Thursday, 31 December 2015

End of year party.

                           All Ablaze   Oils on canvas   3.5 x 5 inches   SOLD

Painted around the sides with wooden easel.

Fireworks in the sky and echoes on the beach for this spectacular party.
  Turn of the year time and time to celebrate the coming of 2016.  

The vertical format for this third miniature gives the subject some importance,
 concentrating the viewer's eye on this slice of sunset. 

The larger, darker area of wet beach adds some weight to the picture and stops it from 'falling over'.  Whilst the red at one third down shows the change from distant sea to sky.

    Touches of bright yellow add the sparks.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A gem of a place.

                        Little Creek    Oils on canvas   3 x 3.5 inches   SOLD

Painted around the sides with wooden easel.

                                  How small can a painting get and still tell a story?   

These miniatures on canvas are great to stroke can say so much and a twirl with the brush or knife will add movement.   I have painted this favourite scene many times now, large and small.  Each time there is so much pleasure in creating the image and this tiny canvas was no exception.

  In fact, there is a challenge in aiming to finish these miniatures quickly to retain a freshness and vitality in the piece.    No fussing...lay it and leave it is my motto.

There is a lushness to the sandbank and some spontaneity to the surf at the water's edge.

 A success my opinion.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Round we go.

                   Summer's Edge   Oils on canvas   3 x 3.5 inches

Painted around the sides with wooden easel.

Just round the corner from the track to the river, and this little track takes me nearer to my destination.  Because the corn is high and the track is slightly downhill there is no sign of it until rounding the corner.  A lovely surprise...the trees shelter me from the west wind and the warmth of the ripe corn lingers in the air.   

No need for great detail and a suggestion of the scene tells the tale. 
 I focus on tone, shapes, perspective and brush strokes.

Studio Musings... 

I received another new book in the mail today.   
Lisa Congdon 'Art Inc. The essential guide for building your career as an artist'.

I am on page 41 of 184 and cannot put it down!   Lots of useful guidance and information.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

On a roll again.

               Heath and Hill   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper  8 x 11 inches  

                                                   ON HOLD for exhibition

A good day for a ramble over the Lincolnshire Wolds.  This view is near Horncastle and the uphill scrub and shrub area overlooks the heathland below.  

       Autumn colours and a stormy sky, this study gives an impression of our landscape.
  My intention is not to depict tight reality but a sense of place.

I am on track for another creative challenge in 2016...already my mind is buzzing with ideas and it seems to me that there is plenty of hope for my art journey.

Studio Musings...

For Christmas I gave myself a gift of books.  If you have a chance to dip into these inspirational words I can recommend them... Austin Kleon 'Steal like an Artist' and Hugh MacLeod 'Ignore Everybody'.  

I found both books excellent reading and know I shall return to them regularly. 

Friday, 25 December 2015

Good morning world.

Ebb Tide and Morning Sands   Oils on canvas board   5 x 7 inches   

Light in the sky, sea and land.  Abstracted shapes in this tonal study.   

I have found it often pays to place the paint and leave it without fussing.  But pulling it down here and there with the brush to the bottom of the board gives an impression of standing water.  Then a quick flourish with a loaded brush or knife creates the highlights and sparkle.

A final tweak with a sharp edged angle brush lifts the beach highlight slightly
 and with a quick wiggle it drops down as I guide it to form a rivulet.  

Happy Greetings on Christmas Day

Thursday, 24 December 2015

On a grey day.

Evening at the Fitties   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper   4 x 6 inches   

I do love a grey sky...full of colour.   Colours of violet, pink, blue...even green.  One of my favourite places, Humberston Fitties holds memories of my childhood and seemingly endless days looking for shells and driftwood along the beach.

The tide was well up on this day with little beach here for Whippet to run so he stood at my side whilst I took photographs for my reference collection.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Apricots and cream.

        Mellow Ending    Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper  4 x 6 inches   

Apricot and orange...with a hint of purple for good measure.
  A slack tide with standing water along the beach for some colourful reflections.  

Another practice paint sketch.  Taken partly from a photograph but mostly my own response to the feel of oil paint on the paper.  I admit to floating off into my own world when I work. Sometimes I am surprised with the results and am convinced someone or something must be guiding my hand...wondering did I really do that? 

  Good or bad, success or failure...I learn something every time...and give thanks. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Next county.

Laneham Water Meadow  Oil on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper  4 x 6 inches  

I am in Nottinghamshire for this little study.  After visiting a friend nearby I walked down the lane to find this small stream with blonde grasses and pollarded willows along the bank.

These fields flood when the River Trent is overflowing but today 
they are home for livestock to graze.   A loose, simple sketch.

Paint sketching is my way of practising drawing.  I do sometimes sketch in pencil, pen or charcoal but I find oil paint irresistible.  In addition, if things are going well my sketch might turn into a 'finished' piece or a simple study to use as a reference for a larger painting. 

Monday, 21 December 2015


Broxholme Sunset   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper   4 x 6 inches   ON HOLD

Home, sweet, home.  The land around me glows and is a welcome sight at the end of a long walk in snow.  A return to a painting some years ago, I thought the paper would make an interesting surface.   

          Using my past work as a reference for new pieces means I never run out of ideas.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Up and down dale.

October on High Peak   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper  4 x 6 inches   ON HOLD

A walking holiday in Derbyshire 12 years ago...and my memories of this place are still fond.

I have painted this scene many times but this is the first time on paper.  I enjoyed it as the paper's texture is a delight to work on.  The day was stormy with turbulent skies but when the sun broke through it was like a streak of gold on the distant field. 

 Fortunately I had my camera with me to record the moment.

However...for the many times I don't have my camera I have learned to 'burn and store' the landscape into my memory by standing and looking.  Winter is great for mentally storing the landscape.  For example, trees are more shapely without leaves and skies are full of texture with colourful greys.  Sunlight brings out the colours on branches and shadows are longer.

  This method is very useful when a painting is not working how I want it to be.  Rather than letting it get me down I go into 'auto-mode' and draw on my stored information allowing the painting to evolve...abstracting, and making expressive marks.    I am aiming for an atmospheric rather than a photographic representation of the scene.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Colour chart.

    Norfolk Morning   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper   4 x 6 inches  ON HOLD

East coast, big skies and plenty of colour to wake up the day.
  A little study with enough personality to shout out loud.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Ebb and flow.

          Ebb  Light   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper  4 x 6 inches   

I love the ebb tide and a wet beach with pools.  Sculpting the oils with a brush I wanted to create a loose, lush look for this piece.  I think it looks quite musical.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Up the lane.

      Croxby Lane   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper  4 x 6 inches   

Looking up a green lane on farmland near Croxby, this abstracted study gives an expressive rendering of the scene. 

Quick brush strokes and some confident moves are all that is needed to create a small, spontaneous sketch.  No fussing...fiddling loses life.  I have burned many 'dead' paintings.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Once in a while.

Brief Encounter   Oils on canvas   3 x 3.5 inches   

Painted around the sides with wooden display easel.

Here is the second study of the dawn over Boontown.  This is near my home and was a larger hamlet in earlier times.  Now there are only two cottages on this site.

I only wanted to portray the sky and landscape so the buildings don't feature in this painting.  The farmland around is mainly grass with some trees along the field edges.  I abstracted the inhabited scene a little to put down my own impression but the colours were retained.

My early walk was truly inspiring and a chance outing.  Brief Encounter is the best title for the piece as within minutes this spectacular sunrise was over. I am happy to have seen it.

I have enjoyed my little Miniature Series on canvas challenge and might well do more soon.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Up early.

Dawn Fields   Oils on canvas  3 x 3.5 inches 

Painted around the sides with wooden display easel.

In summer I woke early around 4am.  Deciding to get up and out for a walk I was in for a great surprise.  The air had a cool, ethereal feel in the lane and on the horizon the sun was rising.  The colours were incredible.    There was a golden orange glow with a slash of pale yellow as the light became more intense.   I quickly took some photos for reference.

As the sun rose the colour faded and my early entertainment was over.

Now I am able to re-live the performance by creating one of my own.  There is nothing boring or mechanical when painting a second image.  I don't use the word copy here...there is no intention, or requirement to be exact.  I am the one to call the shots and free to make changes as I wish.  I am never short of inspiration with all my work around me.

Perhaps I should make a habit of early morning walks.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Precious moments.

Ruby Skies   Oils on canvas   3 x 3.5 inches   SOLD  

A rich title for a tiny study of the spectacular sunset over the lake.   This painting is part of the mini-series I have started on some simple canvas covered wooden frames.   Now I have got into the swing of creating these little souls I am enjoying my new challenge. 

The knack is laying on the paint, aiming to eventually have a luscious oil surface 
with dramatic highlights to add some punch.  The painting begins by blocking in the composition and at first the surface appears a little boring, even flat. 

 Then the expressive part comes...using a minimum of white...I sculpt the paint into organic abstracted shapes whilst keeping a recognisable landscape image.
 I want to have a miniature painting with a large personality.

 I have no wish for photographic reality and the only reference I use is an existing larger painting nearby.  By glancing at this from time to time I transfer the basic scene to the smaller support scaling it down by eye.  At no time is any pre-drawing done...I use a brush to scrub on the shapes and colours as a trial underpainting, changing if necessary as I work.

 The fun is letting this little one evolve on its journey to begin a life of its own.

There are more....

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Open the box.

Jewelled Sunset   Oils on canvas   3 x 3.5 inches   

Painted around the sides with wooden display easel.

A jewel of a sunset.  The second miniature of this scene.  I like returning to a painting and creating another edition.  Similar to the previous work, this has a tapestry of colour in an attempt to portray the brief encounter with nature's own painting.  

These little studies make a unique gift and are moderately priced. 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Take 2.

    Across the Lake   Two oil studies on canvas   3 x 3.5 inches each   

Tiny pieces of fun.  I found these simple little canvases on a wood frame in the paint shop and thought it would be a challenge to paint a landscape on them.    It was an interesting exercise to use the same size brushes as my larger pieces and certainly challenged my patience but I persevered.

I found the paintings came together when I applied more oil and refrained from fiddling.  Pretty much the same lesson I have learned with all my work.  I did have a little sculpt with a smaller brush to shape the drizzly bit of reflection and I painted around the sides to finish.

         They have dried now and the next question I let them out into the world?

                                      Why not?...they are honest little studies.

          Offered as a pair they can stay together or be given as gifts.  Special price offer. 

Here are larger images of these two little ones...

                       Across the Winter Lake   Oils on canvas   3 x 3.5 inches

                                    Frozen Lake   Oils on canvas   3 x 3.5 inches

Friday, 11 December 2015

A very good mix.

East Coast Alchemy   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper  6 x 4 inches   

Number 5 in my seascape series and a colourful note to draw it to a close.  Nature always has a good mix of colours at its disposal.  This is a vibrant painting and it was exciting to put the final highlights in place.  Confident strokes are best to bring these colours together.  

                            A combination of imagination and reality in this little piece.

Thursday, 10 December 2015


       Sunset Beach   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper   6 x 4 inches   

An abstracted seascape with horizontal shapes and bold colours.

  Knife scraping reveals the paper's texture on the stony beach and the drizzle effect of running water in the foreground acts as a vertical to balance the composition.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Stepping stones.

Sun Sparkle at Sea   Oil on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper   6 x 4 inches   SOLD

Some flat topped rocks lead the way into this little painting zig zagging towards the sun on the horizon.  The sun's glow is reflected in the shallow water with a sparkle effect.

                  I used a knife to create the flat tops and place the marks for the sun.

                                                 A tiny picture with a big heart.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Gently does it.

Sunset Bay   Oils on gessoed 140lb watercolour paper   6 x 4 inches  

Number two in this series of sun and sea.
   Swirls of colour gently follow the shapes of the bay.  

Strong brush strokes on the ground and bold knife work in the sky. 
 Touches of impasto to finish.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Licence to paint.

Dramatic Times   Oils on gessoed watercolour paper   4 x 6 inches   

Number 1 in a series of postcard sized seascapes.   A re-visit to a larger painting in my studio as a reference.   I love to paint the drama of the skies and when accompanied by water I can pull out the stops.   Somewhere along the eastern coastline this is wide sky country with many mornings or evenings like this.   Of course this is really from my own perspective as I like to add a little of myself.   Some might call it 'painter's licence'.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Being edgy.

           Back Field Corner   Oils on gessoed watercolour paper   6 x 4 inches   

Number 5 in the arable series.  The end of our garden opens onto arable fields and we have a gap in the trees to enjoy the view across towards the Trent Valley.  The choice of vertical format takes in a small part of this farmland at the edge of the field bounded by a hawthorn hedge and rough grasses.  The land rises up and then down to the river Till.  

I have painted this subject before when the crops are golden and also with stubble and furrow.  Today the outlook is quite fact I might have overlooked it but it is how life is sometimes.  The plain and ordinary has no lesser place in my heart as a painter and it gives me a chance to add my own bits of sparkle to make the painting 'pop'.

Saturday, 5 December 2015


             Wold Corner   Oils on gessoed watercolour paper  6 x 4 inches

Number 4 in the series.  I chose a vertical format and cropped the right hand side of this scene in a painting I finished last week.   This time I wanted to show the rise of the land and make use of the diagonals created with this action.

The scene is a common sight in our arable county but I never tire of it.  I can always find something to enjoy painting.  There is no need for me to search for 'ideal' places when they are really right in front of me.  

Someone recently challenged my choice of painting small sizes suggesting that I was missing out on painting what I 'really' wanted to do.  Could she have meant what she thought I 'should' be doing?   I was surprised by her comment.  I paint whatever is in my soul and this includes small paintings, large paintings, abstract paintings, landscape paintings etc.  It is not a problem for me...and I am certainly not concerned in changing my way to suit the 'well-meaning' suggestions of others.  

Friday, 4 December 2015

Return visit.

                   Up on the Wolds   Oils on gessoed watercolour paper   

Number 3 and a second visit to the nature reserve up in the Wolds.  My work is all about creating a sense of place and whilst this scene might have a departure from actual fact, I like the loose feel of the piece.  The scrubby areas and rough grazing in the foreground add texture and a contrast to the smoother crops in the lowland fields.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Turning in.

           Turn of the Day   Oils on gessoed watercolour paper   4 x 6 inches   

Number 2 in the arable series.  Looking across the ripened crops the setting sun signals the turn of the day.   Taken from a larger painting in my studio this little study was a joy to paint.  It came together quickly and the loose, expressive marks create interest.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Patching it up.

       Arable Patchwork   Oils on gessoed watercolour paper   4 x 6 inches   SOLD

I am painting a series of postcard sized studies taken from larger paintings in my studio.    This is number 1 and a view of the arable fields in the Wolds.

I am never lost for ideas as my existing paintings feed me with a variety of subjects.  Whilst continuing to explore my local countryside and taking photographs for reference it is sometimes nice to make use of my finished work.    

          Sizing up or down I can replicate the image or change it completely as I paint.  

Answering questions

I have recently been asked about painting oils on paper

Oils on paper... Is it fragile?  Does it crack?  How do I frame it?  Will it last?  Does it fade?

I hope to answer some of these concerns to throw a little light on this topic.

Fragility...Any artwork has a degree of fragility and needs care.  Damage can be from damp, abrasion, bending, creasing, or heat to name a few possibilities.  Try to avoid these.

Cracking, fading and will it last? ...I use modern artist quality oil paints and mediums in all my work. Guarantees are not easy to give but I rely on reputable manufacturers and follow their guidance in the use of their oils.  

How do I frame it?...behind glass or in an open frame?...Generally, oils like to be framed open to let them breathe and harden.  Framing is a very personal choice.  I prefer to let the online buyer choose their frame as it makes shipping easier.  Exhibition pieces are already in a frame for the show but this may be changed if desired.

Oils on board are already rigid and easy to frame.  Canvas is more fragile and requires a frame suited to the stretcher bars.  Usually open at the back, it lets the canvas breathe.

Paper supports...Oils may be painted on paper.  I like to use a heavyweight cold pressed watercolour paper 140lb minimum.  Two coats of artist quality acrylic gesso are applied to both sides.  This creates a protective seal and prevents the oils from seeping into the paper.

The gesso provides a strong surface for painting and is a lovely self-textured surface.  It will withstand a lot of brushing and scraping back for effects.  When the oils are dry enough I give the painting a light coat of re-touching varnish for temporary protection.  It may be varnished later in the usual way.

Framing oils on paper without glass...Select the frame, cut an acid free mount card the same size as the painting and place the painting in the rebate with the mount card behind it.  One point to remember is keeping the artwork safe from any acid materials.    The painting may be secured to the card first but I like to let it stay loose.  As my paper works are small...up to 30cms there isn't too much flexing and when the frame size is made to an exact fit I am happy with the result.

Next, place a thin hardboard or MDF board to the back of the frame, pin in place and display it as you wish.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Night call.

          Time for Bed   Oils on gessoed watercolour paper   8 x 11 inches   SOLD

Last orders...the bedtime nightcap as the sun drops leaving its dramatic farewell.  It was a pleasure filled hour as I used all the paint on the palette before going to bed myself.  

It is surprising what can be done in a short session.  The house was quiet and Whippet was asleep.  After a good day with four more paintings drying I went for one more shot.

                                That is all the paper used until I gesso some more.  

Monday, 30 November 2015

Crisp and uneven.

             Frosty Wolds   Oils on gessoed watercolour paper   8 x 11 inches   ON HOLD

A drop in temperature and the scene takes on a new dress.   Young crops and fallow earth are crisp with frost and there is a blue/green hue.  

I continued the colours into the sky as it seemed a shame to make a dramatic change.  As the painter I call the shots.