Quick landscape 

A quick small landscape sketch of a view towards the Severn from the farm just above us. Snapped on my phone and drawn this evening. A view I plan to explore this coming year. 

People can fly, in the right environment

This one had a curious double gestation. I painted a large seated nude at a life class a few weeks ago. I thought it was pretty bad. When I looked at it a few days later I realised it was awful, and I wouldn’t want anyone to see it. The only solution was the ultimate one, a thick layer of paint, all over. The only paint I had in abundance was an old jar of ultramarine blue, so I now had a large, very blue canvas. I wondered what to do, and thought it looked rather under-watery. That reminded me of the short video by the Welsh artist, Natasha Brookes, of swimming in Welsh lakes, high in Snowdonia, in the winter. The video is below, but I suggest you dress up warm and have a hot drink ready, it is REALLY COLD. But looks stunning.


Blue Hue

I thought the still from the video was beautiful, and could form a basis of painting.

It is hard to avoid dropping into some terrible kitsch with pictures like this and I am not sure that I have avoided that completely, but it was fun to try. As a photograph it is wonderful, and you can’t feel the cold from it.


The first stage was to break up the overall blue a bit. Very hard to put a name on some of the colours, and that makes it very difficult to choose colours. I just have to build them up in layers. Here I have tried to show the bright sunlight and lighter bottom area, with the deep ultramarine in between. The sun is too large and central. All this is done with a palette knife. Brushes just can’t do it.

Next, the whole surface was completely reworked with fairly transparent colours and the sky brightness moved and reduced, again all palette knife work. Constant scraping. More like plastering a wall than painting. I’m hoping to get colour variation through overlaying different areas, rather than patches of different colours.


Another complete reworking of the whole surface. The photo doesn’t show the colour variation very well. It was starting to look fairly deep and wet. I have been resisting the urge to draw fishes. So far successfully…




Natasha puts in her first appearance. This is just a chalk outline to get her position and proportions. I thought this looked so ethereal that I was tempted to leave her just like this. But I could see that her legs were too long and her hand too small. So on with the paint.



Some very thin white acrylic to establish shape and highlights. I tried with the palette knife, but here I needed to use brushes. You can see how much I shortened her legs, and the indications of bubbles in chalk. I was wishing I had left her in outline at this stage.



As she stands at present, although I am sure I will continue tinkering. The colours are richer in real life, there is too much flare here. I really should use something better than my phone for these pictures.

I think the proportions of the original photo are better, but I quite like her. But is it just kitsch? Is that a problem anyway?

Stripy pastel nude

2016-08-18_11-33-13.jpgI have produced another Degas-esque pastel, this time based on one of my own drawings. This is one of my favourite life sketches, which I have based another painting on. I am sure that I will use her again. It is interesting to work from an old drawing, rather than from a live model. Trying to get an exact rendition goes out the window. What you concentrate on is trying to make her look real, rather than “like her”.

The vertical line technique still works well. I have bought a box of 30 half stick Rembrandt pastels. These work well as they are slightly hard. Really soft pastel loses the individual lines too quickly. The limited range of colour is not a problem, as you can make almost any shade you want by laying on lines of additional colour.  I still find orange especially useful.

Neuroscience 3

I’m pleased with the result. The lines give the colour life and they stop you trying too hard for detail. I have curved them in places to follow the body, and I think this could be done more.The paper is a rough, mid-brown pastel card. I think a more contrasting colour might be a good idea. But I like her

A hot day 

This pastel drawing came out of nowhere. I had the sheet of paper stuck to a board for weeks, waiting for inspiration. Then I wanted to test a new brand of pastel, a Carandache soft pastel stick, so I just drew it on its side across the bottom. That established the foreground up to the purple hills. It was red so I decided it was a hot day in the “bush” somewhere. The rest just came from my head, with a photo of a desert tree off the Web. i like the colours, but decided I don’t really like the pastel, it is to hard. I did try a single Rembrant white pastel, and I liked that a lot. It gives the lines I want consistently. I’ll have to go and throw some more money away. 

Two more fragmented nudes 

I’ve painted four nudes now, based on old life sketches and using a collage of hand made papers as the basic structure. I find it very hard to decide if I really like them or not. I study them a lot, so maybe that indicates something. 

I adopted a very high tech approach with both of these. I pasted up the paper collage and photographed it. Then photographed the sketch and loaded up both images as layers in Sketchbook Pro on my tablet. Making the life drawing semi -transparent, I could see the collage through it. then I rotated the collage to see which layout seemed to suit the sketch best. Then I painted the image in that orientation. 

The technique worked well, and by squaring up a print of the composite, I was able to transfer the drawing far more accurately than I normally can. 


Today’s watercolour class was cancelled as the tutor was ill. We were offered a place on a portrait class which was going on in another room. I was the only one who did it, the others all just went home. I’m not great at portraits, but it was fun, and it is always good to experience another teacher. I was quite pleased with this follow on from my Degas of yesterday. It shows that your technique needs to be consistent. Her jumper doesn’t go with her head.