Sunday, 27 March 2011

"How'd he get in there?"


I gave a demo of a still-life set-up to the Melton Mowbray Art Group on Thursday last. The bottom photo is how far I got on the night. On getting it home I realised that the coffee pot and jam-jar were leaning to starboard a bit, so I set the still-life up again in the studio to re-assess, correct the draughtsmanship and take to the finish. Of course, setting it up away from the original setting and lighting necessitated re-painting most of it again, but hey-ho.

I'm quite pleased with the final draft, the last still-life for my upcoming solo-show in Devon. Again, it was an elliptical challenge - I must be a masochist ! The main idea of this demo set-up was to show how to tackle three very different textures; the waxy skins of the satsumas and lemon, the see-through distortions of the angular jam-jar and the highly polished reflective surface of the coffee-pot. Can you spot my distorted left hand in there (reflection, that is) ?

It was an absorbing contest to capture all those reflected lights and colours on each surface, but as I said and always say to my audience, it's simply a matter of close observation and painting what you see, not what you think you see. Easy-peasy really, but observation is the key. I think artists (representational artists, that is) see the world differently than most people; we get so used to REALLY looking, that putting it down with paint gets easier the more we do it, and that is my advice to any aspiring artists - look and look again - there's no secret, it's just training the eye to see, then applying the paint to replicate what you see. Style is another thing - that's how you apply the paint.

Now, how did that satsuma get in the jar .............................?

Monday, 21 March 2011


 This was a joyous struggle...ellipses...phew, the drawing's got to be right or it doesn't 'read'. It needed a little adjustment - I don't draw out the composition in pencil or charcoal, but go straight in with a brush and paint - I find that easier, more flowing, especially as the panel surface has a real grippy 'tooth' to it.  Looking through a viewfinder and holding the long brush at the end also allows the drawing to flow better, then I find it easier to refine with subsequent brush strokes.
I've painted eggs and eggshells before in pastel and watercolour and gouache, but I really enjoyed this in Oils and am pleased with the result.  Back to landscapes tomorrow, then one more 'live' still-life when I give a demo at Melton Mowbray on Thursday in 3 days time.

You probably all know, but if you click on any image on my Blog you get a larger version.

Thanks for looking in ! 

Friday, 18 March 2011

"You'll soon grow up"

Here's my latest effort at still-life, 6"x8" Oil.  Painting glass with liquid in is a joy; the subtle colours and reflections and distorted bends of the flower stalks was an enjoyable tussle.  No secret to it, just paint what you see, not what you think you see - that's real-life painting in a nutshell.
I've tried painting these still-lifes a little looser than I normally do with my landscapes, but it's tough to change the habits of a lifetime!  Regardless of how loose you paint, the drawing of objects, especially round ones, must be accurate - if the ellipses are wrong, the whole painting collapses and just doesn't read right. 

Beckstones Art Gallery

I've just returned from a painting trip to The Lake District; did a lot of walking around the Borrowdale/Stonethwaite area, collected tons of reference material, did one plein air painting and ate lots of good food!  The Stonethwaite and Langstrath Valley is surely the most beautiful place in all England!
I also had two paintings accepted by Beckstones Art Gallery at Greystoke Ghyll (, images below:
Little Langdale Tarn, 12"x17" £1425 SOLD

September sunshine, Grisedale, 14"x20" £2150 SOLD

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Yes, don't rub your eyes, these are my first forays into still-lifes for about 20 years !  I've been following two brilliant artists, Carol Marine and Qiang Huang (links opposite), who predominantly paint still-lifes.  Their wonderful paintings have inspired me to have a change of tack from my landscapes and wildlife and here are my first efforts.  Any comments would be gratefully received.

So What Happened To You ?

Oil 7 x 10 inches
I thought I would play on the 'normal' onion and the red onion, so inclined them towards each other for the composition

D'you Know Him ? 

Oil 6 x 8 inches
I arranged the Red and Yellow Peppers so their curled stalks were talking to each other about the Green guy following them.

Does My Bum Look Big In This ? 
Oil 6 x 8 inches
I had forgotten the joy of painting metal !  I dug this little tea-pot out of the back of the cupboard and placed the Garlic and Apple so their distorted reflections showed prominently.  But which one is asking the question ?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Affordable Art Fair

I've no idea how many people read this blog, or even what a blog is, but it's about time I up-dated it. Being a luddite, I've also no idea why this bit is underlined in blue and have no idea how to get rid of it! How do you get rid of it and what does it do - it's like a website or email address gets underlined automatically.

I digress - I've been incredibly busy working for my one-man-show in Devon in July, and have also just produced 12 paintings for the Affordable Art Fair at Battersea Park from 10th-13th March. Here's a preview of the paintings that you'll find on the Marine House at Beer stand.

I'm also considering posting here the new paintings as I do them for my solo show - anyone interested in that ?

Thanks to both of you for looking !

Balmy August, Oil 14x16

Sunlit Left Bank, Pastel 11x15

Blinding Reflections, Oil 6x8

Warm June on The Nene, Oil 10x14

Snow Shadows, Oil 10x14

Trout Rise on The Teign, Oil 10x14

Atholl Palace from the Tummel
, Oil 12x17

Time to Get Up, Oil 12x17

Snouts in The Trough, Oil 14x20

Blue And Gold, Oil 19x27

Cotswold Grazers, Oil 20x30