A Brief History

Rita LettSince 1997, Rita Lett, owner and manager of the Corn Loft Centre has been running international watercolour painting workshops at the Corn Loft.

During that period the Corn Loft Centre has earned a reputation for excellence and offering value for money.

Rita is passionate about painting.  Over the past 20 years she has been attending workshops here in Ireland and abroad to improve her painting technique – and to have fun!  Through her own experience of attending painting workshops Rita has learned what it takes to make them a success.

Rita’s interest in art has taken her to art workshops all over the world.  The first art workshop organized at the Corn Loft Centre in 1997 stemmed from her desire to bring American artist Judi Wagner to Ireland.  Rita had met Judi at one of her previous workshop in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and was very impressed with Judi’s teaching style.

Judi Wagner spoke so highly of her experiences at the Corn Loft on her return to the US that her friend and fellow tutor Tony Van Hasselt expressed his desire to come to the Corn Loft with a group of students in 2001.   He returned again four years later in 2004 with a group of thirty students.  

The Milford Zornes workshop in 2001 is really what put the Corn Loft Centre on the map.  Thought to be one of the greatest American artists of the 20th century, the late Milford Zornes regaled his audience with stories of his trips to Ireland and the Corn Loft at his 100th birthday demonstration in the US three years ago.  The theme of the demonstration was Ireland.   Rita was among the 400 guests invited to the event called “The Last Man Standing”.  Following that demonstration, many American artists now want to come to the Corn Loft Centre to paint the same scenes that Milford painted.  Other well-known American art tutors who did workshops at the Corn Loft were, Shelia Parsons, Noriko Coley, and Frank FranceseJules Dessart from Belgium brought a total of 40 students from Europe for his two workshops in 2000.  Well-known Irish artist, Billy Moore from Kilkenny has given several workshops on pen and ink drawing and watercolour painting.  

In September 2010 Chris Van Winkle, well known tutor and President of the US National Watercolor Society brought 28 of his students from Citrus College, California to the Corn Loft to paint in Milford Zornes’ footsteps.  Rita received such positive feedback from the group that she decided to expand the range of workshops on offer at the Corn Loft.    

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