Saturday, 20 June 2009

Tibetan lady finished and a pastel painting

The pencil drawing of the Tibetan lady is finished. I decided to leave the lower part of the drawing unfinished. I like the effect of doing that. I am quite pleased with it and really enjoyed doing it. So much so, that I have started on another drawing of hands with prayer beads. Have not got very far with it but have posted a picture of it anyway.

Tibetan Lady June 2009

Tibetan Lady. Graphite

Hands and beads June 2009

Hands and Beads. Graphite

I did another workshop with Penny last Thursday and decided to use pastels. About 3 years ago (I am ashamed to admit) I promised a friend a watercolour of the Old Harry Rocks, Dorset. And a promise it has so far remained despite constant badgering and reminders from friends! I did make a start about 6 months ago and came across that start a couple of weeks ago. Having just purchased and excellent book by Bill Creevy on pastel painting and bought a selection of pastels I thought perhaps I could “finish” the watercolour with pastels. Below is the result. I am not totally happy with it but as I have not done much pastel work I guess it is not too bad. I did not really enjoy working on the rough watercolour paper with the pastels so plan to do another “Old Harry” using pastel paper, probably Fisher 400 as I have done some practice work on that and liked the effect.  Watch this space

old harry June 2009

Old Harry Rocks. Pastel over watercolour

Sunday, 7 June 2009

New work

Some while ago I cam across this photo on the internet and something about it grabbed me and told me that I should recreate it as a pencil drawing.


That was about 6 months ago. I have now started work on it and the results are show below. It is about A4 size and is quite a challenge, not least the hair and wrinkles….but the satisfaction of working on it and seeing it come alive on the page.



I find working with pencil, especially with graphite where you are just concerned with tones, extremely satisfying and relaxing. I guess it requires a degree of patience, gradually building up the tones but, equally, because it requires a degree of concentration, it puts all other concerns from your mind, albeit temporarily. And sometimes that is all you need to refresh your mind.

I will publish updates on my progress as and when.

Monday, 1 June 2009

My latest work of art!!

I attended one of Penny Wilton's excellent workshops last Thursday. This one was held at Holt Village Hall, a venue Penny uses regularly and is a very good venue....a large hall, plenty of tables and chairs and a nice kitchen. It is also rather nice for painting outdoors should you wish and the weather is appropriate.

I had no idea what I was going to do at this particular workshop so I put some brushes, canvases and acrylics in my bag. At the last moment I picked up a book I had recently purchases about still life and decided perhaps that would be what I would do. I had also grabbed a handful of pictures which I had recently printed hoping for inspiration. En route to Holt I decided to do a still life based on some pictures taken at Hampton Court of Tudor goblets, plates and boxes.

Unfortunately, when I unpacked my bag, I discovered none of those pictures were in the handful I had fact none of the photos were remotely what you could call "still life." Fortunately, Penny had brought some of her objet d'art and some fruit plus a cloth so I was able to arrange them and use them.

This is the result. It was an attempt to paint in the style of Paul Cezanne who I greatly admire. I was moderately pleased with it although I think I may do a bit more work on it. Incidentally, I used a linen canvas rather than the usual cotton and found it very pleasant to use. I shall certainly use line canvases again. The figure is supposed to be a cat although looking at it it resembles a pig...a long skinny pig, if such a creature exists. Maybe I had better to a bit more work on it.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

The story so far....

I have just returned from 2 weeks in Teddington looking after my brother and sister-in-law's house whilst they were on holiday in Thailand. When I say "looking after their house" that included and tankful of tropical fish, some fish in the garden pond, the garden and last but by no means least, their cat, Moonshine (see picture) who is an absolute delight and wonderful company. I thoroughly enjoyed myself as Teddington is very well placed for visiting a number of interesting places.

They are about 40 minutes walk through Bushey Park (a delight in itself) to Hampton Court. I visited there on a day when they had a whole programme of re-enactments based on the marriage of Henry Vlll to Katherine Parr including sword fighting, falconery, music, cooking in the Tudor kitchens and, of course, his majesty with his new bride parading before his loyal subjects. "God save the King" we cried and bowed our heads as he passed (whilst holding our cameras up to catch the magic moment.

I also visited the Picasso Exhibition about to finish at the National Gallery which looked at the influence of earlier painters on Picasso and at his interpretations of their works. Absolutely fascinating and thought provoking.

Another day was spent at the National History and the Victoria and Albert Museums. In the past I have spent many a happy hour in both museums in the early 70's when I lived in London and again in the early 80's when I was a student at nearby Imperial College but I was surprised at the changes made, for the better, I must say, at both Museums. It was a bit like re-discovering a treasure that had been forgotten. I will try not to leave it so long before I re-visit.

The same is true of the British Museum, which I visited on another day. I think the last time I visited that estimable institution was when I queued for 6 or more hours to see the Tutankhamun Exhibition which was some time in the 70's. Since then they have built a new part which I think is a rather good space. Whilst in that neck of the woods I also made a maiden trip to Cornelissons, an art suppliers which no one should miss visiting if they get a chance. Needless to say money exchanged hands.

Kew Gardens also had a visit from yours truly. Normally when I go to Kew it is on a coach day trip where you have a limited amount of time to see everything. This time I had all day so I took the opportunity to walk as far as the pagoda and also to see some of the other areas I had never found time to visit. The highlight of this visit was the new Siriol Sherlock Gallery, built next to the Marianne North Gallery which is currently being refurbished to which I say hoorah because it really is a jewel in Kew's crown. The new gallery is brilliant and well worth the visit. I understand the exhibits will change periodical. Currently there are botanical drawings in various mediums and from the 18th century through to modern artists. It is well laid out and worth the entrance fee alone....well almost. Added to which they also have a very good selection of books on related subjects, for sale...... I did, on this occasion, manage to resist temptation satisfying myself with a couple of postcards.

Well, enough of my journeyings for the present. Next blog will be back to matters artistic??

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Moving On

Back in March I decided to delete this blog. My entries were very sporadic and, to my mind, not very interesting. I have just spent the last fortnight house sitting for my brother and I felt I wanted to carry on blogging, regardless of whether I had anything interesting to say or not.

I did think I would create a new blog page but could not come up with a better title than Carpe Diem - seize the day! So I am back.

A few days ago a UKCPS (United Kingdom Colour Pencil Society) member mentioned a blog sight called EDM (Every Day Matters) whose aim is to encourage creativity. Now, I know there is all manner of inspiration all around but sometimes you need something else...a pointer or something. I checked out and found amongst the files a list of over 200 different ideas for daily drawing challenges. These could easily be daily painting or any other media challenges (and not necessarily daily...I am not that organised!). Below is some of the subjects listed.

180 - Draw something in your favorite color
179 - Draw an onion
178 - Draw something red
177 - Draw a flag
176- Draw something summer
175 - Draw a basket and what it holds
174 - Draw a bridge
173 - Draw something from memory
172 - Draw something that sparkles
171 - Draw some ice cream
170 - Draw a zipper
169 - Draw a piece of cake
168 - Draw your daily newspaper
167 - Draw something that needs fixing
166 - Draw a fish
165 - Draw the front of your house, apartment bldg, condo, dorm etc.
164 - Draw a camera
163 - Draw a deck of cards
There are over 230 in total and I assume being added to so plenty of choice.
Let's see how it goes.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Turner Prize

The subject of last week's class was a painting in the style of Turner. I had intended doing my version of his Wind, Steam and Rain using a more "modern" steam engine than Turner depicted. However, I realised he had done his picture in oils and I intended using watercolours. Having looked at Turner's picture I really did not think my talents were up to recreating such effects with watercolour so I looked for another subject. At the moment I am sorting out my photos to use for my other blog which is a travelogue about the places I have visited. I came across pictures of the Krak des Chevaliers in Syria and thought that would fit the bill. This is the result.

My first attempt was on a piece of Turner Blue paper twice this size and, as far as I was concerned, it was a disaster. I really do not like working large scale (10" x 14") so I cut the paper in half and did the Krak on one sheet and another more abstract sort of picture on the other as you see above.

Neither picture is finished. I have just put down some wet into wet washes. I am going to put some more layers of colour and a bit more detail into them....but you get the idea.

A few years ago, I did a couple of Turner style paintings, this time on ordinary white watercolour paper rather than the Turner Blue I used here and I have uploaded them as well.

Thursday, 29 January 2009


For some while I have wanted to do a series of paintings based on a geological theme. I came across some images on the web which gave me the idea of treating the subject in an abstract way, looking in particular at cross sections through agate. An example of such images is shown here.

So far I have started on two paintings. The first has been done on an 8" by 10" box canvas. Broad layers of acrylic were painted onto the canvas. I then glued a sheet of Lutradur* (see below for more information on Lutradur) which I had distressed using a heat gun. I added more paint adding some detail. This picture is not finished but I got to a point where I was uncertain where to go next and did not want to add anything for the sake of it. At present, the canvas is standing on my desk where I can look at it and try to work out what I need to do next.

The second
painting is actually done on 4 individual canvases each 3" x 3". My inspiration came from this picture and I did most of the painting on the 4 canvases taped together. Once I had painted the blue background with acrylic paint and glued and painted the raffia using gold and bronze acrylic paint I separated the canvases and did some more work on them individually. Again, these are not yet finished (at least I do not think they are) and like the first canvas I have them displayed on my desk on little easels.


A non-woven spun polyester fabric that can be used for many effects. Its surface takes colour well, cuts easily without fraying (like paper) and can be layered. Colour can be applied by painting, stencilling, printing etc. Bursts of heat can be applied with a heat-gun to create distressed effects. The fibres melt away to look as though the surface has been attacked by the rigours of time.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Feeling old?

The subject for this weeks class was "Something old". Resisting the temptation to look in the mirror or paint the person opposite me (sorry Eileen), I decided to do a Galapagos tortoise as there was a rather nice photograph of one in the new Lonely Planet magazine which I got this morning. As we only had one lesson, ie. 2 hours, to do the picture in I decided the best approach was to do a pen and wash. I did a rough pencil sketch, laid down some watercolour washes in various colours and then drew into this with waterproof sepia pen. I then built up the washes, especially trying to get some dark shadows. I think it still needs some more work so I will put it in my unfinished picture box to play with at a later date.

Not totally unrelated, I have been reading a rather good book called Beneath the Surface - The Making of Paintings by Philippa Abrahams. It looks at the materials and techniques, from illuminated manuscripts and fresco to acrylics. Rather than just deal with the theory, the author actually illstrates the various techniques with her own recreations of various mediums. I can thoroughly recommend this book.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The saga of the mountains continues.....

Second of the two classes devoted to the theme of mountains this afternoon. I had already done as much as I thought needed doing the first picture, although I have put the picture where I see it as I pass by so I may find something else needs doing. On the whole I am quite pleased with it.

I started a second picture working in graphite pencil on black board, a technique I learnt about via an article in American Artist by Sherry Camhy Her pictures using this method can also be seen on her website It is quite a slow process and I have still a fair way to go to build the different tones but I shall certainly use the technique again. I apologise for the quality of the image. Normally I scan images but it does not work with this type of painting as the surface changes with the light so I photographed it, again I had some problems. This is the best of about a dozen attempts!

To go for a hat trick I have started a third picture. In this one the lines outlining the shape of the mountain are actually text done with a 0.05 drawing pen......and it was NOT as fiddly as you might imagine. The text is about Mount Everest, the different names, geology and some of its history. There is also a reference to the fact that on 1st May 1999 they discovered Mallory's body which happened to be the same day that I took a flight over Everest. I can remember getting back to the hotel in Kathmandu and being asked by some wag whether I had seen the body. I used to have a T-shirt which had the motto "I have not climbed Mount Everest but I touched it with my heart." Seeing Everest and the Himalayas from the air was actually a very moving experience and I remember the silence in the plane on the flight back to Kathmandu so I guess the other passengers felt the same.
Still some way to go with this with many more layers of watercolour washes.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Mountains - a bit more

Well, I have added a bit more to the mountain picture I showed in my last blog entry. I glued another layer of tissue over the whole of the picture, added some more watercolour and then added pastel colour. Finally I added some highlights of treasure gold to the highest peak which I do not think will show in the scan.
I am quite pleased with it. I will probably go in with some coloured pencil work to get some fine detail but I do not really want to do too much more.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

A New Year and some new ideas

My first blog of the year. I am going to really try to blog on a regular basis and, with this in mind I would included blogs about my work at the weekly painting class that I attend.
I have probably mentioned this before, but I go to a class run by a brilliant local artist, Penny Wilton. She encourages us to try different things and is not at all proscriptive about how we approach our subjects. At the beginning of each term we are given a list of the subjects we will be tackling. Most take up 2 weeks. The class is mixed media so what we use is up to us.....watercolour, acrylic, collage, pencil, ink, the choice is ours.
This week and next the subject is mountains. Normally I spend most of the first week on a subject planning, sketching, trying different media and so on. This week I decided to "go for it" and work "instinctively". I should add at this point, that I went to Tate Modern last Sunday to see the Rothko Exhibition and whilst there also saw an exhibition of conceptual art by an artist whose name escapes me! I am not really sure what conceptual art is but I think working "instinctively" must come into it somewhere.....hence my notion for the current project at class.

So, this is the result of 2 hours work (about three quarters of an hour in reality as the rest of the time was taken up with a demonstration of techniques by Penny and catching up with class mates about "what we did in the holidays." Oh, and a coffee break and cake eating with nourishment provided by Penny and Doreen whose birthday it was. I used a photo of Mount Everest as my source material and basically stuck bits of tissue paper on a piece of mount board. There are about 6 or 7 layers in all. Whilst the glue and water was still wet I dropped watercolour into the tissue paper. I am not sure where I will go next with this but I think I will cover the whole area including the uncovered mount board with a single sheet of either tissue paper or rice paper and see where I go from there.

Incidentally, if you get a chance, go and see the Rothkos. They were mind blowing and you really need to see them in person, rather then look at printed versions, to get the full effect of how stunning they are. And the longer you look at them the more amazing they are.