Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Venice Again

The opportunity to head for Venice happens every now and then, when life stops getting in the way and so it was that, earlier in the month, Sheila and I managed to get a week away.

Whilst not totally a painting trip, Mrs. C likes to do lots of other things besides watching me paint, I did manage to make oil sketches on every day that we were there. I call these sketches as they were done quickly as a means of gleaning information for studio work back home. A couple of early morning forays yielded the most interesting light conditions. one a really colourful sky and the other a soft light prior to some rain.

Surprises abound, not only in the discovery of new corners and meeting new people. One of the latter was a pleasant bit of fortune that had us meeting the wonderful watercolourist, Judi Whitton. Judi has just produced a book titled, "Painting Venice'. On discovering this I contacted her to order a copy, to find that she and her husband, Peter, were also in Venice. We arranged to meet and had a charming morning discussing the city and its joys for the painter. My friend Peter Ward has a review of the book on his blog,

Pete and Judi Whitton

San Giorgio Maggiore - oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Accademia View misty morning - oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

As ever, the city delighted and we headed home mentally preparing arrangements for our next visit.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Off on Holiday again

We are fortunate in that we have some friends who own a house on the shores of Lake Geneva and they offer us the opportunity to stay there. It is a stunning spot and I can usually sneak a few paints into the luggage. The two pictures are from our latest trip. Apologies for poor photographs and lack of cropping.

Oil sketches on gesso board 7" x 5"

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Life is just a Bowl of Cherries

The new season cherries are seeming to leap off the shelves of the supermarket into my basket. Once home they gravitate to the studio where I am trying to home my still life technique, not the easiest of subject matter. To add to the complication I found a small pewter whisky measure to add to the arrangement of fruit. Challenging but enjoyable session.

Cherries - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Back to Still Life

After last week's run of pictures from recent trip to Provence I decided to return to the still life table. A visit to the local supermarket had me discovering these cherries, the first of the new year. Sorry about the quality of the photograph, I'll try to get a better one later in the week.

Cherries - Oil on gessoed board 7" x 5"

Friday, 29 May 2015

Even more from Provence

Another couple from last week's trip. Wherever you look there are painting subjects all bathed in the most wonderful light.

Old Farmhouse - Oil on gessoed board 10"x 8"

Gap in the Hedge - Oil on gessoed board 10" x 8"

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

More from Provence

A couple more from Provence. The garden of La Madelene had all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies as well as beautiful arrays of flowers. This little group of irises caught my attention and I had  to have a go at getting them onto board.

Irises at La Madelene - Oil on board 10" x 8"

We spent quite a bit of our week travelling out into the local countryside where all sorts of buildings and farm land made for arresting subject matter.

Old Farm Buildings - Oil on board 10" x 8"

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Week in Provence

It seems that the season for getting out into some decent weather is upon us. I'd signed up to spend a week in Provence with Julian Merrow-Smith a great member of the daily painting fraternity. We were housed in a wonderful old property that had been a monastery in a former life. The place was set in wonderful countryside with acres of vines, mountains and old buildings. We were hosted by a wonderful couple, one a brilliant cook and the other an expert on Rhone wines. Suffice it to say we were fed and watered in royal fashion.

This post is to give a little introduction to the visit until I have enough time to do it a little more justice. The painting below is one of fifteen that I managed to get done during the week.

Gap in the Wall - Oil on panel 10" x 8"

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Evening Falls

I've not posted for while but have managed to get in some painting, much of it for other people. However, last week I got away to spend a few days with my oil painting guru, Martin Kinnear. As usual I came away inspired and with a few new paintings and techniques. The painting below is one of them. As it happens I posted the image on FaceBook last night and this morning it sold, a very speedy turn around.

Evening Falls - Oil on board 24" x 20"

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Single Sorrento

I took out one of yesterday's lemons and put it in the still life box. This is the result.

Single Sorrento Lemon - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Sorrento Lemons

Since my lost post Sheila and I had a little break in the sun, escaping the local low temperatures. Since getting home, thoughts keep returning to warmer climes and spotting a tray of plump Sorrento lemons in the supermarket I couldn't resist capturing them for the still life table.

Sorrento Lemons - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Monday, 23 February 2015


It seems like I'm developing a serious shopping habit, browsing for suitable still life subjects on the fruit and vegetable stands. This trip I took a fancy to this bunch of asparagus spears which rapidly landed on my still life bench. I found the subject taxing in that there were a variety of greens to be mixed as well as balancing the pink tones. This is a subject that I could return to as I found it a good exercise in mixing and good preparation for moving outdoors and dealing with the range of greens that present we plein air painters with so many problems.

Asparagus - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Coffee and Cake

Off to the home of a pal of mine today to have some chat and a little painting time. A simple still life set up was the order of the day. The set up may have been simple but the various reflections were anything but simple - so the word that I had running through my head throughout the session was SIMPLIFY. Maybe the simplification was too much as I feel tempted to make adjustments here and there, but I've decided to sleep on it and hopefully resist the temptation.

Coffee and Cake - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"

Saturday, 14 February 2015


Little time this last week but managed to catch an hour with this pomegranate. Lesson to be learned this week is spend more time and care in colour mixing, I was a little slapdash with this and thought about wiping it. However, I think we all have days when things don't work as well as they might so here is my latest 'less than satisfactory' piece.

Pomegranate - Oil on gesso board 6" x 6"

Monday, 2 February 2015


I decided on a change of subject matter today, there were flowers in the house and nothing at the moment is safe from a trip to my cramped working space for the purposes of being painted.

Interesting though I found the exercise, I'm a little bit disappointed by the final result and all down to some poor choices that I made early on. My biggest mistake was one of compositional arrangement, the gap in the middle of the picture being the main culprit. On reflection I'd have been better including more blooms and foliage to fill more of the space as well as establishing more interconnections between the elements.

Never mind lots to think about and build upon.

Tulips - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Friday, 30 January 2015

Figs are Fun

As I said the other day I was heading out to replenish fruit and veg for painting purposes. Imagine my surprise when I spotted these figs on the shelf. Too good to ignore.

Three Figs - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Pair of Lemons

Back from London refreshed and in front of the easel again, so another small still life to keep my hand in. Much as I dislike shopping I think I'm going out today in search of new still life material, the fruit and vegetable baskets are seriously depleted. I'm also discovering an urge to look for interesting earthenware - what is happening to me?

Two Lemons - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Looking at Pictures

The last week has been a little difficult to find painting time, more workmen and house guests have seen to that, but a couple of gallery trips afforded the opportunity to give painting some thinking time.

The first trip was a relatively short one to the estimable MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) to view the show 'Modern Art and St. Ives 1915 - 1965'. To say that this exhibition was a revelation would be to understate the impact that it had on me. It was much more than could be expected by the title. The reason for this was simple it was not confined to the work of artists that were practitioners in St. Ives but it explored the relationships between their work and the international community of artists. So not only were there the expected pieces from Nicholson, Hepworth, Gabo, Lanyon, Bryant, Moore et al but works by Braque, Kandinsky, Rothko, Pollock, Modigliani, Giacometti and Mondrian. A stunning array of work, mounted in such a way that the relationships could be discerned. A triumph for a relatively small gallery in an unfashionable location in North East England. A superb gallery and a first class exhibition. Tate, who were involved in the curation of the exhibition, have published a fine catalogue of the exhibition.

Below is a personal favourite from the show.

Cyclamen - Gouache and monotype on paper by Bryan Wynter

A couple of days after the MIMA show I headed south for a couple of days in London.

My first day I headed off to the Courtauld Gallery, having neglected it in recent years and there I found myself bewitched by one painting in particular. After an indulgent hour or so with the Cezannes I moved onto the collection of Fauves a stimulating development echoing ideas discernible in Cezanne's approach. But enough of them, the one that really got to me was the one below, Manet's 'A Bar at the Folies - Bergere'. This is a painting that I've seen on a number of occasions in the past as well as having seen it reproduced in many publication, so it would be fair to say that it was familiar. I'd also read about it in a variety of books where various critics have tried to place it in the development of Art History.

I sat in front of the work for about an hour and for the first time began to have some understanding as to how the composition challenged so many of the long held conceptions about producing images. The use of the mirror as a flat backstop and the lack of discernible perspective lines poses one set of questions. Secondly identifying the light source and its role in illuminating the various elements is a challenge. Is the light source the same for the figure and the items on the table? Lastly the confusion for the viewer engendered by the position of the reflection of the woman and the image of the man in the mirror. The gaze of the woman is another challenge, who or what is she looking at, the viewer, the  man in the election or some unknown person/ event in the background? A painting worthy of some real study. Time well spent for me.

On a lighter note it's always good to see bottles of English ale (Bass) on the table.

A Bar at the Folies - Bergere - Oil on canvas by Edouard Manet

The next day I couldn't resist returning, for the third time, to say goodbye to the wonderful exhibition that has been running at Tate Britain since last year, ' Late Turner - Setting Painting Free', it closes this weekend. Even the huge crowds in there were not enough to mar the occasion, some of my favourite paintings have been in this exhibition, and what a pleasure to stand for a while in front of the exquisite 'Blue Rigi'. Anyone who has the least bit of interest in watercolour should make an effort to see this work, photographs cannot do it any justice. It glows in a way that is unique.

All in all a stimulating few days.

Blue Rigi - Watercolour on paper by J.M.W. Turner.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Garlic before Dinner

The last couple of weeks have been busy, roofers, painters, electrician and carpet layer. This has all meant no time for the paints. So it was with some relief that I was able to sit down for an hour or two before dinner. The fruit bowl was somewhat depleted after recent efforts at the easel so I picked a head of garlic from the cupboard prior to using it in the preparation of dinner.

Garlic and Bowl - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

An Apple a Day

Continuing with the current obsession, I once again raided the fruit bowl. This time it was a couple of Braeburn apples. Hopefully there is some evidence of progression in this series, I'm finding it a little easier to work on the gesso boards and gaining a slightly better control over the paint. It's maybe time to move on to another type of subject matter, possibly landscape, but carry on using the small boards. I'm finding it a real stimulus to painting regularly, working on these supports. The size seems to make a difference to taking that first step and dipping the brush into the paint.

Braeburn Apples - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Start As You Mean To Go On

Happy New Year to all my readers. I have managed spend a little time in front of the easel. I decided to mess around with composition and introduce something that required a little thought, so I moved the arrangement over a little and placed it on a tea towel. I'll let you judge whether these were interesting and/or ideas that worked.

Fruit, dish and tea towel - Oil on gesso board 7" x 5"