Thursday, 28 August 2014


I can't remember the last time I uploaded any photographs onto my site, or my blog, or facebook, or in fact anywhere. This is partly because I haven't been away for a while and partly because I have been so busy with architecture work that I haven't had a chance to even go anywhere local and just take some pictures. I guess, in every spare moment I have had I have painted in preference to anything else.

This is slightly annoying, especially as recently, on places like Fine Art America I have been selling prints of my photos which means they are worth pursuing. (And would be anyway as I like taking them and keep thinking about buying an SLR!)

So an addition to my 'to-do' list should probably be - must take more photos, or go more places to take photos, or always have my camera in my bag. In fairness I seem to swing between things, either taking lots of photos, doing lots of paintings, or painting random things like chairs, baubles, drumsticks, the ceiling..... so maybe at the moment I am just in the mood for painting. That is fine.

And then....

After saying all the above I do actually have some new photos after a recent trip to Lille.....

Lille was interesting, easy to get to and super cheap to stay. Whilst there wasn't much to do there is always the French way of living to enjoy - long lunches, aperitifs and good food. There was quite a nice slice of architecture dotted around for me to appreciate as well although it was more Flemish in style than French. So whilst there might not be any paintings, (although there was one nice big clock tower, and I am obsessed with clocks) there are a few photographs....  

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


I finally plucked up the courage, a week or so ago, to paint a castle I have been meaning to paint forever but never thought I had the technical ability to capture. I have painted enough recently that I am feeling a lot more confident on that front so I decided to just have a go and see what happened. Turns out it happened rather well....

The Reason

Just because, and it was time for a challenge.

The Setting

The internet and endless image searches for Neuschwanstein Castle.

The Inspiration

The castle itself, a memory of a fairytale, the colours of winter, magic, the patterns of a Secret of Kells.

There is isn't much to say about this one, it is what it is after all. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out though, for once the vision I had in my head came out quite accurately onto paper which isn't always the case. It was also a good mix of my two favourite things - a good landscape and a good building....It is always nice to feel a little bit smug.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


I am mostly blogging and scheduling today. I have done a good job of catching up with some overdue art things though - this time last week I had 24 things outstanding on my immediate 'to do' list. I have got this down to just two things (this is ignoring my on-going to do list of non urgent things which still stands at 23 items).

I feel so much more together. Helped by the fact that in the last 10 days I have painted 5 new paintings. I am half thinking of painting another one this evening but maybe I ought to have a break before I burn out. I will decide later. I have already painted 32 things this year which is around the figure of my usual yearly limit!

But anyway, where was I? Ah yes, Matisse.

The Matisse exhibition was amazing - I loved it - which is interesting as he has never floated my boat particularly before. Seeing his work, was a bit like walking around my own house - I felt like we had so much in common; The obsession with colour, bold contrasts, unusual shapes, decorating his house, the need to be creative. I say 'in common' in the loosest sense.....

The Thousand and One Nights

I appreciated the fact it was a style brought about by necessity, but progressed on from his style as a painter. It turns out he often cut and coloured things and pinned them onto paper to work out the most satisfying composition before he sat down to paint. The cut outs were a natural progression as his health deteriorated and he became more ill and unable to stand/be physically active. He could get his helpers to paint the paper, he could cut out the shapes and then get his assistant to pin the paper to the canvas under his direction. The perfect way to still be creative with minimal physical duress.

Icarus, Verve, Blue Nude

The exhibition itself had a good mix of items - videos showing Matisse at work, samples of the colour books and papers he used, mock ups of stained glass windows and priest cassocks (or whatever you call them), large images showing how his walls were decorated, books, an actual stained glass window and everything in between. It was pretty inspiring and uplifting. I can't remember if I have ever been to an exhibition that was so bright. I am like a moth to a coloured flame, especially if it is stripy, my house is full of colour, my paintings are full of colour and I am obsessively drawn to coloured things. And yes, I did buy a big glossy book of all Matisse's cut outs from the gift store.

It is a good exhibition to visit, not as stuffy as some and relatively easy to get into and understand. Well worth a day out.    

Monday, 25 August 2014

Malevich and a Fire Alarm

I am being super efficient today - it is a bank holiday Monday but it is tipping it down with rain and I have nothing else to do so I may as well work. I have a few things I could do with catching up with anyway so I think it is probably no bad thing (even if it does make me feel like I need to sort my social life out).

I visited a couple of exhibitions at the Tate Modern in London a little over a week ago so I guess I had better tell you about them. The first one was on Malevich - a Russian Suprematist and the second one a focus on Matisse's Cut Outs (You can read about that one tomorrow).

I didn't really have enough time to do Malevich justice - there was a lot to see and two rooms in - BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, the Tate suffered from a Fire Alarm. An hour and a half of waiting outside in the just not quite raining and it was time to see Matisse. I had half an hour at the end to rush around the 12 rooms, but at least I read the booklet back to back whilst I was waiting and knew what to look out for.

I actually don't really know what to say or where to start. There was a lot going on at the exhibition and a lot of interruptions and inspiration drawn from, and because of, the politics and the turbulence of Russia at the time Malevich was prevalent. There were small works because paper was so expensive, there were school diagrams from when he taught at an Art School in Vitebsk, there were cubist and impressionist works from when he was first starting out and then a group of Suprematist works fading away to nothing.

Clockwise from Top left, The Scyther, Black Square, Suprematist composition, Suprematist composition, Self Portrait.
The Suprematist works were definitely the most interesting, at least, to me. The impressionist and cubist paintings were very accomplished, in fact, I love one of his self portraits but it is in the Suprematist works that you find the man and the manifesto. I still don't really understand what Suprematism is - the idea an artist is only a creator if his artistry has nothing in common with nature. That is fair enough, if you are painting landscapes/people you are just reinterpreting something that already exists, not creating something new, but I think that is how you teach people to see something they might have missed, so I don't think it is an unnecessary creation.

With the previous nature orientated and 'peasant' class of Russia and the eruption of 1914 and a 'modern war' these de naturalised and futuristic images make more sense. They are the perfect capture of an explosive moment in Russian history and a jump from one culture to another, and in fact how Malevich jumped from one style to another almost instantly with the iconic 'Black Square'. I feel like I don't entirely understand mentally what Malevich was about but I understand him by eye and by heart, and I would like to know more. That means in one way or another he has inspired me, and that is all I want from an exhibition. I also know that when I want to paint but I equally need a rest I will just copy a piece of scenery or a landscape as it is good therapy for me. If I want to create something, I do usually try a bit harder and the image usually becomes more abstract. In that way, Suprematism is exactly as it says and a higher form of perception and creativity. Malevich was obviously more focused than me....    

Friday, 22 August 2014

I'm a Celebrity....well, for 5 days at least

The last couple of weeks have been a bit strange and it started with the Butcher's Dog London launch event.

One of the Butcher's Dogs poets bought 'Plinth' (the painting that was used for the front cover) and donated it to the event so it was sat in the background propped up on a table. There were also copies of the book everywhere, as well as mini promotional postcards. This generally felt like there were bits of me scattered all over the place, not to mention the bizarreness of visiting one of my own paintings in public. Visiting old paintings always makes me feel weird, like seeing something I know impossibly well but I am completely disconnected from. I also got a VIP mention and a round of applause which was immensely embarrassing.

On the way home, I got chatting to a guy about why I had been in London and I showed him my work. I think he thought I was famous as then ensued a rather gushing conversation. This was then topped off the following week with a talent swap with one of my extremely talented friends - Margaret Yescombe, a professional photographer in London - and a photo-shoot.

So - a public showing, promotional pictures everywhere, a round of applause, a gushing 'fan' (I actually think he had just found a way to 'chat me up' without resorting to dating clich├ęs) and a photo-shoot. I feel curiously self important - recognised and unrecognised - living a fake celebrity that lasted about 5 days. Oh well, at least I got to taste it for a little while and I always like experiencing new things. It looks like some of the shots we got from the photo-shoot were gems as well so I may soon have a new photo face for all my artwork.

Watch this space.    

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Castillo Belmonte

As I am writing 'birth certificates' I might as well do another one. Especially as the reason for painting this one, is kind of stupid.

The Reason

A conversation.

The Setting

A Sushi/Japanese restaurant in California, talking about buildings to paint, having some Sake and some good food with good company.

The Inspiration

A typo, being deaf, confusion, having a bad memory, looking for a castle in Italy and painting a castle in Spain, mistaking Belmonte for Del Monte, listening to a CD that reminds me of winter, some photos of the castle I found on the internet, a half remembered conversation 6 months previous.

As you may have gathered, it was suggested a few months ago that I paint the Del Monte Castle in Italy. By the time I got round to it, I had half forgotten the conversation and subsequently chose the wrong castle. I was confused at the time as I remembered being told it was an octagon and in Italy - the Belmonte castle (not an octagon and in Spain!) looked like something I would paint though so why not *shrug*.

At least I should be able to use it for my Christmas card set this year!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


I have so many blog posts to catch up on that I don't actually know where to start. I have a feeling they are all going to come out in the wrong order as well. I need to make sure I don't do anything else in the next few days so I don't end up scheduling one post a day and then need to write more.

I am confusing myself. Let's just write something and be done with it! I am going to start with the birth certificate for Dichotomy:

The Reason

A horrible feeling that I still need to capture the grand canyon to my satisfaction and the need to paint a tree.

The Setting

Looking through my holiday photos, apprehensively, knowing I totally burnt out after painting the Grand Canyon last time.

The Inspiration

Fear, Torment, a twisted tree in my photos, the vastness of the canyon, the monumental contrasts of sky and earth, an impossible depth to portray, a multitude of colour, striking detail and blurry nothingness....oh dear.

I really struggle with the Grand Canyon - in fact I know I will paint it again, and again I will not get whatever I want to show right. I think I discovered why this is. I paint place. I paint a moment and a situation and a feeling to the best of my ability using any means necessary. I try to match the technique to the feeling, or to highlight what I want to show. The trouble with the canyon is there is too much to show - the stripes of the rock, the vast open space, the awe inspiring views, the feeling of being so small and insignificant, the beauty of it, the infinity, the depth, the peace and calm, the power. I am never going to be able to portray all of this in one painting, which is why they are all quite different. It doesn't mean I won't keep trying to show it all and keep getting frustrated. 

Oh Grand Canyon, I love and I hate you!  

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Flying South

So, the other day when I was feeling slightly fed up I did make the choice of house tidying as my raison d'etre. This was mostly a bad idea as I started halfway through Friday and finished on Sunday. On the plus side, bar a trip to the tip and a thousand trips to the charity shop I am good to go and finally have a couple of cupboards devoted to my art stuff - one full of blank canvasses and one full of packaging materials. I personally find the blank canvas cupboard rather exciting - look at the potential all stored up and ready to go, just looking at the choice of sizes makes me feel inspired. It is a bit like having a miniature art shop in my own house.

At this point - it's ok - I do realise I might need to get out more. I guess having a devoted cupboard must feel like one step closer to having an actual studio. A studio would elicit a big YES PLEASE from me but I need to be a bit richer for that to happen so in the meantime the lounge floor and a shower curtain will have to do.

Either way, I finally feel a bit more normal today so I am hoping the lacklustre version of myself has gone South for the winter like all the birds I see flocking outside my window. Hopefully this means tomorrow, when I potentially have an art day in store, I am super productive I do, after all, have ten blog posts I really need to get down in digital ink.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Ctrl, Alt, Delete

I don't know what is wrong with me today. I actually have some free time to devote to sorting out some art stuff. I am however, feeling completely unmotivated and uninspired. I might just give up and tidy the house instead, or pre schedule a thousand blog posts. Decisions decisions. Tidying the house would be slightly art related as after a few trips to the recycling, to the charity shop and soon to the tip, I shall have a couple of empty cupboards I can devote to my art - canvas storage and packaging storage here we come!


Well at least it is the weekend tomorrow. Maybe today is a Friday to forget....

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The number you have dialled has not been recognised....

You know you have had a busy day, or an interrupted day when you decide to sit down and work at 10pm just because you know no one will call you, email, ask you do something, break your concentration - the cold callers have gone to bed and everyone else is doing something 'normal' for their evening.

And breathe.

One bit of work is sorted, my desk is tidied, my notes are written up and the next few days activities planned. That is better. I feel the weeniest bit more organised now.

I haven't been very productive art-wise recently but that doesn't meant nothing is happening. Two paintings have been sold, one is on reserve and hopefully I am going to have a commission to do or at least a print to order. I also have some photos to sort through after a recent short break to Lille. Tomorrow will also see a trip to the Tate Modern to have a viewing of both Malevich and Matisse. So busy! I also still have a few architectural projects lined up to get through, so seriously, when am I going to find the time or the inspiration to paint?!

I am glad I don't have a 'proper' job on top of all of this - my brain is all over the place trying to stay organised. I think it might be just as well my brother just gave me a lot of empty note pads...I have some lists to write...

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Hadlow Tower

I am finding these painting 'birth certificates' difficult to get used to. I am trying to make them all follow a standard but as I have only written two I a) don't know whether it will alter and b) haven't written enough to remember what the template is.

I need a secretary.

The Reason (or the starting point)

Breakfast - possibly a bacon and cheese muffin, possibly sausage, beans and hash browns, I forget.

The Setting

Sat on one of my painted chairs, magazine open on the table, reading a random article whilst I eat and then turning the page over to see the newly renovated Hadlow Tower...

The Inspiration

Hadlow Tower - a shape right up my street, the detailed decorations, the fact it belongs to the English Heritage, the English Heritage logo, the buildings combination of plain and intricate detail, the simplicity of the English countryside, because I have a canvas the perfect size, and a space on my wall....

Although the building has areas of intricacy it is relatively simple - I wanted the painting to reflect this by being a simple concept with areas of detail - hence the swirls, lines. I also quite fancied sticking the English heritage logo in there somewhere as I quite enjoy the symbolism of ownership, place, identity. (I quite often have flags in the background of some of my building paintings).

That is pretty much it, and hey presto!