Tuesday 31 March 2015

On the Rocks

Are the waves wilder because of the rocks? Loosely based on a photograph take in Portreath, Corwall.

Oil on canvas, 30 x 100 cm

Monday 30 March 2015

Winter Tree

I've had the photograph that this is based on for a few years but this is the first time that I have used it. It shows the valley floor beneath Cannon Heath and Watership Downs.

Oil on canvas, 70 x 50 cm.

Saturday 28 March 2015


The moon caught in the branches of a stained-glass-tree...

After collecting my daughter from Brownies last night, my thoughts turned to nocturnal trees...

Acrylic (tube/brush and marker) on Bockingford HP watercolour paper.



This rather battered fence is by the side of the Wayfarer's Walk near White Hill, Stubbington Down. The colours were influenced - but not enslaved to - the misprint of my photograph when the printer had run out of cyan ink.

Acrylic (tube/brush and marker) on Bockingford HP, A3
27 March 2015

Friday 27 March 2015

Developing a New Idea: Stained-Glass Trees

Where do ideas come from?

I can't answer that in the absolute, and I suspect that it is a question that will remain unanswered for many years to come. But sometimes it is possible to pinpoint the germ of an idea, and even to track its development.

My recent (and ongoing) series of colourful trees is a nice example.

The original inspiration was the sight of exposed tree roots on the top of an Avebury rampart. I was in company and didn't have time to sketch such an intricate subject, so I took a photograph.

That one photograph was the source for several sketches, in various media:

Media, left to right:
Acrylic ink, Line and wash, Acrylic paint markers

... and one small painting on canvas (which will be for sale on the Princes Trust stand at the Reading Contemporary Art Fair):

Acrylic, applied with brush, and acrylic paint markers

The sketches helped me work out what I wanted to do with the lattice of tree roots - which was to create a stained-glass effect - and how I wanted to do it. By the time I came to the painting on canvas, I had decided upon a stylised approach, and had extended this to the negative space between the branches, too.

The colours in the negative spaces were quite exciting and led to further developments of the idea.

Acrylic, applied with a brush.

Highly stylised approach emphasising colour

Acrylic (brush) and acrylic paint markers

More naturalistic, and pleasingly delicate, while retaining the colour variation within the negative spaces
Acrylic applied with a knife (over brushwork)

Stylised and angular
The media that I used was important. This seemed an idea that required acrylics rather than oils - hard edges would be the order of the day, and quick-drying acrylic is perfect for that. Perhaps gouache would work too, but watercolour didn't seem to have the requisite muscularity.

Acrylic's quick-dry nature also allowed me to flatten the colours in a nicely "Modern" way. The paint marker pens allowed me to indulge in linearity and add twiggy detail; they also permitted me extra working flexibility.The knife, on the other hand, allowed me to reject the detail and precision of the pens and to maximise the glowing potential of neat acrylic colour.

Each of these final approaches has their merits. It depends on the effect I am trying to put across and the nature of the subject (trees have characters, and the composition will also inform the approach).

Thursday 26 March 2015


This time, I used a knife to light up the tree.

Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 cm box

Horse Chestnut (Spring Light) - SOLD

A sure sign of spring: the horse chestnut on the nearby playing field is in bud.

Acrylic on watercolour paper, 27 x 29 cm


Sunday 22 March 2015


This is a view of Nottingham from Wollaton Park, based on a photograph I took on Christmas Day last year. It was executed in acrylic, using both tube paint applied with a brush and Molotow paint markers.

Acrylic on paper, approx. A3

Saturday 21 March 2015

(Light) Caught in the Branches

I'm still playing with this idea, of stained-glass trees. I think this is the most subtle so far - slightly ironic considering that one of the reasons that it is subtle is the use of Molotow paint markers alongside tube acrylic. Molotow is a brand associated with grafitti - rarely a subtle artform.

Acrylic on box canvas, 12" x 12"

Friday 20 March 2015

Toytown Gothic

This may be the first in a occasional series. It's a loose pastiche of the well-known painting by Grant Wood, American Gothic. My sketch is drawn in Conté.


A further development of the idea kicked off by Avebury Roots, this is based on images from two locations in Berkshire.

Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 50 cm

(I'll be taking this to the Reading Contemporary Art Fair.)

Monday 16 March 2015


Painted to the theme, "Together".

Acrylic on box canvas, 40 x 40 cm

Sunday 15 March 2015

Roots (Avebury) for the Prince's Trust - SOLD

This is a further development of the ideas being explored in Avebury Roots 1, 2 and 3.

Last week, I was surprised by the arrival of a 20 cm square canvas in the post, with the request that I create a painting on it for the Prince's Trust to sell at the Reading Contemporary Art Fair. This was what I painted.

I might have to do a few similar pieces for my stand at the fair, too...

Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20 cm 
Sold by the Prince's Trust for £45

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Roots (Avebury) 3

Stained glass effect courtesy of Molotow acrylic markers.

Roots (Avebury) - 1 and 2

Acrylic ink

Line and wash
On the top of one of the embankments that surround the village of Avebury in Wiltshire (best known for the stone circle that also surrounds it), I found a group of trees with roots exposed by erosion. The pattern of - or, rather, the random shapes created by - the tree roots was wonderfully fascinating and I just knew that there was potential for a vibrant artwork there.

So far, I have tried two interpretations.

Edit: There are now more:

Number 3, on paper
Number 4, on canvas, for The Princes Trust

Sunday 8 March 2015

The Village Club - Commission

This painting was commissioned by the trustees of Kingsclere's Village Club as a gift for a dedicated  committee member upon his retirement from the committee. It was presented to him today (Sunday 8th March), framed and and mounted, with a dedication in a separate window.

I wrote the dedication in the same sepia acrylic ink used for the linework, using a calligraphy dip pen, styled in the Chancery hand.

The mount and frame was made by Overton Gallery.

I have it on good authority that the gift was well received.

Kingsclere Village Club
Line and wash, approx A3

Tuesday 3 March 2015

This is me...

These photographs were taken in the Red Lion in Avebury by a friend of mine, Per Riggare. I was making a quick sketch of his wife at the time.