Sunday 21 December 2014

Last of the chocolates and a tangerine

Amaretto Truffle                                                 Layered Praline

Two stripey chocolates from the bottom of the little bag. But if it's Christmas (and we know it almost is, because we've all been hearing Noddy Holder's cry on the radio or in shops... ), then there must, surely, be tangerines, too...

That's alright, then.

All acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm

Saturday 20 December 2014

Caramel Meltaway and Chocolate Mousse

Slowly working my way through the little bag of Thornton's Premium...

Both acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm

Friday 19 December 2014

Four little squares

Muted Duck                                          Police Car

 Praline                                                  Bear

All acrylic on canvas, 7x7 cm

Monday 15 December 2014

Peacock Turmoil and other leftover paint

Peacock Turmoil
26 x 20 cm, oil on box canvas
I've been thinking more about abstract art of late (while trying not to think too hard - abstract art does not seem to repay intellectual efforts on the part of the viewer, being better approached via the emotions, I suspect). However, I cannot tell you what emotions are reflected here - no, really, I can't, because I do not know. Mostly I was trying to make the colours and the shapes work together well, and that is neither emotional nor intellectual. I think it must be instinctive.

While Peacock Turmoil did start off as a home for the paint leftover from Linear (there was a lot), I added more paint (mostly blues) from the tubes.

The bicycle, however, was just an opportunistic sketch. (The yellow bit is the inside of the lid of my box of oil paints.)
Oil sketch of (part of) the bicycle lurking in my studio


This is the finished version of the painting I was working on over the weekend (between visitors).

Based on a photograph taken on Porthtowan beach this August. A sort of companion piece to Curve.

Oil on natural linen canvas
38 x 61 cm

Sunday 14 December 2014

Two Days of Being Unilaterally Open

Whiteboard, redrawn for the second day
It seemed to be a lengthy process getting the studio into display mode, but part of that was DIY that won't need doing next time (there is some different DIY that is planned but we ran out of time).

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Sunday 7 December 2014

#C2C15 Seeing and Not Seeing

I have somehow completed the third sketchbook theme early. This is "Seeing and not Seeing".
All five of my double page spreads are in the box below; click left or right to move through them:

The images are:

Big Yellow Taxi (double page)

Because, "Don't it always seem to go / That you don't know what you got 'til it's gone."
Acrylic and Derwent Drawing Pencil.

Interference and Spectacles

The former is a physics experiment that demonstrates how light waves interact (reinforcing and negating each other); and the latter make all the difference between seeing and not seeing if you're short-sighted.
Graphite and acrylic; Derwent Drawing Pencil.

Eyes (double page)

I am more shortsighted in the left eye; this is, of course, a mirror image. I portrayed the left eye without glasses and with an excess of water. The idea was to create a blurry image; the dribbles were a bonus. I was more measured in my treatment of the bespectacled right eye.

Schrödinger 's Iron Man (double page)

Science meets art with bonus Black Sabbath. Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment that uses observation to "fix" a previously indeterminate state (is the cat alive or dead?). The atom just happens to be Lithium (added Nirvana?).
Mixed media.

Painty Water (double page)

I see therefore I paint (and draw). The murky water in the jar obscures and distorts the paintbrush(es) and, in the final view, the lettering on the place mat.
Various media - exploring the utility of different media to illustrate the murk.

Friday 5 December 2014

Tintagel Cove

Oil painting of Tintagel Cove (Seascape, Ladscape, Rockscape) from the Beach based on sketch and photographs.

I had a brief opportunity to visit Tintagel this August. It was packed full of people. I gave the castle (nice though it is) a miss and went down to the cove, where I made a sketch and took lots of photographs.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Cornish Farmhouse

Painted as a gift, posted with permission.

Oil on canvas, 22 x 16 inches
03 December 2014

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Informally Open ...

This is a flyer that hasn't quite yet arrived from the printers (shhh, don't tell anyone, but it's the ubiquitous Vistaprint). As you can no doubt see, it proclaims that I will be opening my studio, on an informal basis, during the weekend after next, in the afternoons.

I'm mostly expecting folks from the village - probably people I already know - to poke their heads around the door and see what's what. I'm hoping one or two of them will decide that a painting (or a print) is just what Uncle Quentin* would like for Christmas.

In the meantime, I have a bit of sorting out to do... mainly so that the walls can be reached and things can be affixed to said walls.


* Name plucked from memories of the Famous Five. I expect he would like Corfe Kirrin.

Beech Line

Impasto Oil painting of The Beeches, Litchfield Down, North Hampshire. Painted with a palette / painting knife by landscape artist Amanda Bates of Kingsclere

This is The Beeches, again: the line of trees on Litchfied Down that - coincidentally - I painted almost a year ago:

In the new painting, the view is towards Watership and Nuthanger Downs.

Beech Line
Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 cm
29 November 2014

(It took me a few days to post this because the light has been so poor during the day of late that I couldn't get a decent photograph - even with a tripod and a redced shutter speed. It also took me a while to think of a title).

Cover 2 Cover / Trolls

The lady who initiated this theme has an interest in Scandinavian folklore, and her trolls were all dignified, forest dwelling creatures.

Mine are a hotch-potch. Here they are with descriptions.

Monday 1 December 2014

Vanilla Velvet

Thornton's Premium Vanilla Velvet, still life painting in acrylic on diddy canvas
You know how, sometimes, just one isn't enough?

Acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm

Marc de Champagne

Thornto's Premium Marc de Champagne Truffle, still life painting in acrylic on diddy canvas

Continuing the chocolate theme. At this rate, I won't have a box full before Christmas... but I suppose it depends on the size of the box.

(They didn't come in a box. This is from a little bag of Thornton's "Premium" chocolates.)

Acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm

Friday 28 November 2014

Bonus Troll

Still Life Painting in Acrylic of Russ Troll Doll

I borrowed a few of these "Troll dolls" (AKA "Dam dolls," after their creator) from a neighbour for the next part of the Cover 2 Cover Sketchbook project. Two of the dolls made it into the sketchbook; this one is a small surprise gift for my neighbour.

Postscript: You'll find the Sketchbook trolls on Flickr. They'll get blogged when the final spread is done...

Acrylic on canvas, 5 x 7"

Thursday 27 November 2014


Little still life painting of a milk chocolate caramel sweet (acrylic on canvas)
Dear reader, I ate it.

Somebody had to, after all. 

Acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm

Monday 24 November 2014

Sunday 23 November 2014

Cover 2 Cover / In the clouds / Pages 5 to 7

Continuing the trawl through my part of my collaborative sketchbook, themed "In the Clouds". The music links are a little less direct this time, but I thought it would be fun to think of a popular song or two to go with each picture.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Cover 2 Cover / In the Clouds / pages 1 to 4

These sketches weren't done in the order that they appear; I had several ideas right from the start and I wanted them to appear in certain combinations. I also wanted to vary the interpretation of the theme and the media used, and to try and challenge myself a little. As a result, I managed to learn one or two things.

Page 1

"Cloudbusting", oil on paper.


This is an imaginative piece, with a cloud-dancer and a couple of Kate Bush songs (Cloudbusting and The Big Sky) in mind.
It isn't painted on the page of the sketchbook, but on a small piece of oil-painting paper. I started with the idea of using "lean" paint (thinned with turpentine) but ended up with fatter-than-fat neat titanium white, trowelled on with a knife. Needless to say, it's still too wet to stick in the book. Fortunately, I get the book back at the end. 
Update (24/11/14): It seems to be dry enough, so I stuck it in the book this morning. 
Something learnt: No more palette-knife oils in the sketchbooks!

Page 2

"Nuthanger Down in the Mist", Graphitint.


A Down-to-earth cloud, with trees in it... Based on a photograph, this subject seemed a good match for the subtle colours of Graphitint.
Something learnt: White Graphitint has its uses.

Page 3

"Head in the Clouds - Daydreaming" (self-portrait), oil pastel (Sennelier Nature set).

 A metaphorical interpretation. Oil pastel is great fun to use, allowing broad strokes and fine scratching-back (it can also be dissolved in turpentine, but I didn't do that here). It's not best-suited for small drawings; I think I was pushing the limit here. It also never dries, and remains malleable for - as far as I can tell - ever. Oops.
As I had a drawing opposing it in the sketchbook, I needed to do something about that. I cut a piece of greaseproof paper roughly to size and sellotaped it in as a protective leaf. This worked until I foolishly went and stood in a field on a windy day to make the last sketch, at which point the sketchbook flapped around, the greaseproof paper rolled and folded and ... no damage was actually done. But it could have been, and the sketchbook is only at the beginning of its journey, so I investigated online and discovered that Sennelier make a fixative for oil pastel based on a resin spray. It arrived yesterday and seems to do the job very well.
Something learnt: Greaseproof paper is a clumsy solution to the problem of oil pastel in crowded sketchbooks.

Page 4

Ice Cream Castles In the Air, Indian Ink (Derwent Graphik Line Maker pens)

A daydream, a fantasy, and a line from the Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now, which also happens to be (in part) about clouds. A friend told me it reminded her of Gormenghast, and she is right, although it was unconscious on my part. (I really must read the whole trilogy.)
Something learnt: Don't draw legs on distant flying dragons*.

*I ended up painting the legs out. It looks messy.

More castles in the next instalment...

Friday 21 November 2014

Tuna Sandwich (Lunch)

Tuna with mayonaisse and lettuce on seeded wholemeal.

Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 26 cm

Victoria Sandwich (Chocolate Cake)

Victoria Sandwich - Chocolate Cake - Still Life - Acrylic

It was surprisingly difficult getting the right level of not-brown in this one.

It is a homemade cake. I put so much cocoa powder in the butter icing that you can barely taste the sugar.

Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20

Thursday 20 November 2014

Cover 2 Cover, part 1

Open Studios (West Berks and North Hants) 2015 

Next May, I will be opening my studio for the first time as part of the West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios scheme. It is all rather exciting and new.

What is Open Studios?

Open Studios is a concept that involves artists inviting the public into their work spaces. This is usually as part of a scheme involving several artists in a geographical area who all open during the same period and whose details are collected together in a freely distribuuted guide. Interested people can then tour the studios, and may even buy some art direct from the artists they are visiting!

There are a couple of "extras" running alongside the core Open Studios scheme here in West Berkshire and North Hampshire; there is the Insight exhibition, to be held at New Greenham Arts, and there is the collaborative sketchbook project - which is the subject of this post.

Collaborative Sketchbook Project:
Cover 2 Cover 

Artists who choose to be involved get an A5 landscape sketchbook, for which they choose a theme. They then fill a number of pages (up to five double page spreads) with things related to the theme.

Then they pass the book on to the next artist, exchanging it for another, with a different theme. Again, they then fill up to five double page spreads with things related to this theme.

And then it all happens again. There are 42 artists taking part, split into six groups. Each group has eight sketchbooks to work in. After five months, it will be done; the sketchbooks will be collected together and exhibited, and a book featuring work from the sketchbooks will be published.

In the Clouds

My theme is "In the Clouds".

It's a song title, but ignore that and there's a lot of scope for interpretation – literal cloud studies, shapes that might be seen in the clouds, things that might be obscured by cloud... fluffy and white, ominous and grey, however the mood (or the weather) takes you.
I have completed my ten pages, and am looking forward to the first exchange.

In the Clouds, my 10 pages

This post is getting a bit long, so I will leave you with the collected images and - hopefully - find some time and some bandwidth* to write about each one later.

* We have been without landline or broadband for three weeks; the trunk cable that serves us and many of our neighbours is in need of replacement. BT are digging up the thoroughfares of the village as I type...

Saturday 15 November 2014

Caramel Shortbread or Millionaire's Stack

A sight variation on the cakes theme; technically a biscuit, these were homemade (all the others were shop-bought, which I feel a little ashamed about) and the image you see is a scan of the painting, not a photograph.

Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20 cm

Friday 14 November 2014

Evergreen (Newtown Common)

Large landscape painting of trees in oils; Impressionist style; panoramic format
Oil on canvas, 50 x 100 cm

The title may be something of a misnomer, as there is scarcely any green in the painting (there was more in the source photographs), but the trees on this part of Newtown Common were pretty much all evergreens.

The colours weren't the only thing I changed; I also added a second path, to give you a choice of which way to go...

Thursday 13 November 2014

Work in progress: Newtown Common (Evergreen) + News

This is one of those moments when I take stock and reconsider using "real" colours. It isn't finished; there is more to do, but how close to reality do I take this now?

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Poppies and Daisies

Another quick post.

oil on canvas board, 40 x 50 cm

Litchfield Down

Very quick post on borrowed Internet because our communications, to paraphrase Spandau Ballet, have let us down.

Oil on canvas, 33 x 55 cm

Thursday 6 November 2014

Breezy Poppies

It's a good time of year for painting poppies.

Oil on canvas, 55 x 33 cm
£200 - SOLD

Monday 3 November 2014

Penlee Inspiration

I entered this painting to Penlee House's "Penlee Inspired" Open Exhibition and am delighted to report that they have accepted it!

The exhibition opens on 29 November 2014 and runs to 10 January 2015.

Click here to read the original post

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Sketches from an old photograph - High Seas in Brighton

I was a student at Sussex University between 1989 and 1992, and even then I had an interest in pictures of waves crashing onto beaches. I recently rediscovered a short series of very grainy photographs taken on 110 film during a storm on Brighton seafront.

I couldn't resist trying to improve upon the images...

Sunday 26 October 2014

Big LEGO Robin Hood

LITHE and listen, Gentlemen,
  That be of free-born blood:
I shall you tell of a good yeoman,
  His name was Robin Hood.
So begins the earliest surviving ballad concerning the proud outlaw who shall forever be associated with Sherwood Forest (A Little Geste of Robin Hood and his Meiny).

Once upon a time - nearly three years ago - I painted a small version of this minifigure. This is a much larger commission, brush-painted on a 50 cm square box canvas. The edges are painted Lincoln Green (well, a mixture of Phthalo Green and Lemon Yellow).

Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 50 cm

Thursday 23 October 2014

Surfin' - SOLD

This is based on a series of shots taken on Porthtowan beach. I was just after waves when I was taking the photographs, but this surfer strode into shot and he belonged in the picture. His silhouette against the sea suggested this "black line" style (used in the school murals and Kingsclere Gallops, influenced by Fauvism).

Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 50 cm
22 October 2014

Monday 20 October 2014

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Trees and Seeds

This is a drawing made from a photograph that I took last Wednesday as I headed out on a longish walk on the downs. The trees may look familiar; they are the "Skyline" trees on Plantation Hill, featured in several of my paintings and drawings.

Some abstracts that I found lurking in a shoebox


Both from last autumn, both 5 x 7 inch oils that started off as palette scrapings...

Sunday 5 October 2014

Egg Custard Tart

I'm not sure, but I have a feeling that this particular sort of egg custard tart - deep-filled, dusted with cinnamon, encased in pastry whose waxy texture is like no other, presented in a foil cup case - is uniquely British.

They are rather delicious. In a comfort-food sort of way.

Egg Custard Tart
Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 26 cm

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Online portfolio / print catalogue

I took advantage of a special offer from Bonusprint to put together a portfolio volume of "Recent Work". It also has a complete print catalogue at the back, including greetings cards. The print version (which hasn't arrived yet) came with a free online book, which you can look at here.

Monday 29 September 2014

Wiltshire Blue

Coming down off the ridgeway in Wiltshire in June, this caught my eye - I don't know what the crop was, but it was decidedly bluer than anything else growing in the fields. The receding stripes echoed the clouds in the upper part of the sky agreeably and I knew it would make a good painting.

This is rather a quick painting, so there could well be a better one to be made.

Anyway, I took a photograph back in June and used my ancient iMac to display it today, thus circumventing the printer (which needs ink).

Blue Stripey Field
Oil on linen canvas, 30 x 30 cm

Sunday 28 September 2014

From One Hill Fort to Another

This was a plein air painting made back in July, just before the schools broke up and summer holiday madness commenced.