Saturday, December 29, 2012


I love new year.

How to 'see' 2013.
I make lists, mark priorities.
I am clearing studio space
filling bins, archiving the past.
Simplify, reducing paraphernalia.
Tune and refine.
As I grow grow older,
I cannot carry unnecessary baggage.
The studio is changing.
Events affect me
I will do less - better
distill experience with a smudge of colour
draw a line to enclose a thought.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Greetings

Interior with Mother and Child
When I painted this it was not intended for Christmas at all, but on reflection, it carries the message quite well.
Christ coming to this dark world is a wonder to me, and the picture reflects the invitation to be in that warmth and safety.
We wish everyone a very happy Christmas

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cajon drum art

I was asked to assemble a Cajon Drum
which I have done, made of birch ply
it looked in need of something. I offered
a paint job. OK they said, but I found it
hard, hard to find a language.
This is it so far.
It may be OK - but 'they' have not seen it yet.
I sort of like it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hospital heads

We have made it through the most difficult week in my 65 years - we have been watching my son in London Critical care unit on that line between life and death. Things are more stable now but still critical.
I spent last Monday night on a chair in a hospital corridor with little or no sleep. Above flourecent lights make pools of yellow light - there are night staff on floor cleaners droning up and down - I read posters and notices that don't concern me.
At 5.30 in the morning I pick up a biro and draw.
The 13th C has been absorbed over past weeks - I instinctively draw heads in series.
Here they are, an A4 sheet of twelve male heads.
I scribble 'Kings 5.30am' in the bottom corner and return to the waiting room where nothing changed except that the dawn slowly dispersed that sickly yellow/green fluorescent light and another day began.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Past and present

Next week I start work painting again.
I am thinking about it, circling around in my mind, wondering about the way ahead. I need growth and movement but it is no time to reinvent the wheel by setting out to begin an entirely new cycle of invention. My current centre of thinking revolves around pre Renaissance painting and it occurs to me that this is not a new idea but one that has always been with me so looking back I wonder how this thinking surfaced in my work before.
Here is a piece from the early '90s of two women at a table, a theme I used a lot in a simple realistic fashion simply because people identified with it and I could sell them. But this one is different. This one lapsed into a pre Renaissance pattern and I look back with interest.
I notice how formal it is in its symmetry, how flat it is as it flirts with simple interwoven pattern. There are columns either side that nod at an Early English style along with a colour scheme to match. Its as if I've found what I want to do in my own archives!
I believe there is this thread in my work that needs extracting so that I can study it with a view to forming a platform for me to move on from. To take what is firmly entrenched in my past, understand it and take it forwards.
This is a discovery that makes the way ahead a little less frightening.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


 I am a maker of things.
After completing the garden pergola recently I had some left over oak.
Perhaps an Oak seat under an Oak tree would be good.
The most comfortable chair I have is the classic Ikea POÄNG
I transfer the section as a full scale rod on to a sheet of hardboard and redraw with the oak in mind instead of the Ikea laminated birch.
The parts are fabricated.
Green oak is lovely to work with, I work methodically with a gentle rhythm - unhurried.
I move outside and assemble the parts for the frame.

substantial, pleasing and comfortable is the brief.
the seat, back and arms are made in the workshop.
Now all together I test it and judge its comfortability - perfect.
Thank you Ikea
I prepare the site - place the seat - it will weather and mature over time.
Me and my seat under the great oak.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Marino Marini

I am warming to Marini. A man of poetry, myth and the ancients.
The way he translates this material is attractive to the eye and the soul.
He has few motif's and these few he weaves into endless variations.
Sensitivity and warmth. The Gothic proccesion is there.
He is too recent to copy, but I'd like to hear him speak.
Not talk like a critic, but like a poet.
The critic is always boiling retrospective stew.
I would prefer Marini's prospective contemplation.
( I note that the Estorick Collection has a Library, surely Marini would speak to me there.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

ideas from al - Gahiz

'Cock facing a dish' from al - Gahiz

This is from a zoological volume of ancient Arabic Manuscripts I acquired recently.
I am searching continuously for source material that will guide me when I return to work.
Here there are shades of Picasso while pre-dating him by a millennium, I do like to get behind people, finding authentic roots and origins.
What shall I do, is the burning question?
December will be a month of testing, finding and experiment.
 . . . dissatisfaction drives me, drives me deeper into myself and history.
Distillation of my existing iconography.
Selecting and extending personal form.
Recognition of the known.          . . . .  all this and more I must meditate on.

Last week I sold 'departure of the muse' (below) a work from the '90s. An interesting departure, an encouragement for me to work in my own corner.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

Norwich University East Anglia
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
This is a favourite place, I always try to call in here if I am in the city, yesterday was no exception.
Alright, there is hardly any colour in there, but the juxtaposition of primitive/ancient with contemporary art in grays and neutrals is overwhelming.
The removal of the patron (almost) allows fresh air to blow through; work from devotion is exquisite.
Soutine and Bomberg, Mayan and Moore, Thailand and Africa all share the floor. Superb pieces - superb space (Foster)
It melts and enthuses all at the same time.
I can only allow my love of form and expression to reignite my desire to do good work as I resume in a week or so.

P.S. I found this piece by Ossip Zakine

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Going forward

My lull in painting sees creativity in other disciplines. My wooden structure in the garden now stands firmly in position and feels good. I say 'feel' because 'feels good' is an extension of 'looks good' - that inner satisfaction doing a thing well. This is a luxury in our time when pressure is unrelenting to cut costs and deliver tighter efficiencies.
As a young man (40yrs ago) I worked as a carpenter at Hever Castle, converting the old dairies into staff accommodation. I was instructed to make an oak 'gable end' to match the existing style of the building. In those days, power tools were not used on site, I sharpened my handsaw every morning and quietly framed up the old oak flat on the drive before it was erected. I expect its still there. I am glad to have roots in a time past that nurtured the inner satisfaction doing a thing well.
My garden structure is of course a pergola, a word from mid 17th cent. Latin, pergula ‘projecting roof,’ from pergere ‘come or go forward.’
Painting resumes in early December when again I must 'go forward'. My carpentry is rooted in the past. So it is with art, thus my current interest in pre Renaissance art, I trust will enabe me to 'go forward' again in 2013.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ossip Zadkine

I do like interviews, interviews with artist about working thoughts and methods. I have a number of books by writers who had the wit and occasion to conduct  interviews and publish them. One such is 'Dialogues', conversations with European Artists at Mid-Century by Edouard Roditi.
The last interview in this book dated 1959 is with the poet/sculptor Ossip Zadkine
A sensitive deep thinking man drawing on antiquity for authority and inspiration he returned to Paris after a sojourn in America during the war. He wrote, carved and modelled.
In the interview he said 'I believe that an artist should avoid accepting, for any length of time, any specific formula of style. Whatever may at first seem novel or modern or personal soon becomes a dangerous trick of stylization, a shortcut that makes it easy for the artist to neglect thought, emotion, concentration, real creative work'
I would say 'amen' to that

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wet and wild

This was a heavy day to start with, strong winds and fast moving clouds full of rain. Walking on the Eden flood plain near Haxted I felt the weather head on, what a way to inject energy into paint. In this waterlogged meadow I saw the the rain coming straight towards me, I knew I had a few minutes (10 at most) to get something down on paper. Easel up, paper down, open self wide to the panorama and then hit the page with tone and colour.
Then the rain hit me. Game over.
Looking at the little picture now its big with atmosphere and energy - I can feel that wind now.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Colours with red

An old favourite
This is of course based on an old printers lead type tray. The compartments were random with small brass pieces at the division intersections - it was a pleasant thing in its own right.
I took the bottom out and made a white canvas to fit in its place, then marked the squares through the tray. The seven columns on the right and the single column on the left were coloured variations on red. I then quietly filled in the remainder with suitable colours, and painted a shabby green frame to put around it. Even after the 15yrs that have passed since I made it, I find it very satisfying, I wish I still had it.
If you see it, let me know.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Big stuff

A change is as good as a rest

I am busy with garden alterations, soil retention schemes and large oak structures. Here I am framing up some heavy green oak timbers adjacent to the house on which to grow a climbing rose. To erect this sort of structure needs careful consideration else proportions can be ill judged and annoying for the years to come! This proportion applies to the size of the timbers and the size of the structure. Like a sculpture, it needs to be right.
Once decisions have been made and I have acquired the oak from the sawmill, carpentry is an enjoyable diversion. Sharp chisels, buttery oak and big squares along with the smell of new timber carry me along quietly.
Painting is not forgotten, it turns over slowly at the back of my mind, now and then I sit in the studio, I need no ideas at the moment for I am employed elsewhere in the garden.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Unsophisticated art

Art comes in many forms.

I am hunting around for renewed energy to begin work. Hunting around the secondhand bookshops in Lewes on a damp October day seemed a reasonable way to achieve the goal especially if coffee and late lunches were involved.
Apart from a Gothic painting and a Grammar of ornament my other purchase was an Architectural Press publication from 1951 by Babara Jones titled the unsophisticated ARTS. I share with you the drawing opposite the title page to give a flavour of the work. Chapters include Demountable Baroque - Roundabouts, Automata and Simulacra, Amusement arcades and Cranford Magna.
This is my country. More to one side than most, its common roots speak to us all like the smell of candy floss and toffee apples.
I say abandon smarty art - forget posh - 'give us kiss on the waltzer' and live again.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A trip to town

A trip to town

A change of trains at E. Croydon for the super overcrowded Thames Link to St Pancras International. We walked to Brittania Street to see the Franz West show at Gagosian. An open mind is a rare thing - I wanted to look afresh. As if I had not seen before, as a child would see, without the baggage of experience.
Coffee in a narrow shabby street cafe
Into the British Library - vast space - awesome central core of the 'kings collection' We browse manuscripts from the Beatle's 'Yesterday' to the Magna Carta. We want knowledge, we become hungry to learn - we want it all. I buy a paperback (CS Lewis)
Hunt for lunch - back road pub does me a good fishcake and salad with potato wedges, wine on the side - all London style.
Move on to the Museum of zoology in university street nr.  Euston station. One fantastic room of animals and bits of animals in jars and glass cases. Absolutely fascinating. Nearly all Latin text, no dumbing down - one could draw here.
Usual spinning head as we rattle homeward through West Croydon Station.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tinterotto 1518 - 1594

A study of the dynamic

In certain places Tintoretto is very well regarded, it is unfortunate the shadow of Titian dimmed his glory. I found a book on him last week and knowing I had neglected him, bought it.
He was the master of the dynamic diagonal, his compositions are so vigorous you swear the people move. I feel the need to track some down and copy them in order to read them better. I need to imbibe the man directly - living 80mins from the NG is a valuable thing, an international resource of the finest work.
I'm not sure one can calculate the benefits of copying or how it filters into new painting. Once it becomes a calculation a suffocation of his spirit takes place. I need to walk with him, share his vision and mimic his thinking.
High ideas for a provincial painter.
But as that other man of Tinterotto's age Sir Philip Sydney wrote, 'Who shoots at the midday sun, though he be sure he shall never hit the mark; yet as sure as he is he shall shoot higher than who aims but at a bush'

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Two old friends

Sad circumstances occasionally bring old works of mine back to me, and this is one of those. 'Tazza with fruit' harks back to the early '90s and was sold to a dear old man we knew and loved who is no longer with us. The picture has come back to me and is a poignant reminder of my old friend.
Twenty years ago I was struggling to paint in oils and would have set this up as a test of painting skills, and some parts of it are better than others. Life and painting are journey, my friend and his painting of mine testify of the past.
Both were eager explorations of life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Talk and tour

How it happened - talk and tour

We have found lately that our Saturday open day becomes too busy to give people time for talking in any length about the new work which is a pity. To overcome this problem there are to be two occasions next week when I will be on hand to talk about the new work and answer any questions that arise.
The drawing above is compressed charcoal on card and proved to be a crucial stepping stone needed to resolve problems that occurred during the painting of one of the larger oils. Seeing how these studio drawings feed into the finished work are valuable insights into creative segments that make up the whole work.
Special Illustrated talks with light refreshments.     email me for a free ticket
Tuesday 9th at 2.00pm
Wednesday 10th at 7.30pm

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Show

The new show is ready!
pictures finished - labels made - hanging completed.
It is very satisfying to see a body of work displayed in one place, worth the effort of finishing, framing and presenting.
There are about forty new framed pieces along with many other works on view.
Phone me on 01342 311350 to fix a visit this week or next.
Otherwise SATURDAY is the day when it all happens with all the bells and whistles.
So Saturday October 6 between 10.00am and 6.00pm - do come, enjoy.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Blogs and productivity have diminished!
This little piece has lagged behind - the blue and orange bands could not be resolved.
After many tries and many failures I reach this point and am happy with the look. Some final retouching of the gray surround - a new wooden piece for hanging arrangements and we are done.
It had to be, after all it is featured on the you tube promo film for next weeks show!
see it at

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the power of suggestion

Foreign clime.
Shapes, stripes and darks set up an atmosphere of distant warmth. This is a serious game around the power of suggestion, here played out with little or no representation of things. Carefully chosen colour, roughly applied is the rule. You can fill numbers into a sudoku puzzle or colours into a rectangle, its not that different - just incredibly difficult to finish.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I just caught sight of this one in a drawer - strange - but retained
I have a few of these.
Kept but not understood.
Still kept though.
I am now looking beyond my October show at new work.
Is this new work?
How can one expand the incomprehensible?
Is my understanding working at a deeper consciousness?
So many questions and so few answers - sounds promising.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happy players

Just how little can I get away with?
I've been painting these players for ages and they never cease to amuse me.
This little gouache on a Cerulean ground, is just happy.
To communicate a feeling is amazing, the more simple the picture, the better it works!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


New Watercolours

This is a reworking of an earlier idea to which I added a tree. Still I revert to a formal arrangement, a near reflection down a vertical axis. Pattern and ornament remain a driving force, these need to be of my own making while still having an ancient influence.
Simplicity is demanding, it insists on quality. Quality of idea, execution can be rapid - not careful or overworked.
Working on white paper without a background is rather addictive, but in time no doubt my methods will change.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

flickr plus

I have been busy sorting stock and publishing a new stock catalogue.

view new online available work.

Alongside the new 350 page stock list that will be placed in the galleries there is a revised Flickr page that now shows all the work for sale along with details and prices for everyone. Not all this work is available at the studio, much is out on show in various galleries, but do phone or email to inquire about anything that interests you.

Introduction to the new stock catalogue

Artists and administration do not sit easily together. As a creative, my mind is more prone to flit and wander, to unravel future pictorial problems or make judgements about form and content - it does not as a rule spend valuable time and mental power on ordering the past.
However - needs must, despite the difficulty of mustering data relating to a constantly changing stock - this catalogue is a snapshot of available work at a given point in time, in this case it is Autumn 2012.
It will of course be immediately out of date as soon as I make a new drawing or sell a sketch - whereas a dynamic online shop would update itself - I need to start somewhere and the longevity of book does have advantages over the transient nature of electronic storage.
With this resource Galleries will be able to inform their clients of other work available and be able to make selections for future exhibitions. The catalogue will be available for anyone to purchase from me or direct from the Blurb website.

The first commercial show of my work was at ‘The Hawth Theatre’ in Crawley during Feb 1989, this effort yielded enough success at an early stage to encourage me to work and develop as an artist. Twenty three years of activity have seen nearly four thousand drawings and paintings created at the studio in Cranston Road and later here in Park Road, East Grinstead. The fact that ninety percent of these have found buyers amazes me and persuades me to list the current new work alongside that of all the previous years.

Drawings and paintings are at first personal deliberations; such marks and colours become art as they are externalized. Why we prize these coloured deliberations is curious, but prize them we do and we call it art. People show a very individualistic affinity when it comes to acquiring pieces and each piece listed here will one day find its true home when the right person finds it. I often witness new customers latching on to work I have long forgotten with huge enthusiasm, that for me is so exciting, I hope this book extends that possibility.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Follow my leader

One of two new watercolours that depicts a group following someone out of sight.
A bit like faith.
I am shifting work patterns and focus away from the demands of commercial galleries and over to the inclinations I have within. Probably the commercial aspects are of my own making and the habits of past years when I needed an income from art - but now things are different and I too can be different. Always easier said than done - but having said it maybe I can do it.
Authenticity is so important, and art as a means of expression, and as a language is so powerful. Maintaining a passion and finding the outlet for it is crucial and as age saps the energy a focus is all important. 
Strange how every stage in this life is more interesting than the last - never mind after life.   

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Eight people

eight people
This gouache has been unfinished for two or three months, left out of sight and unresolved. With most of the oil painting complete I turned to it again and made a few revisions that seemed to correct it's shortcomings.
It is awash with body language, those apart are together, those together are apart along with sleep and newspapers. It is all very familiar and for that very reason, engaging. 
The structure and colours are novel and that basic requirement 'tension' is present in the work, now signed off it is already with the framer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crash and burn

uncompromising revision

This piece was finished. But then not finished.
Back on the easel it sits.
I walk streets and think.
To paint the whole garden in flat colour is radical - I like the idea!
I draw it in with a white Conte crayon, and, starting at the top I paint it all in. I pre-mix colour with a knife and then apply it with a nylon brush. No modulation, no brushwork and no artistry, just coloured in. It all hangs on the idea, the drawing and the choice of colour.
A lot cranky and a little bit wonderful.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The role of red

In life as in painting, there are elements that we deem essential when in fact they are unnecessary and at worst detrimental. The red in my picture was from the beginning such an 'essential' until I saw it's role in a different way.

By burying it under mauve and green it flickers and animates without domination. It unifies in an underlying fashion. I found that red has a role, but the role for red in this case is underneath mauve.

Here is the difficulty in making paintings, judging this case, this arrangement, this message. A recipe will not fit every story. Unruly colours must be encouraged to sing in harmony and sing this particular song, sometimes it just takes longer than others to bring it all together.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Estorick Collection

In last Saturdays paper I read a glowing review of an exhibition of Italian Abstracts at the Estorick Collection in Highbury.
I had not heard of The Estorick Collection.
With an afternoon to spare in London today I caught a northbound tube on the Victoria Line.
It took me to Highbury, new territory for me.
I like a new place.
A gate in an old brick wall takes me into a garden with a cafe . . . .promising.
I have a Peroni in the walled garden.
I follow six galleries of Italian art from Vortist beginnings through the 20C. Friendly rooms full of art are joined together in this lovely old house
without that heavy 'blockbuster show' razzmatazz.
Much enjoyed.
Should you be in Highbury, call by, ring the doorbell, slip inside for a look.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Physiognomic thoughts

This is thinking aloud
or drawing aloud - without revision
late afternoon with spare paint
sketch book in one hand
I love pale blue, pale Cerulean blue
to be precise
the brush was too big - always the best mistake
forcing squeezing thinness
from bluntness
a controlled generosity of paint

Friday, August 10, 2012


Moving pictures (still incomplete)

Lido: late 17th cent.: from Italian Lido, from lido ‘shore,’ from Latin litus .
This one is taking the long route
change - erasure - growth
dissatisfaction feeding movement
building - climbing - strengthening
complex colour balance
precarious - delicate - light
continuity of form and placement
shallow - plane - flat
maintaining original message
leisure - lido - laughter
new issue now identified
resolve - lift - seamlessly

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Alessia is the queen of Casa Volpi.
Casa Volpi is the small hotel we stayed in during our late spring visit to Italy and it was Alessia who made us welcome there. I made a number of drawings that reflected the sensation of my stay in Arezzo. This oil painting taken from one of those drawings has been a work in progress for some weeks, that today, saw a move as I recoloured large parts of it. My work will frequently undergo such revisions as I seek to balance the colours with what I recognize as some sort of equilibrium in my mind and heart. With this much in place more fine colour tuning in the figure and the flowers can be attended to.
The formal quality of the piece occurs more and more in my work, The frieze like arrangement and the plant designs flow quite clearly from my recent affinity with the Romanesque period, although unintentional at the time of design, looking at it now it is quite obvious.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Wading in

Re slipway -  from the last blog.
I was not happy with it.
I caught sight of an 11thC illumination from a psalter (see b/w image below) and I knew what had to be done. With a flourish of new paint I over-painted 90% of it - fantastic - I felt alive.
With minor adjustments this afternoon (sat) I will leave it again.
It is ten times better and probably ten times more difficult to sell! Lets stick with better.
That psalter image showed me how to emphasize the division of the work - making it much more powerful, this I did boldly with blue and thereafter it told me what was required.   I bow to the 11C. men.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Return on investment?

Here I come clean. This is the painting that has caused me so much trouble.
I think it would make a good jig-saw puzzle!

There are parts I like.
I find myself applying redundant compositional criticism and then ignoring myself.
It is quite mad.
Also a bit bad.

I have nothing to compare it with.
So wrong, it might be right.
who knows.
It remains.

FRIDAY Update: now undergoing a major repaint after catching sight of an 11C psalter. Exciting and powerful. Watch!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On faith, flight and a following wind

On faith, flight and following winds.

Shown above is Fight, a painting from 2009 and one that depicts a current state of mind.

I have battled with a large new picture for two days to the point where I doubt its worth. Only a glimmer of hope sustains a continuing investment of time and effort for which I may get a return.
I continue to face questions.

What is past and what is now?
What to destroy and what to keep?
What is me and what is them?

While these questions are a bane, they are the proof of life and vigour in a work.

Historically, faith benefited from adversity.
Pilots take off into a head wind to maximise lift.
Difficulty can be better than a following wind.