Tag Archives: charcoal

Industrial decay


I’m doing mixed media work with Sue Rae again. Very mixed output for certain, but I quite like this, although it is just meant as a study for a larger work based on the idea of ruins in one way or another. I think this was an old blast furnace. Charcoal smeared all over a piece of soft cardboard, highlighted with chalk, a little coloured pastel and lots more charcoal. I think charcoal and decay just work together.

25 years old


This is my second fragmented nude. Sections of handmade paper pasted to a canvas and then an acrylic image painted over them based on a very old drawing. It looked weak, largely because the paper was too dark in some places. In the end I reworked and reworked the whole image with pastels, building up many layers with fixative in between. I think I am pleased with the outcome, or at least this state. It has been hanging on my wall for a couple of months before I reworked it, and the same may happen again.. The paper collage is almost invisible. apart from its shapes.

I still like the original charcoal sketch, which has been hanging on my wall for years


Neuroscience update

dsc_0547_29011559801_oI hung my paper pulp girl on the living room wall and she looked good, but really needed a frame. I decided to make one, as professional framing is slow and really expensive.

Two lengths of wood glued together gave the basic rebate. I cut the mitres on a bandsaw and they gaped terribly, so quite a bit of polyfilla needed on all corners.A trial fit looked good, with about 1/4 inch shadow gap all round. I painted about five layers of acrylic over the whole frame, looking for a suitable finish. Ended with a slightly dulled metallic bronze, which nearly matches some of the colour in the painting, but not too close as to be drab.


Very pleased with the result. I have worked for hours on minor changes. A slight shadow under her bottom so that she is not totally lost in space. I thought there was something wrong with her head. I had painted it right up to the edge of the canvas. This looked odd, so I used white paint to re-establish the canvas, where it wasn’t covered in the coloured paper. This worked, so I went over the whole picture, painting out her body where there was a gap between sheets of paper. She looks as if she was assembled from the paper onto the canvas. She is finished, and looks fine in her glitzy frame.


Last life class, drawing a scientist

It is supposed to be summer, so evening classes have ended. For our last session we had a remarkably good model. A young woman who has just finished her undergraduate degree in neuroscience in Iceland and starts her post graduate studies in London in September.

She posed superbly well and could hold a pose for half an hour, which is not easy. But this was the first time she had ever posed nude in front of strangers. She said she had been really nervous until she took her robe off, and then it just felt normal. I asked her why she had thought to take up life modelling. She said she had had a series of internal operations and she had become very self conscious about her body. She decided she needed to do something about it, and stripping naked in a class seemed a bold way of facing it. It seemed to have worked. She looked the most relaxed person in the room. She kept asking questions about how we drew her. She said she could draw brains really well, but nothing else! A remarkable woman, but she will have gone back to her studies before next autumn’s classes start.

New from old and getting down to some real work

I’ve  done a lot of work recently, which doesn’t mean god work necessarily. I have taken two old life drawings and produce acrylic paintings based on them. The first, a rear view I drew at least 20 years ago, was from a class a Cirencester College. Nearly every proportion is wrong, but it is still one of my favourite drawings. If I remember correctly, that evening the tutor didn’t turn up and the model ran the session herself. A bit lie conducting the orchestra from the piano. I’ve sat her on some rich fabrics I copied from a Jack Morrocco painting, with a Japanese vase from the Ashmolean alongside her, and Manet’s Berthe Morisot on the wall. Why not?

The other is a drawing I did in a class at the Kendrick Street Gallery in Stroud about 10 years ago. A standing nude and again, every thing is wrong with it, but I still love it. It is charcoal on really cheap newsprint and is starting to crumble away. I’ve done a straight acrylic version, using just one, wide fairly derelict brush, which gives it a nice soft quality. Curiously, I have had to correct the proportions in both paintings. What looks fine in a drawing, even if wrong, just looks wrong in a painting.


I am exploring diptychs. Basically hinging two paintings together.It gives an immediate structure to to the composition, and makes displaying the work dead easy. They just stand up on a table. This is the first that I have planned, rather than just sticking two existing paintings together. Basically the view from our garden, looking out over the Golden Valley towards Minchinhampton. I’m pleased with the clouds, not so sure about the tree.

And finally, I am back in a life class, run by my friend Mark Kelland at the New Brewery Arts in Cirencester (where I am now a trustee). First proper class I have been to for nearly two years. Starting out with some multiple image warming up exercises, and then two single poses on a rubbed pastel background. I’m very rusty.