Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Quest

I'm craving solitude and peace while painting the huge Quest For Pity painting. The original idea sketch, from over two years ago! is shown.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


An exhausting day. Onward!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bust Busy Busy Busy

Busy! Finished a portrait today. Lots of sound effect jobs too which must be done and require on-the-spot recording. Also, must design and execute something large and spectacular for a new project which is secret at the moment but also requires booking appointments for photography. Finish one sculpture about my family tree. Two other large paintings need doing over the next few weeks, and the final recording of my song album Black and White which must take no longer than a week. Must also apply for an exhibition in Shrewsbury and plan the paintings for the Nantwich Festival of Arts this June, and buy the wood and make frames for three paintings. Also must finalise plans for a few future paintings for artistic purposes, paint a surfer for a friend, visit Chester again and drop off a painting in Macclesfield for the second round of judging. Phew! Well that's enough for the next month. No time for entering poetry competitions... that said, should only take one day... Yeah! Let's do it! Now to read a few blogs...

Oh, the pic is the fourth repainting of a bird orbiting a black hole. I had this idea one day when coming home on the train from the R.B.S.A. gallery in Birmingham. The vision was instantaneous. I was the tiny bird circling the black hole; powerful, dense, enormous, all consuming, vast, impenetrable. Was this the art world? Or society? Either way I was not part of it, just a tiny creature on its periphery, circling ad infinitum in the bleak vastness of outer space.

That was last year. I feel like I'm in a flock of starlings now!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grosvenor Open 2011

Been to the opening of the bi-annual Grosvenor exhibition in Chester. Quite simply it's excellent, so many top quality artworks. I've had a very tiring day and must have walked ten miles. Now signing off for the night.


An A3 colour study The Quest For Pity On The Road To Self Destruction today. It's quite a horrific picture so far. I had to decide between prettiness or emotional power and I picked the latter. The colours were assisted by Holly by Louis Smith. Its emotion is rather "Ahhh... pretty!" but nobody could deny its brilliance in execution and imaginative treatment of the subject. I've drawn out an idea for a quick homage to that painting. This demands a peacock!

Next for me is a truly "Ahhh... pretty!" painting, a plain old silent-film star portrait. I'd like to get the vocals recorded for the songs I started last month too, maybe I could fit those in one week. I was aiming to do them this week but my dull-ears got in the way. They feel clear today, just in time for a doctor's appointment (it's always the way isn't it!?)

Tonight it's the opening of the Grosvenor Open Exhibition in Chester. I'll be there. Now I have free time. I must make the most of the sun today, and indeed the most of any/everything else. Happy painting.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Sound work today. Also, a newly scanned painting, Gentle Healing In A Long Term Sustainable Way. Here's a close up of the nice garden bit:

It's really a tiny painting that I made up as I painted it but I quite like it.

For the past few days I've been waking up deaf with blocked stuffy ears, sniffles and generally a head that feels like it's going to explode. I've had this on and off for months but my procrastinations to my doctor resulted only in being labelled a neurotic and sent home. Of course I tried to fight such injustices and the more strong my insistences that I needed treatment the more doggedly I was refused. With luck this will all just go away soon and I can feel well again.

Next week I have a few options for work. I'd like to continue work on my songs but I'm in no mood for listening with headphones (fortunately today's sound effects were relatively simple for me). I might plan more paintings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Olé! Trumpets of joy resound and echo through the empty halls of dead kings and princes about to be reborn! A new painting is complete and the walls of granite rock shatter in awe at it's arrival.

Ordovician Landscape, is a painting originally made for the Jobling Gowler art competition, which was later replaced because I was unhappy with it. The Ordovician period is an ancient geological period, thus the landscape represents ancient times, but also the birth of something new, the setting aside of an eclipse (what isn't obvious from the blurry photo is a tiny bird flying free in the streams of golden sunlight). SO the painting is about rebirth itself AND so too has it BEEN reborn, coming out better after glazing than it was in the underpainting stage. Long had it waited too, since it was initially transcribed to M.D.F. in January, fermenting and seeded, ready for today's emergence.

Yesterday I painted some initial colour studies for "The Quest for Pity on the Road to Self-destruction" a painting about someone who self-harmed to gain attention, an idiotic doomed quest, a forlorn hope, but here with some salvation. This is a giant painting although not overly complex, but there are a number of options for colourations; the sky can be just about anything to convey the mood but as the foreground monolith must ideally be yellow or pink or something like that, the sky will benefit most from being a cool colour; violet or green being the most obvious. Work is ongoing.

A third painting was completed on Tuesday, Romeo and Juliet 2, but I'm unhappy with it's simplicity and inaccuracy in shadow modelling. It's an erotic (but minutely broken) arrow made of sexual parts gently pressing into some soft flesh, rendered like a landscape. Such a delicate and fantastical subject needs to be rendered to perfection. I might repaint it.

Oh, finally, my "Abandoning a Friend" painting has made it into the open exhibition at the Chester Grosvenor museum, so I'm happy about that. It'll be on show until mid-June; if anyone is in the city between now and then.

Another open competition has been launched for artists in the region; the Stockport Open. You can get details and an entry form on this website. Go on, have a go! :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Stretchers vs. Plastic

Lots of little jobs today including adding some art-print options to my website and ordering canvas. I like the TopGun canvas I painted on last week but I don't like the stretching process much. Stretcher bars are also rather expensive (£40 for wood and up to £70 for aluminium ones!) AND it seems that cracking and deterioration in paintings is mainly due to a flexible surface instead of a rigid one. So, I've been toying with the idea of sticking the canvas to a solid surface. These paintings are proving expensive now. The canvas is £16 a metre, so I thought that (the normally too expensive) acrylic plastic might be feasible at last.

Lots of options... acrylic is tough and stable and costs about £50 for about £40 of stretchers, PLUS no need to stretch, just glue the canvas on to the surface. Aluminium composite is another option, which is about the same price. Would this be more stable? Big sheets of acrylic might flex and bow. Polycarbonate is at least 50% more expensive. Is this better? It's much tougher but can yellow with age. Wood... too heavy. If I knew the acrylic was rigid I could prime and paint directly on that and ignore the canvas all together... but then every little scratch would show up so the piece would have to be perfect.

Choices choices! Is it better to go for the best and most expensive materials, or compromise? For me, I'm tending towards the best. If anyone assumes a painting is going to be a masterpiece it should be the artist (I mean, why aim to paint a substandard painting..!?), and the most luxurious and perfect bed should be made and set ready for the queen of paintings. If she turns out to be less than regal and a little flaky around the edges then at least she can claim to have a bed fit for a queen.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Sound work today. The underpainting I was working on is now complete but I'm unhappy with it. I'll set it aside to consider options. I've gained a lot of knowledge already because it's a new surface and needed a new technique for transferring the drawing and imprimatura, so something has been learned even if I scrap it and start again.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Still painting...

Seven random points:

1. Every day this month has been good. Today some new amber cycling glasses arrived (thanks John!) which make everything look brighter like magic. Also, a laser-etched brass plaque from eBay to stick on the frame of my latest painting, Annunciation. I'm wondering if I could use these to perform "cheat" intaglio printing.
2. Yesterday I made the second round of judging in the Jobling Gowler art competition. Fingers are crossed.
3. Happy new tax year. I'll probably pay no tax this year (unlike under Labour, Ed Milliband slimier than two snails having a bubbly bath in a tub of Swarfega). Thank you government. Poverty has its upsides.
4. Lots of jobs to do including some sound work and cutting the sign for Nantwich Festival of Arts. I'll finish the painting first.
5. Bless these evening headaches. A sign of hard work.
6. Top Gun canvas is a great canvas to paint on. Will be buying more.
7. Will also be buying more Sterling Acrylix Size 4 short flat brushes! These have outlasted my hog hair ones by about 10 times.

Keep happy. Keep working. The future is ours!

Now to take a look at other blogs :)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Invisible Woman

First day of underpainting The Invisible Woman, my largest painting yet. Last night I measured the width and height of a square on the monitor and discovered that it was NOT square, which explains why I've had trouble with my vertical axis when drawing from the screen. I was trying to copy something that was stretched vertically. Gah!

Very busy for the next week or so while I paint, so apologies to those blogs I'll not have time to read.

Friday, April 01, 2011


A busy day today; Quarterly backups on the computer. Laying out and ordering the prints for the Nantwich Arts Festival sign. Buying some new shoes, looking for cycling glasses, investigating frame prices, and costs of acrylic plastic (it was rather bendy at 2mm, I might end up ordering some cast 4mm acrylic sheeting online), checking the train times for the pickup from the R.B.S.A. tomorrow, finishing some sound effects, marking out a new painting idea (just setting the size really), printing one test business card for a local garage, staining the Annunciation frame, seeking the foamboard I had but have apparently now lost, a quick visit to the bank and filling in a copyright waiver so that my museum painting can be catalogued, oh and I popped into The Cubby Hole for a brief rest and a chat. Oh, and setting monthly goals and analysing the results of March. And making a list of people to inform should I move house.

Tomorrow's jobs are fewer, but time consuming travelling; to the Grosvenor Museum in Chester to enter the 2011 open, then to the R.B.S.A. in Birmingham to collect Genesis of Terror.

Primary goals for April are to complete the Lyceum Theatre project, the Ticket to Crewe project, paint a portrait for Marbury Church, underpaint The Invisible Woman, and make my bit of the Nantwich Arts Festival sign. Phew!

So, things to ask myself...

Is cast acrylic sheeting better than extruded for painting on?
Where can I get cheap yellow visor-type cycling glasses?
How much more could I get done if I had a clone or two? :)

Two areas of research I've read online interested me; that smile frequency was proportional to life-span and relationship stability (easy when you think about it) and that heavy exercise extends life span, not reduces it. Keep busy friends - and keep smiling :)