Friday, April 30, 2010


I have managed to do some drawing today though and have drawn out the Death of Man picture idea. I've heard that I've not got through to round two of the John Moores competition, which was actually expected. I had a vision of its failure, but also a vision of a second painting that would win a prize. That second one is in the composition stage but that vision gave and gives me confidence that it will ultimately be completed successfully.

Now! To lighten the mood yet more! I'll post my floobfilm! That will cheer anyone, especially me. The sound was done in one go and the dialogue was improvised on the spur of the moment so excuse the giggles when I got one of the characters names wrong!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ideas vs. Production

I was in a conundrum today. First I completed the priming of two panels for my dual self- portraits. The preparation work on those is now done and they are awaiting underpainting. The conundrum is that I've got a busy painting schedule yet yesterday I had two ideas for paintings and I found it hard to resist either! I had planned on starting work on the Gethsemane painting but no! I thought I'd flesh out one of the recent ideas and see if I can paint it in time to enter the Threadneedle Prize, deadline is June the 1st.

The painting is about the feminisation of society and is pictorially related to both my underground Station Of The Future and the Albion painting. This one has a hulking male figure in darkness. It's designed to be dramatic and firmly in the romantic tradition. I'm happy with today's composition so I'll start drawing tomorrow. It would suit a huge canvas, but I haven't got the time, the canvas(!) or the ability to take a big painting to London anyway, so I'll stick to 50x50cm.

The picture shows a glimpse of the moonlit landscape involved that I quickly made up today on the computer. The drama of the clouds is down to pure serendipity. My moon might well be in front of the clouds.

The second idea can wait. I MUST stop inventing and get painting existing ideas. I've got at least four huge canvases that I've got to work on. I wonder how other artists cope with such problems!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I've had an eclectic few days. On Monday I made a short film with Sue Mascarenhas. The stars were knitted beings called Floobs and the aim of the project for Sue was to make a short film for children like an episode of The Clangers. My aim was a Clangers parody. In the end I think we both succeeded! It was my first go at film making and was lots of fun, and all done in about five hours. Everything was improvised and the soundtrack was recorded live in one take. I'll be uploading the video onto YouTube and will post it when it's there.

On Tuesday I collected the paintings from the Down To A Fine Art gallery. Sadly it was the last exhibition there and I wish Jaine the best of luck with her future ventures there.

Today I've started work on two simple self portraits, a pair called the dreamer and the dream. The drawing was completed in about an hour and I've cut the panels and given them a sealing coat of GAC100. Priming tomorrow, or later today if I find the energy. Flooby flooby!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nine Ladies underpainting done

The Nine Ladies underpainting is complete, a day early.

The poetry slam at The Cubby Hole on Friday was a good night and I read two poems. There was a large mix of poetry read out and discovered that poems really come alive when performed. The event was held by a group of poets who publish poetry pamphlets as Supplement Publishing and I bought a copy of Wendy M. Mahoney's work which reminded me of my own.

Tuesday is the pick-up day for the latest and last exhibition at the Down To A Fine Art Gallery in Stretton. Sadly, they have announced the closure of the gallery, so this will be my last visit.

My main goal now is to paint, and my paintings continue to embarrass me with their lack of quality. I must paint something I'm proud of! It's hard to fit anything in besides painting when each picture takes many consecutive eight-hour days and I'm feeling guilty at my lack of socialability towards my friends. I wonder how many painters opt for acrylics or watercolours purely because of the sheer time commitment that oils can create? It makes me wonder if Raphael or Vermeer or Rembrandt had any social life at all.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Nine Ladies Begins

I'm feeling better and newly convinced that my ailments are all anxiety related! I await the coming days for confirmation.

Painting today, my most relaxing of duties, and work on the new Nine Ladies. I'm happy with the colours which are green grey and give the picture the look of an old photograph.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Following on from yesterday, here are some heroes.

Transparent Maroon (Benzimidazalone). Winsor and Newton. My favourite red. Rich and dark in body. It has a strong blue undertone but when neutralised this fades somewhat. With black and white it can match venetian red exactly, and can become a rich scarlet with a transparent yellow or burnt sienna.

Indian Yellow Deep. Winsor and Newton. A curious transparent yellow, useful with the above red, or viridian. Sometimes mixes are not revealed on the palette, but show only on the canvas due to the ultra-fine particle size. A modern "aureolin" without the expense and blackening of that pigment.

Viridian. I prefer Michael Harding's at the moment. A classic green. Fast drying and very permanent. Let down sometimes by it's lightness and transparency.

Ultramarine. I love Blockx Ultramarine Deep, one of the darkest and most purplish ultramarines.

Chromium Oxide. Has different names. A dense pea green that looks rather drab and ugly at first but tends to look better when used, and in artificial light looks greener that ever! The only green I use in underpainting, although I mix a few from cobalt turquoise and earth yellows.

Well I won't dwell on the more common heroes, I'm sure you have your own. Alas I'm rather unwell again today, which will only make an ultimate recovery more joyous. I aim to paint tomorrow, which to me is more restful than doing nothing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


A mix of jobs today. I assembled a frame and varnished a few paintings. One was varnished badly. I'm going to need to work on a new varnishing method. My current one works fine for smaller pictures or those on canvas but large pictures on panel are hard to varnish. The varnish has to be applied very evenly or the slightest flaw is revealed.

I've prepared a board for version two of my bird orbiting a black hole, a picture which today seemed to obtain masterpiece significance! I've been continuing to write a poem a day and today's was calming and inspirational to me, and follows a trend of neurolinguistic poetry, artworks of the sort I sometimes paint. I'll enter it here in case you find it enriching too. My latest plan for these is to release two books of 200 poems each, or something like that.


I am the sun of glorious summer,
the dew of a new day begun,
the child of God.

I am a butterfly with first wings open,
the silver crest of a moonlit wave.
Master of my world,
in control and calmness.
Eyes of wonder like a new born babe.

I am the sea, in boundless variety,
able to select the path that is best.
I feel love in my chest,
for all things, and me.
I am free.

I feel the delight of a better dawn each night.
I know that everything is alright.
I am well, and see myself from a distant sky.
The world is mine and the best it can be.
My gentle smile will never cease.
I am peace.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I'm feeling well if a little anxious but I'm back up to speed after some days of rest. I spent a restful day today glazing the second Portrait of Andrew Williams.

I'll be buying some more paints soon. In five years I've used only 10% of my Winsor and Newton cadmium yellows. I'm not sure if I should stick with them or buy some of my favourite, Blockx. The knowledge they'll probably last a lifetime helps.

I've got a pile of tubes now that I'll probably never, or at least very slowly, use. I'll most likely throw them out or give them away. In case anyone finds it useful, here is a list of my least favourite colours and why.

I'll post some heroes tomorrow. First, enemies!

Permanent Rose (Quinacridone). Quinacridone magenta is intense and useful for flower painters perhaps but not much else. This pink has a radioactive glow that lots of black fails to kill. Every time I try it I regret it.

Permananent Alizarin Crimson (Anthraquinone). See Above; however this is a bit darker and could glaze cherries beautifully.

Scarlet Lake (Pyrrol). I've found the blue shade Pyrrol (PR254) one of the more useful bright reds but this yellow shade one is seditious and useful only to burger-van sign writers.

Phthalo Greens/Blues. I don't like these. The blues do nothing that ultramarine can't, unless you count staining your brush. Viridian will substitute the greens generally, but they do have a nice darkness to them that viridian refuses to bend towards. Rather useful in acrylics where a strong tint is needed, but I think I can live without these in oil. I'll keep the tubes to use as wood stain for my frames.

Burnt Umber. Simply; a more ugly brown than transparent oxides. Too transparent to underpaint with and too ugly to glaze with.

What is your favourite enemy? Sorry, who! No wait! I mean paint!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wax Cataclysm

Today I finished the underpainting to the small Wax Cataclysm painting (part shown). I want to make the frame look like candle wax. I think that Polymorph plastic will do the job.

In other news I'm now a member of the Performing Rights Society, and I've got my entry forms for the National Poetry Competition. I'm feeling like I'm not getting enough work done though! My ideas are way outstretching my output, and some are rather good. While working on them I feel I need to keep having new ideas to stop getting rusty. A painting idea takes less time than to paint one. I suppose I'll stick with what I'm doing and how I do it.

Now, onward! I must transfer the drawing for the Nine Ladies, then perhaps plan a picture for the Threadneedle Prize. If I choose to do so that'll be four paintings for big competitions painted this year. April has been good so far, even if my respiratory tubes continue to play wargames.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Nine Ladies

Today I've been working on the second version of my Nine Ladies painting. The picture is fundamentally unchanged but the figures are larger and there is more closeness and less space around the edges.

To accurately shade model the neolithic monument I made the plasticine model above, I'll be using the same model as in the original.

The ladies and the strange lamenting trees are new models made from Claydium, an air-dried clay that is preferable to plasticine sometimes. In this case the thin branches would tend to droop if made from soft clay. I supported them and used a hair-dryer to fix them in only a few minutes. The clay is reasonably solid but isn't very strong (if dropped!) and reacts badly to water. PVA "varnish" is recommended by some but I think a good wood varnish or epoxy resin is better.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Romantic Life of Rene Magritte

I had a nightmare about rechargeable batteries. Two men, one red, one blue, were fighting in a bus on fire, each strangling the other. At one point I realised that the heroic one was the wrong type of battery and should be thrown out. I awoke very hot and feeling rather ill but eventually drifted back to sleep. My last dream involved a Welsh orchestra playing the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's ninth symphony, but with a new fugue part. It was positive enough for me to feel that my immune system had made some positive progress.

Today I've been painting a simple and unamazing but brilliant picture that I have been unsure about for some time, partly because it's rather intellectual instead of personal. It's called The Romantic Life of Rene Magritte and it remains very true to the original idea, even though that made the painting of it more difficult and unsatisfactory. Here is the underdrawing.

For the butterflies I made quick 3D computer models but these were useful only for outlining, and I found the painting of these insects difficult and awkward, however, truth is more important than difficulty; and apart from anything else, difficulty is always to be sought when painting. In painting there's really nothing worse than an easy subject, and if anything the impossible should be included somewhere (of course, you will fail to paint it, which is the whole point!). Well with this paragraph I've reinspired myself. Hurray! Now that ends today's silliness! Tomorrow's silliness awaits! I'd like to paint all month but I must design at least one painting, something for the Derbyshire Open competition.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Does Size Really Matter

Today I delivered some paintings to the Down To A Fine Art gallery in Stretton for their latest exhibition. "Does Size Really Matter" exhibits 60 local artists, glass makers, ceramicists and jewellers, with a size limitation of 24 inches (that's 60cm!). The exhibition runs from the 10th to the 25th. Oh, I should add that there is a free preview on Thursday the 15th at 6pm. From last time I recall that they were very generous with the wine. Hic.

I've also framed an old picture today, A Tower Of Bees Hit By Forces Beyond Their Control. I stained the wood yellow and overpainted with acrylic paint before applying a wood varnish. I rather like it!

My ear/throat infection is dragging on and dragging me down. My dream last night involved me trying to fight off rebellious Indo-Chinese with a slow firing sniper rifle. I reported to my commanding officer that I couldn't kill them fast enough to stop them multiplying. This is one of many dreams of being overwhelmed by enemy military forces that to me are an indication of infection; that and the sore throat, full head and tiredness that has dogged me for three months or so. I need reinforcements, or some sort of super weapon.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The First Artinum

Happy new tax year! And that surprise took up lots of time today, which for me also involved updating my website with some new 2010 Gallery pics, launching the Bytten Ernie Awards, and finally framing some pictures (although I still have to paint one with bee stripes!)

That concludes a paragraph that was once-upon-a-time full of links.


Here's one of the paintings I scanned today. It's been here before but not seen as clearly. A second version is in progress.

Monday, April 05, 2010


The underpainting is done. No pictures! I forgot to take any and it's now safely face down in my drying rack and dust covered. Besides, I don't want to spoil the joy of seeing the finished picture (hum!)

Now, I have some things to design. I'll be painting at least one picture over a metre in size and on canvas so I'll need a big maul stick or thing to rest on. My pictures on wood have unpainted borders which makes things easier, but those on canvas are essentially painted to the edge. Ideally something would clamp onto the side or back.

I'll also need to design some better drying racks, which aren't as good as they could be. I need something made of wood that can be resized and holds paintings face down. So, that's two things.

Tomorrow I've got to update my website with newly scanned paintings; type up the annual Ernie Awards for and, ideally, write five to seven jingles for fruit machines, oh and photograph my Crying Lady sculpture for the Derbyshire Open painting. Tick tick!

The photo is a crowned pigeon from the tropical house at Chester Zoo. They are so tame that they walk right up to you, this was an arms length away when I took it a week ago. I've put it here just to spice up this post. Spice!

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Two figures underpainted today. These are acceptable. The relevant elements are visible for later enhancement. It's important to shade the facial features and joints on hands and feet. No harsh lines, everything must remain soft, yet at the same time clearly showing the location of these important parts. The expression, like everything else should be painted and fixed on this first layer.

In size they are about a hand span tall. It was quite a challenge to paint both in one day.

Tomorrow; the main monolith.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Frame Two

Frame Two

Well, I decided to erase and repaint the frame today. The results are awful. The photo looks much better than the painting does in real life, but I felt I had to repaint this, partly as penance for my previous haste regarding the frame painting. It's an amazing fact that the frame so far has taken as long to paint as all of the rest of the picture put together, and this is a big picture. The problem was that I drew the underdrawing before planning the shading. The paint itself was rather too thick too, due to the mars black which was practically like putty.

I'll need a sub-layer for this, that is a layer in lean media and opaque colours that smooths and perfects the underpainting. Pictures always look better with a sub-layer, but it is often the sign of failure, for the perfect picture needs a perfect underpainting done in one layer, and such things are quite possible, when the perfect artist pays attention! Remember; to a casual viewer a good oil painting looks "finished" at every stage. To a perfectionist artist every painting looks unfinished.

Tomorrow I must paint two female figures, or one. Either way I have real models but I must make them appear to be marble statues. I've done no tests on doing this but I'm sure that I can manage such a simple colour transfiguration with ease.

And now, more inspirational poetry!

Today might be your last.
Your measure in your past.
Your greatness must be proved today
to make your future vast!


PS. That dark patch in the left-middle of the photo above is a flaw in my camera. Alas, all of my photos have it. I think the camera saw "The Omen" and became infatuated.

Friday, April 02, 2010


The first day of underpainting my picture for the Tabernacle competition, the theme is the end of a Welsh poem called Ode to Summer. Part of it involved a painting, so I took the unusual step of making a computer model of a picture frame, thinking that it would make the underlying forms more obvious and the shading simpler than using a real picture frame. Then I decided to add some "reflections" to make it more golden.

That was a mistake because although it looks fine as a computer model, it doesn't look like a real picture frame. Painting it is laborious and unrealistic! So, today I spent about three tedious painting, then unpainting a shape that doesn't look very good in the end anyway. Lesson learned then. That must be a painting lesson number in the two-hundreds!