Sunday, 20 August 2017

Some Parrot Paintings including this work in progress of Jinx

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Colourful Watercolour

Pond Life
I haven't added much to my blog over the past year or so, as I'm convinced nobody reads it. However, I've recently received a lot of questions from other artists regarding my use of colour, so thought it a good idea to write a reply here, which I can direct people to.

One of the questions I get asked is, how do you choose the colours to put in your paintings so that although highly colourful, they seem to work well together and are not over the top or too gaudy.

Above is my latest watercolour as an example. 'Pond Life' 14 x 8 inches on Fabriano CP 600gsm paper. I admit, I'm not the most subtle of watercolourists and try to get my colours as intense as possible. To this end, I now always use Daniel Smith paints which are incredibly rich in pigment. They are more epensive than most, but worth the extra outlay in my opinion.

Now, one of the tricks I use is to choose a relevant colour, for instance in this case Amethyst, and as well as use it on it's own, to mix a little of it into several of the other colours. There is a swathe of Amethyst through the background, but the green has some, the darker reds and browns as well as the shadow mixes. You may not see Amethyst in these colours once dry, but it is there and the eye will pick it up. This serves to ensure that all of these elements flow nicely into the composition.

You may also notice another swathe of gold running horizontally across the middle of the painting, taking in the nearest leaves, the middle background, the bird's upper breast and the far right background. I used several yellows here, but finished with a light wash of gold to bring them together. There is also gold added to the orange and glazed lightly over the dark green. A few extra highlights and shadows and there you have it. An intensely coloured, fairly realistic painting that will catch the eye and brighten any room, but not to the point of poor taste.
Below are a couple of other recent paintings. 'Autumn Blues' and Autumn Blaze'. Perhaps now that I've explained part of my process, you can see in these a hint of the same techniques. Here, I've used some intensely dark mixes behind the leaves, leaving a few small flashes of white to give the impression of depth. The almost black background really makes the colours pop!
Autumn Blaze
Autumn Blues

Monday, 31 October 2016

Mighty Fine Teeshirts

I've been working on a new project. I am now in partnership with the print company Teemill who can produce high quality, affordable tee-shirts to order. Click here to browse my complete Mighty Fine TeeShirts portfolio. New designs will be added regularly.

I can proudly state that my tee shirts are made in an ethically accredited, wind-powered, low carbon factory in India. They are supplied by Rapanui and hand finished in the UK. It is impossible to make an ethical choice if you don’t know where clothing comes from and how it is made. Very few people do these days, even high-street stores themselves. At Rapanui you can investigate the whole supply chain and find out the details about where the item was made, who made it, and how it got here, from seed to shop. It is called traceability.

Beside each product you will find a row of icons where, as well as reading the design description, you can read the product information, use the sizing chart, trace the complete supply chain on a detailed map as well as leave a rating and review of your purchase if you should so wish.
These are cool wash, hang dry garments. Material construction varies depending on your choice of style. For example, some are certified 100% organic cotton (155g/m2)50% while other styles are 50% bamboo viscose, 50% Organic Cotton Jersey (150g/m2)

Free Returns. Each tee-shirt is printed to order with rapid delivery assured. Returns are free, there is even a freepost envelope included within every order. To top it all, if you send in your old Teemill tee-shirts for recycling you can receive a store credit! What's not to like. Take a look.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Private View

I went along to the Riverside Art & Glass gallery in Wroxham last night, for the private viewing of the current summer drawing exhibition. I usually dread these things and hardly ever attend them. To be perfectly honest I would rather stick pins in my eyes, given the choice. Chit chatting to posh, squawking, highly egotistical people in alarmingly flamboyant clothing whilst sipping unidentified fizzy stuff from awkwardly shaped receptacles, has never come easy to me. However, it wasn't like that at all. I think because I'd traveled in the opposite direction to London.

I felt that I ought to go along as they had been kind enough to choose 4 of my drawings to display, and I've been thinking of re-entering the world of high street galleries again, even if only in a small way, so wanted to stick a toe in the water. Jenny wanted to attend too, although she had to pull out at the last minute, so I went on my own.

Refreshingly I found The Riverside to be a beautiful gallery populated with some stunning art, glass, ceramics and woodwork. The lovely team of people that run it are all friendly and welcoming. They made me feel completely relaxed and at home. Even the fellow artists I met last night appeared to be almost normal, just enough eccentricity and passion about what they do to be interesting and entertaining but unaffected and not a single drama queen in sight.

The exhibition prize was judged by the well known, highly successful Norwich based artist Colin Self, a contemporary and good chum of Peter Blake and that Hockney feller, who had a lot to say about a short-list of drawings he'd carefully chosen from the impressive display. I was rather pleased at what he had to say about my main contender, 'Shadow Falling', a pencil portrait of a wolf. He appeared to be quite taken by it and I dared to think that I was in with a shout but alas, after a lot of deliberation he plumped for a stunning little chalk and charcoal figurative work by my good friend Joanna Lawrence (well, I say friend..... I bloody hate her now) I'm claiming 2nd place on the basis of the judge's speech, even though there was just the one prize.

I thought I ought to go over and thank Mr. Self for his kind and encouraging words and we got chatting. I wasn't sure what to expect, the few 'celeb' artists I've met on my travels have all been so far up their own arses that they looked down on the world from behind their own gritted teeth. Do you know? he turned out to be an absolutely smashing bloke. Interesting and entertaining with a great sense of humour, we ended up in conversation for the best part of the rest of the evening. Now that is really unusual for this shy, lacking in confidence, under educated oik from a backwater 'ertfordshire town. I usually end up drinking too much and then drooling over the best looking bird I can find in the room until I'm chucked out. This time, as I had quite a long drive home, I couldn't have a drink and had a much more pleasant time. Does this mean that at age 64 I'm finally getting old?
'Shadow Falling'

Gallery Interior

Street View by Usch Spettigue

Back in the Shed

Had my delivery from Wessex Pictures this morning (great service as usual) so been in my shed making a frame. I'm trying out a new moulding which is a 1 1/8" flat distressed silver although it has a pale gold hue to it. A bit more expensive, it has a nice deep rebate compared to what I've been using, making it almost square in cross section. I got it for framing my monochrome drawings but really like the colour and finish of it, so I'm using it to frame my new watercolour 'Simple Minds' featuring the giraffe faces. I should be able to upload it for sale from my website either tonight or tomorrow morning. I know people are clamouring to get in first before it's gone..... (he says as he starves to death)

'Simple Minds'

Thursday, 23 June 2016

'Miles Away' - New Drawing.

 I completed a new graphite pencil drawing this week, the first for quite a while. After sending off two framed drawings to their new owners recently, I realised I had no more lions left in my portfolio. So I set about finding an attractive high quality reference photograph to help me create another. I chose an image from the Paint My Photo website taken by Gary Jones. I've used quite a few of Gary's wildlife photographs in the past as he seems to have a knack for capturing wonderful expression and mood in his subjects. I chose this one because of that pensive, faraway look, as well as of course the sharp detail and quality of the photo itself. Gary is one of the finest photographers that I know and it's a privilege to have access to some of his work.

This is an Asiatic lion, also known as the Indian or Persian lion. It differs from it's African cousin predominantly because of it's less developed mane, a larger tail tuft and also slightly narrower facial features. They are an endangered subspecies although their numbers have increased slightly in recent years due to the efforts of the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in India.

My drawing is A3 sized on a sheet of Bristol board, framed to a total size of 24 x 19 inches using a silky charcoal black frame with a bright silver sight edge.

It's now up for sale from my Mighty Fine Art website.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Society6 Print Products

I've been putting together a range of printed products, supplied by, in particular for my American followers although the company will ship worldwide.
These are high quality products featuring my images, many other items such as tee shirts, studio pouches etc. are also available. 
A sample of some of the range of Society6 products is shown below.
There are also gallery quality Giclée prints on natural white, matte, ultra smooth, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper, using Epson K3 archival inks, custom trimmed with a 1" border to allow for framing. Ready made frames are available too as well as canvas prints and cards.
To view my entire portfolio go to

Monday, 6 June 2016

Travelling Man Step-by-Step Work In Progress

Here is a painting I completed a while ago entitled 'Travelling Man'. 21 x 13.5 inches, using Daniel Smith watercolours on Arches Aquarelle paper. Each of the stages below represents one session of work per day, which gives an indication of the time spent.

This was based on an excellent, very moody, black and white photograph taken by my photographer friend David Morley who kindly granted permission for me to use his work for reference. I had intended to create a charcoal drawing but liked the scene so much that I decided to add colours of my own choosing to see what happened.

After spending quite a while on a simple line drawing, I began with the wall details. I used a light, watery wash of Buff Titanium mixed with Bronzite Genuine as a base coat, then fed in some reds and blues while wet to warm it up before glazing over again with a little gold. Once the wall was dry, I picked out the bricks with dark colours and a very fine brush. For the plant above the subject's head I went in with strong mixes of blues and greens, feeding in reds and browns, allowing the paint to granulate as it dried but preserving some white paper for the blooms. I painted them in using rose madder, pink and Amethyst Genuine. Final twigs and tendrils were added after everything was dry. Fairly straight forward so far but at this stage I wasn't sure how I was going to handle the smoke from the guy's fag which I planned to be a feature of this scene. I left the smoke area as white paper and faded the paint out as I reached it from top and bottom, scrubbing out the edges with an old stiff brush and clean water to give the initial misty effect. The metal cases were painted using one of my favourite colours for metal, Blue Apatite which granulates beautifully. While wet I added some Paynes Grey for the darks and fed in a bit of Permanent Brown to 'age' them a little.

Next came the far background. By this stage of the painting I already have quite a full palette of colours ready and mixed so I tend to dip into them all and let them blend on the paper. I used strong, dark colours and threw in some salt granules to aid the granulation effects, leaving it fairly abstract. I worked on the area around the smoke quite hard, allowing the colours to fade out at the edges, rinsing and lifting out with clean water until I achieved the misty effect I wanted.

I continued with the packing cases etc. and put in some of the lovely shadows, especially on the bricks which instantly brought the painting to life, using shadow Violet in flat washes. I've utilised pretty much the same colours throughout at varying strengths so that it appears to be a limited palette and ties together well, even though it is a busy composition with many colours mixed in.

At this point I felt the need to ground everything and also add more detail to the middle background without allowing things to look too overworked. I paid some more attention to that darned smoke, adding some dilute white gouache to give it a bit more body and painted a few rogue tendrils for the impression of movement.

With most of the surrounding painting complete I started on the character himself, choosing the complimentary Amethyst Genuine to colour the inside of the guitar case. This is another paint which granulates really well to produce the velvety effect. A little shadow violet picked out the details.

I picked up the same amethyst colour for his jacket mixed with a little Paynes Grey to tone it down slightly. I didn't want to overpower the painting by being too bright, so stuck to grey tones. The mixture I used lifts out really well with clean water so I used this method to create the creases and folds in the fabric. Then I finished the rest of his clothing.

Finally I went over the whole thing, refining it and adding a few extra details. This turned out to be one of my favourite paintings but sold quite quickly. I was sorry to see it go.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Fate's Last Turn

 At last, my novel 'Fate's Last Turn' has been proof read, authorised for distribution and is now available from all of the usual outlets which can be accessed via my Mighty Fine Art website. There are links on there to Amazon, Apple iBooks etc. etc.

I've also knocked up a brief preview accessed via Goodreads if interested.

The cover notes read as follows:-

A young British soldier's career takes a nosedive after he suffers the effects of a horrific incident during a tour of Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. He decides to leave the army for good, turning his back on everyone including his beautiful German girlfriend and travels to the Cascade Mountain wilderness of Washington State where he seeks to build a new life with a companion.

Unknown to him his new partner has brought with him a host of problems in the form of the irresistible Kathleen Woolf and her presence has devastating consequences.

The young man is forced to flee into the wilderness to escape a police manhunt only to become the quarry of a much more dangerous creature. He is pushed to the very limit of his endurance and forced to use all of his army training and ingenuity to survive.

Just when he thinks things couldn't get any worse, they do.

Just in case anyone would like a signed copy, I will have a limited number of books available which can be purchased directly from me, also via the website.