Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Protector Fidei

Mixed media on canvas 30" x 30"

This is yet another rework.  He wanted to wear a sort of starched pinafore.  I remember stitching a similar garment at school by hand. As delightful to stitch as it was to paint. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Mixed media on canvas 30" x 30"

This was another painting whispering to me in the corner, 'hey, you there, person with a brush in your hand, you know I need some work doing don't you, so get on with it'.  The composition is the same as the earlier version (which I have taken off) but the detail and palette are slightly different.  She is still singing her heart out though. I couldn't stop her. Is there anything more moving than a child singing?  I am a bit of a hard case but that really gets me every time.  The dogs, well, dogs will be dogs and life is about all sorts of things. And that's as philosophical as I'm going to get, lol.

Friday, August 28, 2015

A small life

Mixed media on hardboard panel 12" x 12"

Chrysalis (re-work)

Mixed media on hardboard panel 12" x 12"

People who watch this blog know that I quite often re-work pieces. Really I suppose it is that I post a piece before it is properly at a state of "pause". I won't say "finished" because any painter will tell you it's never really done. If it was ever really done there would not be much motivation to go on to the next one.  I wanted here to pull the eye away from the rather harsh jaw line to the left of the picture as we look at it.  I introduced some horizontal stripes using a mix of indian red and chrome oxide green.  Then I had the urge to emphasise the lips so a definite smudge of indian red brought her to life or at least to an artistic life.  It has been a busy painting day - I am off for a g&t and a rummage around the pots and pans.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dresden (re-work)

Mixed media on cotton canvas panel 16" x 12"

Since first posting this painting yesterday I had a look at it today and realised it needed more work. What tells an artist to continue painting on something? I sense it is to do with "voice,  not the artist's voice but the voice of the painting. It has to "live" in some kind of weird way outside of anything else to do with its creation.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

The heart soars

Acrylic and oil pastel on cartridge paper 12" x 9"

I once heard an artist say that their heart sank during the process of (fairly representational) painting when they reached a very detailed point in the work.  For instance detailed patterns on fabric can take a long time and a lot of effort to represent "representationally".  Here I simply drew the flowers into the wet acrylic with a crayon.  How do we "see" other people?  Is it not true that as we go about our lives we largely see and remember just a vague impression of a person and yet we still sense that humanity in them.  Working intuitively is the greatest joy an artist can experience and is far away from the heart sinking but is rather closer to the heart soaring.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nil desperandum

Oil and acrylic on canvas 30" x 30"

On my first communion photos one boy is wearing a fair isle pullover (which his grandma probably knitted for him and was his "best" jumper so because it was perceived to be an important event I am sure his mother made him wear it) and even at the age of seven I remember thinking that it wasn't quite right.  As I grew older whenever I looked at that photo I always felt a little tenderness towards this boy especially since my own mother whipped my nice veil off immediately after the service and took it home, leaving the teacher with no option but to dump what I am sure was some old dusty net curtain on my head for the communion breakfast photograph. 

Sunday, August 09, 2015


Acrylic on cotton canvas panel 16" x 12"

Waiting for 3 oil paintings to dry sufficiently for me to proceed to the next stage I decided to try out some of the same ideas with acrylic.  Lots of layers, lots of scumbling. Quite a bit of knife work. The figure appeared towards the end, drilling down out of the sky. The palette was simple - raw umber, yellow ochre, mars black, paynes grey, titanium white. Very early layers may have had some chromium oxide green. Everything affects everything else. The beauty of fast drying acrylic means  you can keep working, keep layering until it seems to say something. 


Oil pastel on cartridge paper 8" x 7"

Saturday, August 01, 2015


Oil over acrylic on canvas 14" x 11"

I found a few old family portraits I had done months ago and decided to rework one in oils. It is based on a photograph of my grandmother.  I know the family photograph concept has been done to death by artists but when it concerns someone you knew and respected and had some time for I feel I don't need much excuse to use the idea.  I had the urge to use warm, dark colours and have very few hard edges. It painted itself quickly - sometimes that is the case, especially with a re-work where the bones are there but it needs all to be pulled together.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dreaming of stones

Oil pastel and Indian ink on cartridge paper 8" x 7"

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up" Pablo Picasso.

Traveller with stones

Oil pastel and Indian ink on cartridge paper 7.5" x 6.5"

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Oil pastel on cartridge paper 8" x 7"
The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
("I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou)


Saturday, June 27, 2015


Oil pastel on cartridge paper 7" x 8"

When I played my penny whistle on the braes above Lochgyle
The heather bloomed about us, and we heard the peewit call;
As you bent above your knitting something fey was in your smile,
And fine and soft and slow the rain made silver on your shawl.

Your cheeks were pink like painted cheeks, your eyes a pansy blue .

My heart was in my playing, but my music was for you...

(Robert William Service)

Monday, June 22, 2015