Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Two bottles identified

Acrylic and ball point pen on cotton canvas board 16" x 16"

Back to my quiet paintings. The need to retreat is always present (and pleasant).  I wanted to break the rules about positioning of objects. Place that table a little more to the left or the right and it becomes more literal. As it is it just has the abstract edge I like. 

Small jug meets orange rectangle

Acrylic on cotton canvas board 16" x 16"

Monday, August 18, 2014

Little yellow pot

Acrylic on wooden panel 8" x 8"

Well, where did this come from?  I just came up to the studio and painted it. It's a real little yellow and green pot I picked up on my travels somewhere. Whenever I have been doing work which requires use of reference material such as family photographs I soon feel the urge to "just paint".  I was happy with the glow that resulted from working with fairly bright primaries on a burnt umber and ultramarine violet background (the glow is more intense in real life - sorry it is not quite as good in this pic). 
This is so unlike the last few paintings, but so what?  It is my belief that any painter with a few years under their belt can paint in a variety of different ways but most don't.  Well I might fall under a bus tomorrow and I've always been quietly stubborn,  so I will, lol !  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Success, sales, SWA and Stockport Art Guild

I am proud to be a member of Stockport Art Guild. It was founded in 1919 so it has been going a long time. Today was our annual exhibition opening and I was surprised and humbled to find I had won an award for "Best Portrait" in the show for one of the "Legacy" series I worked on last year.  As a bonus, the portrait had sold by the end of the afternoon!  The exhibition is on until 7th September so if you are in the area it's worth taking a look. There's some wonderful work in there.  I also omitted to mention that two more of my "Legacy" paintings were exhibited at the Society of Women Artists Mall Gallery show in London in June. (Both those paintings sold too!) Sorry SWA I forgot to give you a special mention but I would like to say thank you for all the support and kindness you have given me. It's not something you often find in the cut throat art world of the city but it definitely exists in the SWA.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Renaissance papa

Oil and acrylic on cotton canvas board 16" x 12"

I was looking at some images of Bellini's Madonna and Child and it struck me that in most of those Renaissance paintings the Madonna does not look at the viewer, only at the child. On the other hand the child often looks at the viewer. It's an interesting psychology.  I thought I would put a little landscape in the background. It's a northern one with valleys and hills, small houses nestling and a viaduct. We have quite a few of those in these parts.
(Since first posting I have done some more work on the guy's shirt so this is a new shot.)

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Girl with house plants

Oil and acrylic on cotton canvas board 16" x 12"

I'm happy that she turned out to be almost sculptural and that the plants echo that. Painting in this way is totally therapeutic for me, knowing almost in advance the direction in which I am going unlike the more gestural work of the figurative abstracts.  It is also a wonderful opportunity to really learn about the seductive qualities of colour. I can make quiet decisions and that is probably more "me" than anything else.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Woman with a stoat

Oil and acrylic on cotton canvas board 16" x 12"

Inspired by Leonardo's "Lady with an ermine" and Freud's early paintings of his wife Kitty Garman.  I enjoyed painting this so much.

Saturday, August 02, 2014


Oil and acrylic on cotton canvas board 16" x 12"

It's the oddness of the human condition that strikes me - our awkwardness and desire to create and hide behind different persona.  And it's that I think that lures me away from the much more fluid abstract paintings to something more recognisable, but perhaps something we don't really want to recognise.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


The three paintings below are re-works but in one case substantial changes were made and in the other 2 a few fairly big changes were made. Re-works offer the chance to be brave.  The painting did not totally satisfy you or you would not have considered a re-work.  It's often a battle with the surface as the paint builds up and the painting emerges towards you. I think I enjoy re-working more than anything.


Oil and acrylic on linen canvas 16" x 16"


Oil and acrylic on linen canvas 16" x 16"


Oil and acrylic on linen canvas 16" x 16"

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Goldfinch

I have just finished reading "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt.   An amazing book. Here is an extract from near the end...

.."Great paintings - people flock to see them, they draw crowds, they're reproduced endlessly on coffee mugs and mouse pads and anything-you-like.  And, I count myself in the following, you can have a lifetime of perfectly sincere museum-going where you traipse around enjoying everything and then go out and have some lunch.  But... if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don't think 'I love this painting because it is universal.. I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind'.  That's not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It's a secret whisper from an alleyway.  Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes, you.  .... You see one painting, I see another, the art book puts it at another remove still, the lady buying the greeting card at the museum gift shop sees something else entire, and that's not even to mention the people separated from us by time..  it'll never strike anybody the same way and the great majority of people it'll never strike in any deep way at all but a really great painting is fluid enough to work its way into the mind and heart through all kinds of different angles in ways that are unique and very particular. Yours, yours, I was painted for you..

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Timekeepers

Oil on cotton canvas board 16" x 12"

I love the motif of doors. So many artists in the past and present return to this - what is beyond the door - another door, and another door.  These girls' faces fascinate me. They are reaching out and at the same time holding back, reminding us that the only reality is time passing. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Last night's life drawing

This is charcoal on paper. She had a bright lamp shining on her right but she's got that "dazed" look that bored life models often get. She is probably miles away in a world of her own but on the other hand she could just be thinking, is it nine o'clock yet.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Life drawings

I am sadly too busy to paint at the moment but am still managing to keep up with the life drawing. Here are a few very recent ones in conte and charcoal...


Monday, June 30, 2014

The answers are out there

Just a recap on the tech problem I described below. First I contacted Microsoft help through their chat facility. They are always friendly and polite but sadly not always so helpful. The person I spoke to simply suggested that if the problem didn't exist when using Internet Explorer 8 that I should switch back to it. He didn't understand that the purpose of a blog is that anyone out there in cyber space sees your work and they may use later versions of IE to do that. I can't control what systems people use. So just switching to IE8 was not the answer. I then sent an email to Canon, the manufacturer of my new camera and explained the problem. I know I need to be taking better photographs so that the quality of the image has a head start before it meets stubborn customers like Blogger and Internet Explorer. Canon will get back to me in a couple of days and whatever they say is going to be useful anyway. Through trawling the net I began to understand that the problem was rooted in the way the image was "scaled" (or "not scaled") by Blogger. I then discovered an amazing website which told you how to edit your Blogger post in the HTML post editor mode and delete a small piece of code for that image. Doing this forces the browser to display a scaled image with high definition. Thanks Ankit! Here is the reference in case anyone wants to check this out -

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Entertainer

Oil on cotton canvas panel 12" x 9"

This is a rework of the last posting (called The Trainer). I wanted her face to be more delicately rendered and in the process her hair changed from red to blue. Do you remember ever wanting to join the circus? It reminds me of that. Or maybe her entertainment is of the more subtle variety.

I am struggling a bit technically at the moment. I have a new laptop, a new camera and a new (or different) version of Photoshop. The pics were fine after photo editing when I looked  at them in Windows and even when I uploaded them to the Blogger editor but as soon as I looked at them on the proper blog screen the background weave of the canvas was emphasised and there was a kind of shimmer over the image.

A bit more investigation showed me that the canvas weave problem only showed up when viewing the blog through Internet Explorer which at that point was my default Browser and did not show up when I switched to Google Chrome. I looked on Google stats for my blog and I saw that most people use Firefox or Chrome for browsing anyway, but I don't ever remember seeing this problem before with Internet Explorer (I am using IE 11). I checked IE version 10 as well as 11 and the problem was still there but I found that when I reverted back to IE version 8 it had gone and the picture was fine.  So something in later versions of IE is causing the display to be distorted somehow. It tells me on the net to look for the compatibility button but I can't find it.

The problem is not so much for me, because I just switch to Chrome to look at my blogs but for other people around the world who are viewing my stuff through IE10 or 11 they are going to see a less than perfect image.  If you are using IE10 or 11 with no problem it would be great if you could let me know so that I can assume there is some incompatibility of display with this machine.

Sorry folks, this ended up so long winded a story. If you see the image without the canvas weave then you're good and don't worry about the rest of the posting!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Figures in an imagined landscape

Oil on linen canvas 16" x 16"

This is a rework of the one a couple of posts ago which was feeling far too tight for me. I decided to go for a much more "broken" and "blue" Cezanne/Derain type approach.  This means I have spent hours and hours on this painting so far, scrubbing it, sanding it, smudging it, dulling it and brightening it.

David Leffel says the intelligent artist "...sees the canvas as the reality, not the model. He does not paint what he sees, he paints the way he wants the canvas to look".  This is an extremely profound and thought provoking notion for any painter. It means the artist has to have some idea about how he wants the thing to look both before and during the process of painting. I know that when I don't do that, I spend ages wallowing in what feels like mud and despair. Leffel's "concept" approach (see the book "Oil painting secrets from a master" put together by Linda Cateura) does not make the job easy but it provides us with a kind of "style" map although I am not suggesting we should stick to the same style for every piece we create, neither does it negate Chuck Close's statement that "All the best ideas come out of the work itself". You can have a map but what you get out of the journey is what you put into it.