Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Mondaymonday : Saltwell Towers Garden


Saltwell Towers Garden
(markers in 21 x 26 cm sketchbook)

Because of the Lockdown, it's over a year since I was last out sketching with the Mondaymondaysketchers, so it was nice to return to Saltwell Park on Monday and meet up with them again. 

They'd settled down at a picnic table on the lawn opposite the Towers which didn't suit what I wanted to do, so after catching up, I wandered off to the little secluded garden by the side of the Towers. Taking a chance on seeing something interesting, I sat on a bench, opened my Saltwell Park Sketchbook, and looked around.

And this view caught my attention. It presented difficulties, in that I needed to find different marks for the various foliage - not something I'm well versed in - but I'm happy enough with what I achieved.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Another Short Walk in the Ouseburn Valley

A beautiful day on the Tyne today, with wispy white clouds high above in the bright blue sky. At last a day out with the Urban Sketchers Tyne and Wear after months of Lockdown! Last year, as my Regular Reader may remember, I attempted to meet up with the other Urban Sketchers to get some drawing done in the Ouseburn Valley. As luck would have it, I didn't manage to meet any of them and got no drawing done.

This time was better. On arrival at The Cycle Hub, I found Richard on the cafe terrace, drawing Mark who was sitting in front of him apparently drawing the Blue Circle Cement factory across the river. 

After a bit of catching up, I figured I should make an effort to first of all find some of the others and maybe try to overcome what I recognised as the growing inertia that would probably stop me from even opening my sketch book. So, next stop: Allan, who'd already done a very nice drawing of some railings and was just started on another. After catching up with him, I felt guilty about stopping him from getting on with his new drawing, so I moved on up the burn, making a detour up some steps into a little area of commercial units. I was really taken with the colours and ridged metal walls of the units and I can see me making paintings of these fairly soon.

Coming out of the commercial unit area, I found I was on a grassy bank above the path that runs by the burn, and sitting on the grass, his back up against a convenient tree, was Andy, working away at a sketch of a boat on the water, with some of the run down buildings on the opposite bank. Cue : Catching Up.

And so, onwards upstream to my favourite musing bench, opposite the Ouseburn Farm with the wonderful Byker Viaducts in the background, where I sat for a short while listening to the ducks and the running water.

Were I in a properly-established sketching regime, I'd probably have just opened my sketchbook and started on this interesting subject, but it's a complicated thing and I wasn't ready for it. Up again then and I headed up to the area below some of the concrete supports of the Metro Viaduct. 

I knew there was a couple of stone slabs there that might provide a seat while I drew something simple like those concrete supports and when I rounded the corner, I spotted someone already sitting there who I thought at first might be one the sketchers I've not yet met. I smiled at him. He didn't smile back. It took me a moment or two to realise that the paper in his hand wasn't a sketchbook but possibly a bunch of betting slips and the bottle of Hobgoblin by his side, coupled with his continued stare, suggested that he might prefer to be left alone.

I turned away as if distracted by my phone beeping, then crossed the path to busy myself with a photo of some sheep grazing under the concrete supports I'd intended to draw. Kevin, who had indeed just made my phone beep, suddenly appeared round the bend in the path and it was time to wander back downstream.

What was left of the day? Only the chance to lean over the railings and photograph a swan sleeping on its not very elaborate nest on the muddy banks of the Ouseburn, and a brief goodbye to those still sketching at The Cycle Hub.

 Kevin and I tried to get a pint on the Quayside, but the pubs were either heaving with thirsty Geordies or set up for table bookings, so no luck there. 

Nonetheless, I great way to spend a few hours away from home and hey! rediscover the art of talking to people after this traumatic year.


Friday, 16 April 2021

Staithes Beginnings

Staithes I
(acrylic on canvas, 16x12 in)

Staithes II
(acrylic on linen, 30x30 cm)

Staithes III
(acrylic on linen panel, 30x30 cm)

When I worked with oils, I always had several pictures on the go to allow for drying. Acrylics obviated that, but I decided at the beginning of the week I’d make an effort to work again on several pictures together. And here they are, with none of them finished.

And having said, "none of them finished" on various social media sites, I received, as I knew I would, several pleas to leave them as they are because they are finished in others' eyes.

I take these comments very seriously and thought long and hard about how to proceed (or not proceed).

I started these current pictures slightly differently from my more recent pictures, using a technique akin to an old technique I used to use when I had access to an office photocopier that gave me very contrasty black and white copies. The result has surprised me and I too like the way they are at the moment, but I can't help feeling that if the current state had been what I intended, they'd have been better because there are elements that look clumsy to the always careful me. 

So, I'll probably press on with what I originally intended and see where that gets me.

However, when I started this week of multiple images, I also intended to use the same imagery with different approaches (collage, mediums, etc). As I now have photographs of these paintings as they are at the moment, I think I'll use the photographs and see how I might develop from those. I hope all of this makes some sense. Do let me know if not.


Saturday, 10 April 2021

Still Life in a Cupboard

 Still Life in a Cupboard

(Acrylic and collage on board, 8x8 in)

A competition set for members by the North of England Art Club, helped me get out of a week of Empty Brain Syndrome. They asked for paintings on the theme of The Things in My Cupboard and I spent a happy hour or so assembling various objects inside an imaginary Photoshop cupboard.

When it came to start painting, I found myself doubting that the rough assemblage would work as a painting, but as is often the case, things can be made to work once you get going. In the end I rather enjoyed working on it, especially once I'd found a suitable collage piece for the orange jug to replace the pattern on the original.

It’s available for sale at £85, by the way, including P&P in the UK. Contact me through my website (see Sidebar) if you're interested.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Wok and Chair


Wok and Chair
(acrylic on board, 10 x 10 in)

Last week's challenge for Gateshead Art Society members was “Chairs or Chimneys”. My previous post showed how I tackled "Chimneys".

This week, old wok 'n chair’s got me (If I didn’t say it, one of you would, assuming you're familiar with the Hoagy Carmichael classic).

Friday, 19 March 2021

Staithes Chimneys

Staithes Chimneys
(acrylic on mountboard, 10x10 in)

The current challenge from Gateshead Art Society is to make a painting on the subject of Chairs or Chimneys. I decided I'd have a go at translating this sketchbook drawing from 2012.

As I worked, I was reminded how much I hate green, especially when set against red/orange, but I wrestled it to a satisfactory conclusion, I think.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Chinese Bottle

 Chinese Bottle
(Acrylic on board, 8x8 in)

Last week’s failed Whitby Harbour boat finally resolved into a still life. You've heard of a boat in a bottle, right? Here's a bottle out of a boat.

Friday, 5 March 2021

On the Rocks


This week’s plan to paint a boat in Whitby harbour foundered on the rocks. After gessoing with grey gesso and some scraping down, a new still life is crawling from the wreckage.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Daisies in an Alfajar


Daisies in an Alfajar
(Acrylic on mountboard, 20x20 cm)

A follow on from last week’s still life painting, this uses a lovely little jar I bought in Malaga a couple of years ago. "Alfajar" is the brand name. If you're ever in Malaga, do look up the shop - it's well worth a visit.

Thursday, 25 February 2021



(Acrylic on mountboard, 7x5 in)

This is a little painting I did recently for a friend’s birthday but had to keep secret until today. More than anything, I found the lettering the most challenging, but even the light within the bottle was difficult with acrylic paint. As well as this, photographing layers of acrylic paint is difficult, in that some layers are much more transparent through a digital lens than they seem to the eye.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Anemones in a Bayeux Jar


Anemones in a Bayeux Jar
(Acrylic on mountboard, 20x20 cm)

I find using acrylic on such small format boards and canvases, lends itself to these still life paintings. although I don't find it easy to find interesting vases or the bunches of flowers to go in them. This little jar is based on one I bought on a trip to Normandy many years ago, although the shape has been quite radically simplified.

This little still life took all week because of umpteen tonal adjustments: change one bit, another needs work. So it goes. I’m happy with the result, but if I want to continue the theme I'll have to hunt for a new vase or jar.

Friday, 5 February 2021

Paintings Sold


Blue Door
(Mixed media on board, 30x30 cm)

In Saltwell Park
(acrylic on board, 20x20 cm)

Two paintings sold and on their way to their new home in Gloucester.

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

From My Malaga Window


From My Malaga Window
(acrylic and collage on watercolour paper, 10x10 in)

Painting on watercolour paper with acrylic produces a really interesting surface, somewhat leathery in appearance, and layering up with collage papers works pretty well. I struggle to get decent photographs of some of these, however. This is the best I could manage today.

Enough night paintings for a while, I think!

Saturday, 16 January 2021



Star Beetle
(Collage and acrylic on watercolour paper, 7x7 in)

Stone Beetle
(Collage and acrylic on watercolour paper, 7x7 in)

A Gateshead Art Society challenge on “Insects” set me off on a new idea this week, but before I start on a larger work, I decided I’d try out some ideas for single imaginary beetles. I rather like these and think they’d look good framed up. More to come, I expect.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Red Locker Door

Red Locker Door
(mixed media on board, 30 x 30 cm)

The latest addition to my series of weathered and distressed doors. My Regular Reader will know of my red/green eyesight deficiency, so using so much red on this painting was something of a high wire act for me.


Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Madonna of the Pots


Madonna of the Pots
(acrylic on mountboard, 10x10 in.)

This painting has been hanging around for a while, awaiting a resolution. Somehow it resolved itself, almost by accident. While it’s not what I expected it to be, I’m pleased with it and am offering it for sale under the Artist Support Pledge. It’s £200, including UK postage. If you’re interested, please leave a comment or email me.