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Showing posts from 2011

The Beetle

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Back to acrylics for this new painting, a Christmas present for my eleven year-old son Jack. It’s our bottle-green Mexican import Volkswagen Beetle, in the (much lovelier) old style of body design, though only a decade old as it was one of the last run of Mexican imports made in the retro style in 2003. Jack loves classic cars and is very fond of this motor (as I am) and asked that I paint if for him months ago, so he should be chuffed with this. I had got to the stage where the car was finished on a plain white canvas and something was lacking, so I gave it a bit more of a cooler, urban feel, with spattered and running paint. (Hope he’s too busy to be looking at my website before Christmas Day ;)

Flame koi (digital)

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From water(colour) to fire today, experimenting with Flame Painter, designed by Peter Blaskovik over at EscapeMotions. If you’ve ever fancied playing with fire without getting burnt, this is the drawing package for you. I bought it thinking it would be a good tool to sketch out (real-life) fire sculpture pieces, another creative pursuit I am keen to look into. If there are any artists out there that know anything about fire sculpture by the way, do let me know. Flame Painter/Wacom Bamboo/Adobe Photoshop

Misty morning, Swalecliffe

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A recent cool, early morning November cycle ride took me through the coastal area of Swalecliffe, in between Herne Bay and Tankerton, Whitstable. Visibility was poor, but atmosphere rich - dog walkers on the dirt track in this marshy area the loomed out of the fog which unfurled from the sea, merging into the grey sky in a horizonless vista. Despite the fog, I managed to spot my first white egret here in Swalecliffe Brook (on the left of the painting). Like a small albino heron, it stood ghostly and motionless in the water, probably on the lookout for eels. The absorbent paper is a weighty mould-made 560lb and made the merging of colours in the fog a dream, as the paper retains the water for ausefully long period. Winsor and Newton watercolour on Jackson’s 560lb Extra Rough Eco Handmade paper.

The Old Yew Tree Inn pub sign designs

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I recently posted about my postcard painting at The Old Yew Tree Inn, near my club’s fly-fishing lake at Westbere, Kent. Well, chatting to Mark and Anna, the proprietors recently, I suddenly became involved in a project to design and paint a new pub sign for them to replace their weatherbeaten version which has seen better days. The tradition of pub signwriting is a dying art nowadays as pubs are dying out, especially in rural areas and pub chains produce digital signs with little regard for the provenance of the pub itself, often renaming them too, thus swathes of inns have little visible heritage but the building itself. From a design point of view, Mark and I were keen to reflect a contemporary attitude (food etc) within this 14th century pub (Kent’s oldest) whilst trying not to ride roughshod over its significant history. I looked at illustrative and calligraphic design icons that respected the pub’s historical roots (forgive the pun) with the Yew Tree on centre stage. I drew up …

The pedalling painter 1: Reculver and back (12k)

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In little less than a year I will be doing a cycling tour along a portion of The Compostela di Santiago (The Pilgrim’s Route) -  in the south-west of France, with my brother and old art college friend Ben, a trip of at least 600 kilometers and today it was time to start something resembling a training regime. Admittedly a 12k round trip is no big deal at all, (even the paper boy would scoff) but not having cycled properly for some years I needed to set my sights, well, on Reculver Towers, 6 kilometers away and just visible from Herne Bay’s seafront. It’s an ancient Roman monument which bizarrely was only partly demolished in the 1920s. They left the towers to the front of the building in situ as a navigational aid to passing ships. Anyway, my wife Fiona is far fitter than I and regularly runs 5k or so which she takes, erm, in her stride. And she dutifully ushered me along the way with the odd reassuring word and the habit of disappearing over the horizon like a out-of-reach carrot to…

Chessell Pottery fish plate

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Last week during half-term, we took the kids over the water to the Isle of Wight, to Fiona’s bungalow in Ventnor, which is looked after by friends Helen and Frazer of Vintage Vacations. We were only there for a few days and the autumnal weather called for an afternoon’s leisure indoors. We picked out Chessell Pottery Barns near Calbourne on the island. We selected our blanks, a piece of slip-cast pottery, choosing from bowls and egg-cups to mugs and vases. I picked out a large 10 inch plate, the best and biggest ‘blank canvas’ available. I set out with a technique called ‘sgraffito’ in mind, where the paint is applied then scratched away by a metal tool called a fettling knife (just visible in the top photo).

Lettering was done by squeezing a matching paint through  a fine-tipped plastic paint bottle, icing- bag-style. Cutting through the now-dried layers of rock-hard paint with the knife was hard going, fluid, curved lines must be very tricky but mine was a relatively simple design.…
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Autumn in England. Conkers and acorns. Whilst out walking the dog I crunched underfoot this unfeasibly long acorn, minus its little cradling, egg-cup-like stalk. It was bigger than a nearby conker which was missed by schoolboys looking for bigger prizes as they clacked their sticks up at the boughs of the horse chestnut, shielding their faces as the sticks came down again, peeking hopefully at a shower of prize conkers, thudding on the wet grass, nestled inside alien spiky green cases. Winsor & Newton watercolour and charcoal on handmade Indian Khadi (210gsm) rough paper.
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On a recent trip to see my brother where he lives in Navarrenx, a Béarnaise area of south-west France, I perused a wealth of bric-a-brac that sits on the mantel piece on top of his giant fireplace. I chose a grouping of this wooden Indian scuttle, porcelain dog and wax cactus candle to sketch. It’s actually painted in the main with white gouache on Raven Black paper, with sanguine and white Conté details plus charcoal pencil.
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An experiment in combining traditional and digital techniques. The nude is drawn with a charcoal pencil, highlighted in white and sanguine Conté, then scanned. I also scanned the background Kraft paper (or ‘brown’ paper as we poetically call it in the UK), seperately. The patches of aqua, green foliage, sienna border and model’s back highlight in white were then added as tints (in Photoshop/Wacom pen & tablet). Looks Anglo-Chinese perhaps?
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My recent postcard for The Herne Bay Pier Trust (THBPT) appears on their website today. The demolition of the Sports Pavilion, which the postcard commemorates, begins this week. The original painting will either be auctioned or raffled off soon, so we are hoping to recreate the success of the recent Pilgrims Hospices Charity Postcard Auction with the sale of the painting, 100% of the proceeds of which will go to THBPT.
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The mackerel, a fishy favourite of mine, both in eating and illustrative terms, with its iteresting body pattern which I have visited before, of course. Another painting on Two Rivers paper, a substrate so well-suited for this study of the fish lying on a stone surface, as it’s rich in texture, most notable in the close-up. Note also the huge brush that I use, which I also keep at arms’ length in order to keep a freer, looser feeling to my work than if I used a tiny brush up close. Winsor & Newton watercolour on 400gsm Two Rivers (Somerset) deckle-edged, handmade paper.
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I started this painting of my beloved fish padlock a couple of months ago. The padlock is a weighty lump of hand-incised brass and is accompanied by a more golden-coloured key. I bought this beautiful piece of handmade Indian art on Ebay a few years ago from India and though I wish I could say I had an exclusive ‘fishing tackle shed’, it does appropriately guard my fishing gear in my garden shed. Painting-wise, my original, half-baked creative attempt was painted in gouache and not working at all on the strongly-coloured pastel paper, so I abandoned it. The whole thing was wishy-washy, so undeserving of something so chunky and strong and I didn’t know what to do with it. Revisiting it today, I covered the whole coloured image in black Indian ink, creating a black silhouette and started again. This time with soft pastels working in darkest colours first over the black, finishing with the highlight. I then painted the scales, keyhole and fin lines in ink and finally, acheived a good…

Ye Olde Yew Tree website

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Back in the spring I painted the above pub image on a postcard whilst sipping a pint of Harvey's in the garden of this quintessentially English icon, The Olde Yew Tree Inn, in Westbere, Kent. The owners soon asked me over for a futher pint or two of Harvey's which I duly bartered for said postcard and now it adorns their website and has also been made into punters’ postcards in a nicely rounded twist of events. Do pop in for pint if you’re in the area, it’s Kent’s oldest pub at nearly 700 years old and that is surely worth raising a glass to!

Local (Margate) mackerel for Pilgrim’s Hospices Postcard Auction

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Based on my original ‘Local mackerel’ of the Whitstable variety, I have donated this Margate version to The Pilgrims Hospices current Postcard Auction exhibition. The show starts this weekend (3rd Septeber 2011) and culminates in each anonymous postcard being auctioned. My fish will appear alongside eminent artists’ work such as Tracey Emin’s (she lived in Margate). See also www.flickr.com/photos/43044290@N06/6096327495/in/photostream  and http://www.pilgrimshospices.org/news/mystery-art-lover-bids-more-than-2000-for-postcard/   Waterproof drawing pen with Winsor & Newton watercolour on The Langton 300gsm paper. • SOLD Saturday 10 September 2011

Bandstand and pier, Herne Bay

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Another painting on Two Rivers paper of the view out to sea incorporating the Victorian Bandstand, the 1970s pavilion just left of centre and Neptune’s Arm to the right, which is Herne Bay harbour’s protective wall. And again, technique-wise, much is made of the rich tooth of the paper in creating sandy textures with earthy browns and good ol’ Payne’s Grey. Winsor & Newton watercolour on Two Rivers mould-made 400gsm paper.

Hampton pier angler

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A new painting on a kind of paper, namely Two Rivers handmade paper, which is handcrafted in Somerset, England. I am a great fan of rough, textured papers and Two Rivers has both in spades. Unusually, the water will lie in droplets on the surface (if no washes are added previously) as it so hard-sized, but this makes for a much more workable surface. The rocky surface is made for my richly-textured work and I am already a fan and will be posting more paintings on the paper as I extend my experience with it. Winsor & Newton watercolour on Two Rivers handmade paper.

Herne Bay Pier Trust commemorative postcard

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Carrot trio linoprint

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Back to printing again yesterday with a linocut of three carrots. Rather than re-trace the fussy pencil lines of the carrot’s feathery foliage from an original onto the lino via tracing paper, I painted directly onto the surface with a paintbrush. The outline of the carrot’s body, although seen here, is actually cut away, it’s just used as a guide in this context. Also, because the holes or negative spaces within the foliage are many and complex, I left the detail out so that I could directly carve these as I went along. A seperate relief block for the carrot bodies was prepared from foam board for the orange colour plate.
As you can see from the final print, a green and yellow were printed first and I was intending to leave it there, but the print lacked a certain something, so I overprinted a water-based black on top of the oil-based orange and green. This imparts a certain transparency to the black as it cannot fully mask the oil colours underneath, thus the green does show through,…

Happy Birthday Fiona!

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It’s Fiona’s birthday today and this card that I painted for her is of a sailboat-shaped bench found on the shore at Whitstable, where we sat after our first date about 4 years ago. Winsor & Newton watercolour on 300gsm Jackson’s (UK) Eco Cotton Rag (medium rough).

Fiona’s red shoes

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Our first wedding anniversary today and traditionally this anniversary is represented by paper, so what better keepsake than a homespun card with an original watercolour on it. The Langton 300gsm (rough), to be precise. Happy 1st anniversary Fiona ;)

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

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I’ve been freelancing at St Luke’s agency between London’s King’s Cross and Euston stations for a few weeks. Sitting in the sunshine at The British Museum over a week ago I attempted to sketch this ludicrously complex building in my lunch hour. It’s now known as The Renaissance Hotel, built in 1873 in an ornately gothic style. A bit of a textbook mistake as it was far too ornate to complete even just the linework in one lunchtime!

Since that day, we’ve experienced a rather typical British June. Blustery showers and wind! So I’ve not been able to complete the sketch until today when the sun was out and big, billowing clouds filled the sky. Which is far more interesting than a blank blue one, of course.

It had rained earlier today, so my previous perch atop a stone wall was unusable. So, standing up in a windy corner, I completed the painting. This stage much easier than the drawing bit. I had used a sketching cartridge pad, (Daler-Rowney Fine Grain Heavy) but it’s only 200gsm, not really…

Fish and Fry (digital art)

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A favourite theme. Following on from a traditionally-painted white ink sketch of the same subject I did sometime ago, I thought I would exploit the benefits of digital art in that the small fish representing the adult fish's scales are easily reproducible. 'Fry' are newly-hatched fish, by the way ;) Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch digital art.

Square pics for Mosaic: Skier

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My wife Fiona, a photographer, produces PhotoMosaics, personal, framed multi-image prints made up of a medley of photographs. These are commissioned by families or schools. Dotted throughout these photos are these small square paintings, representing aspects of a school or family, in this particular case, a family pastime/sport. Sometimes this is because the original image would be too fussy, inappropriate or just wouldn’t look as nice! Winsor and Newton watercolours on Green and Stone watercolour sketchpad.

Sketched in the City: Paolozzi's Newton sculpture

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A London Lunchtime sketch. I have been freelancing in the King's Cross are of London at St.Luke's agency and The British Library is very close by. This is a sketch of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi'sNewton bronze sculpture in the grounds of the library. Paolozzi based this piece on Wiliam Blake's drawing of Newton and the sculptor portrayed the scientist as part-robot in a tribute to the melding of art and science. You can see the scale of the piece by the small figure bottom left, eating his lunch. Pencil and Conté crayons on Kraft paper sketchbook (Paperchase).

Seasalter relics II (• SOLD)

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One of my favourite sea-fishing (and painting) spots. The concrete boulders and remnants of old breakers make excellent tables for fishing and painting stuff! Far enough away too from the madding crowd to be peaceful, close enough to The Sportsman pub, for well, a civilised pint of ale! Phil and Emma in fact, who run the renowned food lovers’ pub, recently informed me that I will be exhibiting here next November and December (2012), another good reason to get painting locally! Winsor and Newton watercolour on The Langton 300gsm (rough) paper. (• SOLD July 2011)

Seasalter relics I

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Seasalter, west of Whitstable is so-named after sea salt was collected here centuries ago in large, shallow, copper pans which allowed the water to evaporate after the tide receeded, leaving the precious commodity behind. These old groynes have been left behind too, pointing their battered skeletal forms towards the isle of Sheppey, to the north-west. Winsor & Newton watercolour on The Langton 300gsm (rough) paper.

Reculver rocks I

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Probably breaking at least two artistic rules in the book, this composition is split dead in half and also has a focal point right in the centre, but rules are made to be broken and it seems to work fine, nonetheless. (I’ve just noticed that the previous painting also broke said rules). A sunnier version than ‘Reculver rocks II’, but the same ‘dryish brush on rough paper’ effect for the rocks. Winsor and Newton watercolour on The Langton 300gsm (rough) paper.

Reculver rocks II

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Just east of Herne Bay where I live are the impressive Reculver towers, a 12th century monastic ruin, visible for miles around. The towers are viewed through gaps in and mirrored by, equally rugged rocks which protect the shore from erosion, the ruin is also high up on a concrete apron defending it from the sea, which used to be some miles away. There are visible linear gouge marks on the rocks, I presume from when they were quarried. Winsor & Newton watercolour on The Langton 300gsm (rough) paper.

The final print, hand-coloured

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The above photo shows the final print as it will appear in the show, hand-coloured in watercolour (the black is essentially oil-based for this purpose, or it will run), numbered, signed and framed in a float frame, i.e the print is sandwiched between two sheets of glass, a distance from the frame’s edge.

‘I love Whitstable’ linocut, (work-in-progress)

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Happy with the rubbing and looking at the linocut block via a mirror, I am ready to slip it under the press into its registration blocks.

‘I love Whitstable’ linocut, (work-in-progress)

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Now everything’s drawn to size for transferring to the battleship grey lino, I flip the tracing paper and pencil over the image. I have used brown lino in the past but you can’t beat battleship grey for seeing pencil lines.

But to get a really representative line, I use a bold permanent pen to draw in the line (as shown) so that I have  a truer version of what is possible when it is cut. In other words, there’s no point in drawing a fine line when the smallest cutting blade won’t be able to cope with it.

‘I love Whitstable’ linocut, (work-in-progress)

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A great tip to see if your linocut is looking good is to use a soft pencil and try a rubbing, albeit back-to-front. It is a handy measure of progress and changes can be rectified before you waste time with a first proof.

‘I love Whitstable’ linocut, (work-in-progress)

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My Whitstable show is coming at the end of May and I’ve been checking out what I have ready-framed in my cabin. My ‘I love Whitstable’ linocut was one such discovery and I only touched on it last year, so here’s ‘the making of’ this print,  a work-in-progress preamble. I started with a permanent pen sketch of the idea. Whitstable is famous for its oysters and is known as Oystertown. So, adapting the familiar ‘I (heart) New York’ style, I replaced the ‘I’ with a bottle of Tabasco sauce which it is served with at the Fish Market in the harbour. The heart too, is represented by two overlapping oysters, the scene Whitstable’s pebbly beach and flanking groynes. Wishing to keep colours to a minimum, I used a limited colour palette. Here I’m adding colours to the sketch at least, in watercolour, sometimes I use bleedproof professional (Magic) marker pens or Pantone Pens. I also at this point see if I can use graduated colours, such as the pebbles colour, the small swatch of colour shown outs…