Latest paintings, Cancellations and ‘lock down’

Dear friends,

I sincerely hope this finds you well.
Currently, more than anything I am looking forward to seeing exactly how my Hawthorns will grow this year, and watching the birds find benefit from them.

Below are a few recent paintings, with a few thoughts on each.  None of which are remarkable at all, and I’m afraid this is how I am seeing the vast majority of my work these days.  A change is needed, something big.  Something was coming, too.


The lane into Puxton, North Somerset, en plein air.

This one was going quite well, until rain began to hit, just as I was beginning the tree.  I sped up and the tree got off to a bad start.  It then quickly poured so I still had to pack it up unfinished.  I don’t understand how the painting has no rain drops visible, except that it must all have been dry enough by that time, and I got it into the folder pretty sharpish.   Anyway,  I ended up completing the tree back home, using photos from the scene.  I’ve not completed a plein air painting away from the scene for a long time (except occasionally literally to add a bird or two) and the result is unsurprisingly disappointing.  The tree was a good one, and I haven’t captured how special it was.  Never mind.  The painting uses my 3-colour palette of Indian Red, Thalo (or Winsor) blue (Red Shade) and Raw Umber.  It’s very grey, I know, but then it was a grey day.  I like grey.




Brislington cemetery, en plein air

This is my local cemetery, and I regularly take a walk here (or did until recently – more on that below) to sit and enjoy the birds and other life, of which there is often more in cemeteries than most other urban areas.  There are some great trees here, and I’ve meant to paint them for a long time.  Well, I’ve given it a go, but I need to try again.  This was a rare sunny day in February.  Had to get out to make the most of it, though it was cold.



Arnos Vale cemetery in the rain (en plein air)

Another cemetery, still walkable from where I live, and this one a very large Victorian one, very overgrown, which has become an excellent nature reserve, unofficially.  I went out when forecast was for rain.  Often I find this’ll mean it doesn’t rain, but on this occasion it certainly did and I had to pack away the painting a few times.  This one you can see a few drops on the paper, where I wasn’t quick enough.  Quite nice marks though, I always think.




A lane near Claverton, North Somerset

Again using the 3-colour palette, and this one was my first go with an alternative Indian Red, which I’ve used since, and that’s Rembrandt’s version.  It uses a diffenerent pigment to the W & N one, and consequently is more transparent and even better for darks.  I don’t like the hue as much as the W & N one, but that’s just a personal preference I might as well get over.  There’s no accounting for colour preference in that way.
Thalo and I Red can make a strong dark, and this version does it more easily with pretty good transparency, so I’m still sticking with it.


A bit of weather at Budleigh Salterton.

Done from photos taken a morning when I visited the town to do a demo in January.  The composition is half made up, a composite of bits, so you’d not find the exact same view if you tried.  Kind of thrown together and the sky started off too dark, but although I didn’t like it (and really, wasn’t in the right mood) all through the painting process I kind of quite like it now, overall.


Newton St Cyres church, Devon

Another painting done from photos taken during a visit to an art group, for a workshop this time.  Not much to say about it really, as I feel its just me-by-numbers.  I really am boring myself with my paintings a lot of the time these days – when done indoors especially.


Cancellations, bad things and some new, hopefully good things

I haven’t posted for a long time.  I hope my output is not too trivial to be bothering other people with, especially at a time like this.
I’ve got to get this done now though, or maybe I never will.

Firstly, I am very sorry that I have needed to cancel or postpone all workshops, demos and courses.  Obviously, there was no option. [Exception: Big Sky Art/Norfolk – June – has not yet been cancelled at this point]
Thank you so much for booking with me, those who did.  I was looking forward to spending time helping with your painting and sharing the experience of spring with you.  I hope the cancellations have not inconvenienced you too much.

Secondly, I have plans to get a few things up and running.  These include:

E-tuition – which some may remember I used to do.  That is tutoring by correspondence.

One-to-one tuition by video link, (using Zoom or Skype, or something – ANY USEFUL KNOWLEDGE OR EXPERIENCE GRATEFULLY RECEIVED at this point, as I’ve yet to figure out the best way of doing this).

A new video for sale on Vimeo.  I was waiting to film a few more plein air demos this spring and summer, but the video will sadly need to be shorter now, since I won’t have the opportunity to do that.

I might get back to working on a book later in the year, too.
These things will all take me some time, especially making the video from the raw footage I’ve got.  I haven’t checked through it all, so am  hoping it’s usable.  I’ll put information on my website and blog about them once ready.


I have been self-isolating for over a fortnight already, as my partner is in the most at-risk group from Covid19, having Cystic Fibrosis.
Thank god we used our own common sense, rather than waiting for the appalling government ‘advice’.

It’s a scary time.  We take nothing for granted about the future, try to be grateful each day and live in the present.  We have just had to cancel our wedding and pull out of a house sale because of the coronavirus. We were all set to move to Scotland in May.  Hopefully the future will allow these things.  I was looking forward to an enormously revitalised painting life, with much wonderful coastal scenery as inspiration.  I felt sure I would have been doing the best paintings of my life within a few months.  It was a good feeling.
But now, like no doubt many of you, we are stuck at home for months during the best time of the year, and for who knows how long in the end.  We are at least lucky and super grateful to have our little garden area, and the visiting birds.  Here it is now; not much to look at:



But in a month it should look a bit more like this….



In some ways.  Hopefully Hannah won’t see that one!   In a few months it looks more like this:



I haven’t been painting enough recently.  I find that I’m not inclined to paint for myself unless my mind is in a particular state, which has been lacking.  I hope you are fairing better.  Also, I suppose to be fair it has been winter, so plein air opportunities are obviously slimmer.

I’ve had many ideas of things to write about on the blog, but sometimes there’s too much, and then I tend to say nothing because just a bit will not do.  Other times I have just been too full of negativity, given the state of life on Earth.
Anyway, I know you’ll agree there are more important things than a blog post.
I hope your own art will give you some uplift through these times.  I’ll be back soon, provided I find something positive to say/show.

Meantime, I think this gives an insight into where I am these days.  Joe Solo.  I recommend buying his entire back catalogue from bandcamp, which he allows at an absurdly low price, but that’s Joe.  Listening to Joe’s output has almost single handedly kept me going since a friend sent me a link to a song of his, last Autumn.  For me, the find of the decade.  If you are of a different political persuasion, you will want to stay away.  If you investigate a little, you’ll discover there’s a lot more than this to Joe Solo.

Very best wishes,




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