Poppies in a Derbyshire garden. A bit more thought and time than a sketch, less trouble and strife than a finished work. The teeming life – see the snail in one flower, the spider in the other flower and the tumult of colour was quite something to draw. Very intense in the bright sunshine.

These will be framed and put in the house, so the poppies will be in bloom forever.

A slightly more stylised version with concentration on the diagonal.

Even more sparse, plus the mark making is becoming more like handwriting; OK, the flower is not a Poppy!
Very these are happy diary entries of being out of London, in a beautiful garden and drawing intently in-between family outings.

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Regent’s Park. Woods, the canal, walkers and giraffes (again).

These are all made on Saturday mornings when one of my sons is playing football. I have around 90 minutes to myself, which is nice.

Regent’s Park woods (Changeable weather). Acrylics and pencil. A3.
Regent’s Park canal (Sweeping view). Pencil. Two pages of a 11″ sketchbook.
Regent’s Park Canal (the shy warthog). Pencil. One page of an 11″ sketchbook.
Two Giraffes in 30 minutes. Pencils. One page of an 11″ sketchbook.
Two Giraffes in 10 minutes. Pencil. One page of an 11″ sketchbook.
Regent’s Park walking by. Pencils. One page of an 11″ sketchbook.
Photos of the top two artworks, taken just after the works were made.

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Zoom life drawing. Den Haag.

Den Haag 1. Oil and pencil on gesso / wood. 200 x 450mm. 
I’m not sure if this will ever be finished. Three poses by the great actor Robin. The light streaming through his door really interested me. How to make this effect the painting and the figures within the space. The paint was thinned with zest (a non-toxic turps) and quickly brushed on. 

Den Haag 2. Pencil on paper. 150 x . 
This was originally in colour but works better as a black and white artwork. This has a strange style to it. A touch warped, like a fish-eye lens. As near as I get to Aubrey Beardsley.

Den Haag sketches
As series of different takes on the scene, some worked on by my youngest son, who is better at shading than me.

Robin the violin. Acrylic and oil paint with a little pencil. Framed A4.
What an outfit! I was aiming for Chaïm Soutine style work but the painting failed to progress. Shame, as Robin looked magnificent.

Robin the guitar. Acrylic on paper. 90 x70cm.
A very quick and happy work. It didn’t need much more.

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Life drawing. Lady of the orange, grey and blue.

Lady of the orange, grey and blue. Acrylic, pencil, and thinned oil paint on paper. 90 x 70 cm.
The last pose of the night with a thin blue ribbon draped over the model. It was important to have the line on the floor for the composition. The orange and wash over the figure was added at home, in the studio. There is something nice and simple about the work, with the orange adding some excitement to your retina.

Water Goddess. Acrylic and pencil on sugar paper. 50 x 30 cm.
This pose was so reminiscent of ancient sculpture I could treat the work in the most slapdash manner and it would still come out looking like Ancient Greece. 

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Life Drawing. Storms

Stormy Weather. Ink, acrylic, pencil, oil pastel, compressed charcoal and thinned oil paint on paper. 90 x 70 cm.
This started off at home with some ink I had out and didn’t want to waste. This ink was splatted over the paper with some water and moved about. Then the life drawing session happened, followed at home by the trees, the sky and the rest of the background. An oil wash was put over the figure to make her less like alabaster. The life model has such a strong look there isn’t much need of a story to add. The weather has been changeable and I though of her looking out on the start of a storm. That blue skies and heavy rain time.
There’s some interesting experiments going on with bands of colour and line, multiple colours of similar shade but different medium in the red material. The different sorts of marks being made are consciously done than before.

Dancing at night in Tivoli. Acrylic, pencil, compressed charcoal, and oil pastel on paper. 90 x 70 cm.
The purple wand black stripes were again put down on the paper for no great reason, something to work against or with. 
The model looked liked she was dancing. I added the mysterious orb in her hand as I’d been reading about Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi.
I was going to use some old sketches of the majestic Tivoli on the Stormy weather painting but just happened to start on this one. The strong purple, greens and greys mean that the work was always going to look strange, so I went with it, adding a Van Gogh manic swirling sky. Pleasingly odd.

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Life drawing. Actor in mono.

Recently I’ve been taking my time on finishing paintings started in the life room (two weeks worth are still needing more work). I decided to make something quickly that would be fine without any adjustment. Out came a bottle of Japanese ink which was used diluted and pure, two brushes and a pencil. 

After the show. Japanese ink and pencil, with a little acrylic on paper. 90x70cm.

The actor’s staring into space in the last pose of the day spoke of that feeling of being tired but wired, hence the title. The small amount of light green was to give it a little depth.

Some more works from the night:

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5 Portraits.

Here are 5 portraits made over the last few months.
1. Green Eye 2. Uncomfortable 3. Leaning 4. Laptop 5. Haircut

Three self portraits (I’m now wearing vari-focal glasses, which makes for some fun distortions), my daughter and my sister. All in acrylics and pencil. One with varnish and one with masking tape hair. Most of these works were created with one major session and a few little bits added after as I had some paint on my brush or had a spare minute.

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Zoom lifedrawing. Dryads in Berlin (at the edge of the Grunewald forest)

Dryads in Berlin (at the edge of the Grunewald forest). Acrylics and pencil on prepared paper. 90 x 70cm.
The same model (‘Y’ from Berlin) posed twice, each pose was for 20 minutes. The figure on the left was originally painted in a more considered, less wild way than the one on the right. Dryads are nymphs of the forest, specifically near oak trees. I’ve added a fig tree as well for various reasons.

The Figures in green reminded me of Matisse’s ‘Bathers by a River‘* and the Expressionist artist Otto Mueller. There is an Expressionist art gallery at the edge of the Grunewald forest in Berlin.
*I am obsessed with this painting.

The inspiration.

Some details.

A double page spread from a sketchbook.

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Zoom Life Drawing. Y in Berlin.

Y in Berlin. Acrylic, oils and pencils on paper. 90 x 70cm.
This started out just as a pencil drawing in the zoom life class.
The model (Y) is in Berlin, hence the title. It does seem to have something of that city about it. The pose and lighting were dramatic, like a still from ‘The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari’ with deep strong shadows and lot of angles. I’d said I would add sketches from Michelangelo sculptures, so they filled the blank spaces, idealised stone beings set against the glowing real human (the model is the only part of the work which has oil paint on, giving a real difference of texture and quality). There is even some black chinagraph drawing on black paint drawing on the left. I like leaving some part of the painting unfinished (This work Peters out at the bottom), to show it is a work by human hand and is never perfected, or finished. Now where to sign it…

The first image is how the work looked after the art lesson.
The lesson was curated by the great John Close, and set up by London drawing.
More from the lessons when I finish the paintings!


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Zoom life drawing and after.

A and Michelangelo. Acrylic and pencil on paper.
This developed over the week. Taking different Michelangelo sculptures and inserting them into the composition. I didn’t know where it was going but it arrived at this state. The model ‘A’ is still there, in the mirror and the shadow.

Some details of the night’s Zoom art class.

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Zoom life drawing class 1. The Goddess Tara (on green).

The Goddess Tara (on green). Acrylics on paper. 100 x 70cm.
I heard some of the great radio talks ‘The History of the World in 100 Objects’ again this week. One episode was about a bronze statue of the Buddhist goddess Tara. It seems to have influenced my work. There is a large wine bottle in front of her (and in fronton the screen, to add to the drama. There could well be some landscape in the background, if I get round to it. The model’s name was not Tara btw.

Here’s the link, which I heartily recommend:

Some details.

The zoom class started with lots of quick poses, which were told to be made with less marks than usual.

There was also some homework, which consisted of taking old life drawings and making new compositions with them. These are rough but quite fun.

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IEA. Triple portrait.

IEA. Oil on canvas.
A triple portrait of my children. Made over the last year. In an old frame.

Some details.

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Still life with artists.

Still life with artists. Acrylic on paper. 35 x 53cm.
This was created in an art class around my house with my children and tow others who are in our bubble. Very enjoyable. The boards hide my fellow artists. The objects in the still life were chosen for their difference in texture and colour. Fun to have this much perspective in a work. There has been matt vanish applied on the background parts.

Some details. Paintings within a painting.

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Neil and dogs in the sunshine. 5. Details.

And that’s the book. Hope you enjoyed it.

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Neil and two dogs in the sunshine. 4. The finished work.

The whole family in paint.

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Neil and two dogs in the sunshine. 3. Nine painting sessions.

More tomorrow…

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Neil and two dogs in the sunshine. 2. Palette.

A second study from life.

More tomorrow.

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Neil and two dogs in the sunshine. 1. Beginnings.

This is a book that has been made into sections for this blog.

More tomorrow…

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Zoom / Real Still Life With Mirror

Zoom / Real Still Life With Mirror. Oil on canvas board. 50x40cm. Sunday 31/01/2021. 2 hours.

Along with some artist friends I painted still life from a screen on Zoom. Infront of this screen I placed on a book a newly emptied bottle of Lillet and a very old lemonade bottle which was dug up from a garden. Behind the screen was placed a mirror. So, two different kinds of flatness, with some real 3D bottles. Painted on a 2D surface. This stuff interests me. I gives me a subject to paint, otherwise it’s just objects.

Then away three brushes until the time ran out. The palette was Paynes Grey, Prussian Blue, Translucent Yellow Oxide, Light Red and Titanium White.

It should have a fancy title.

Here are some details:

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Life Drawing. How do I get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice man, practice.

How do I get to Carnegie Hall? Acrylics, pencil, oils and oil pastels on prepared paper. 100 x 70cm.
Sometimes a piece of work just takes time and effort to finish. This started off as a 30 minute sketch. The tight diagonal composition was pleasing. There was something there, so over the next 4 weeks I added, moved and covered the surface with different media. There were sketches and notes made. In the end the build up of colour and texture makes the whole thing work. It’s still being worked on – the eyes have moved.

Some details of the work showing the different textures.

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