This is where my latest work can be seen including step-by-step progress reports, news and merchandising as well as features on artists, living and dead who I would like to draw people's attention to. Please note all my images are covered by International Copyright laws. Copyright to other artists images resides with the artist or their estate, their inclusion on this blog a result of my missionary zeal and to no profit for myself!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Under The El - Finished

Finally finished it after a few days away from the studio, one for delivering "I Pescatori" to the Royal Academy of Arts as my entry for the Summer Exhibition and the other day spent in the Sussex countryside painting en plein air although this time using chalk pastels. Very near the end I decided to take out all the figures but one as I find deserted streets more interesting than populated ones. I am primarily interested in setting a mood and atmosphere, they are not just a painting of a scene or location that I see before me.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Pratique des Arts - Feature on my work

Issue no.103
A flurry of hits on my website from France announces the publication of Issue no.103 that has an article about me and my work. It seems to refer to me as an illustrator which since 2005 is incorrect and refers to my interest in the island of Bali in Indonesia which these days too is mainly incorrect although I would be more than happy to return! It mentions my interest in light particularly at dusk in landscapes and cityscapes so at least that is true! I will post the pages when my copy of the magazine arrives.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Under The El - Third Day

I am now doing the underpainting for the buildings and building up the transparent darks using a rag for the underside area.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Under The El - First day

The "El" is short for" Elevated " and is the nickname for the rapid transit system operated by the CTA in Chicago. I was there for a convention in 1991 where luckily I took a few photo's of the El. It was hot and humid (completely the opposite of what I was expecting) but I have decided to change the mood and lighting and make it look more like "The Windy City" of it's reputation and have set it on a very rainy day instead - Cityscapes always seem to suit rainy or snowy weather. I am going to keep it mostly monochrome with just a few flashes of pure colour for the traffic signals and car lights, the early stages being painted in transparent layers, the opaque highlights coming later. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Petrol Station, Luang Prabang - Finished

Well it has come out fairly near how I remember it. I have tried to get across that atmosphere of a late afternoon in the Tropics just after a shower as the sun begins to set - hot and humid!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Petrol Station, Luang Prabang - Second day

I have roughly painted in some colour to give me an idea about where I am going with this. I know the feeling I want and this stage will help me visualise how I can achieve it. The petrol station is light and dark blue and red and it has become apparent already that it is going to be tricky getting that powdery blue paintwork across in a predominantly yellow and green environment as I want the painting to be in a fairly high key with very little cool colour.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Petrol Station, Luang Prabang - First day

Contrary to my usual practice of working in pairs I have decided to postpone the companion painting to "The Lost Garden" and get on with a very different picture instead. Fired up by the trial pictures for the RA Summer Exhibition I wanted to try a larger scale painting that dispensed with the usual charcoal under-drawing, this time I would roughly paint it in with Prussian Blue heavily thinned down with turps on an acrylic imprimatura of light pink/orange. I came across this wonderful petrol station on the banks of the Mekong River in Luang Prabang, Laos in 2002 and have wanted to paint it ever since. The sun was starting to set on a hot late afternoon with puddles of water from an earlier shower reflecting the dusty light with everything bathed in an inviting haze - I had only just arrived from the flight and was instantly knocked out by the funky petrol station strangely situated by the river framed by the setting sun. I hope to get this all across as the painting progresses! This is destined for the June exhibition at The Medici Gallery and as the exhibition title is "People and Places" I feel that this and maybe another one of somewhere I have been in exotic climes could fit in very well.

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition - this will have to do!

I Pescatori
I have now pretty much ran out of time to do any more trial paintings before the March 13th deadline so I have decided to enter this one, "I Pescatori" - three anglers on the side of the Schiavoni in Venice. Although the thin paint effects were interesting, after seeing the Lucian Freud exhibition at the NPG I opted to put on thicker paint for the final version.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Experiments - For the RA and beyond...

As I prepare my entry for the Summer Exhibition I seem to be taking some time out from getting paintings together for the June exhibition to try out new working methods which may address some long-term concerns I have about all of my work. I find that I have a tendency to work up to the lines of the preparatory drawing and start filling them in to an extent. This produces a certain rigidity to my paintings which has always bugged me. Whilst I have been doing the early reductive paintings i.e. laying down areas of tone and then wiping away with a rag to produce the highlights etc I have started to do something that I have been thinking about for a while, painting without an under-drawing. I am now no longer interested in finding an image from abstract shapes brought about by random application of a monochrome oil wash and have moved on to developing a new way of working (hopefully!) for all my future paintings.

I am trying out in the painting above just putting in a rudimentary "drawing" in thinned oil paint to indicate the basic design and content and then blocking in a tonal underpainting. Any necessary adjustments can be made by rubbing out the lines etc. with turpentine and re-"drawing" the correction. When dry for tomorrow morning I will then paint over it and finish in my normal manner. I am also going to try taking a painting a lot further in acrylic first as an underpainting before going on to finishing in oil as a lot of textural surfaces can be achieved quickly in acrylic which would take so much longer in slow-drying oils. I am hoping that by starting with a more hand "drawn" and simpler under-"drawing" the resultant shapes will be more idiosyncratic and less photographic on completion of the painting. Success  will hinge on having the confidence that I can bring out all the required structure and detail from a much less organised and tight matrix of shapes than I have been previously used to. I have always loved the image quality of etchings and indeed tried a short course a few years ago but could'nt get on with the processes that are involved but as an adjunct to the earlier reductive experiments I have happened upon a painted "look" that kind of mimics an etching. Although the painting below has a slightly dodgy composition, there is something about it that I like and over time I will try more of these.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition

After my little rant about the RA Summer Exhibition in my last post, I have decided to leave the first two trial paintings as monochromes. I will prepare some some more boards and then take a break for a couple of days to have a good think about what I want to do next. I could introduce a second analogous colour for instance such as yellow or orange, I could apply layers of transparent colour next, maybe try one in blues......

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition

Well it has come around again to that annual black hole of pointless expense and endeavour, yes the Summer Exhibition. It could be argued that I should just make a cheque out to Tracey Emin or Jeff Koons directly instead of going to the trouble of going through with painting, framing, transporting and then bringing back my rejected entry.  But here we go again and my current strategy is to try and get a small painting into the little room at the back where "traditional" work is consigned as a magnanimous gesture on their part on behalf of us dinosaurs that still paint representational pictures with some degree of skill. They have to be small as they are all crammed in together, anything larger not standing a chance of being hung in the large crony-curated galleries of the main exhibition.....Bitter moi? I have in my minds-eye the notion of smearing some turpsy red/brown oil paint around and then see what suggests itself to resolve out of the ensuing shapes. I will then develop it in colour although I intend to keep the design simple and strong probably with a strong light source and rich tonal colour. The two pictures below are possible contenders for developing further: