Student Spotlight

We're very proud of our students and all the hard work and dedication they bring into the studio everyday. To show our appreciation for their continual efforts we're giving the 'spotlight' to one of them each term to showcase some of their work and share a few things about themselves.


- Summer 2018 - 


Juliet Purssell

Juliet joined us at our inception back in 2016 and is in the middle of the painting programme, having just completed her first still-life painting in oils.


I came to atelier training in a rather roundabout way having spent many years as a specialist decorative painter. My working areas were usually large spaces in residential houses, hotels, restaurants, shops and some furniture: all carried out in any special effects or trompe l’oeil imaginable. Materials were wide-ranging: distemper, gesso, acrylics, oils, metal paints, glazes of all sorts, stains and tinted varnishes. And jobs could be absolutely anything, eg: tortoise-shelling areas in the perfumery department of House of Fraser, metal effects for a jewellery shop, many cloudy skies on ceilings, trompe l’oeil brickwork and all sorts of details in private houses, woodgraining, making walls perhaps look as if lined with old dark leather, or ancient stone, or marbles of any type - both decorative or specific. I have also covered large walls of gesso like those found in old chateaux, applying the hot mixture quickly with heavy 5 inch brushes. One memorable job had an inflexible three day deadline: a coffin painted to look like damask in environmentally-friendly paints, suitable for immediate burial unfortunately. Surfaces have been slick and glossy, or rough and antiqued, metals rusted or with patinas of verdigris etc. Part of my work also included using paint for invisible repairs, restoration and camouflage for security cameras etc and it was the trompe l’oeil aspect and challenge of this work that really appealed - I was often called upon to be the trouble-shooter.

A degree in History of Art underpins a major interest in copying 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings and I have spent much time researching the history of paint technique and materials. As part of this I worked with a conservator and was able to study various damaged oil paintings ranging from a Titian, a couple of van Dycks, through to Reynolds, Corot and even a Picasso. These were studied under ultraviolet and infrared lights to understand better these artists’ working methods and materials. It was while copying a Jan Lievens in the Rijksmuseum (see below - it is roughly 2’ x 3’, half the original size) that I realised it was time to have some atelier training. I knew how to work in layers and glazes but I had little experience in opaque, alla prima painting and wanted to add this skill. And so followed a year at the London Atelier of Representational Art and a further two under Travis Seymour at Barnes Atelier. I chose to study with Travis in particular because of his rigorous approach to drawing and strong focus on good technique, and this has been absolutely invaluable, sound training. I have really loved studying at Barnes Atelier and below is some of my work painted there.

Copy after Jan Lievens

The future? I completed a commission to copy an early 19th C portrait of a bishop in the National Portrait Gallery and hope to increase this area of work. My own paintings will probably always draw on the past which I find irresistible, but I am also continually excited by new developments in materials and have, as usual, been experimenting. Travis tells me there is often a twist in my work. I like that and will be working on that twist in future.


* To follow more of Juliet's work you can find her on instagram here:


 - Spring 2018 -


David martinez

David joined us in 2017 and is finishing up the drawing programme. He discusses his journey of growth and exploration that unfolds each day in the studio.


Not so long ago, I was managing software engineering teams in Silicon Valley. I loved my positions, projects, and colleagues, and the world of start-up innovation was endlessly exciting. But my inner artist always hovered in the background. I drew constantly as a child and later, as a working adult, took frequent art classes at night to satisfy this part of my soul. When a company shutdown loomed in 2013, I decided to leap, once and for all, into the creative realm of art, and I haven’t looked back. 

In 2014 I began formal studies in illustration at the San Francisco Academy of Art and in 2015, a family relocation to London prompted me to shift my focus to the study of traditional drawing and painting. Initially I began my studies at the London Atelier of Representational Art which is where I became inspired under the influence of one of my tutors at the time, Travis Seymour. When Travis left to start the Barnes Atelier, I was excited at the opportunity to join him — he doesn’t accept many students, and continue my full time training there. 

From still life to figurative work, I have been captivated by the process of mastering materials and continually refining my foundational skills as a draughtsman. I love the process of conquering light, shadow, and value, as well as working with graphite, chalk, and charcoal.

Last year, I submitted a piece to an open call by the Art Renewal Center, and was honoured to have my work recognised as a Finalist in the Drawing Category of the 13th Annual ARC salon (2017). My work would never have gotten this far without the guidance of all of the talented teachers and mentors I’ve had the privilege to know.

I’m looking ahead with excitement to the painting program at Barnes. I am fascinated and inspired by by master painters such as Caravaggio and Diego Velásquez, as well as numerous current realist and imaginary realist painters. In the lively and free London environment, it’s easy to feel driven to develop this craft further, and hopefully share my vision while testing my limits.

* To see more examples of David’s work go to or follow him on instagram