Monday, 30 March 2009

Shadowlands 3: Update 3

A couple more hours worth of dots and lines this evening...

Spot the additions (above)


In my early twenties I spent a Christmas in southern Spain. One of cities that I passed through was Granada. I remember doing a drawing from a youth hostel called the Naked Cat of all the telephone wires hanging between buildings. This drawing, made some years later, is a mixture of the Granada city scape with one of the hills over looking Bath.

Ink on paper, Granada (above)

Friday, 27 March 2009

Shadowlands 3: Update 2

Slowly, slowly. Here is the drawing after working on it for around four hours this morning. Watching these sorts of drawing develop is a fairly organic process. As you can see I have made changes to areas completed yesterday. I may do another update today depending on how the afternoon shift goes.

Shadowlands 3: Update 2 (above) after a 4 hour morning shift.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Shadowlands 3: Update 1

So here is the beginning of the third in the Shodowlands series. I begin by outlining in gray on one layer then fill in with pattern on another. The drawing is done with a Wacom tablet. Using this method of printing means that I can change things easily, providing flexibility and speed. The final image is then printed digitally onto canvas. The Shadowland series are all 1m square.

No 3 in the Shadowlands series. Drawn digitally onto computer using a Wacom tablet.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Sculptor Jo Part 4: Oil Pastels

The saga of Sculptor Jo continues. The fine features of Sculptor Jo have proven a hard task to capture over the past four weeks. Following on from the modest success of last weeks oil pastel portraits. I decided to use the medium for a second time. In the picture below I'm making an effort to follow my teachers description of the drawing process. My portrait teacher describes the process of drawing in three stages:
Stage 1: Describe the subject as a 3D object using simple line. So if you were drawing a cow this would mean focusing on the out line and shapes that make up the cow.
Stage 2: Using shade and tone to describe the different planes of the object.
Stage 3: Finally you add the bells and whistles. This could be describing the texture or surface pattern of the subject. If the cow has spots you add these now.
I enjoy stage 3 far more than 1 and 2 so have a tendency to leap straight into pattern, with out building the structure first.

A more methodical Sculptor Jo (above) in oil pastels.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


I went to the Middle East in my teens. Damascus combines highly decorated mosques and Moorish architecture with dilapidated streets and ramshackle buildings. This drawing of Damascus is from imagination. The black and white work that I make, has a tendency to become very obsessive very quickly (see Shadowlands in a previous blog). There is the possibility when drawing cities to indulge in a childlike enjoyment of pattern. Not to mention the childlike pleasure in designing weird and wonderful structures, that pander to imaginative use of pattern and shape.

Damascus section (above) ink on paper.

Damascus drawn from imagination.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

T & R's Kitchen Table

My Uncle Tony is an artist who I went to stay with in January 2009. He suggested I try oil pastels on coloured paper. This seemed like a sound suggestion. So every day, during my three day visit, I did an A5 sketch.

Day 1: The Kitchen Table (above) A5 oil pastel on paper.

Day 2: Reading the paper in the comfy chair.

Day 3: Looking into the kitchen, from the sitting area.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Sculptor Jo Part 3: Reinvention

Following on from the obliteration of Sculptor Jo last week, this week I decided to take a gentler approach. Instead of last weeks acrylics I decided to use oil pastels, with the emphasis on drawing. As an artist I have a strong bias towards my own personal vision of a subject. All artist have this bias to a greater or lesser extent. The aim with these drawings was to try and focus on the subject, rather than leaping straight into the picture building stage which I'm so fond of. The first effort is an attractive drawing, but not a very good portrait. There isn't a strong likeness. The second portrait is better. I have two more sessions with Jo to try and improve this.

Sculptor Jo first effort (above) oil pastel portrait.

Sculptor Jo second effort. Oil pastels on paper, A4.

Sculptor Jo sitting for the class.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Wood Blue

Wood Blue was originally drawn in a purple oil pastel. Finding repeat patterns in leaves and organic forms is something that I find helpful when building compositions. This drawing is A4 in size, the electric blue base note sets off the hot colours.

Wood Blue (above) oil pastel and ink A4.

Affordable Art Fair

The Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park, London, hosts commercial galleries from all over the UK. All the art on show is under £3000. I trundled into the big smoke early on Friday morning, finding my way to Battersea from Victoria. The fair was enormous. I wouldn't say these sorts of shows are highly inspirational, as a lot of the work seems to repeat from stand to stand. Over the course of the day I must have seen hundreds of seascapes painted in loose bright acrlics/ oils. But they do give a good indication of what people are prepared to buy. Occasional you come across a great commercial idea that is also works as a great visual set piece. One such artist had done a miniture oil painting everyday of the year as a kind of visual diary. They were all the same size, painted onto a square block of wood, hung in rows covering every inch of the stand. Costing £250 a picture, well healed yummi mummies were happily buying four at a time to be hung together. The picture you see below is my print of a London street scene, produced in one of the free demonstrations taking place at the show.

(above) The dry point print I made, of a London street scene, at a free printing demomstration during the Affordable Art Fair.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Marlborough Buildings Allotments

Looking up the hill towards St Stevens church, over the allotments that I enjoy drawing so much.

Colourful allotments (above).

Sculptor Jo Part 2: Obliteration

In this blogs description I promised a running journal of my artistic triumphs and failures along with the methods used to get there. Well the portrait of Sculptor Jo, first described in last Wednesday blog, falls into camp of trying and failing. I have three weeks left with Jo and will have to test a new method of depicting him as the current method, used successfully in the Mambri portraits (depicted in a previous blog), does not suit Jo's refined look and personality. The first picture that you see below is my initial attempt to block in colour. Jo has a pale complexion. The unnatural skin tones that I've used, combined with the bright green orange and red on his top, make him look a little like Freddy Kruger. The second picture is the stage I'm at now, where I have white washed the image using acrlics and begun drawing again. The question is where to go next and how to take a step forward. Find out next Wednesday in Sculptor Jo Part 3.

The refined Sculptor Jo (above) has become a halloween nightmare.

Starting again. Sculptor Jo whitewashed.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Little Salisbury

With its flat top and conical shape, Little Salisbury is the most distinctive of the seven hills that surround Bath. I began this painting by experimenting with a slightly different drawing technique. Usually I pick a single colour to make the entire drawing with. The colour of the drawing medium gives the painting its underlying flavour. Looking at Little Salisbury I decided to use a different colour for each level of the hill. Although subtle, this directly impacts on the translucent colours that are then painted on top. Some of the inks used are opalescent so have reflective qualities.

Little Salisbury (above) the most distinctive of Bath's seven hills.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Red Day Update

Hurrah! Colour restored. After posting the last blog I found a way to take off the red glazes, so you can now see the full range of colours in the under painting.

Red Day

Today I have been having a very red day. The process of giving pictures glazes is where you can quite easily make or break what has come before. The method I use is to block in areas of colour then put a glaze of a single translucent colour over the top. Obviously if the glaze is yellow all the blues turn green, but greens and oranges and warm colours become very bright. The end product has an incredible depth of colour, but too many glazes and it can become dark. Cleveland Bridge is a drawing which I began some weeks ago. Today I began with a yellow orange glaze which worked well, but then became carried away with adding pink and red glazes on top. The result is an incredibly intense red.

Cleveland Bridge (above) the oringinal drawing.

Cleveland Bridge following multiple glazes. The reds are much deeper than this.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Bath Allotment

Like all UK cities Bath has its fair share of allotments. Allotments seem to have more ideas and things happening per sq meter than any other any other outdoor space. Something to do with high concentrations of like minded people, a whiff of competition and small plots. Below is my representation of one such space.

21 by 15cm Ink on Paper (above) Bath Allotment (Marlborough Buildings).

Friday, 6 March 2009

Red Trees

Red Trees was drawn in the woods near to the Dundas Aqueduct a couple of weeks ago. I have been eye balling it for some time, before deciding to complete the colour work today. The golds are painted in opalescent inks, reflecting and catching light as you move around the picture. Of all the colours the bright reds are proving hardest to photograph. I borrowed a high quality digital SLR to take this photo and still had to work hard in post bringing out colours. The original reds really glow, following multiple glazes.

Red Trees (above) created using ink and oil pastels on paper, 15 by 21cm.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Limpley Stoke Valley

Today has been a day of copious inking. Depicting the Limpley Stoke Valley from the Kennet and Avon Canal, the initial drawing was made in oil pastel.

15 by 21cm ink painting (above) looking over the Limpley Stoke Valley.

Oil pastel and ink on paper.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Sculptor Jo: Part 1

Today I have begun work on a portrait of Jo. Jo is a sculptor who contrasts his dreadlocks with delicate, effeminate features. I began with a series of fast pencil sketches that help to get a feeling for the subject. The first image below is of a quick A4 drawing, below that is the rough outline of the A2 painting. The process for the A2 painting was an initial pencil drawing, followed by an oil pastel outline. Followed by acrylic paint. Any classically trained artists out there are probably shaking there heads at such a contrary mixture of materials. Heavy pencil repels oil pastels, oil pastels repel water based paints. I find having a bit of fight with the materials exciting, as they tend to do unexpected things... tune in next Wednesday to see if Sculptor Jo's fine effeminate features have become a mixed media nightmare. Jo's painting already looks nervous about it.

The initial A4 drawing (above) of Sculptor Jo.

The contrary start of a mixed media A2 painting.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

St Swithen's Complete

Following on from The Spire of St Swithen's (Thursday's blog) which continued a drawing begun on Monday (Drawing on Cleveland Bridge) here is the completed picture. St Swithen's is now far more defined amid the waves of colour.

A completed Spire of St Swithen's (above) distinct above Bath's roof tops.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Portrait of Clementine

A project currently on the boil is a group portrait exhibition that I'm organising in Bath. The rules for the show, as they stand at the moment, is that all the portraits are A6 in size and depict people that the artist thinks represents Bath in some way. This portrait is of my sister Clementine and is a dummy run for the real thing. I decided to get Clem to sit for ten minutes, did the rough sketch that you see below, then took two photos of her. Returning to the studio I used the pics as reference to add the colour, make the eyes level, soften the chin ect ect. The result has left Clem with volumised hair and a sad expression.

The initial drawing (above) of Clem drawn in oil pastels.

The finished A6 Clem looking inexplicably sad. The right eye appears crooked in the repro due to colour loss : (

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Little Red Booties

Firstly thanks for all your feed back and comments. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first week as a blogger. As for the little triangular man in his little red boots. I had a number of responses saying that he could not be found in either of the Shadowland pictures posted yesterday. As I settled in front my laptop I discovered that I could not find him either! Usually his little red shoes are a dead give away. I then realised that a) his red boots had turned grey and b) that he was so tiny that even the most eagle eyed wouldn't stand a chance. So to make things right here he is...and he's happy to see you which is always nice.

At last, (above) the little triangular man in his little red boots.

Apologies to any one now suffering from eye strain.