Red Portrait

Red portrait. Acrylic, glazing medium and pencil on board. 40 x 50cm.
1 hour in front of the model, 20 minutes at home. The model had a small but powerful pink light on his face. This was fascinating to paint. I was a quite far away from the model, which might have added to the feeling of detachment. There are at least three reds used in this work, which gives it depth. Made, as usual, at one of John Close’s art classes.

Some details showing the brushstrokes and pencil marks.

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Composition in Green, Yellow and Red.

Green, Yellow and Red. Still life on a table tennis table. Oil and oil pastels on mdf.
This was created as I was teaching art in my studio. I could be distracted by creating this and still be in the room without interrupting the other artist’s flow too much too much. I’ve been keeping the dried cardoons for a still life painting, the chillis were taken from downstairs, and the rest grabbed as I went up the stairs. Painted quickly and then worked on in spare minutes over a week. The light hitting the glass and bottle was different every time I looked.

From the left: The work without a frame, three detail shots and the set up on the ping-pong table.

Some more still lives from over the years. Different mediums and different approaches.

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More finished sketches.

Skull for PV. Pencils and wash on board. Just under A4.
A good friend of mine collects skulls that I draw. This was in payment for a gig ticket to the magnificent Suede at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. The drawing was finished off in transit on the tube to meet her.

The Pewter Gang. Palamino Blacking pencil on cartridge paper. A3.
The quality of the pencil mirrored the beautiful, slightly organic pewter vessels perfectly. After drawing so many people I seem to give every object in my field a human presence. These objects remind me of those band photos where the musicians try and look like they are in a gang, hence the title.

Sculptures in the V&A. Pencils on grey rag paper. A3.
A nice outing to a wonderful museum was needed to beat the winter blues. This view from a bench seemed to give a nice juxtaposition. A good 30 minutes.

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Why I spend my Friday nights life drawing

Thought I’d spread the word.

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Sketchbook pages

These sketches are mainly from my little A5 notebook, which is filled with graphic notes. I have it on me most of the time. As you can see, it comes in handy when waiting. I’ve been to Madrid, Radio 4 recordings (News Quiz and Meet David Sedaris), typography, views of London and my favourite sculpture ‘The Visitation’ by Jacob Epstein.

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The view from the interior

The view from the interior. Acrylics and oil on canvas. 30 x 50cm. May 2021 – November 2022.
This painting took a very long time to complete, with a lot of changes. A scene in a stylised manner, with a sense of space and form, flat and moulded at the same time. It seems complicated, uncomfortable and morose. It features old friends no longer with us and a cat.
The starting point for the composition was a 2021 Zoom life drawing class with the fabulous Robin, conducted by John Close.
See here for the earlier versions on the theme.

I’ve found few more works on the theme.

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Sitting in the Light.

Sitting in the Light. Acrylic on board. 30 x 40cm.
A two session painting, so, around 6 hours. I was not happy at all after the first session. The sketch was trying to work out what was wrong with the work. The painting was washed over with a blue-grey. Then each part was revised, from the angles to the colours and the proportions. The most important change was the strengthening of the light and shadow. The format is quite small for my dexterity, though the texture of the amount of paint the board is good, it catches the light.

From left, the unframed work, three images of details, the sketch and the work after the first session.

Made in the class with John Close as the very helpful tutor.

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Study / Reality / Reproduction /

Study / Reality / Reproduction. Acrylics on prepared wood. 13″ square.
Last Friday night at John Close’s fantastic art class I had the pleasure of painting this scene,
In the top left there is a wonderful Grisaille study (with addition of the model) of Peter Paul Ruben’s Bacchus. In the middle was one of the top life models in Britain, the great ModBodAdrian, imperious, swathed in blankets. On the right was a large reproduction of the dynamic painting by Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio – Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness.
So that’s where the title comes from.
With the help of a limited palette and changes of scale, the three separate components in front of me became one cohesive painting. The Slight blurriness may be revised later.

Here’s the instagram post with the painting and set up in the background.
Next is the painting without the frame, then some details.

Peter Paul Rubens – Bacchus.
Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio – Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness.

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Like everyone else in the world, I have much on my mind at the moment. The work in the last few weeks has got fairly loose and is painted on photographers backdrop paper – a sort of thick non grainy sugar paper. It’s quite hard to photograph, which makes me smile.

So, from top left:
A drawing made with Mitsubishi Uni ball pen, an acrylic on blue, a standing pose – both with reflections, a previous pose, a strong painting on black and a close up of the artist.

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Life painting: Zigzag

Zigzag. Acrylics on canvas. A3.
Trying to make the composition really 3D. Very hard to photograph due to the amount of glazing medium. To me the eye zigzags down the composition.

4 life paintings. Acrylic on paper. The model was holding sheets of coloured plastic in the first two images. I like the spirit of the last one.

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Many figures, one model.

Many figures, one model. Acrylics and pencil on prepared paper. 97 x 70cm.
These were painted over two sessions, around six months apart. Fun how the figures interweaved with each other.

Two more paintings with multiple poses. There is a strong red wall in the studio, which helps give the work a nice graphical backdrop. The white circle is a very cool lamp.

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Life paintings on canvas, wood and crumpled paper.

Figure on Canvas. Acrylic on gesso’d canvas. 60 x 40cm.
Russel & Chapel always have a great bin of canvas roll ends, from which I chose this piece of canvas primed with gesso.
A nice hour of painting with a fan brush and a few colours. I refrained from making any small marks by not bringing any small brushes. Yes I could make it look more finished but there is always other work to do…

Three poses, five figures. Acrylic on prepared wood. 70 x 15cm.
From left, 1. painting with my right hand (I’m very left-handed). 2 & 3. painting with only up strokes. 4 & 5. painting with both hands at once. The background gave me a chance to try out two different shades of red and an orange.

Details from the painting on wood, plus a close-up of the painting on canvas and all the works at the end of the session.

Quick life painting. Acrylic on pre-crumpled paper. Around A3.
15 minutes starting with the blue-grey and ending with the crimson.

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Man & legbones.

Man & legbones. Acrylic on paper. 70 x 80.
This model has been painted and drawn many times. Always a pleasure. the pose was strong and the diagonals made the composition interesting. The background wall was bright red in real life,

Below are the previous sessions which featured him.

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Grand Guignol (portrait of Robin and Mr Skellington).

Grand Guignol (Portrait of Robin and Mr Skellington). Acrylic, pencil, oil paint. 40 x 50cm.
Painted at the brilliant Mary Ward Centre on the Tuesday night portrait class tutored by the essential John Close.
Robin is always a treat to paint, this time he brought the wig and dressed in an Edgar Allan Poe style. How can you not produce something interesting faced with this!
The wig went on Mr. Skellington and we started to paint. At home I kept on working on it throughout the summer holidays, a few minutes at a time, layer after layer. I’m not a huge horror fan but I thought back to Hammer movies and Roger Corman’s saturated colour. In the painting Robin has a case of jaundice, which I might fix.

Below is the painting in a different frame and details.

Below I’m wearing the wig, a screenshot from instagram and the painting after the first three hour session in front of Robin.

Have a look at these links…

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Summer paintings.

This gallery contains 8 photos.

A range of drawings and paintings interested in strong light and people in the sunshine. Hot Patootie. Acrylic and pencil on sand on board. 10″ square. Made from a collection of sketches made around Cap d’Agde in the south west … Continue reading

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Portraits: Nick the Album

Nick is a wonderful friend. He is also a good musician. I thought for a present, he needed an album cover.

Here’s the record.


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Portrait in Orange.

Portrait in Orange. Acrylics with glazing medium, pencil and oil paint on prepared board. A3.
Made in one of the hottest days in London. Quite a workout. The Mary Ward Centre had some fans working overtime and both John Close the tutor and the model were troupers! The draining heat is retained in the painting. At home I added some more glazes, especially on the glasses. Yes, I know, the glasses are not exactly right but that is how I saw them.

The painting without frame, two close-ups showing the gloss on the glasses and skull drawn while waiting.

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A painting of crabs, in a Van Gogh style.

Crabs for Vincent. Acrylic and pencil on board. A3 landscape.
I was commissioned to paint these feisty crustaceans by a friend after looking at a Vincent Van Gogh painting in the National Gallery.

The Van Gogh original, the painting without frame and some details.

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Portrait: Christina the Queen.

Christina, Queen of Denmark. In order of application: Charcoal, Acrylic, Pencils, Oil paint on board. A3.
I asked the model who she would like to be painted as. She said Christina, Queen of Denmark. Titles are fun. As you can see below, the painting after the session was a fair bit happier. I wanted to add a shadow and that dappled light feel and some more plants. The oil paint added depth, texture and drama. Some Le Douanier Rousseau perhaps? If I exhibit the painting, I’ll make it work harder.

The work unframed. A close up. The work at the end of the session in front of the model.

3 short drawings on sugar paper. The first was conceived as a fashion style illustration with some changes of positioning left in on the eyes. The second was thought as a slight exaggeration with lots of different media used one after the other. The third was lots of paint on a big brush.

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Portrait: Against the sea and sky.

Against the sea and sky. Acrylics on prepared MDF. 40 x 50cm.
A two week pose, with some work at home. I’ve been enjoying the blue skies at the moment and thought it would make the pose a little more heroic. Very nice to have most of the decisions made and to have a session on the subtler parts of the work. Time to really look at the model’s ear.
I’m slowly getting better…

Some details and the painting without frame.

The work at the end of each painting session, so every hour and 15 minutes.

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