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, 28 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs

Something of an homage to Victorian paintings with nods to Arnold Bocklin, Ferdinand Keller, Waterhouse and the Hudson River School even down to the title, a nod to "Cave Of The Storm Nymphs" by Edward Poynter. 
Three nymphs point out to the distant horizon where a foundering ship can just be seen under the lowering skies of an approaching storm, the first more gentle waves crashing against the rocks, a single ray of sunshine hitting the foreground while in the far distance the snow-capped mountains still shine in the remaining sun.
Based around a yellow/violet complementary colour axis, I have composed it to be busy so that the eye moves around the picture with no single focal point with the focal point of the implied narrative of the painting being the distant ship barely seen on the horizon. I wanted a contrast-y picture with dark shadows and brightly-lit areas in the style of Keller and Bocklin, the nymphs being the femmes fatales beloved of Victorian era paintings. The lovely Naomi Wood modeled for the figures.
This is a painting that I hope to bring to IlluXCon in October. Oil on linen 30" x 20".
There is a step-by-step progress through this painting in previous posts on this blog.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 12

Slow going today, mostly working on the foreground figure and roughing in the other two, debating whether  to put in another rock nearer to the viewer that obscures her lower legs and feet as my reference runs out at that point and not sure if I should invent this bit and just play safe with the rock instead.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 11

Finished off the trees and made a start on the distant temple and the foreground rock with the main storm nymph on. A couple more days and it should be finished.....

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 10

I knocked back the sunlight hitting the top of the arch as I needed to simplify the tones in that area to make the area near the steps the basic focal point of the foreground. I then finished off (bar a few tweaks tomorrow) the sea foam crashing against the rocks before starting work on the poplar trees (or cypresses) blown in the wind.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 9

Today I painted in the ruined arch, steps and surrounding rocks, not finished as I need to tweak the contrast a bit tomorrow when the paint is dry. I wanted to press on with the surf crashing against the rocks but held off in order to get some better reference. Although all of this painting is invented I still need some good reference to work with to make it look convincing as it is in an important area of the painting.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 8

Finally got back to work after being away for a few days. I realised on my return that I had chickened out of the contrast that I had planned for the painting so the first thing I did today was to darken some of the cloud and the sea before making a beginning on the rocks. The design (composition) of the picture relies on me getting the tonal structure right so it is important that I get all the foreground working how I originally envisaged it.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 7

Only had a couple of hours this morning to work on this as I am away from the studio now, back on Sunday so there will be no new posts on this until Monday. All I managed to get done today was some work on the sea but at least it gives some idea of how the lighting is going to work on my return.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 6

Finished off the sky and background mountains at right as well as the mid-ground landscape at right before working more on the sea. I think I have worked out where the lightest parts of the painting are going to be, just the area of foam behind the foreground figure, a splash of light on the mid-ground rocks and the mountains at top right.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Artist & Illustrators Magazine Facebook post

Artists & Illustrators magazine has just posted on Facebook a digital version of an article I wrote for them a few years ago called "How to add depth with colour". It is a step-by-step demonstration of how I painted "A Sidestreet In Madurai", a painting of India resulting from my visit in the previous year.

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 5

Did some more work on the sky and distant landscape as well as a start on the sea.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 4

Worked on the sky before sorting out some of the lighting and general shapes in the foreground and trees.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stage 3

Today was the day to put down some colour to give me an idea how the basic tonal design is going to work. Already I can see where the clouds should be lower and darker and I can see that I need to unify the elements in the foreground where the rocks and trees meet the sea foam.
The distant mountains at top right are an introduction of some influence from the Hudson River School, so all in all, lots of references to Victorian-era paintings in this picture.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Land Of The Storm Nymphs - stages 1 and 2

Stage 1
A painting very much influenced by the work of Arnold Boeklin and Ferdinand Keller even down to the mock Victorian-era title. They both employed quite a high contrast between the darks of the trees and the lights of the sky and in my painting, foam in the sea. Stage two was very necessary to get a tonal design to the picture; I am not using one focal point in this painting and want the eye to roam around quite a busy and dramatic scene so there will be several area of the lightest and darkest tone. 
Three nymphs are shown pointing to the distant boat at the extreme left of the picture, all modelled by the lovely Naomi Wood, one in the sea, one on the nearest rock and one in the middle by the poplar trees bending in the wind. This is a bit of an homage to JW Waterhouse who often used the same model a number of times in the same picture although I will vary them by having different coloured hair.
Stage one was "drawn" up with a small bristle brush using a mix of Burnt Sienna and Winsor Violet thinned with Liquin and Lukas Number 5 Medium for the morning session. By the afternoon session the paint had dried enough for me to proceed with stage 2, a tonal underpainting with a rag and brush using the same paint mix but with added turpentine.

Stage 2

Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Gilded Prison

Another painting that has come out of my recent visit to India, the title refers to this being the view of the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort that Shah Jahan had when he was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in Agra Fort, in some style I may add, right to his death. I have set the painting at the end of the dry hot summer as the first rain clouds start to form heralding the arrival of the Monsoon season.
It is based around a Yellow/ Violet complementary colour combination with the addition of some Greens that always go well with Violets (every colour in this painting has some Manganese Violet mixed into it-apart from the White in the sky).
This is a painting that I may take to IlluXCon later this year. Oil on linen 18" x 24".
There is a step-by-step progress through this painting in previous posts on this blog.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Gilded Prison - stage 6

Pretty much finished the background bar a quick scumble over it tomorrow to just knock it back slightly. I have put in the river and spent the rest of the day working on the scrub land which is taking longer than expected.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Gilded Prison - stage 5

I spent most of the day painting in very carefully the distant Taj Mahal keeping it nearer to the sky colour as it is in the distance but with a touch more Violet in it. The light hitting the domes was the most important, for which I used Lemon Yellow with a touch of Warm White. I then just put a bit more work into the scrub land ready for tomorrow's session when I hope to get most of it finished bar the foreground trees.

Monday, 9 May 2016

The Gilded Prison - stage 4

I worked over most of the painting today; I pretty much finished the sky, put in a base colour into the Taj Mahal and worked on the scrub land leading to the foreground.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Gilded Prison - stages 2 and 3

On today's morning session I roughly painted in with a brush and rag a tonal underpainting using a mix of Burnt Sienna and Manganese Violet thinned with Liquin, Lukas Number 5 medium and turpentine. As this had dried for the afternoon session I was able to put down a colour tonal underpainting. I am basing the whole picture around a Red Violet with the complementary Yellow in the sky and variations of Green and Violet mixes for the rest, the area near the horizon will veer slightly to Blue. I want a dramatic sky with the domes of the Taj Mahal catching the sunlight and want to keep the painting warm not cold as this is India and it's pretty hot most of the year!


Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Gilded Prison - stage 1

After the disaster of the previous painting I thought that I would get back to something that I would enjoy painting. This is a view of the Taj Mahal seen from Agra Fort, the title referring to the fact that this was the view that Shah Jahan had from the Fort after his son Aurangzeb imprisoned him there for the remainder of his life. It is based on reference I took on a recent visit to India. I have resisted the temptation (so far) to paint the Taj Mahal by moonlight and instead am going to paint it lit how I first saw it from a train as it approached Agra Fort Station.
This first stage was "drawn" up with a small bristle brush using my usual mix of Burnt Sienna and Winsor Violet thinned with Liquin and turpentine.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

The Faery Queen abandoned

I regret that I am not happy with how this painting has been going and to cut my losses by spending any more days on it I have decided to stop working on it. The gold leaf was quite difficult to get onto the linen and when I had finished I just realised that there were too many things bugging me about it; I don't think the mix of real and stylised was working (it has to be one thing or the other), I don't like the hard edges which is a look harking back to how I used to work which I don't like any more, the gold leaf didn't have a nice look to it, I didn't like the tree or the moon and wasn't even happy with the colour!
So I was on a hiding to nothing. I need to reconnect with what I am about and what I'm best at, this isn't it.
The photo above is as far as I got, a shame but ......

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Faery Queen - stage 9

Progress is slow on this one due to it being larger and more fiddly than usual and that I am having to do other things alongside it every day. I have put in the cancer astrological symbol in the moon (pretty subtle hopefully) and have made a start on the gold leaf for the wings. I will wait until the binder, in this case Liquin, is dry tomorrow and then remove the excess leaf round the edges and then do the other wing. I plan to put paint over the leaf in the way butterfly wings have markings on them.

2 Venice paintings sold

Midnight Fondamenta
"Midnight Fondamenta" and "Full Moon, San Giorgio Maggiore" have just sold through Asgard Arts. "Full Moon , San Giorgio Maggiore" was painted as a demonstration piece at the Edinburgh Festival, both are oil on board. "Midnight Fondamenta" was painted after a number of nighttime strolls through my favourite city in the world, La Serenissima. The buyer, who lives in Italy has now bought six of my Venice paintings.

Full Moon, San Giorgio Maggiore

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Faery Queen - stage 8

I painted in a lot of the branches today as well as the moon in a silver paint mixture. The moon will have the astrological symbol for Cancer on top of it, quite subtle and then the remaining branches can be painted over it before the final red glaze goes over the sky and branches.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Faery Queen - stage 7

A couple more glazes of Alizarin Crimson have now been applied and tomorrow I should be ready to paint in all the tree branches which will then get a further red glaze on top of that. I intend to incorporate Naomi's astrological symbols in her chart so her moon sign (Cancer) will go in at top, I have incorporated a scorpion tail into a tree root (her Rising Sign is Scorpio) and she will be looking down onto her Sun sign (Aries). It is important to remember that this is a portrait of a real person but in a Fantasy setting.