for architects and property developers. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.

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