Life drawing. Long thin calm nude.

Long thin calm nude. Oil on primed wood. 60 x 120cm. Three hours.
The background was primed with grey-green paint, then Prussian blue and Naples yellow were used in tandem. The discipline of this gave me space to focus on the modelling and mark making. The colours have give the work a calmness that doesn’t come into my work much. the composition was quite considered with contrasting diagonals and a Degas-like feel of cropping the figure.

Above are two close-ups and how is could have looked with a stronger palette or in a mono colour scheme.

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Birthday Portrait. 15.

15. pencils and acrylic on board. A4.
There’s some interesting colour choices to make it 3 dimensional. Starting with a mid green, then purple, browns, a little blue and then some red. It follows you around the room.

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The Golden Couple.

The Golden Couple. Acrylics and gold leaf on gesso board. 14″ square.
This painting was a commission for a Golden wedding anniversary. I had some fantastic photos of the couple from the 1960’s. There was something dynamic about this image which I married to my ongoing obsession with Giotto and his use of gold and blues. This had some reasoning to it as they are Italian.
Gold leaf is exciting to work with and I haven’t mastered the technique yet. It really accentuates how the light can change a painting. Working on the gesso’d wooden panel is a matter of painting many layers, each brushstroke being able to be seen.

Here’s a close up, part of the palette and the back of the board with fun little sketch over the top of a children’s sketch.

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Portraits on paper.

The lump on my neck. Oil paint on card. 18cm square sketchbook page.
Made using oil paint I had left over from other work. The light was strong and the thought of highlighting a part of me I’m not so proud seems a got start. The lump is benign, by the way. It’s just a fatty lump.

With my winter scarf. Acrylics and pencil in A3 sketchbook.
Made standing looking in a mirror. The eyes look a bit wonky, which is due to my focus… I think. the intensity of the stare often comes up in self portraits as you are concentrating hard.

Mark & David. Pen, felt tip, pencil on 18cm square sketchbook pages.
Two fellow artist friends in the pub after a hard nights artwork. Coloured in at home.

Hot choc at Bear & Wolf, Tufnell Park. Pencils in A3 sketchbook.
Quite fun trying to get the picture perspective right in the sketch of the sketch…
Lazy boy on the sofa. Pencils and a little paint in A3 sketchbook.
Something nicely jarring about the flat green and the quick pencil marks.

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Life drawing. 5 views.

Here are 5 paintings. I think they are all equally good. All are painted on prepared paper, in acrylics with a little pencil. All were made in John Close’s art class on a Friday night.

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Life painting: Gogmagog sleeps.

Gogmagog sleeps. Acrylics, oils and pencil on prepared paper. 91 x 72cm.
I’ve had some free time for 15 minutes on Saturday mornings to look out from a disused bridge in Muswell Hill onto London. It’s an amazing view with landmarks strewn thinly on the horizon, huge clouds scudding by. I had a nude painting on a dark grey ground which looked like a sleeping giant due to the perspective, a bit like Gulliver asleep in the land of the Lilliputians. After studying Paolo Uccello’s The Battle of San Ramano in the National gallery, it suddenly came to me that the nude and the cityscape could be married. There is a legend of a giant that guards London. As he sleeps, buildings are built around him. At one point he was going to have park railings surrounding him. It’s ended up in a an arresting image. Not sure what it means.

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Kate sleeping.

Kate sleeping. 2002(?) – 2022. Oil on Canvas.
Kate sleeping was a pretty successful painting of my wife Kate. One of a series of 3.
It was painted on the then fashionable very thick framed canvas so it stood out from the wall like a medicine cabinet and di have little sculpture resting on the top (something I used to do a lot). I alway thought I’d botched the hands, so after someone commenting that they liked the painting I went back to it – getting the family to pose for the hands and painting away every now and then til I got it right.
This painting has be cropped to fit the new frame. This was more complicated than it sounds, with getting some hardboard, sawing to size, cutting the painting form the old stretcher, glueing the canvas on the board, adjusting the size and then fitting it in the old Victorian frame. it will be varnished in 6 months.
Below are images of the painting through the day and night. Fun how the light moves and she still sleeps.

Two of the hand sketches.

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Life drawing. On Melancholia.

On Melancholia.
Acrylic, pencil and oil paint on prepared paper. 91 x 72cm. November – January 2021.

Another painting that took a long time, with a fair bit of thought involved. Again, the work was halted and not particularly ‘finished’. It started out from a great thirty minute pose, which immediately made me think of the Albrecht Dürer etching called Melancholia. It’s a riff on this work, rather than a copy.
I’m still not sure about the nudity, which is strange for me. She was very nearly clothed but it might have looked contrived. Nudes were used as symbols in the past, though I don’t want the painting to be too ‘sexy’, At least she is covering herself a bit with knowledge, even if the book is closed.
There is obviously a lot of colour and object echoing. Some fun balancing of objects in the pictures composition. An odd, dislocated atmosphere pervades. As near as I have got to Giorgio de Chirico. Books are becoming a theme as is a bright colour against coloured greys. Working the skin over in oil paint really helps bring the painting to life.
Looking at it now, the shadows still need some work…

Details of the work. The head has a little bit of a photograph of Mary from Michelangelo Buonarroti’s Pietà. I’ve been using black and white photographs in a big old art book of his sculpture as reference for a while now, when my drawing hasn’t enough information in it for me to work from.

The first life study, the other paintings on the night. A space of sketches. The painting without frame. The fantastical Albrecht Dürer etching and another sketch by a renaissance artist.

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Life drawing. On the theme of Samuel Beckett.

On the theme of Samuel Beckett (PUSH).
Acrylic, pencil, and oil paint. 70 x 92cm. 26 November – January 2021.
This work had a lot of thought and time put into it. I treated it as a commission from a patron, researching and taking notes to make a multi layered painting. I joked that it was fitting that the painting I was making was an essay in failure! Enjoyable. It’s also closer to home, without meaning it to be. The work limped to a stop, the closed (golden) notebook was the last touch.

Here’s a ‘key’ for the painting:
Remaking and revision until the work being left
Mistakes on top of mistakes
Concious seperation from the viewer
Vision or the lack of vision
Putting the creator on a pedestal
Handsomeness and it’s part in lasting fame
Quality and it’s opposite
Growth and inevitably, death
A soiled nature
A closed notebook
Unreadable and unknowable text
A ribbon of tape and two rocks, as symbols for Krapp’s Last Tape and Waiting For Godot
A sealed room
A sly, black humour

Details, showing the different textures and layers.

The original life study, sketches and notes, the work in progress, reference images. I watched and listened to Waiting For Godot and listened to the In Our Time episode and different biographical programs. All interesting and enjoyable in their own way.

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The third portrait.

Sebastian in the sun. Oil on wood, 41 x 41cm.
This painting looks very different in different lights.
Notice how there is a warm cast on the left and a cold cast on the right. Most of the time painting was spent going between the wrong tone and colour (too light, too cold, too dark, too warm) and moulding the features in various brushes and paint thicknesses.
Getting the contrast between the brightness of the sea and sky and the subject really pushes Seb forward in the picture frame.
The work has presence and personality, due to the painting and Sebs inquisitive look.

Studies and the different stages of the painting.

Inspirations, the surface and palette.

Some close up images.

The three portraits together.

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Life drawing: I see you

I see you. Acrylic and oils on canvas. 91 x76cm
Another version on what to do after the life drawing session. This is a streamlined composition, with each element refined. There was supposed to be two life drawing sessions, due to Covid, this did not happen. In the first session I concentrated on getting a dynamic composition, thinking I would work on the chair at home and work on the skin tone in the next session. After the model had left the room a reference image of the chair was taken. When I knew the next session wasn’t going to take place, the painting took different tack. Gathering together different elements to help, from Rubens’ paintings for skin colour and treatment to Michelangelo sculpture for details of the foot. The model’s features and hair changed to make the work more confrontational. In a painting you can choose to disregard, rework of tweak every element. If you don’t want to paint purple, you don’t have to. It was fun seeing what clothes did to the painting. The title is from a brilliant Aimee Mann song, an imaginary portrait of a character from her last album. The frame is from the great Frans Hals exhibition at the Wallace collection.

The original life study, made in around 3 hours. The photo of the chair without model. A Rubens used as reference for the rendering of skin tones. A page from the sketchbook on the chair with colours from the painting tested around it. A sketch.

Details. Notice the difference between the chair and skin. The chair is in acrylic, the skin in oils.

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George the cat memorial.

Our cat, George, died, after 18 years of lazing about. We really loved that large, friendly and incontinent cat. A victorian idea after a favourite pet had died was to stuff or make a wooden effigy of the pet and get their butler to position the effigy about the house in the pet’s favourite places. This seemed a bit creepy. What to do? What did George most like? Being sleepy on a rug. Nepalese Tiger rugs are great objects, why not make George into a rug? So that is what has happened.

The real cat mat.

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Life drawing. Study in the study.

Study in the study. Acrylic and a little pencil on prepared paper. 3 hours. 1 brush.
The idea behind this work was to spend time on the whole composition, rather than just the body. Objects were moved, some colours were changed and only one brush was used. I like the art within the art, the Peter Paul Rubens on the wall, the Monet’s in the open book. However long you look at these images within the image, they are never in focus. Also, the plant almost having the same presence in the painting as the model. the composition is purposely quite flat, to accentuate the foot and stool coming out of the picture.

Some details from the painting. I am trying to get the colours of shadows, which is endlessly fascinating, as your eye recalibrates them, making them lighter as you stare at them.

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Under a bridge in the rain, Monsal Trail.

Under a bridge in the rain, Monsal trail. Summer 2021. Oil (and rain) on canvas. 40 x40cm.
A plien air painting! Quite a situation, stung by stinging nettles, umbrella in free hand, brush in the other, children abseiling from the bridge near me. The green! A truly beautiful part of England. I’ve painted there before in acrylics, oil paint was more problematic but more rewarding. I was worked on at home as I wanted to finish the ‘front’ of the painting. My first Impressionist work.
link to Monsal trail.
I could spend months painting this half mile stretch of Derbyshire.

The work as it was that rainy day, the kit, where I was (under the bridge), what I could see and the painting without a frame.

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S & L in the summer.

S & L in the summer. Painted August- October 2021. Oil on canvas. 76 x 102 cm.
This painting was a joy to make. I’ve tried to keep the joy, energy and fun of being young. The colours are intense and layered. The paintwork needed to look quick to go with the dynamism.
Below is a selection of pages from the book of the painting.


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Life drawing. Riffing on Patricia Highsmith.

Riffing on Patricia Highsmith (Ph.3). Acrylic, pencil and oil paint on prepared paper. 68 X 97cm.
So, the writer’s books, personality and look are challenging and a great springboard for art. Even her drawings are pretty strong. You can like the work and not the person, though her real for love snails over humans make for some fun stories, not so her self loathing and mean anti-semitism.
Trying not to be too literal (yes, that is a pun) and taking a recent life painting, I loaded the work with extra specific imagery, textures and mediums. Trying to get a feeling of her world. The Ph.3 is a pun as well. You can make of it what you will.

So there’s:
• pretending to be another – the model being changed to the idea of ‘Patricia’
• The intense look
• The angry typewriter
• A lovely snail
• A carpet to hide things under
• The sharp scalpel
• Paperbacks strewn
• An exotic plant
• The rented bare apartment
• Jarring colours
• A blood red sheet cascading down
• A wall of what is real and not real (obviously a painting is not real; or as real as a novel…)
• … is that a body behind that far wall?

See below for details.

Photos of Patricia Highsmith and an old sketchbook page and new sketchbook pages with lists.

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Illustrations for a local magazine.

An article on Food banks.

A dreaded spindley fish for a piece on river danger.

Hedgehogs, loud neighbours, worry, mayonnaise and a photoshop off cut of all the food bank drawings on top of each other.

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Life drawing. Kit the actor.

Kit as French flag. Acrylic and Chinagraph on prepared paper. 72 x 102cm. 30 minutes.
What a pleasure to paint this fine haired fellow. Friday night a St. Lukes. The texture of painting over old work adds to the texture. The dots on his skin were really there, put on by the tutor, John Close, to aid the artists eye. Something of the Edward Fox about the man.

Kit and Kit arguing. Acrylic and Chinagraph on prepared paper. 60 x 80cm. 1 hour.
An entertaining time with the model going between poses, with much talk of Eastenders.

Kit breaks out. Used as an illustration.
Kit playing the Dane. 15 minutes of trying to make all the marks work together.
Kit framed. Something fluent about this. Yes, I could correct the frame but who cares?
Kit portrait. Thought the large painting would work well as a small profile.

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Life drawing. The character actor at rest.

The character actor at rest. Acrylics and Chinagraph on watercolour paper. Around A3.
Such a pleasure drawing Robin. This session was loosely based on some of Francis Bacon’s set ups; I couldn’t seem to come up with anything quite as dark. The palette is good and strong on this painting,

Robin facing himself. Odd how not having the real head to draw means the composition usually gets better.
The unframed version of The character actor at rest. Note the paper.
Robin as a Minator like character. Wow, that was fun.
Robin in a box. I used to do a lot of characters like this around 1987…
Robin framed. 15 minutes, frames make measuring proportion easier.

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Drawing from Rodin.

Going to Rodin at the Tate Modern, was as good as I imagined it could be. Really thought provoking and exciting, a show with ideas on scale, theme, revision, finish, intuition, lack of colour, the body and sexuality. It makes you want to sculpt.
My friend Steve and I had a great time looking, chatting about what it would be like modelling for Rodin and sketching; the work was so overwhelming we needed a gap for coffee and cake.

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