21st April 2023
Women in the World of Art


Having just completed delivery of the Women in the World of Art Course at Millennium Court, Portadown, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share the experience with you all. I was inspired to create this programme as a celebration of women in the arts and to explore the journey of creative women over the past few hundred years.

As with many areas of life, women have had to fight that little bit harder to be heard and recognised. Their presence has always formed an intrinsic part the creative industries but unfortunately was often diminished or eradicated. Thankfully, times are changing and it’s encouraging to see positive steps being taken to shine a light on women in the world of arts.

Women in the World of Art

Women in the World of Art – Millennium Court

This was my first time delivering this programme in Portadown at Millennium Court. I absolutely love meeting a new group of students – everyone is so enthusiastic and it’s a wonderful opportunity to bring together a bunch of like minded creatives. This lovely collective were no exception.

We had a wide age range of attendees and women from varying creative backgrounds. Some loved to paint, some loved to take photographs and some used textiles in their work. We also had absolute beginners with no experience in the arts. They all blended together perfect over the six week programme and formed a supportive network of friendship that will continue into the future.

Women in the World of Art – Course Content

Week one commenced with an overview of women in the world of photography. We explored a number of contemporary female photographers such as Annie Leibovitz and Sue Bryce, whilst discussing iconic women in the world of photography. These included Vivien Mayer, Dorothea Lange and Julia Margaret Cameron. This led us into the different photography movements and we finished off my discussing how to produce a creative double exposure image using smartphone photography.

Image Credit – Gillian
Audrey experimenting with photography – reflections and black / white images

Week 2 – Famous Female Artists

Week 2 saw us exploring famous female artists. Irish female artists have had a great impact on the world of art so it was important to feature and discuss their work. Whilst we discussed the different art movements, I highlighted the work of these Irish women who forged a path in the world of art alongside other outstanding female artists from around the world. We looked at the works of Georgia O’Keeffe, Tamara de Lempicka, Mary Swanzy and Tamara Natalie Madden – each one very different but equally accomplished.

Allegory – c 1945-49 – Mary Swanzy
Image Credit – National Gallery of Ireland
Women in the World of Art
Gillian experimenting in the style of Tamara de Lempicka

We finished off week 2 by experimenting during the practical element with abstract pieces. Drawing inspiration from any of the artists that we featured, the students were encouraged to explore the use of colour and experiment with various techniques of applying the paint. I absolutely loved the energy in week 2 and all of the women really enjoyed taking part. Here are some images from Week 2 below: –

Week 3 – Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the World of Art

In Week 3 we discussed the challenges and opportunities that women face in the world of art. The subject of subtle prejudice was highlighted as well as the under representation of women’s art in galleries and museums. Times are changing and it’s encouraging to see a movement towards recognition of women in the world of art. Exhibitions, play a vital role in the visibility and the development of women’s artistic output, and of the artists themselves. We explored local and national exhibitions of female artist’s work, whilst investigating steps that we can all take to play a part in the promotion of female artists.

Quadripartie Mountain Sequence Red – 1967 – Anne Madden
Image Credit IMMA Dublin
Women in the world of Art
Self Portrait by Audrey

Week 4 – Creative Resilience

To be a creative person requires a lot of resilience. Many factors can creep into our minds and souls, eroding our sense of self belief and playing havoc with our productivity. Week 4 saw us explore creative resilience. We looked at the the 7 C’s of Resilience, discussing how to maintain a healthy mindset and making time for self care. Everyone agreed on the benefits of art as a form of therapeutic release and we carried out an exercise that encouraged students to see themselves more positively, acknowledging their skills and talents. The practical element on Week 4 striped away colour and invited students to express themselves in black and white. The results were raw and full of emotion.

Women in the world of Art
Image Credit – Linsey
Image Credit – Debbie

Week 5 – Composition

Week 5 saw us cover composition, the term used to describe the arrangement of the visual elements in a painting or other artwork. We looked at the different elements of art and design – line, shape, colour, value, texture, form, and space. There are so many similarities between photography and art in terms of composition. By looking at practical examples, the students were able to see how important perspective is in their work to convey a sense of depth and scale.

Women in World of Art
Women in the world of Art
Image Credit – Audrey
Women in the world of Art
Image Credit – Iva

Week 6 – Colour

The final week of Women in the World of Art featured the use of colour and how important it is in your work. We looked back in time at the history of the colour wheel, going as far back as the 1400’s to the first evidential writings about colour theory. Then it was time to discuss the use of primary and secondary colours together, before exploring different colour harmony combinations in design.

Photo Credit –

Colour Psychology is fascinating and we exploring everyone’s favourite colours. We finished off the theory element of week six but looking at light and colour in photography. Comparing the difference between monochrome and grayscale, whilst examining white balance and the use the colour as a compositional tool. Our practical element on week 6 allowed the students to create a colourful piece using only paints and a squeegee or piece of card. It’s amazing how you can produce something so vibrant and full of impact with a few simple items.

Women in the World of Art – An Overview

The hardest thing for me about teaching is saying goodbye to your students at the end of a course or programme. You build up a sense of trust and many friendships, sharing a common bond and a natural affinity for something you all love. That’s why I encourage students to stay in touch via the WhatsApp Groups I set up. It’s so lovely to see how everyone is progressing and maintain the relationships that were established. I absolutely loved teaching this group of talented and enthusiastic women. The feedback has been amazing and I can’t wait for the opportunity to run this course again soon. Art is in amazingly therapeutic tool and a unifier, bringing people together with a common goal.

Women in the world of Art

I would like to thank Susan at Millennium Court for the incredible support she has shown me over the past year and for the wonderful opportunities. It’s such a beautiful venue and the staff are friendly and accommodating. Portadown is very lucky to have this common creative space providing a wide variety of workshops for the local community. I’m back again next month teaching my Intermediate Photography 6 Week course so if you are interested in coming along, contact Millennium Court to book your place.