Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The end of an era

No painting to show you today, just a tribute to a friend, John Fountain, who died early this morning in hospital.  John was co proprietor with his wife Carole, of the Stamford Artists Gallery in Lincolnshire.

John gave me my first break as an artist, 29 years ago in 1985, after my career as a golf professional.  He and Carole took some of my paintings, which sold, and from then, right up to today, lasted a very happy working relationship.  

John was also an excellent picture framer, and was still making my frames until his recent illness just a few weeks ago.  He was meticulous in his frame-making, and his precision of cutting and assembling was second to none.

But, above all, John was a genuinely lovely man, absolutely straight and fair, and I will never forget his help in getting my foot on the first rung of the ladder of this wonderful vocation that I enjoy.

In 2010, Claudia Winkelman's Radio 2 Arts Programme conducted an interview with John and Carole about how they first encountered my work, and you can still hear it at

Saturday, 22 February 2014

February Sunlight

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches SOLD

This little painting will be going to the Affordable Art Fair at the Marine House stand.

This is the River Welland between the villages of Colleyweston and Ketton. I do like the skeletal trees of winter and when the sun lights up the landscape, there is a surprising amount of colour. Here I used a full range of yellows, reds and blues and all shades between. Most of the tree and vegetation was done with my 1" household brush, with a few strokes of a rigger for the tree branches and posts, whilst the lively sky was painted with a No 5 hog.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

New Gallery

I'm delighted to say that I've joined the great stable of artists at The Harbour Gallery in Portscatho, Cornwall, run by Mark David Hatwood FRSA:
Mark has a very prominent presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and You Tube, all of which can be accessed from his excellent website at

The Gallery has all four of the recent paintings I've done from the Roseland Peninsula in the last couple of weeks:

Low Tide, Portscatho Harbour:
Molunan Beaches, St Anthony Head:
Calm Waters off St Anthony Head:
and Towards Falmouth Docks:
Details can be seen on my page on his website and via my own website, link at top right of this Blog.

September morning, Beer Beach

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches  SOLD

I painted this little study en plein air from the lookout balcony above the shingle beach of Beer in Devon. When I started, there was a bright sun trying to peak through the low cloud, giving a gorgeous sparkle on the sea and a halo of light on the boats and figures. However, after half-an-hour, the sun was gone and the scene was totally different, the sparkle gone and the colours flat with no contrast of tone.  This is the most difficult period for the plein air painter - do you carry on, re-painting a different scene that first inspired you to paint, or pack up and try to recreate the original lighting back in the studio? I carried on for a while, but the lack of sparkle lacked what I wanted, so I finally gave in and put the panel away to finish off just now.

Fortunately, I took a photo' of the view early on, so I had the basic information and managed to finish the painting off in the studio with little alteration, just adding the figure in the foreground to balance the composition. The old rubber conveyor belt, with the sunlight bouncing off it, provided a perfect 'lead-in' to the focal point - the red fishing vessel, with the fisherman looking out to sea.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Low tide, Portscatho Harbour

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches SOLD

Another oil from my Cornwall trip. Unfortunately, there was no sunlight on the day I was at Portscatho, so I had to make the best of what was on offer. 

When there is no sunlight, all the tones are close and subdued, so in many ways, more difficult to paint. Luckily, there was plenty of colour in all the boats lying on the mud, so it made for quite a polychromatic composition. I used my long palette knife to drag dark paint over the drying mud colour to get the effect of seaweed and stones. On this scale it was a little fiddly with all the bits and bobs on the boats, but they make up for the lack of sparkling sunlight.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Molunan Beaches, St Anthony Head

Oil on Board, 6.25 x 10 inches  SOLD

Here's another painting from my trip to the Roseland Peninsula last September, looking down on one of the Molunan Beaches - not sure whether this is Little or Great Molunan. This view is looking in the opposite direction to 'Calm Waters, St Anthony Head', the painting in my last post.

I quite liked the rhythm of the rocky outcrops, making your eye go in a zigzag path through the picture, with the tones of each mini-peninsula getting ever paler and bluer to give that sense of distance. I also loved the purpley colour of the rocks as they were covered by the green, milky sea in the foreground. This was towards the end of the season, so there wasn't a lot of activity, which adds to the tranquillity and sense of place I think. Ooh, get me, all poetic and lyrical...

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Calm Waters off St Anthony Head

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

This little painting is a view from the SW Coastal Patch around the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall. The day I was there, it was a rather dull and benign - a far cry from what has been blowing on these islands for too long now. 

With little in the way of light, aside from a hint of colour in the sky, I had to pay close attention to the tonal relationships between the foreground and headland in the distance with the lighthouse and the little white paraffin store. Soft brushes and hogs used to stroke the paint in the headland, and, conversely, plenty of texture dabbed in with my coarse 1" household brush for the vegetation near me, also helped to give spatial awareness to you, the viewer, hopefully!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Sun and Wind, Brancaster Staithe

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

Here's my little effort from this Wednesday's paint out at Brancaster Staithe with the UK Plein Air Society. The view I picked was a little challenging, starting out in sunlight, then extremely dull, then sunlit again. I parked myself in front of a wall so that I was sheltered from the howling gale, apart from the back of my neck and head, so had to wrap them up with a scarf and my very fetching hat with earflaps to stave off rigor mortis.

Chasing the light is never easy and much like shares, boats can go down as well as up on the tide.  The poles (technical term) on the big boat were dark against the sky for most of the painting, then the sun came out and thay were bright white against the blue sky.  So, I ended up chasing the light and in the end decided to paint the high tide with the sun out, and finished the painting off in comfort of the studio.

This is how far I got on the day, with the exposed mud in the foreground, before opting to paint out the foreground mud and changing the mood of the painting.