Sunday, 24 July 2016

Opening a Branch Office

Well it took a while, but I've finished the picture whose early stages I showed below.  The old tree with its huge branch (hence title) is off the Old Blackgang Road in Niton Undercliff - the road leads to an area of managed countryside known as Knowles Farm, and used to take traffic on to Blackgang and beyond - until the cliff fell on it in the 1920s.

Well worth going up it to reach the landscape beyond though - there's a lot of open space, and a path down to the usually deserted beach, if you can penetrate dense undergrowth, and then scramble down to the beach below, which I can't do.  Well, I could get down, not necessarily in one piece, but I couldn't get back up again.

It would be good if we could turn back the clock and regain our lost youth - I'd know what to DO with it now: I didn't, when I had it.

Acrylic, on canvas board, 16" by 12"

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Work in Progress

Working on an acrylic, after too long not working on anything at all - I suppose I feared I wouldn't be able to see properly and so didn't want to take the risk of mucking things up: but I can see well enough to work on this sort of scale (16" by 12").

I can foresee a problem with the large triangular are at bottom right - ie, what to fill it with?  The scene itself is largely composed of nondescript, straggly shrub - perhaps I should just reflect that.  There's nearly always an area in a sketch which looks OK in pencil or charcoal on paper, but gives you a problem when you try to paint from it - well, we'll see.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Salt Water Inlet

And here's one I did earlier - forgot to post it here. Acrylic, 8" by 10".  I'm forgetting a lot of things: I've also forgotten to post my membership subscription to the National Association of Painters in Acrylic, and must pull my finger out before they cast me into the chilly void...


A fallow period - perhaps it's partly the eye, but inspiration has been entirely lacking and I've not painted anything much, though have fiddled with a few things.

However, I did hobble out for a walk today and interrupted a couple of fox cubs as they played on the presently largely unused Undercliff Drive, which is still closed to through traffic (and I think I'm hoping it stays that way - it's peaceful, and people seem to be managing to find an alternative route into Ventnor.  Why they don't just re-open the road as a walk-way, and abandon the idea of reopening it to traffic, I don't know - because I suspect they'll have to in the end.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Self-diagnosis spot-on!

Yes, I should have been a doctor.  Just imagine the sheer amount of disease, death and destruction that would run rampant in the world if only I'd entered the profession.

Leaving which aside, I do indeed, as I thought,  have a cataract in my right eye.  The next step, given I've been referred directly to the hospital since it's badly interfering with my vision (or doing it very effectively, depending on your definition of these things) is an appointment with the surgeon to determine the best way to deal with it, given I'm extremely short-sighted and it's not just a question of whipping the cataract out of one eye and shoving a new lens in.

And that appointment could take a while, given first of all they have to add you to the actual waiting list; and as they're extremely busy, they'll do their best to delay that for as long as they can.  In the meantime, painting is going to be a bit more difficult, and reading very difficult indeed.

As I may have mentioned before, ageing is just a bad idea all round.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Peering and squinting

A good way to start the day, removing spam from the Painters Online website.  I often wonder what spammers get out of it - their posts last maybe a few hours, and are then whipped away.   But I suppose that few hours of free advertising is all they need.

Today, I find out if I have a cataract in my right eye, or am just continuing to experience the steady deterioration in the sight in it which has accelerated since I had a detached retina replaced years ago.  Can't say I'm looking forward to an operation, but I would like to be able to see what I'm doing, and be able to read again without shutting the near-useless eye and holding the page to my snout.

Wonderful getting older, really it is.  There are so many advantages!  Give me a month or two and I'll think of one of them.

Saturday, 30 April 2016


A few recent paintings, 10" by 8", acrylics on Loxley canvas board.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Did I do that?

Phone back on, nuisance calls resumed - in fact it's been back for a week, I wouldn't wish to give the impression that EE was dilatory.  Or that they didn't care - I've had 4 calls from different employees since the fault was rectified, seeking assurance that all is well.  This did strike me as a little strange for a communications company, given you'd have thought they might have shared the information received with each other, but there we are.

We must not repine.

Just finished a small acrylic, 8" by 10" - wasn't sure what I thought of it, so I deliberately left it to dry out while I got on with something else and steadfastly refused to look at it.  On my return, it was almost as if someone else had painted it ..... by deliberately ignoring it, I was able to put a distance between it and myself and I'm not at all sure this hasn't enabled me to form a better judgement of it.  We'll see how it looks tomorrow, all the same.  I shan't post a photo of it before then - I might hate it in the morning........

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Telephone not working

If you were about to telephone me - don't, please.  There's a line fault following the storm, and every time the phone rings it cuts out the broadband.  And I can't hear anything anyway.

I've reported it to EE/Orange, but it takes them a day and an age to work out there might actually be an external fault and to contact the engineers.

Email me as usual - with any luck, they'll get through.....

Friday, 18 March 2016

Keir Hardie

Scrolling down, you'll find the work in progress of this gentleman (the oil version).

This is just about the final version, glazing added.

I don't suppose he's very commercial, but if anyone is interested - make me an offer (for anything on the blog, if it comes to that).

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Isle of Wight Landscapes

A quick note - is now updated, uploaded, up and running, and will be updated frequently in future.

Thanks to Barry Fitzgerald for all his help - uploading was nightmareish, but with some help from 3iX, the web-provider, he got there in the end.  I have to say "he" got there, because I was just hovering in the background making keening noises for much of the time.

What a performance.

But it's up there now - all revised, squeaky and shiny.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

James Keir Hardie

While waiting a) to upload my revised website, b) for the paint to dry on my oil study of JKH, I did an acrylic - somewhat loosely based on him, working on old, small, monochrome photographs taken over a 40 year period isn't easy - using the same build up from monochrome to glazed final result.  I've put it on the Gallery at Painters Online ( as well.

In this one, he's looking straight at you - I got the impression he was trying to tell me something unflattering.........

Friday, 4 March 2016

Isle of Wight Landscapes - Watch this space

Fingers crossed as I write this....

For months now, my website has been bedevilled by a problem on the Gallery page - images horribly pixellated and unviewable.  I couldn't work out what was wrong, and in the end I just left to fend for itself, and even thought about taking it offline altogether.

A visit today from my old friend Barry Fitzgerald, a professional photographer working out of Tralee in Ireland, will I hope have resolved the problem - and he worked out why it had happened, so it shouldn't go wrong again (it really WASN'T simple).

It's been a long day, and I'm now off to bed: but tomorrow I shall upload the latest version of the site: this always taxes my memory and eyesight and I regularly get the codes/password wrong.  But all things being equal, I am very hopeful that the issue will have been resolved, and I shall be able to start actually using the site again - I had just been staying away in a sort of neurotic sulk....

And all I'll have to do then is publicize it widely so that more people visit it and savour its delights....

Still, a start's a start, eh...?

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Work in Progress - Keir Hardie

Casting about for something to paint, I thought I'd like to try a portrait sketch; it can only be that because its subject has been dead for just over 100 years now.  But I've not painted a portrait of any kind for years, and thought it was time I did.

It's a WIP - Work in Progress - and because I'm using oil paint (on oil painting paper) it won't be finished for a while given the method I've chosen: and I've chosen that so that I can show an old but (I'm hoping) good method of achieving it.

I started out with the most basic possible pencil sketch, strengthened with a"turpsy" (ie, solvent-rich) mix of Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine oil; then sharpened up the drawing a bit from my source photographs - Hardie changed quite a lot over the years, and looked far older than his 60 years when he died: so we're only going to get a sort of composite painting out of this (I suppose that's going to read a bit like an excuse, but it's basically an iconic look I've after with this, so if it does, it does!).

Having blocked in some of the  background and shadows, I employed that old approach I mentioned - rather than going in with full colour, I refined the image a bit more with a mixture of Terre Verte, a very traditional colour historically used for this purpose, and lead white - I still have some Flake White left, which is what I used.  It's less oily and much faster drying than Titanium White, and can be applied more thinly.  There's a long story to be told about the advantages of lead white, but this isn't maybe the time to tell it.

Now this layer has to dry right out, which will take time: and when it has, I'll apply thin, transparent glazes of colour over the top.  You needn't fear you'll obscure the detail - you'd only do that if you used very opaque colour, and Titanium White.

There will probably be some Titanium White eventually, but the aim is to keep it to the minimum - and maybe I'll be better advised to use another lead white instead.

For the moment, the painting looks as if I've turned poor old Keir, as if he hadn't enough to contend with, into the Incredible Hulk, because Terre Verte is a green, with a very low tinting strength: it will cool warmer colours applied on top - and it's one of the ways that the old painters indicated gentle shifts in colour and tone in their portraits.  Probably obviously, the finished product won't be as good as a genuine old portrait - because I'm not going to take the time over it that they would have done, and anyway I'm using paper; but my desire is to give others an idea; and of course it's good practice for me; it'll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Building up a portrait in this way - you can do the same with landscapes if you want, but you probably wouldn't use Terre Verte as your base colour; it wouldn't hurt if you did, but it might end up with a rather cool painting; an earth red would be more usual; and you can employ acrylics if you prefer quicker results - gives a very distinctive look; it's not an Impressionist treatment, but now and then maybe it's good to remember that not everything has to be.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Black Sky

Oil on canvas covered board - many layered painting in oil exploiting tonal contrast - as much as can be achieved without going too far over the top into Abstract work, which on the whole I avoid.  Scratching-out, scumbling, glazing, and - well obviously! - a rat.