The Old School Studio Old School Lane, High Street, Whittlesford, Cambridge CB22 4YS 01223 833064
The Old School Studio

Cambridgeshire based art studio offering Tutored Painting
Work-Shops, a Drop-in-and-Paint Club and Cambridge Open Studios

Summer School at the OSS

Published on March 21st, 2017 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Class, Extra, The Old School Studio, Work-shop


Click image to enlarge

Here’s an opportunity to firm up your artistic foundation. Need to sharpen your drawing skills? Feeling stuck and need to break out of your comfort zone? Want to try new mediums? New techniques? New ideas? Curious about how and why the Masters painted the things they did? The way they did? Well here’s your chance! The Old School Studio is reverting to its heritage – art school is in session!

Book 1 day or book all 3. This school is flexible. Pick the artistic areas you’re interested in strengthening then sit back and enjoy learning!



Debbie Bellaby starts Summer School with her stunning Illustration magic! Want to up your drawing skills? Learn how just the right dab of the right colour in the right place can make your drawing come to life? Call to book your spot asap!



Ronnie Ireland is going to teach us how to use Chance as the ultimate Creative tool. This is the workshop to break you out of your comfort zone. Always wanted to try something a little different? Then come Drip, Gamble & Splat with us!



Pebeo seems to be popping up everywhere and Matthew Squance is the man to get you in the know! Try a completely new medium that yields amazing results. You’ve probably seen a few paintings and wondered “how did they get the paint to do that?”  Pebeo Special Effects are going to blow your mind!


£60 for 1 day

£110 for 2 days (£10 off!)

£165 for 3 days (£15 off!)

So pick and choose what you want to learn.
Summer School is all about improving your creativity!


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Drop-In Exhibition 2017

Published on March 21st, 2017 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Drop In Painting Day, Extra, The Old School Studio

Saturday 30th September & Sunday 1st October 2017
11 am – 4 pm

Drop-In Exhibition 2015Can you imagine how much art our Drop-in Club members produce every year? We can’t just let it all disappear into folders and private homes without celebrating their commitment to art! So we’ll roll out the wine, soft drinks & nibbles, and you bring all your friends. It’s Drop-In Exhibition & End of Year Social time! I hope we’ve got enough wall space for all that art!

Every Monday, Thursday and Friday a wonderful ever-changing group of local artists (amateur and professional) drop-in at the Studio, where either Lesley or Val is ready and waiting to provide expert advice as drop-in artists get creative.

The last time we did this, OSS regulars were surprised they actually sold some art!

If you’ve been thinking about starting to paint more regularly, join us.
And if you just love to see beautiful art, come to our Drop-In Exhibition.

We’d love to see you there!


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New Year! New Tutors! New Workshops!

Published on November 26th, 2016 by Michael McGarrity in Uncategorized

Roll on 2017 because we at the Old School Studio are ready for you!



There are a lot of new things to look forward to this year, so get ready!

View our Workshop Diary.

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New Year! New Tutors! New Workshops!

Published on January 21st, 2016 by Val Pettifer in Uncategorized

Roll on 2016 because we at the Old School Studio are ready for you! There are a lot of new things to look forward to this year, so get ready!


The Old School Studio 2016 Brochure

The Old School Studio 2016 Brochure

If you haven’t got the new 2016 brochure, click here AND here to download and print it now. Alternatively, you can call 01223 833 064 or email to request that one be emailed or posted to you. Stacey’s designed a new slim line brochure that is certainly standing out in leaflet display stands across the Cambs and North Herts.



This year we’ve also got some fantastic new tutors to boast about. Guess who’s coming to the OSS this year?

Thomas Plunkett PRWS thank you very much! Yes folks we’re hosting the President (uh huh, I said The President!) of the Royal Watercolour Society and if you think you can handle all that watercolour royalty in one day, then be sure to book your place on his Adventurous Watercolours workshop on Mar 20th!

Chris Lockwood, our own local watercolour royalty will be joining the OSS line-up this year. You get 2 chances to learn from this talented and prolific watercolourist. Sign up for Spring Blossoms on May 10th, and/or Autumn Fruits & Berries in Watercolour on Ink on October 4th. The OSS Facilities Manager (i.e. Dave) loves her work so much, that he made his first original art purchases and now he’s got two of them proudly hanging on his walls.

Melanie Cambridge is bringing her oils! When a professional artist and author of 4 books, including the popular Collins “30 Minute Painting – Oils” brings her kit to show you how it’s done, you get to booking your spot asap! Join Melanie on June 14-15th for her workshop at the OSS, Oils, Capturing the Moment.

Clare Crossman is adding a new kind of creativity to the OSS workshop diary. On Jul 20th 2016, this passionate poet and writer will be showing OSS students a new way to experience the seemingly random words in newspaper snippets, poetry fragments and word collages used in various art pieces. Bet that got you thinking!

The Akib brothers are in the house! Yes, you heard right. Jamel Akib will guide students through high energy painting with his Pastels in Action workshop on August 6-7th. Then on September 17th, Hashim Akib and his stunning acrylic skills will be tutoring a Sunlight & Shade workshop you won’t want to miss!



Not to be left out, some of your returning tutors are coming back to the OSS with new workshops to tempt those itchy paint fingers back to paper, canvas and beyond! Check these out:

  • Adventurous Watercolours with Thomas Plunkett PRWS
  • Art of Modern Impressionism with John Shave
  • Spring Blossoms in Watercolour with Chris Lockwood
  • Essential Drawing Skills with Rachel Haynes
  • Wildlife Painting on Wood Block with Val Pettifer
  • Oils, Capturing the Moment with Melanie Cambridge
  • Birds of Prey in Pen & Watercolour with Vic Bearcroft
  • Impact, Creating Light with Marilyn Allis
  • Creative Writing – To Make of the Moment, Something Permanent with Clare Crossman
  • Pastels in Action with Jamel Akib
  • Summer School at The OSS with Lesley Rumble, Paul Alcock & Val Pettifer
  • Kids, Create a Famous Painting with Prue van der Hoorn
  • Kids, Paint a Carnival Mask with Prue van der Hoorn
  • Chunky Acrylics with Marilyn Allis
  • Brusho in Control with Marilyn Allis
  • Sunlight & Shade with Hashim Akib
  • Autumn Fruits & Berries in Watercolour with Chris Lockwood
  • Painting Wildlife & Pets with Simon Williams SBA
  • Painting in the Style of Cezanne with Lesley Rumble
  • Amur Tiger in Pastel with Vic Bearcroft
  • Colour & Texture with Soraya French
  • Recycle that Old Canvas with Val Pettifer



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Husband of the Year!

Published on April 10th, 2014 by Val Pettifer in Extra, The Old School Studio, Uncategorized


David Pettifer, The Old School Studio's Husband of the Year!

David Pettifer, The Old School Studio’s Husband of the Year!

I’ve been remiss.
In fact, I’ve been downright disrespectful.


The Studio’s 1-year anniversary is fast approaching and I’ve all but ignored one of the most important people behind its success, behind my success.


The saying might be “behind every great man there’s a great” but for me? Behind this great woman there is one very thoughtful, supportive, helpful, generous, loving, intelligent husband without whom the Old School Studio would grind to a halt.


David Pettifer, I award you the Old School Studio’s “Husband of the Year” title. I have a feeling you’ll be winning it every year!


Dave 1


Dave is my maintenance man, fire man, moral support, lumber jack, financial back-up, extra pair of hands, driver, work-life balancer, restoration expert, informal business partner, sounding board, personal shopper, dinner service, furniture finder, security officer, problem spotter and problem solver. And that’s just the stuff he does at the Studio!

Dave 4Without you Dave, there would be no wood to burn in winter, no tables to sit at, no chairs, no book shelves to load up, no maintenance above the 6-foot mark (me standing on a chair), no lock on the door, no side tables to rest my paint, no planning chest (God forbid!), no fairy god-wizard of the purse strings, no one to help me cart all my art stuff about (have you ever lifted a drawer-full of inks? Phew!), no one to save some of the precious old parts of this building and restore its charm (love my sink, porch light, etc), no one to help move around my paintings when I fancy a reshuffle, no one to… well you get the picture!


So help me raise a virtual toast to the No.1 Husband for the Studio Year 2013/14 because ladies and gents, this is the man that keeps things running ever so smoothly at the Old School Studio.


Dave, honey…you’re the best!



Drop in!

Published on January 15th, 2014 by Val Pettifer in Drop In Painting Day, Review


So here’s the thing about art…

Sometimesyour dining table or the box room in your house just isn’t big enough.

Sometimes you need to be around other creative souls to create.

Sometimes you need to be all alone to create.

Sometimes you wish you had an artistic fairy godmother who would magically appear just at that point in your painting where you’re thinking “what the hell am I doing?” and tell you just what you need to do next.

Sometimes you don’t fancy creating at all and it’s only the guilt of others knowing that you’re lazing about that makes you pick up the paint brush and get into your groove…eventually.

Intense concentration at a May 2013 Drop-in.

Intense concentration at a May 2013 Drop-in.

Before I had aStudio, I always wished there was some place I could go regularly and frequently whenever I was keen to paint. So when I got the Studio the first thing I did was create the Drop-in day. In fact when it started in April 2013,it was the Drop-in days – Thursday and Friday – but Friday proved to be tricky sowe settled on aweekly Thursday Drop-in.

We started out with 1 or 2 people but by the time I posted the first pics of my Drop-in artists and I having lunch in the garden, sitting in the sun with our easels at the ready… I was soon looking at a full house on some days. At one point I thought I was going to have to establish a booking system! Thankfully, things settled down and now out of a pool of roughly 25 people, there is a regular turn-out of anywhere between 4-6 artists every Thursday at the Studio. I love it!

It’s amazing to see the various projects people bring. When I open the Studio doors on a Thursday anything could come through the door – gouache, watercolour, oils, acrylics, pastels, collage, decoupage, charcoal… portraits, mixed media, landscapes, people, cityscapes, architectural themes, train yards, seasonal pieces… you name it!

Some of our drop-in regulars - Wendy, Jackie & Prue - busy creating their masterpieces!

Some of our regulars – Wendy, Jackie & Prue – busy creating their masterpieces!

At this point the Drop-Ins are a regular social gathering with some much-loved OSS stalwarts (Jackie, Wendy, Dawn, Prue, Pat and company. You know who you are!) and new faces popping up every now and then.

Sketch of Horatio Nelson done at a January 2014 Drop-in session

Sketch of Horatio Nelson done at a January 2014 Drop-in session

Looking back over the Drop-ins for 2013 there have been quitea few memorable momentslike the weeks of confusion that Wendy’s bowl of artificial lemons and pears caused. I even had a toddler try to eat one! That would be one-year old Zolana who made her appearance when her mum, Stacey, hosted a few drop-ins to cover my absence. Other fond memories include: Caroline’s oil painting, Jackie’s statuesque women, Margaret’s snow scene, and Pat’s lovely dog portrait that she came to show us after getting it framed next door.

I definitely count the Drop-in sessions as one of the OSS’s great successes. I’ve managed to provide a welcoming creative socialspace with all the necessary facilities including easels, water pots, a good cuppa and biccies. I’m even able to help with hints, tips and techniques whenever anyone feels they need a little guidance. It’s everything I hoped it would be and more, and I have my regular Drop-In customers to thank for making my Thursdays extra special.

So will I see you this Thursday?

Finished artwork from an OSS Drop-in session

Finished artwork by Frances during an OSS Drop-in session


2013. What a Year!

Published on January 5th, 2014 by Val Pettifer in Review, The Old School Studio

If anyone had told me that I’d be here right now, I’d have said “Don’t be silly!” and then promptly glazed over and enjoyed the daydream – me owning my own art studio, hosting notable artists, offering sold-out workshops, enjoying a growing client base with many repeat customers, in a cosy not-so-little space with wonderful neighbours, surrounded by a really supportive group that help me keep things chugging along; it’s atotal dream.

Except, it’s not.

Opening Weekend at The Old School Studio

Opening Weekend at The Old School Studio

If starting a bonafide studio in April 2013 wasn’t amazing enough, by July 2013 The Old School Studio was no longer a 2-woman show. It was suddenly, scarily, excitingly, fabulously… all mine! Now this little space wasn’t just a hobby, it was a business and I was a businesswoman. What?! But I’ve been retired for four years!

I officially became a sole trader in August 2013; about the same time that several local artists started approaching me to run workshops at the Studio, and customers started requesting specific workshops. Things were getting so busy, I had a new problem – how to balance supporting others with their art and still find time to create my own. Now, after 45 years of working full-time for others, I’m working full-time again but this time I’m my own boss, doing something I love.

5 layers of warm clothing and a mucky paint overall and I'm still freezing. Can't wait for the wood stove!

5 layers of warm clothing plus a mucky paint overall and I’m still freezing. Can’t wait for the wood stove!

That said, here’s The Old School Studio’s 2013 in a nutshell.

April 2013 -We’re Open! Pics of how it all began including the pre-wood-stove renovation days and featuring this Yorkshire lass in scruffy paint overalls.Then, when the hard graft was all over we heldthe Grand Opening Weekendswiftly followed by ourfirst-ever OSS Drop-In!

May 2013 -Still finding my feet at the Studio butI’m off to Cober Hill to run a painting holiday for 14 people for a week. Back at the studio,the1st official OSS workshopisalso fully booked!One2-day Collage/Mixed Media experience coming right up! The results were just fabulous, and the cherry on top? The OSS website was finally live!


Mixed Media Collage kicks off at the OSS

Mixed Media Collage kicks off at the OSS

June 2013 – Two 2-day workshops this month: Pastels and Collage with Acrylics … let’s go! Plus, of course, learning all the admin bits but I won’t bore you with all that.

Pastel Workshop at the Studio

Pastel Workshop at the Studio


Valerie Pettifer, Cambridge Open Studios 2013

Getting ready to receive guests EVERY weekend in July!

July 2013 – Helen and I part company, still more pastel workshops, and Cambridge Open Studios EVERY WEEKEND! Some might say madness, I’d call it organised chaos.

August 2013 – I officially became a sole trader but no time to celebrate… 15 people attended my 1st Painting-out Day at The Tickell Arms. Terrific gardens, tasty 2-course meal, the weather was great, and the painting was ace! The heavens certainly smiled on us… and the 4 (yes, I said 4!) workshops at the OSS this month.

September 2013 – I was off to Vienna for a much needed rest while my wonderfully supportive friends and fellow artists Joan, Alan and Stacey kept the Studio open. Prue van der Hoorn hosted our first Silk Painting workshop which was well attended, yielded stunning results, and received rave reviews I might add!

Happy students with great results at Prue's Silk Painting Workshop

Happy students with great results at Prue’s Silk Painting Workshop

October 2013 – The OSS is now home to two giant commissions forWetherspoon’s soon-to-be-opened pub at The Manor House in Royston. The commission deadline is tight so Stacey (who’s working on a 3.5m mural) and I (working on a super-sized abstract mixed media) are burning the midnight oil, and the studio’s wood supply, as we turn night into day. All while the OSS hosts 3 more workshops and the weekly drop-in. Busy!

The Life of Henry Andrews, Abstract mixed media commission by Val Pettifer for J D Wetherspoon

The Life of Henry Andrews, Abstract mixed media commission by Val Pettifer for J D Wetherspoon

November 2013 – 4 workshops in November including the long-awaited and swiftly booked Life Drawing Workshop with Rachel Haynes(pics here); andLesley Rumble‘s Handmade Cards for Christmas, her 4th OSS workshop (see the finished cards here). Then to top it all off, I hosted a Christmas Craft Fair… and we’re not done yet!

Life Drawing Workshop at The Old School Studio, Nov 2013

Life Drawing Workshop at The Old School Studio, Nov 2013

December 2013 – Finally, things started winding down for the holidays, but not before we squeezed out one more workshop, a Christmas Wreath Workshop with Helen Allen. It was truly a creative and merry event.

Christmas Wreaths with Helen Allen at The Old School Studio 2013

Christmas Wreaths with Helen Allen at The Old School Studio 2013

So what’s the plan for 2014?Let a girl catch her breath first, cause 2014 promises to be even busier!




My Passion for Pastels

Published on May 28th, 2013 by Val Pettifer in Class

My Passion for PastelsIt was back in 2007 that I first discovered the fabulous world of pastels. As a Friend of the Mall Galleries in central London (home of the Federation of British Artists) I decided to visit the annual Pastel Society exhibition; it was a revelation! A blast of pure colours and exciting styles of painting greeted me; I was hooked!

While I was there I purchased a book written by pastel artist Mark Leach; RAW COLOUR with PASTELS, yet another revelation! I couldnt put it down; it was full of the most amazing images of paintings full of vibrant colours, yet with limited palettes that were cleverly applied in an almost abstract fashion! This book is still one of my most treasured art reference books, together with Pipers Places and Collage, Colour and Texture in Painting.

So what was next? I became a Friend of the Pastel Society; I wanted to be kept up to date with all their latest news, have the opportunity to network with its members, learn their techniques and attend their work-shops. Then the unthinkable happened; Mark Leach died very suddenly in July 2008 at the tragically young age of 53. Id never met Mark, but I almost felt I knew him. His work was my inspiration and I felt bereft as there would never be another book from this great artist!

So what now: the 10th June 2013 will be the Private View of the 114th annual pastel exhibition, opened this year by Philip Mould OBE, an Art Dealer, Art Historian & Painting Expert on BBC Antiques Road Show and presenter of Fake or Fortune. The exhibition is open until the 22nd June, so I would urge anyone with an interest in painting in any medium to visit this brilliant exhibition!

I will be tutoring my first pastel work-shop in the Old School Studio on the 3rd & 4th June. Its almost 5 years since I first started to teach the subject and as a result Ive made it my business to give my students the best possible advice and guidance when working with this rather undervalued medium. So watch this space as I will be writing a series of blogs following my students progress.

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Finding The Studio & Getting Started

Published on May 17th, 2013 by Val Pettifer in The Old School Studio

2013 started much the same as any other year until I was invited to attend the launch of Essex Framing Services (EFS) new premises in The Old School Complex in Whittlesford on New Years Day. There was much excitement as EFS moved from Saffron Walden after 12 years of trading in a small unit on an industrial estate, to a space so large they even had room for an art gallery and gift shop!

So while the mulled wine and mince pies were been devoured Julie unlocked a door into another room and there it was! It would make a good studio wouldnt it were Julies words and we both looked at each other and smiled! Granted it needed a lot of imagination and work, and the right business partner; it was too much for one person to manage, but what a fantastic opportunity!

Well thats history now; my artist friend and colleague Helen Millar was more than happy to take on the challenge and with help from our long suffering husbands the studio now looks fantastic! Not only do we each have our own working studio, but in addition a wonderful space for holding painting work-shops, exhibitions and Cambridge Open Studios!

Our launch weekend took place on the 20th – 21stApril and attracted scores of visitors, all of whom could not believe the transformation. Even the weather was perfect; I think it knew we wanted to show off our new enterprise to its best effect! The work-shops have been filling up nicely and we have regular drop-in-and-paint days each week. In fact the future is looking pretty positive and Im confident that The Old School Studio will become an arts based hub for the area.


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