Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas festivities out of the way and the family are all back in their own homes so I was able to get back to the easel with some of the seasonal fruit - clementines again. There is something relaxing about working on these small pieces, I'm beginning to understand why the 'painting a day' movement gained momentum. 'Painting a Day' introduced me to the work of Duane Keiser. Consequently I've been looking at a variety of other exponents and enjoying what I see. It was the Julian Merrow-Smith site that first caught my attention but I've now had the chance to explore quite a few more. Mention of Carol Marine by my blogger friend, Linda Roth, got me into discovering the Daily Paintworks site (Carol Marine and her husband run it) and the subscribers who post there - maybe a personal challenge for the future?

So here is today's effort.

Clementines and bowl - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Friday, 19 December 2014


I'm really in the zone as far as these small still life paintings are concerned. Today I had a real feeling that I was starting to concentrate and see shapes in a way that I wasn't just a week ago. Daily work has obvious benefits and I am determined to try to become more disciplined in painting/ drawing on a daily basis.

Plums - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Thursday, 18 December 2014

More Fruit

The kitchen is currently supplying my painting inspiration and subject matter for the practise of my brush strokes. When the holiday period arrives I'm hoping to be able to sit down and review the learning that these small studies have provided.

Lemon and Clementine - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Raiding the Pantry

This last week the pantry has been the source of my inspiration. The weather here has got cold and my aching bones rebel at trying to paint outdoors which leaves the option of painting indoors and using whatever is available so the pantry gets raided.

Aubergine, chilli and shallot - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Monday, 8 December 2014

Shallots and Vase

Another little piece to keep the brushes working. These quick studies are a lot of fun and hopefully they are going to hone my technique.

Shallots and Vase - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Saturday, 6 December 2014

More Fruit

Another quick painting before the fruit get consumed. It is such a pleasure to do these quick alla prima pieces. I think I might uses these as warm up pieces before working on more considered pieces.

Clementines and lemon - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Alla Prima Again

Another happy hour spent with the paints and a clementine. Main concern getting paint on the board and avoidance of too much time spent in attempting to refine it. 

Now that I've had a couple of hours to reflect on it there are myriad improvements that I could make but they will have to wait till next time. Issues that come to mind are variety of edges, stronger value changes and better colour mixing, particularly in the greens.

After that an apology for a less than perfect photograph, a bit too much reflection in the background darks being the main problem.

Tomorrow a variety of fruit!

Clementine - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Alla Prima Exercise

With just a little painting time this week I thought I'd attempt a small alla prima piece and chose a subject that was fairly straightforward a bit of fruit. At this point I should point out that the picture is very much based on the work of Julian Merrow-Smith who produces a lot of alla prima work, I believe he makes a work every day as well as his more considered work. Well worth looking up if you are interested in still life, in particular.

I'm also getting used to working on gesso board which is a new support for me. The main difference I'm finding is the speed of absorption and the necessity to use thicker paint. This, I think, makes it a suitable medium for alla prima work. 

Lemon - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5" ( After Merrow-Smith)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Little Venice View for My Sister

One of my lovely sisters turned sixty last week so it seemed a good idea to use my recent Venice trip to provide a little something for her to hang on her newly decorated sitting room. The result is below.

Salute from Riva degli Schiavoni - Oil on Gesso Board

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Another Venice Sketch

Another from my recent Venice trip. Apologies that I'm just visiting the same spots as so many others before me, but generations have been spot on in their choice of spots from which to take their inspiration. In some senses I feel I have to get some of these out of my system before being a little more experimental. I just love the place and am already working on getting back next year.

Salute - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Back in Harness

Yes, it's been some time since I posted here but the summer has been taken up with a lot of travel, mostly with family, so painting has taken a place on the back burner. However, las week I had the opportunity to go to Venice with my painting gear as a 'baptism of fire' in taking up the brushes again.

It was to be an interesting week as the last time I'd been there I'd found myself a little overwhelmed in terms of painting and I spent a long time analysing why I found it so difficult. La Serenissima is the most wonderful of places but it certainly tests the mettle of anyone wishing to render its wonders in paint. This is a subject that I may return to wen I've had time to absorb the experience of the latest trip.

Here are two examples from the series of oil sketches that I made on the streets during my stay. 

As always any comments, advice or criticism are welcomed.

Rio dei Mendicanti - Oil sketch on canvas board 12" x 10"

Salute at Dawn - Oil sketch on canvas board 12" x 10"

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Framed Portrait

As promised in my last post here is the finished portrait as it returned from the framer's.

Geoff has been a stalwart of Durham County Cricket Club for many years, adopting a variety of roles. Last season, in spite of a mid season heart attack, Geoff coached the club to their third County Championship. I couldn't resist including the trophy in the picture. 

Geoff Cook - Oil on Linen 40" x 30"

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Portrait - Geoff

Once again an apology for neglecting the blog. One of the reasons is that I've been working on a large portrait and I promised the sitter that I wouldn't show it at all until he'd had the opportunity to see it finished. This happened last week.

The portrait comes about as a result of me deciding that I wanted to attempt making a couple of large portraits. I further wanted to make pictures of people who were known beyond my immediate circle of friends, adding a different pressure to getting the exercise to a decent conclusion. One of the people I contacted was Geoff Cook, coach at the Durham County Cricket Club. I explained to him what the nature of my project was and he readily agreed to give me some time when I could make a few sketch notes and take lots of photographs. That in itself was a pleasant experience as Geoff is a real gentleman with plenty of interesting conversation.

The day of reckoning arrived last week when I took the piece up to the Cricket Club to meet Geoff. Imagine my relief when he reported being delighted with the finished result and so it comes to you via this post. The picture is now off at the framer's and I'll post the finished, framed work when it returns. In the meantime here is a photograph of Geoff and the picture and below is a detail of the head from the portrait.

Two Geoffs 

Geoff Cook - Detail from 40" x 30" portrait, oil on linen

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Long Time Missing

Well I've been missing from these pages for some time and got to thinking it was about time that I broke cover and made my excuses.

In some ways the painting activity has been somewhat limited for all of the usual reasons but for one or two others as well. The main one being a commitment to work on my portrait work with a view to producing two large scale portraits and for me this has been a big task in terms of technique and application. The project is not yet complete and as I promised the subjects that I would not let anyone see them until they had had the opportunity to view them in completed form. Hence no blogging about the developing work, much as I would have liked to share the progress with you all.

However, there are I couple of things that I can share. The first is an unusual  work for me. I was approached with a commission to produce a caricature of a group to be given to a chap who was retiring from work. As the gift was to be a surprise I only had a couple of photographs to base the work on. I spent a lot of time doing preliminary sketches to inform the final piece and it was with some trepidation that I presented the finished work to the people who asked for the work to be done. Thankfully they were pleased.

Off to the First Tee - Watercolour and Pen on Not paper 16" x 12"

My second picture in this post is one produced on a recent visit to the Norfolk Painting School. Regular readers will know of the high regard for Martin Kinnear and his workshops. My recent visit was to explore the use of glazing techniques as used by a variety of Masters. This was my favourite piece made as a study of a work by John Atkinson Grimshaw. Atmospheric effects courtesy of subtle glazes. I can see me trying more of this style in the future.

Back to my portraits, hope to be able to share them soon.

Study after Grimshaw - Oil on board 24" x 20"