Friday, 13 April 2018

The bridge at Ronda, Spain

Still watching the BBC TV series Great Continental Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo which I've got stored up for watching at my leisure. The episode on Southern Spain was full of images which you could paint if you wanted to - the flamenco dancer dancing with a specially trained  Andalusian horse, the fair in Cordoba, the wonderful buildings in Seville.

However, this bridge in Ronda grabbed my attention first and so I had to have a go at it.  The first job was to do a drawing.

Not too bad, but then I had to work out how on earth to tackle those cliffs!  I painted them first with a loose wash, varying the colours from Raw Sienna to Raw Umber with bits of Alizarin Crimson and French Ultramarine to give some variety.  After that it was just a matter of adding more layers to bring some definition into it.  I don't usually work into a painting like this but with this one it was never just going to work with only one layer of paint.

I'm reasonably pleased with the result but if I was to do it again I would try not to put so much detail in the cliffs as they could be a little overdone. 

Here is a photograph of the bridge from a different position

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Recent work

One of my favourite television programmes is Michael Portillo's Great Continental Railway Journeys, in which each week he travels through a European country by train, stopping off at various places to see what the place is like and to meet various interesting people.  This week the journey was through the little-known country of Georgia but last week we were in the Ukraine, a fascinating place with several different culture exhibited as you travel north to south.

I find that my watching the programme on catch-up on the computer, I can pause when I see a paintable scene and capture the image with Windows Snipping tool. I then print off the "photo" and do a sketch of it - here is St Sophia's Orthodox cathedral in Kiev.

I don't paint many still-lifes but was inspired by looking at our "Pebble" tea-pot to set one up on the dining table and have a go.  With the addition of a Denbigh cup and saucer and a box of jasmine tea I think it came out well enough - its a very small painting - sketchbook size..

Finally, here are a couple more doorways, both based on photos I found on Instagram (with the photographer's permission!).

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Pen and ink

Its been fun revisiting memories of France and it wonderful architecture.  The chateau at Amboise is second to none, aided perhaps with its prominent position above the majestic River Loire.  I really enjoyed drawing it and remembering a lovely afternoon with Margaret, wandering around the streets of this ancient town.

A couple of days later I decided to give a similar treatment to the castle at Chinon, a few miles up the Loire, which also enjoys a commanding position above the river.  This time I added some watercolour - not sure it was a good thing, but there it is.

That year we were staying in a pretty village called Montrichard which was also full of beautiful perspectives with a small castle of its own.

I probably overdid the hatching marks on this one but its too late to do anything about it now.  Lesson learned for the future!

Friday, 16 February 2018


In my daily readings I've been working through the book of Ezekiel with the John Goldingay's wonderful book Ezekiel for Everyone by my side to guide me.  John has a very historical approach to the Bible, looking at is firstly as a record of an ancient people and then finding those aspects which may apply to us today.  There is a lot in Ezekiel about angels and other spiritual creatures such as "cherubs" and "cherubims".  Forget about rosy-cheeked winged babies fluttering around paintings by Venetian masters. Ezekiel's cherubs are fearsome creatures with faces of lions and wings like eagles, which make you collapse on the ground in fear when you see them.

I did a bit of research and found that these creatures are found in the art of many Near Eastern cultures and in fact the Phoenicians of roughly Ezekiel's time were carving images out of ivory which resembled Ezekiel's visions.  Perhaps they were a frequent sight in those days!

Anyway, they looked pretty good to paint so hear are two Phoenician cherubim from the archealogical site at Arslan Tash in Syria, drawn in pencil then painted with watercolour.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Welcome 2018

Well during 2017 I seem to have done about 70 small paintings, about six or seven a month.  My creativity took off when I gave up on trying to do large, formal works and began to concentrate on small format sketches instead.  The biggest paintings I do are now 7" x 10" and quite often I work smaller than that.  Posting them to Instagram too has been a spur to further work - its a joy to be part of a huge community of artists who watch each other's progress.  I now post a new painting on Instagram and between 200 and 300 people will look at it - much better than just sticking it in a cupboard somewhere - but more importantly, the opportunity to learn from others is key.  You can see my Instagram stream here

Here are just two or three recent painting.

The first is a scene from the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds.  I saw the photograph from which this come in The Times last week and just had to have a go at it.

I had some fun with the next one.  I love the work of Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) an artist and illustrator from the last century.  He worked for a while at Newhaven, East Sussex which is very near where I live (the next town in fact) and I copied his painting of the harbour by using a combination of Inktense water-soluble pencils and watercolour.  You can see the original here.

Finally, I went for a photowalk in Brighton with my photographer friend Steve. These three shops are just by the Theatre Royal and I just had to have a go at painting them.  A happy scene I hope.

I wish my readers a very happy and successful New Year.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

More buildings!

There is no doubt that I get more pleasure from painting old buildings than anything else.  I've been busy in the last month and have managed to do a few more old buildings to add to my collection.  Firstly, I loved a photograph a friend sent me of this modern sculpture adorning an old hotel in Venice.  It is supposed to signify the effects of global warming - Venice is particularly affected by rising sea levels and the huge hands are shoring up the hotel to stop if falling into the water.

After that I reverted to home territory and did a couple of paintings from a small town called Rye which is near where I live.  The first one shows the old town wall with an arch leading into the town.

The next painting is of a cottage I walked past. Normally you avoid painting anything with a strong horizontal blocking the view of the subject, but I thought the tall fence was worth painting in anyway and to be honest, I rather like the effect. 

Finally I painted a couple of 1920s houses from nearby Brighton.  They're nothing exceptional but I pass them every time I pick up my grandchildren from school and have come to quite like the look of them.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Drawing again

We went away for a few days to the New Forest, staying in a mobile home on the same Forest Park on which our daughter and her three children were staying - in another mobile home.  We've not stayed in a mobile home since we were young and were suprised how comfortable and well-equipped it was.  The park had a really nice indoor swimming pool and there were also varous forest trails with "treasure hunts" for the children.  It was great to have the children round in the morning and to set them all to drawing with a brand new set of Sharpie pens which I'd bought for them, and a stack of printer paper.

As I'd just been working through Paul Heaston's Craftsy course myself I had a go at one of his panoramic drawings of a room interior.  Have to say I loved doing it.

As soon as I'd finished it I realised I'd got in too close to the subject and so had lost any context of the caravan itself.  So the next morning I turned round and drew facing the other direction towards the windows at the front of thy caravan.

This seems to work rather better so when I got home I did another one of our back room

Again a little too close-in, so this weekend I'm going to do one of our lounge and try to get all three walls in - ahead of me and the two sides.  I've loved doing these and highly recommend Paul's course, Sketch Your Point of View.  A tip - don't whatever you do pay the full price of it - register with the site and you'll get endless emails from Craftsy with special offers - eventually the course you want will come up at about half the original price.