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.
Here’s a scary page, after talking to my youngest son about fleas we had a look at Robert Hooke’s brilliant and historically important Micrographica. Some of the art is by my son. The numbers look like interesting numerology but are just maths workings.
A double page spread with thoughts on repetition.
This quote from really got to me. Does it apply to art as well? Definitely something to work on there. Then I thought of Patricia Highsmith and her lack of empathy and her love of snails… I like a juxtaposition.
An old desiccated dragonfly who has seen better days wanted to be studied.
This was fun to do. the sketcher as time lapse camera.
Most of these pages have been worked on over a period of weeks or months. The large image is originally from watching 5 nations Rugby (underneath the paper he’s the kicker of the England team). There’s help with homework, kids drawings and trips to see relations and art (Early Bomberg at the National Gallery, just before the shutdown). There’s even some conceptual art – a rarity for me. Cutting up and sticking lengths of a tape measure on the back of the sketchbook. Enjoy.
This is the first batch of images from a nice LP sized sketchbook with brown card pages from CassArt. I’ve been going back to old techniques I used at college, pasting in doodles and making the pages into an abstracted diary of these times. Is doodling a sign of stress? Like itching? Has anyone made a book of the psychiatry of doodling? At one stage in my career I went through a phase of drawing elephants – the elephant in the room? Anyway…
Not much to say about these, take them as you find them. I seem to be working out colour combinations and doing quite a lot of shading and squirling.
Painting after the event. The lack of model. Things get more plastic, colours stronger, design more obvious. The driving ideas in this work are sunlight on form, interiors and what is real in the world of the painting. Again, Matisse and Picasso are influencing my work, with a dash of Hockney. Working in acrylic gives it as slight modern edge.
Spring Revison. Acrylic and oil pastel, over an old painting on paper. Late April – 3rd May 2020. Below are some details and what the painting looked like when it was called ‘David and Bathsheba’
Pensive self portrait. April 2020. Oil on canvas. Painted at different times of day, in different clothes, on different chairs (all things that were slightly unfortunate). You can tell it’s painted from life; the proportions are all nicely squee whiff and the colours dance about in a pleasing way, mixing to make my skin tones. The last session added Prussian blue and lamp black on the jacket to give some depth. Dull green/blue/grey seems to be my colour. Light Royal Air Force blue? A memory from Airfix kits (the haze of turps open in my bedroom made me stupid – it explains a lot).
The last one is what I look like in the mirror if you photographed badly.
How quickly things can build. Since last week I have had two sessions at different times of the day. The best light is at 5pm but I’m almost always cooking for the family then. Due to a haircut (I was bored and have clippers) there needed to be a change in the silhouette. According to friends and family, my nose is too big (on the painting).
The palette was enlarged with some garish lime green. This joins Titanium and mixing white, Windsor Blue, Indian red, Paynes grey and Translucent yellow ochre.
The last image is me heightening the colours in photoshop. In my mind it starts to look like a late period Van Gogh, the amping up of intensity is interesting. A good test for future painting.
This canvas I paint over every few years with a self portrait. Good practice, plus, with photography being what it is, there is still a record of the last version. Self portraits usually look a bit odd, an intense stare, a pensive mouth. Concentration looks a bit angry when painted.
This version is not finished yet.
Influenced by the paintings of Cezanne in a great book about the American, insular and eccentric but brilliant Barnes Foundation (thank you Oxfam in Muswell Hill, £4). One day I hope to visit in person.
Unfinished Self Portrait 2020. oil on Canvas.
Some details of the painting.
The first session and a fun experiment with curves in photoshop.
Earlier Self Portraits on the same canvas.
A sketch in oil pastels made around the same time in the same position.
These are works made almost by accident from times when I was tidying up in the garden or on the phone; they are 3D doodles.
The Couple. around 6ft of garden materials. Different photographs of the sculpture. Since being made it’s been partially dismantled, only the (male) rusty wheelbarrow / grass flattener figure remains, looking lonely.
Conversation with my father. Odd elements on the desk as I chatted on the phone. No, I don’t know what it means, I think there’s something to do with mirroring and communication in there.
Two figures at the bottom of the garden. Made up of roots, old pottery and other garden material. The roots were from trees I dug up, after a long struggle, which seems to be important. They are kept by me like trophies from a hard won battle. The pottery was left by the previous owner, a good amateur ceramicist.