Movement | Stasis. Acrylics and pencil on prepared paper. 100 x 70cm. The dark blue frame and background was painted a few days before the figures. The work was made in two parts. In the first, the model (an actor) was acting his socks off, as it were. I tried to keep up with a broad brushing a warm palette. The second half of the painting was made as the model stayed rather still; hence the alabaster feel, to make him look statuesque. Having two techniques in the same work is exciting. The two sides were originally reversed, making the statue-like pose look out from the left, which didn’t seem right.
Some other work from the night. One 30 minute pose with three 15 minute ones. Dynamic poses.
I haven’t done many religious works in my life. After buying a beautiful book on Giotto’s work at Assisi, it seemed the right time to make some studies, to try and work out how he gets the emotional intensity of the Bible stories across. I’ve taken freely from the work and simplified the narrative.
1. Hands of St.Francis on red 2. Answered prayers 3 Jesus walking away 4. Saint Sam of Sheffield, in the midst of a sermon at the bridge of the descending children. Trying to get the sense of heightened feeling into a painting of a friend.
Mother & child. Acrylics on canvas. A good friend has had the most charming young man. I’ve put the work in an old museum frame, not sure what frame it needs at the moment.
Here’s pretty much every stage of the painting. I do like showing my workings.
Three studies. The first is from life (what a lovely kinetic few hours that was, with a cameraman filming as well as we chatted and I painted). The second was in a sketch book and the third is on the canvas before painting began.
A good night’s life painting. With some work on Sunday afternoon, two paintings are finished. They would look better in oils on canvas but that would be quite a more time consuming , messy and impractical process. We do what we can.
Each part of the painting has been thought about (mostly while I’m working): Intention Composition Perspective Line Tonality Colour Texture Focus
The view from the exterior. Acrylics and pencil on prepared paper. 100x70cm. The distortion is intentional, if a bit mannerist. With my compostions I hope to break the fourth wall one day. A nice set up of book, skull and mirror from the tutor.
The view from the interior. Acrylics and pencil on prepared paper. 100x70cm. A half-hour pose. The dark stripes either side were thought of on the tube ride to the studio.
Details. You can see how the prepared paper helps with the texture.
Three quick poses on thinner, smaller, whiter paper. These were made one after the other, each pose dictating the media and technique.
Talk to me. Acrylic, black oil paint, pencils on paper. 70x100cm The model didn’t have red hair. Or such dirty feet. The paper was prepared with dark grey, the light cement colour was quickly and thickly applied, somehow influenced by the Titian exhibition I’d recently seen. I like where the bulldog clip marks have been left. Again the size and shape of the foot stool was hard to gauge.
There’s yet another John Berger book I’m reading (Selected Essays and Articles, The look of things, Pelican, 1972). In the essay The moment of Cubism he quotes Heisenberg (Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics) ‘Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves: it describes nature as exposed to our method of questioning’. Being part of the space and changing the space with your presence. I’m trying to get that in these paintings. Not just observing or copying or noting impressions. Being part of the game.
Listen. Acrylic, pencils on paper. 70x100cm The model wasn’t unhappy. The original painting was a 30 minute session. The albums were painted in my studio. You can guess the covers if you want. The floorboards were inspired by Syd Barret’s flat, if that means anything to you. The space is logical / illogical, the scene is also relaxed yet odd; what is the model doing naked in this room?
Some of the quicker sketches and a row of the model’s face made that night.
“In his book on the nude, Kenneth Clark says that being naked is simply being without clothes. The nude, according to him, is a form of art. I would put it differently: to be naked is to be oneself; to be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognised for oneself. A nude has to be seen as an object in order to be a nude.” – John Berger.
Hopefully I recognise the model’s self; they have a personality, they are not a dummy.
Relax. Acrylics and pencil on paper. 70x100cm. The paper was prepared with the messy grey-green. The light blue was quickly put on, then the drawing. in the last five minutes of the pose, the pinks and whites were applied. The background blues were painted in my studio. There is something pleasingly simple about this painting, everyone in the art class liked it. The diagonal composition is quite ‘stable’. In the background Mr. Skellington is in the middle and the blues either side. The blues symbolise the infinite. What am I trying to say?
Tense. Acrylics and pencil on paper. 70x100cm. This was the 30 minute pose. Started with drawing lines with a straight edge, like a jokey version of cubism. The paper has recorded the speed in which the paint was applied. It could do with some more work, some more colours to stop it looking so… dour.
The model, who is an actress, has great presence which shows in these details.
Two Goats, Clissold Park, Stoke Newington. Pencils in the grey sketchbook. Clissold park is great for people (and goat) watching. I had 40 minutes in between picking up the children from climbing. The deer and birds were too far away to draw so I sat opposite the goats and reminded people you couldn’t / shouldn’t feed them Pringles. The personalities of the goats were exaggerated for effect.
While staying a week in Derbyshire I had enough time to make a few works. In landscape painting I’m trying to make my viewpoint wide the bridge to get the sense of the way the human eye takes in the whole scene, hence a nice warping in the second image. All in the Grey Sketchbook.
Abseiling in Millers Dale 1&2. Acrylic and pencil on grey paper. In between photographing the abseilers and dodging the rain, I had the chance to make these paintings. Each was started off in a very slapdash manner and then tightened up only at the end of the process.
Still life with Taddy Porter. Acrylic and pencil on grey paper. The colours of Derbyshire include a heather purple/pink. I’m trying to make the still life really be as strong as possible with some strong contrast and an interesting composition. The herbs were small in real life but I liked their English post war feel!
DiagonalSeated man. Acrylics and pencils on large paper. The sludge green/grey colour was made up on the spot and used as the base for the rest of the image. The diagonal composition presented itself. A little work was done at home to tidy up the paint passages.
M in seven positions. Acrylics and pencils on large paper. The pose with the foot stool was really tough to get the legs correctly positioned. The stool was redrawn at least 4 times in different sizes and positions.
Due to various reasons I haven’t been painting life models since 2019. There is a small exclusive set of life drawing sessions over the summer holidays and I was lucky enough to be invited. The weather may be hot and the room small but the quality of life models and enjoyment of the process was the same as ever. This model is one of the best on the circuit and has a regal bearing that is good to capture.
Looking blue. Acrylics and pencil on large paper. This figure was painted in the first 30 minutes. There was another 10 minutes of trying up and adding yellow ochre at home to react with the Prussian blue.
Some details of the work.
4 Studies of T. Acrylics and pencil on large paper. 5 or 10 minute poses.
Nefertiti. Acrylics and pencil on large paper. A hour pose with a nice simple palette. Some painting of the background in slightly different colours went on at home.
I went up North for a holiday and made this landscape in the Grey A3 Sketchbook. This majestic rock is pronounced ‘The Feybrick’ btw. The rocks around the hill were used as the fabric of the local church, hence the name. The rock looks out onto the beautiful village of Ashover in Derbyshire. While the rest of the gang were bilberry picking, I got the mobile art room out (a plastic bag) and used a double page spread.
The Fabrick, Summer 2020. Acrylic and pencils on grey paper. The view is condensed and different people were painted at different times in the session that lasted around an hour.
So due to obvious reasons, art evening classes have been postponed. Now that I’m allowed to have some (well spaced) friends about, we’ve got together to paint and draw in my top floor studio. All very pleasant, with records played and a little wine drunk.
Red wine, bread and water. Acrylic on canvas. A still life from week two of the art classes held upstairs in my studio.
Some details showing the brushwork.
The still life in photographic form, some artists working and some results of that work.
Artists at work. Acrylic and a little charcoal on paper. A work from the first week.
A quick marker pen study from the other end of the studio.
The first look through a book you’ve designed is a special time. A mixture of trepidation ‘is there any mistakes in the printing, design or copy?’ and the joy of having a physical example of your work.
Here’s a film of my daughter flicking through the pages.
Peonies v2 I’m using markers for the first time in my life. At one point I had to do some marker visualising (drawing scenes or images before the photoshoot), something that was fun but a bit hit and miss as after 5 minutes I’d be nauseous and a little high from the magic marker fumes. These were the same markers used by Roger Hargreaves for the Mr Men Books. Not so now. My lovely sister bought me a set of Touch Five markers for Christmas which are fast to use, the two size nibs are useful and they work well with light filled pictures. Plus I don’t feel high or sick.
Flowers, lemon and grapes. Acrylic and pencils on watercolour paper. A very busy composition with a nice mesh of textures and colours. It is supposed to look serious and not frivolous.
Flower painting is not something that interests many modern artists for various reasons; too pretty, not intellectual and not ‘modern’. It was fun making images that quote the genre of flower painting while trying to add lessons learnt in all those life drawing sessions. Flowers in jug, a citrus fruit for colour and texture and some grapes on some material (an old t-shirt).
You can see the amount of energy I’m trying to bring to the work. Why should delicate things be painted delicately?
Flowers in a Heals vase. Pencil on watercolour paper. For my parents. Nice and simple with interest in the distorting glass and water of the vase, flowers and hazy background.
Some details showing the rhythms of the line and colour.
Flowers, lemon and grapesv2. Conté pastel, pencil, pastel and paint on wooden board. The board was what I used to clip paper on while working. It suddenly became the canvas. Which is a little annoying as I’ll have to get a new bit of board now. There is more space and silence to this work. The wooden board is larger than the paper. The dullness of the warm grey makes the yellow and blue shine out.
Some details showing the brightness of the pastels.
Fresh flowers, lemon and grapes. Acrylic on watercolour paper. As you can tell, this was made very quickly. I was thinking of the light, happy French painter Raoul Dufy.
Flowers in a Cocteau style. Uni-ball AIR on watercolour paper. I like the lop-sided blankness. I am very left handed. It might have something to do with my father’s stroke as well.
All these sketches were made last Sunday, in a dry, bright, poppy strewn garden.
Poppies are so vibrant, the simple shapes and intensity of colour please me. Perspective and flower drawings are interesting, how you can suggest depth with the size of different flower heads.
Water in glass. The still life on the left is drawn from life. The one on the right is drawn from the drawing. You can see the start of stylistic ticks coming through. I believe this is how hieroglyphs or highly abstracted totem poles come into being, through copying from copies. Like a form of Chinese whispers.
A in white T. The sunlight was very bright that day making the white t-shirt more sculptural than usual. I in blue. I’m drawing a lot of three-armed people nowadays. Humans don’t stay still much.