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

A Friday Surprise, or Two!

Published on March 27th, 2018 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Drop In Painting Day, Extra, Review, The Old School Studio

The surprise visit!

It was Friday 23rd March, and it started like most Drop-In days do with a flurry of activity and anticipation.  There were 12 students (the Friday Friends as they like to be known) and every-one was working on something different and exciting, so I was being kept very busy indeed, but everything was under control, or so I thought!

Peg Simmonds, former Deputy Head of Whittlesford Village School

That was until at 11.35am the phone rang, and Meg said, “we’ll be over at about 12.15pm, is that OK for you?”

“Who will be over at 12.15!” I exclaimed.

“Peg Simmonds and a few visitors from the William Westley Primary School” (an email had been sent, but got lost in the ether).

The next half hour was spent scurrying around preparing for what was to be a very special visit.

That visitor was Mrs Peg Simmonds, 101 years old, although you’d never know it!  It was almost 55 years to the day after she’d been appointed as the Infants Teacher to the Old Whittlesford School, and coincidently taught in the very room that is now the Old School Studio.  She eventually became the Deputy Head, a post she held until her retirement in December 1975, after the school had been relocated to the other side of the village in 1972.

VIP Studio Guests

After a photo session outside, the group of 6 people were invited in to see what changes have taken place since the school closed.  The group consisted of (left to right) Pat Carter (Vice President of the Whittlesford Society), Mr Paul Bryant (present Head Teacher, William Wesley School), Penny Brown, (formally teacher at the Old School), Mrs Peg Simmonds (then Miss Snell), Miranda Harper (former teacher at the Old School), and finally Miranda’s daughter Catriona Harper-Osmant, who was also a teacher at the new William Wesley School.

Mrs Simmonds was charming, and showed a real interest in what we’ve achieved in the studio, as well as spending time looking around, reminiscing and chatting to the Friday Friends; who were all delighted to meet her!

Her old “stomping ground” is our cosy studio!

The group had spent a happy morning at ‘the new school’ attending a special assembly marking Sports Aid Day, touring the premises and having lunch with pupil members of the school council, before dropping in at The Old School Studio.  A longer nostalgia tour of the Old School is planned for July when other former staff and pupils will be invited to a ‘Reunion’ to see how exciting new life has been breathed into the old school in the five years since Dave and myself took over the lease to what has become The Old School Studio, shortly after Essex Framing Services relocate  here with their framing business, gallery and gift shop.


The surprise presentation!

Then, as if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, the Friday Friends made a presentation of their own to Dave and me as a sign of their appreciation.  It was completely out of the blue, but so lovely to know that what we have created is so loved by the people that use it!

The Friday Friends present…

Firstly, Dave was presented with a bespoke T-shirt, which he immediately put on and it fit perfectly (check-out the photo).  Its brilliant and so true, ‘What a difference a Dave makes’.

I can say without hesitation that without Dave’s help, the studio would not function, and I think everyone who knows him now would say the same.  He’s so vital to us on every level, so a big ‘thank Dave’.

Val and Dave with their surprise gifts

And then I was presented with a beautiful orchid, again a complete surprise, but such a lovely gesture.  It’s days like this that make all the hard work feel worthwhile!




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The Old School welcomes New Students

Published on March 9th, 2018 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Class, Extra, Uncategorized

Something new on offer at the Old School Studio this year –

Student Discounts!

At a Pebeo Workshop with Matthew Squance

If you are (or know of) a young person aged 18 and over who is in full time education and would like to attend any Old School Studio workshops, now is their time to get creative for less.

We’re offering a 30% STUDENT DISCOUNT on ALL one & two day workshops!

That’s £75 … £52.50 for any 1 day workshop, 

And £150… £105 for any 2-day workshop!

Mixed Media Sculpting with Lois Cordelia

This equates to a discount of £22.50 off our one day workshops, or £45.00 off our two day workshops.

Matthew Squance brings Pebeo to Life

To qualify for this discount you must be in full-time education and 18 years old or over. Proof of your student status will be required at the time of booking, together with full payment.

The studio is running a number of excellent workshops this year with young, up and coming artists such as Lois Cordelia, Robyn Parker-Love, Matt Squance and many more, so don’t miss this amazing opportunity to expand your artistic experience!

Come do Paper-Cuts with Lois Cordelia



A New Drop-In Day?

Published on March 9th, 2018 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Drop In Painting Day, The Old School Studio, Uncategorized

Yes you heard that right!

The DropIn days have been getting pretty busy so in response to overwhelming demand, we have decided to increase the number of Drop-In days each month.

This year, the new Drop-In day will be an extra Tuesday and/or Wednesday each month tutored by Val.  The extra dates for 2018 are as follows: 

  • Wed 9th May 2018
  • Wed 30th May
  • Tues 12th June
  • Wed 4th July
  • Tues 24th July
  • Wed 15th August
  • Wed 12th September
  • Wed 26th September
  • Wed 17th October
  • Wed 14th November
  • Tues 27th November
  • Wed 5th December
  • Wed 19th December

From 2019 the additional day will be fixed so that The Old School Studio will offer a Drop-In and Paint session every-

Wednesday (tutored by Val),
Thursday (tutored by Lesley), and
Friday (tutored by Val).

Current regulars at the Drop-In sessions will already be aware that the daily fee is increasing from £13.00 per day to £15.00 on the 15th March 2018.  The fee hasn’t changed in the last 2 years and this new increase will be held for the next 3 years. This means that attendees will still get excellent value for money including:

  • Access to excellent Art Equipment and Facilities,
  • A place to work alongside others with similar creative interests
  • Access to the Studio’s Art Library
  • A professional Art Tutor on call all day
  • Trade discounts on Art Supplies (regular attendees only)
  • Discounts on Framing costs (regular attendees only)
  • An opportunity to Exhibit and Sell annually (regular attendees only)
  • Free Parking, and finally
  • Unlimited Tea, Coffee & Biscuits

In addition Drop-in students will also get the opportunity this summer to visit Rayners Farm in Whittlesford for sketching days.  The farm boasts a large garden and pond, plus ancient barns, so this will provide wonderful en plein air sketching and painting opportunities!

Finally, don’t forget the Drop-In students Annual Exhibition. This year it’s scheduled for the weekend of the 1st & 2nd December, just in time for Christmas.

So why not Drop-In and Paint?


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5 Years Old & Looking Good!

Published on March 9th, 2018 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Class, Extra, Review, The Old School Studio

The 11th March 2018 marks 5 years since Dave (still Husband of the Year and our Studio Facilities Manager) and I took on the Studio. Time certainly flies when you’re having fun.

To celebrate this fact we upgraded some of our facilities, received a gift from the Whittlesford Society, and prepared ourselves to entertain a very special guest. Here’s the run down…

Regular users of the Studio will be familiar with the supremely functional plumbing in the kitchen that looked like it could have been there when the building was still a primary school in the 1800s. Well that’s gone!

Thanks to my dear son Graham and Dave (my husband, business partner, official lumberjack, Facilities Manager and basically my anything-needed-to-keep-the-studio-running-that-does-not-relate-to-art guy), the Studio has had some upgrades that make us walk a little bit taller every morning as we enter.

The kitchen now boasts hot and cold running water and there isn’t an unsightly water heater in sight!

The studio floor has been sanded and varnished to within an inch of its’ life and now looks stunning!

So by the time the Whittlesford Society presented us with a poster titled ‘Whittlesford Today’ along with a collection of booklets for the studio library we were feeling pretty special.

Feel free to pop in to see the poster, read the booklets, and learn a bit more about this beautiful village that has become our creative home. After the poster presentation, we toasted Whittlesford and the Studio with a bottle of bubbly. I then gave a short talk about the Studio, with inserts from Dave, including all its’ highs and lows!

As most of you know the Studio gets its’ name from the fact that it is now housed in a building that was an old Victorian village school and the Studio now sits where the old school hall would have been. That is why it seemed so fitting to celebrate our 5th anniversary of teaching art in this space with someone who taught here long before us. Yes, our special guest was former school teacher Mrs Peg Simmonds who is now 101 years old!

Unfortunately Mrs Simmonds was not well enough to attend, but we’ve been assured that she will visit sometime soon. Wishing you a speedy recovery dear lady! We hope you know that you are welcome to visit us whenever you feel up to it.

In the meantime, come visit The Old School Studio and feel inspired to create art and explore history.

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New Year! New Tutors! New Workshops!

Published on December 23rd, 2017 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Uncategorized

Are you ready for 2018 at the Old School Studio? Because we’ve got over 50 workshops for you to choose from! Plus, there are 14 new tutors for you to learn from. Let’s get creative in the new year!


Click the picture to see our gorgeous new brochure designed by Stacey Leigh Ross at

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

View our Workshop Diary.

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Did you miss our latest Newsletter? Never fear, click here!

Published on September 21st, 2017 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Cambridge Open Studios, Class, Drop In Painting Day, Extra, Review, The Old School Studio, Work-shop

Welcome to My World by Valerie Pettifer


You can find all the latest info about what’s happening at the OSS as it happens on our Facebook page.

But if social media isn’t your thing, or you just want to be sure you don’t miss anything then click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Welcome to our art family!


Please note: Workshop spaces listed in newsletters are only correct as at time of publication

26/06/2018 –
Price Drops, Open Studios, En Plein Air Painting – It’s Summer!

14/05/2018 –
New Drop-In Days, Special offers & GDPR at the OSS

19/04/2018 –
Shall we stay in touch?

31/03/2018 –
Spring News from The Old School Studio

10/03/2018 –
What’s New in 2018 at The OSS? Quite a lot!  Then Correction of a link.

25/12/2017 –
Merry Christmas! We’ve got 2018 covered.

21/09/2017 – (correction)
Life Drawing Surprises, Limited Spaces and the Drop-In Exhibition is coming!

20/09/2017 –
An Invitation for You!

14/09/2017 –
Life Drawing surprises, Limited Spaces & the coming Exhibition!

30/06/2017 –
Open Studios, Award-winning Tutors, Wildlife Workshops & More!

30/04/2017 –
Summer School, you say? And the good stuff is almost sold out?

23/03/2017 –
4 Yrs old in April and Let’s talk Women Artists!

25/01/2017 –
Announcing Drop-In Mondays, New Tutors & More!



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Drop-In Exhibition is almost here!

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

Don’t forget it’s on next weekend!

Come see a year’s worth of art from our dedicated Drop-In artists who paint and draw every Thursday or Friday all year round. See their 2017 catalogue while you have a sip and savour a nibble!


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New Tutor! New Book!

Published on August 14th, 2017 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Extra, The Old School Studio, Work-shop

This winter at the OSS, we’ll be exploring mixed media like never before!

Join us for Atmospheric Seascapes (Dec 2) and Expressive Fenland Scenes (Dec 3) with mixed media artist extraordinaire, Robert Dutton. So to get you even more excited about the impressive skill set that will be coming to our Studio, check this out!

Robert has LOTS of new paintings featured in this brand new book – Artists Drawing Techniques – recently published by DK Life (in association with Penguin Books) showing step by step paintings in progress, bags of art techniques, hints and creative tips with pastel full of expression!

Just think, you can try out several of these techniques with Robert if you join his exclusive studio based mixed media art course here at The Old School Studio in December. Best be quick though, places are filling fast!

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It’s our 4th Anniversary!

Published on March 21st, 2017 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Extra, Review, The Old School Studio

Saturday 22nd April
11 am – 5 pm

Come join us for a glass of Bucks Fizz, good art and good company as we celebrate the Old School Studio’s 4th birthday!

4 years ago on April 20th I threw open the doors to this studio thinking I’d host a few workshops and spend the rest of my time painting in my lovely new studio. I think it’s fair to say that I was sadly mistaken.

Yes, the studio is lovely – a warm and welcoming creative space we work hard to maintain.

Yes, we host workshops – but it’s a lot more than the “few” I had anticipated.

Yes, I paint in my lovely not-so-new-anymore studio – but I don’t get to play with my paints and pastels as much as I’d like. It’s a lot harder to finish a painting than it used to be because, I’m not sure exactly when it happened but, my little hobby very quickly turned into a business!

When it all started (read that story here), I never would have anticipated having so many workshops with notable artists that I would need an annual workshop diary and brochure!

There have been changes I never would have anticipated but through it all, we had so much support from our Drop-In regulars, art tutors, workshop attendees, and neighbours in beautiful Whittlesford. We never would have made it 4 years without you.

So this year we’ve started celebrating by asking our regulars why they love The Old School Studio so much. You may have seen some of their pics on the home page, and we’ve posted some more here too! Their answers have been heartwarming and quite the inspiration to keep on keeping on. (If you’d like to say why you love coming to The Old School Studio please contact us. We always welcome feedback.)

It’s been quite the journey and we’ve made so many new art friends. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all for making the Old School Studio such a wonderful art hub. Long may we continue to do so!

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Cambridge Open Studios 2017

Published on March 21st, 2017 by Stacey Leigh Ross in Cambridge Open Studios, Extra

  1st & 2nd July
  8th & 9th July
15th & 16th July
11 am – 6 pm

Every year, Cambridge Open Studios allows locals to discover the artists operating in their midst, explore their studios, and get insight into their techniques and styles. Lesley & Val have been playing with a few new things this year, so step right this way. It’s Cambridge Open Studios 2017 at the OSS!

Every year, when 300+ Cambridgeshire-based artists open their studios to the public over four weekends, the aim is to help bring artists and local people together.

Lesley paints Cezanne

Resident OSS Artist, Lesley paints Cezanne

This year, OSS resident artists, Lesley Rumble and Val Pettifer will be taking part again.


The Studio will be open the first 3 weekends in July – 1st & 2nd, 8& 9th, 15 & 16th – lots of opportunity to see up to 50 paintings in a seriously wide selection of mediums including watercolours, oils, acrylics, mixed media, pastels, gouache and more! So what’s new? As ever, Lesley has been experimenting and exploring with her watercolours, while Val has taken a foray in the world of Pebeo glass paint effects and a more in-depth look at pan pastels. Works-in-Progress will be on display from both artists.

Val Pettifer, Proprietor & Resident Artist

But if that’s not enough, stroll through beautiful Whittlesford to see the work of fellow artist and Whittlesford resident Jan Smail who will also be opening her studio on the same weekends.

And finally, if you’ve worked up an appetite with all that art, conversation and exploration then mosey down to the home of Whittlesford’s sumptuous gastronomic delights, The Tickell Arms Restaurant, which is only a two minute walk from the Studio.

Cambridge Open Studios is about more than just viewing art. It’s about understanding the story behind the art and the creative soul who made it. Visit us in 2017 on the 1st & 2nd, 8& 9th, 15 & 16th July. We’d love to share our creativity with you!

Click the links to see more of Val’s art and Lesley’s art.

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