Monday, 12 November 2012

Working up…

I thought you might like to see how I work-up my paintings. I normally apply a slightly diluted wash to the paper first. It's not revolutionary – plenty of artists do it – but I find this process helps overcome that initial fear when presented with a blank piece of paper, and provides a key to work to. I then paint some of the darker areas. Subsequent opaque layers are applied in a hit-and-miss fashion, thus allowing the colour underneath to show thorough. I like the roughness of this process.

The initial washes

Sutherland storm

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Something different…

I fancied a change from my usual landscapes. I needed to find the right subject to work from, so when I managed to capture my other-half and son taking a daytime nap I knew I had something to work with. I was reasonably pleased with the end result, especially considering this is my first effort in ages, but there's plenty to learn… and you only learn by making mistakes and pushing yourself!

The original photo
At rest

Monday, 24 September 2012


I thought, for once, I was ahead of the game. Six framed paintings ready to be put on display at the Maldon Art Trail, which starts this weekend… but Life's never that simple. Two bits of good, but slightly inconvenient, news: one of the framed pieces is wanted by a gallery, along with four other works; and a print-on-demand gallery wants a hi-res scan of another framed piece. Both instances are excellent examples of why the good advice I received from my framer should be heeded: "Make your paintings the same size, and then you can swap the pictures in the frames. It's cheaper." And it's easier too. Perfect sense.

Early fall
(one that needs to be scanned)

Monday, 17 September 2012

Yes… it's me

I've decided, for better or for worse, to change the way I authenticate my paintings. I've noticed a few artists who employ a monogram in preference of the more-traditional signature. Personally, I found them more discrete, so I made my my own. However, I've been warned by one fellow artist friends that the monograph could be received poorly by galleries etc… just my luck! Oh well.

Autumn Dawn
(the monograph is in the bottom left-hand corner)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cooked and under-cooked…

I participated in my first art fair (Art on the Prom 2012 at Felixstowe). I've been asked a few times "how did it go?" Despite being burnt to a crisp, quite well – certainly not what I was expecting (ever the pessimist). Below is a brief synopsis of the day.

I must admit I didn't hold out much hope on the sales front, although I could have sold one item several times over… however, the improvised paper-weight, a rather splendid Cornish pebble, wasn't for sale. The show did provide me with a rare opportunity to gauge honest reaction to my newer work. I'm quite steadfast in the belief that my recent change of medium, and development of style, will be beneficial in the long-run, but it was great to witness that my newer acrylic works, as opposed to my earlier watercolour paintings, were generally much better received.

The weather was glorious, thus attracting lots of visitors. Sadly, due to my late application, I did not have the most advantageous position (perhaps half of the foot-fall of pitches situated closer to the restaurants/attractions), and my display and general organisation was a little 'under-cooked' (lots of lessons learnt on that front). Fortunately, I managed to sell an original painting, and a few other bits-and-pieces, thus returning a decent profit. 

Will I do it again? Yes! I can see how a fair, like this, could be very good for a self-representing artist. Next time I will much better prepared… I'll take some sun-cream for starters.

If you have any specific questions about my experience at the fair, or if you have any suggestions for other art fair/shows within the Essex and Suffolk area, please leave a little comment either on here, or on my facebook page []. I will try to answer as soon as possible. Thanks.

PS. Congratulations to my good wife. She had the stall next to mine. It was her first show too, and she managed to sell a couple of her gorgeous cushions. They were quality items, and priced accordingly to the level of skill and work involved. I hope this gives her the confidence to progress. Also, I appreciate her much needed help with my stall… ta love!

Open moorland
One of my newer works on display

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A rethink…

I've been getting into skies recently… especially stormy skies. The acrylic inks, which I'm using at the moment, dry incredibly quickly – I doubt if I get more that a minute's worth of workability! This made me think "perhaps I need open (ie. very slow drying acrylics) rather than flow (ie. watery) acrylics?" Both kinds of paints have their advantages and disadvantages, so I might acquire a combo of these two types. Whatever the solution is, it's damn hard to get the effect I'm after, but there's ways and means around this… and the results have been none too bad.

Heathland storm

Thursday, 19 July 2012

An appreciation of space… in not much space

Here are some of the finished ACEOs I previewed earlier this week. Initially, I wasn't sure if the tiny format (three-and-a-half by 2-and-a-half inches) would grant me enough room, but I'm reasonably pleased with this series, and its definitely worth doing again sometime in the future. I practically had three-on-the-go at once whilst the paint was drying. The other five works can be viewed here:

Cloud shadows


Red patchwork

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Thursday, 12 July 2012

A little secret…

For the most part, I want to avoid technique based posts, however, I thought this one was far too interesting to pass up. I seems counter-intuative, but I do not paint a tree, or trees… I actually paint the sky. In fact, my favoured methodology is to make the sky one of the last elements to be rendered. In both these examples below, a large, basic, block of dark colour was painted first, and the sky simply ate away at the tree form, similar to how a relief-print artist would cut-away at the plate/block material. Why not give it a try. 'Let one brush stroke inspire another'.

Early snow

Into the forest

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A moment of reflection

I sometimes feel a little fraudulent, but most of my paintings are explorations into either technique, composition or concept. To be honest, it's rare that I'm a hundred percent satisfied with the results. Ever so occasionally I produce a painting that is an exemplar of what I'm trying to achieve. Mistakes are necessary if you're trying to improve, and, if a painting is almost right, I'm OK with it – perhaps some people prefer the slight slip-ups anyhow!

Over the past couple of weeks I have pondered whether to migrate from acrylic ink to a heavy-body acrylic paint. Don't get me wrong, I have loved using acrylic ink, but I have never felt they possessed sufficient 'body' to produce the opaque colour blocks I desired. Luckily, I had a tube of titanium white sculling-around a the bottom of a draw. I used this 'buttery' paint in a couple of recent works, however I was a touch dis-satisfied with the outcome. Upon reflection, I wanted something a little 'flatter', and minus the brush strokes. The heavy-bodied paint wasn't suited to fine work too. I always consider my choices very carefully, with plenty of research, and in retrospect to my previous endeavours. I believe I've now found the answer. It's a mid-way-house between paint and ink, which should allow me to paint with the underlying watercolour techniques I often employ, but with the necessary pigment concentrations as to achieve the flat opaqueness I'm looking for. Only time will tell if it does… but i'ts my best bet!

What's this 'exemplar'? It is this one below. Perhaps, not a potentially popular route…but, if it doesn't sell, it will look nice on my wall.

Empty sky

Monday, 2 July 2012

A reason to be cheerful?

I had the pleasure of stewarding the museum exhibition at the Burnham Art Trail this weekend. It's a great chance to engage with artists and art appreciators. What came as a welcome surprise was the amount of sales on the books. I, and many of the other artists, sold very well – a distinct upturn compared to last year – so it left me wondering whether I witnessed the first 'green-shots' of an art-buying revival. I definitely hope so!

Also, I learnt a number of vital lessons:

1. make sure the display easel's screws are sufficiently tightened, and check that they are not top-heavy – mine fell over twice!
2. produce leaflets, which people can take away, and display a biography – although only a couple of leaflets were taken, it may lead to interest in the future.
3. frame the paintings well – it doesn't need to be expensive, but quality, bespoke, framing really improves the look of the painting.

Evening clouds

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Small steps…

To be honest, I don't really care if doesn't come easy anymore… I actually welcome it. I firmly believe that you only learn from your  mistakes… it's a necessary part of the development process. It's not about now, but getting where you want to be. The transition from watercolours to the acrylic medium has been difficult, but a essential change. Of course, a requisite number of efforts have been filed in the bin, but I feel that it is slowly coming together.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

A loosener…

After the past week's efforts, to try and get my stuff together for the forthcoming art trail, it was nice to get back to some painting. I thought I'll try and paint something that wasn't too taxing, in technical terms, but, at the same time, experiment with an idea that has been floating around my head for a little while. Usually, I would give my under-colour wash a warm hue, so I wondered how a painting begun with a cool temperature would look. As it was going to be a cold colour, I concluded that a snow scene would probably be the most apt for this treatment. I took my inspiration from the local Essex landscape, once again, and produced this…

Out in the cold

I have left some of the under-painting visible, as I didn't want the finished piece relentlessly white. I'm reasonably pleased with the results.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

More blurb…

In preparation for this week's Burnham Art Trail, I've got to write some more blurb. Gawd, I hate writing them, but here goes…
I have, since a child, been fascinated by the varied wild, remote, areas of Britain, be it moorland, mountain or coastal low-land. These works, on display, are inspired by the distinctive landscapes of East Anglia, and the local surroundings in eastern Essex, in particular. Depicting this often bleak scenery, in an interesting, insightful way, presents a challenge. The landscape is usually featureless, expansive and lacking in any distinctive focal point. Thus, I have resorted to the use of abstraction as a way to portray the sense of openness, loneliness and beautiful isolation of these places.
I have been painting semi-professionally for approximately four years. In this time I have sold many paintings domestically and, more recently, internationally, via the internet and galleries in the South East of England. 
If you want to see more of my work, I have produced a small leaflet featuring some of my other recent pieces. There are other unframed works, and prints, you will be able to view, and buy, at the museum. If you want to purchase please visit my online store at: These shop details, along with contact addresses, are also listed on the leaflet available within the shop.
Thanks for looking,
Cirrus over lazy fields

Just behind

Monday, 18 June 2012

Framed up…

For once, I'm almost organised! I've just picked-up my framed paintings which will form part of my entry for this year's Burnham Art Trail. In fact, it's the first time I've had bespoke frames made-up, and I really pleased with the end result. My framer suggested limed tulip-wood, which complements the works perfectly. Here are some of the end results, modelled by my impish helpers…


Just behind
(quite apt eh?)

Quality joints… I wonder if he does kitchen worktops?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


…when is it going to start? Answers please!

8 x 8