Friday, April 29, 2011

That dress

Kate's dress today was one thing, but those trees in the abby with superb lighting and flowers were for me just fabulous.
Seeing all those dresses today reminded me of my work that flowed from a friends wedding (dress). I borrowed it after the wedding and painted it quite a few times, always trying to the way the form was 'contained' by the fabric which gave it a sort of weightlessness.
It featured on the exhibition invite back in those early days and I had it printed on the thinest paper thay could work on, a rather brittle bank-note sort of paper with monochromatic sepia ink. Happy days.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


What goes around, comes around . . . . as they say - and yesterday this old friend did just that!
In around 1992 I painted a number of versions of these galloping horses on a carousel and at the time I revelled in that fairground experience as I applied the paint. Yesterday, I had a call to say this oil on canvas version is available again - well, I just had to see 'carousel' again so I agreed to look after it for a while. Darker than I remember and sporting some quite daring brush work it does have an unusual feel about it.
I think I should find a spot for it in next weeks show - for old times sake.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Some months ago I found myself with an hour to wait in the concourse of Sienna's northbound station Santa Junta. While sitting on my case I made this drawing that roughly maps the ground plan and major pedestrian movements in that part of the building. Its a mix of plans, elevations and imaginary walkways. With this understanding of the space I made another drawing (below). This is a progression that engages with the interior volume, an awareness of the space, the height and perhaps an indication of scale.

I then caught the 13.45 train to Madrid on that hot September afternoon. Back in the studio I picked up the drawings and worked on a small 30cm square canvas and tried to capture that open space on a small canvas. Shown below is the finished oil that for me was quite satisfactory, and for someone else who bought it recently. They now have a bit of Spanish air that I brought home with me.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

the large Picnic

This enigmatic figure resides at the centre of a large canvas painted around 1991 and is the one in the new exhibition that has returned to the market. I have had it the studio for cleaning, re-varnishing along with a new frame colour. After all this attention It is beginning to look rather splendid.
This, the central piece dipicts a family picnic, a simple reality with children playing on the grass and in the water. This rather transient meal is played off against two small side painting that stand for an after/parallel life. These small supprting works are shown behind muslin veils to reflect our own experience of life and the difficulty of seeing beyond it.
Measuring some six feet high it is not something you will miss, and I only show you this detail as a taster on purpose - so do come on the 5th May preview or the show to see it because it has to be worth it, I promise!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

new promo

check out the new Night Song 
exhibition promo!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

talking about 'night song'

 Here is an invitation to a gallery talk at the Chequer Mead Exhibition in May. The Talk will be on Sat May 7th at 11.00, there is no charge or booking.
There is a Cafe at the gallery and parking is available opposite the gallery.
for maps and links click here

Friday, April 15, 2011

taught by Raphael

I have read that if you are going to copy, only copy the best! This watercolour, dated 1991, is one I would have done as a practice piece for its pose, its colours and sheer elegance. Although she is holding a paper with Raphael I am unsure who painted the original, perhaps someone may be able to help me there . .  Seeing it again after 20 years is interesting, the body colour in the hair is not quite right, a few more hard edges would not go amiss, but apart from those niggles it is rather beautiful. In the early days I frequently copied old masters as part of my self commissioned training as this example shows. This mode of working invariably involved changing the medium in the way that this is translated into watercolour. Other times I would just take the colours and change the motif, always copying, learning and looking.
So look out for this classic piece on MAY 5, because we will both be there!

PS. yes it is Raphael, there she is Sappho, bottom left.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

cloud nine

This canvas has been waiting for some time - today, at last,  it had some attention. After a long hard look and think, that includes sitting, reading, more tea and a short walk, I set to with new paint. The work revision involved a complete new background, giving sufficient quirkiness to make it work for me.
One cannot really explain this work, only by tracking the undercurrent of my work flow can I begin to understand it. But even then, add in the thought that a picture of lightness may flow from a sense of lightness or seek to appropriate a sense of lightness and the difficulties of analysis multiply.
What is easier to grasp is what effect does it have on you the viewer!

Monday, April 11, 2011

old treasures

Now these drawings are old! Early '90's or so, a part of some figure development I was working on. A figure type that appeared in a number of works and for a time served me well. Finding these drawings I have treated them to a silver frame to exhibit at the show on May 5 along with some other rare treasures from those days.
Another old coloured drawing of a picnic has languished on the shelf for years, but now has a reunion in store for later - I hope to collect the large oil that was painted directly from the drawing and was never shown at exhibition. Now, still with its gold arched frame it will be on show as part of the timeline - this I am really looking forward to!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Acanthus head

Here, a Friday night solution, the umpteenth solution to the challenge of painting a head for this recycled frame.
Looking again at my previous work it just needed more contrast and surprise while at the same time having some resonance with the period. This coloured drawing in oil sticks pleases me tonight, its energy end verve lifted my tiredness. Can I leave it at this stage without sapping the life it has within it?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Drawing the land

Last week I sat on a bank, out of the wind and made pencil drawings of the cliff tops looking towards Happisburgh. I made five or so drawings as I tried to pin down what it was that engaged me at this particular spot. At two thirty the sky, or rather the clouds, arranged themselves in some sort of complimentary fashion that I drew in on a chosen vertical alignment in this drawing. (see below)
My landscape drawings now are precise, no longer dashed of in a flourish of tone, as a new accuracy is called for. The object of the precision has to be extracted from my feeling, which line, which angle is it that contains the melody. All the interferance must be eliminated in order to see what was felt. This is what takes a while.
To transfer this skeletal matrix of lines to a canvas and oils comes next. I have a few of these drawings and I am saving them for the October show if I am able to invest these lines with a worthwhile interpretation of colour.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The green apron

Some of the time it is important to work hard, to extend and experiment.
Other times, just relax and play with a brush . . . . .
With an hour or so to spare yesterday and today I splashed about with colours on a piece of card. The idea was taken from a drawing in the 'Spanish sketchbook' where there was enough in the scribble to set me off with a woman and a plant. I know the feeling, walking around with a new plant, so I made up a coloured space as a place for her to be.
Returning to gouache was like finding old friends to spend time with, no pressure, just feel the form, feel the colour and pin down the sensation.

Monday, April 4, 2011

the principles of ornament

This is one of three books that attached themselves to me during my visit to Norfolk last week. This edition from 1896 is a comprehensive work, a textbook that is still in print today on Amazon along with other copies of this and earlier editions. A mine of organized information of historic sources, the choice and application of natural plants into design (taking care that your choice is correct for the stone or fabric that the design will be executed in) and how to be sure the moulding you design suits the light it will be placed in! Be aware from now on that Northern architectural mouldings are not suitable for Mediterranean light, a blunder any of us could easily make before reading this book. But seriously, the book is a delight to read with so much applied knowledge from generations of experience.
Today when composition is a bad word, my perverse nature kisses this book.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Happisburgh 2011

Happisburgh 2011
Just back from a rare week! We rented a long 'modernist' beach house on the low cliffs near Happisburgh. Owned by a London Architect it is beautifully designed and detailed. Simple and well proportioned. Away, quiet and under those huge Norfolk skies was a fantastic treat.
I made some drawings of Happisburgh, wrote text for the Psalm Project at a window and table that was new to me and therefore a delight.
Books, yes some more books and plants came to me as we rummaged round towns and villages. A good time was had by all.