Thursday, 29 March 2012


Today I spent a day at Petersham Meadow with some painters from SOFAP ( I started the day early with a 24 x 30cm picture of the cottage opposite Petersham Nursery.

Then a general view looking across the meadow and up to Richmond Hill. This was my least successful painting of the day. I've painted this view before in Summer. It works better when the tree is in full leaf.

After lunch... just an apple... I forgot my sandwiches! I painted a delightful tree in blossom. Again, a subject I painted in my first plein air session of 2011.

Then finally, the cow barn. Was feeling quite relaxed and getting into the flow of things by this time. I think this is the best pic of the day. Very satisfied that I managed to capture the feeling of the late afternoon sun.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Just before my last life drawing class at the RA I stopped off in Green Park for a quick plein air. It was early evening so the light was fading quite fast, but I think I just about caught the atmosphere. A photo of the scene is shown below.

And this was the model I painted an hour later.

Earlier this week I went down to Brentford Dock where the Grand Union Canal leaves the River Thames. This is a residential pontoon looking towards the entrance to the canal. Quite tight perspective an oddly cold light, but I think I just about pulled it off.

I've seen this washy background technique used by several artists, originally Richard Schmid, but more recently from James Hart Dyke ( whose work I really like. I've started to experiment with it.

I don't particularly like the picture below, a bit dull!!!, but it is nicely controlled I think, and the knitwear works well. I've used a lot of soft edges and just a few hard ones which seems to balance.

Painting this little oil can using a really strong composition gives it more gravitas than it actually has.

My friend Graham Townsend reminded me of the work of William Wray the contemporary American painter. This prompted me to sharpen my palette knife and get a few pics drafted, firstly of the Putney footbridge and then of the walkway down to the pontoon at Putney Pier.

Saturday, 10 March 2012


My daughter, Lucy, asked me to take her very old cowboy boots to the cobbler for repair. I couldn't resist painting them a couple of times before taking them.

I painted some interior views of my studio. In both I wanted to capture the odd mixture of both the warm spotlight and the cold daylight.

Finally, I headed out for a bit of plein air, firstly under the footbridge and then in Bishop's Park in Fulham. I've been trying to develop a method of approach to my plein air painting which I can put into practice most times. It's just beginning to fall into place. In the bridge picture the light was flat and grey, so it took some careful observation to make anything of it (I prefer a bit of sunlight). In the park painting there was some lovely warm light being reflected off the distant grass, captured in the doors and brickwork at the right of the building.

Friday, 2 March 2012


Shown below are a few odd pics completed in February.

I saw this guy fishing off a pier in Chelsea. Great location. I caught him plein air, then worked this pic up in the studio. Don't like it much!

Claire gave me some daffodil bulbs, so I painted them a few times... first in a mirror.

Then without a mirror.

Then a few days later, with good tonal values. I like this one!

An old aluminium jug that hangs around the studio. Don't like.

An old pulley and a glass jug that hang around the studio. Like composition, colours and textures.

Painted from a photo, I've painted an almost identical pic before. Like the subject and tone and colours. 

Stepped outdoors from some plein air, firstly on Barnes Green.

Then Wimbledon common

Then Bishops Palace

And finally Teddington lock. I've been thinking a lot about tonal values and colour recently. I took a look at the marvelous Peter Brown show at Messums. Can't recommend it highly enough. I noticed several wonderful things about his paintings, but the most notable to me was how his pics really use the full tonal range, with LOTS of black paint... or damn near to black. When the colour is not black, but the tone is, he manages to retain some colour, which gives a really rich appearance to his pictures. In this really rough sketch I concentrated on emulating this principle. There's something about the pic I like. Not sure what. Maybe I succeeded.

Monday, 20 February 2012


I've painted Barnes Pond several times before. This little picture (24cm x 30) was painted from a photo, over the weekend. I like the composition, in particular the strong shadow to the right of the building which reflects across the ice. It seems to tie the buildings and their reflections together. I regret including the ducks/gulls!!!! I do like the pointillies, or taches (the dotty and dashy strokes). This is the painting style I want to develop further, quite loose, pointilles, taches, some sharp palette knife edges and lines and some nice flat palette knife smudges... 

Friday, 17 February 2012


For this commission I threw away my usual painting style and thought of the great American sailing painter Willard Bond. I wanted to portray the dynamism of the sport and the eccentricity of the water (if only I could create waves like Gary Long!). All in all a neat piece which the client was pleased with.

Monday, 13 February 2012


From January to March I'm doing a two hour class at the RA, once a week. The photo below shows the beautiful Victorian custom designed life drawing studio in which the class takes place. We do four, ten to fifteen minute poses, then a 45 minute one. The 45 minute sessions from the past four weeks are shown below. Unfortunately in week four, the model didn't turn up, so we all drew (or in my case painted) the horse. Unfortunately I got the least pleasant view! ;-(