Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Head of a child

Oil pastel on cartridge paper 7" x 7"
I continue to be fascinated by the landscape of the face but this adventure with colour is enthralling too and has surprised me and yet I still sense I am working largely intuitively and I feel the colour is "true" and meant to be there. What a journey this is and how lucky are we painters to be invited on to it.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Girl with the long hair

Oil pastel on cartridge paper 9" x 6"

"See on the marble parapet
I lean my brow, strive to forget
That fathoms below my hair grows wet
With the dew, my golden hair"..
                                        William Morris

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Oil pastel on cartridge paper 7" x 7"

"A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage..."
                                  William Blake


Oil pastel on cartridge paper 10" x 7"

I'll never forget my mother's checked coat and I don't think I'll ever stop painting it.

Head of a young girl

Oil pastel on cartridge paper 8" x 7"

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

New work with oil pastel

"Self 1"  oil pastel on cartridge paper 5" x 5"
"Self II"  oil pastel on cartridge paper 7" x 7"
"Clara" oil pastel on cartridge paper 7" x 8.5"
I have always liked working with oil pastel.  The placing of colour is so immediate and the variety of colours available (I use Sennelier) mean that no "mixing" is necessary so layering is only done to integrate one form with another. I like to think of it as an integration rather than a super-imposing.  I love working with faces and figures both realistically rendered and more abstractly rendered and oil pastel lends itself wonderfully to this end. 

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Masterpiece

Oil on canvas 24" x 24"

There is a richer tone in the original than shows here so as often happens I'm not too happy with the digital image. Well, that happens and I can only apologise.  On the subject side, I was once in a large national gallery (not in the UK) and the "viewers" were made to almost stay in a long, shuffling line and not spend more than about 10 seconds looking at each piece.  I stuck my nose out to study some nuance of paint application on one and the "guard" (aptly named) hauled me back with a reprimand.  I remember in a different place -  the South of France - touching Renoir's wheelchair and I nearly got put in prison.  Sometimes you feel like dancing in the middle of an art gallery but no one ever does.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

The Interview

Oil on canvas 24" x 24"
The Surrealists I could never really sink into - Dali, Magritte, Tanning - their world was full of dreams and impossibilities. But I have always liked the notion of ordinary people in "extra"ordinary situations - the world as a stage as Will said.  I like the idea of the viewer creating the script and myself providing the props.  I enjoy so much working in neutral colours but I have discovered that to get the depth of colour it needs to be as true and as pure as possible, therefore knife work felt like the only way to go.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Selected for the SWA exhibition, London 2015

"Carer"  oil and acrylic on canvas 16" x 16" £420

"Angel" oil and acrylic on canvas 16" x 16" £420

These two paintings have been accepted for inclusion in the annual Society of Women Artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, from 5th to 13th June 2015.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

Self portrait as my mother

Acrylic on canvas panel 16" x 12"
Ok, this started in the same way as the two previous paintings - attention to every little groove and crevice - but that attention to detail started to be a pain. This business of "seeing" is the oddest thing.  'What you see is what you get' I said in the last post but seeing a person is not just superficial is it. For a start, in  self portrait or portraits of your family,  you see your ancestors. Second, you see 'meaning', 'feelings', 'memories', 'stories'.  So I went with the flow and grabbed a painting knife. Like running up a hill free with the wind blowing in your face. My mum was always elegant and pretty  (I have never had  a lot of interest in elegance). Every morning she would do the housework and then after lunch she would change into a pretty dress and high heels- we were not well off so most of her clothes were hand made and she was an excellent seamstress - and we would go into town to do a little shopping. On Saturdays that would often include flowers and a cream cake.  She made her wedding dress which was like a fancy day dress in Satin and she wore a picture hat with it (enamoured with the heroines of the Hollywood movies she loved). So the picture hat emerged here. I swear it was not a conscious inclusion.   She is 95 now but her memory is good and I am looking forward to taking the painting to show her. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

See through

Acrylic on canvas board 9.5" x 7"
No modelling paste with this one but a good few layers of colour including a couple of glazes. After a certain point acrylic paint starts to scumble on nicely.  Perhaps if I go through every spare board in the place I will eventually know something about painting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Acrylic on canvas board 9.5" x 7"
Started this yesterday, went to it this morning, it was not right.  Morning light usually shows up the faults but then I struggled and struggled. You have to be determined not to give up.  This one tends toward a more realistic view. They are all different. I don't make a conscious decision at the start, not usually anyway. I just tend to see what happens. I love abstract portraits but the brush obeys the brain I suppose. Very odd.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Prussian blue version 2

Acrylic on canvas panel 9.5" x 7"
I went for my lunch - bacon, egg, Italian ciabatta and a small glass of red wine followed by a rather large hazelnut cookie and a cup of tea which has now gone cold on me as I took it up to the studio (fatal). My first glance at this morning's portrait was disappointing. It just lacked vibrancy, life.  So I attacked it and now I'm happier with it.  Which is good because otherwise I would have been slightly depressed all evening.
It is now 3.30 in the afternoon and the fog has barely lifted all day so the pearly, pale grey light is just right for accurate photo shots. In another fifteen minutes it will be gone.