Sunday, 11 August 2019

Drawing solves everything


This was going to be a painting but I just couldn't get the angle and proportions right so I did what I should have done at the start and made a drawing.

I'd forgotten how satisfying it is to draw with charcoal on large pieces of paper (A1)... you can get your whole body moving with the mark-making. And of course, you can work out those knotty angles and proportions much more easily. Drawing solves everything. It's my new mantra.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

More Stuart Pearson Wright

This is a TEDx Talk that SPW gave in 2014 about the nature of portraiture and painting in general. It tails off a bit at the end but he says some really interesting and down-to-earth things about paintings being theatre and merely a 2D object masquerading as a 3D object. He doesn't have any truck with the notion that 'a good portrait should reveal the soul of a sitter', but that at best, a portrait can only reflect the mood or character of the sitter. I'm paraphrasing here as there doesn't seem to be a transcript of the talk. I like his pragmatism as well as his work. Worth 16 minutes of your time.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Jock McFadyen and Stuart Pearson Wright in conversation

Fascinating discussion about painting between two painters I admire. Set aside an hour and have a listen.

23 June 2019 at the Howard Theatre, Downing College, Cambridge.

Published by the Heong Gallery.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Starting over

Goodness me it's been an exhausting few weeks. Heavy work schedule with rigid deadlines and parental ill-health including a hospital stay meant no time, energy or head space for creative things. How many times have I said that over the years? It's getting really boring isn't it. Hence the radio silence.

Anyway, work deadlines met and the Aged P out of hospital and seeming better, so maybe now I can think about artwork.

What's become apparent to me lately is that I've lost all focus as far as my art practice goes. Looking back over what I've been working on over the last few years, I can see a series of ideas started with enthusiasm but abandoned fairly quickly. I'm aware that my domestic situation may be a factor but there must be other factors which I'm not fully clear about just yet.

So what do I always do when I get stuck? The only thing that can be done - circle back to basics. Observational painting and drawing for the time being. More head studies on the way.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

RA Summer Exhibition 2019

I haven't been to see the RA Summer Exhibition for years but the BBC have it covered. And this year's curator, Jock McFadyen, is my new hero. Hilarious. The programme is available for another three weeks or so. Have a watch.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Southampton City Art Gallery Turns 80

Jean Boswell Farquharson, Portrait of a Girl, oil on canvas

Southampton City Art Gallery celebrates its 80th birthday this year. The current show includes works displayed in the very first exhibition in 1939. Some lovely paintings, some of which I've never seen before. That's always exciting. I particularly like this one.

I don't know anything about Jean Boswell Farquharson but apparently this painting was displayed in a Southampton Art Society exhibition in 1930. It was purchased from the artist that same year by the art gallery using cash from the Chipperfield Bequest Fund. I feel a little artist research coming on...

Southampton City Art Gallery Turns 80  
 on until 29 November 2019.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Cowprint Sketchers at the Brickworks

Cowprint Sketchers had a fine old drawing session at the Brickworks this month. Good turn out - eleven of us - plus coffee and cake. Good times.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Book 3

It's the end of the financial year. That means a lot of time down the data mines - those children's social care annual returns won't do themselves.

Still trying to keep the book making going whenever I can. This one is another cog-based affair - five brick-sized, double-sided monoprints. Don't know what to call it.


Wednesday, 8 May 2019


Monoprinted hexagons folded to triangular book thingies.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Twyford Waterworks

Just can't keep away from the Victorian  steam-powered industrial heritage at the moment. Twyford Waterworks was open this weekend with the boilers stoked and the pumps pumping. A glorious cacophony of noise and smells. Beautifully wrought machinery and elegant architecture. More steam engines and glad to see a brick from Bursledon Brickworks too.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Book 2 - It's cold in here

'It's cold in here', monoprint, graphite and white pencil.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Book 1 - I don’t know where to start

'I don't know where to start', monoprint and graphite.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Artists’ books talk

Sumi Perera, Clothes Encounters (detail of one page)

We had a great talk on artists’ books from Katherine Anteney at Cowprint last month. We were given a brief history from the 19th Century to present day which was so interesting and useful. Katherine showed us lots of examples from William Blake and Pierre Bonnard to Ed Ruscha and Dieter Roth to Ben Denver and Sumi Perera - and many others.

Need to investigate these further - so many interesting book artists out there.
Dieter Roth, Daily Mirror book, 1961.
Miniature book with cut newspapers, 2.3 x 2 x 1.9cm

Monday, 8 April 2019


Actually did some printmaking at the weekend. Was getting rather despondent and anxious about my lack of progress on the current project as apart from a couple of half-finished pop-ups, I’m getting absolutely nowhere. So I decided I’m going to make a book about the fact that I can’t get going on this project... sort of an artists’ book about not being able to make art. See where that takes me.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

More Brickworks photos

More pictures from the Bursledon Brickworks. Now that it’s open for the Summer I’m trying to get over there once a week for research. Still feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all; so much of interest, lots of hints of ideas swilling around in my head but can’t see to grasp anything concrete yet.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Hat number 4

Wool and pattern by Skein Heroine, bought at Unravel, Farnham. Made as a present. Shhh! Don't tell.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing

There are three interesting exhibitions on at Southampton City Art Gallery at the moment. The first is a display of twelve drawings by Leonardo da Vinci from the Royal Collection, part of the UK-wide initiative to mark the 500th anniversary of his death. Southampton is one of twelve galleries and museums exhibiting works from the collection.

It's always good to see drawings, no matter what they're of - and da Vinci certainly provides variety. Portraits, anatomical studies, animals, children, plants, mechanical engineering and civil engineering - it's all there, with copious notes in some cases, showing the quickness and curiosity of the man. He was into EVERYTHING. 

This wasn't in the exhibiton - can't find one that was.

That's one of the most interesting things about him, along with his amazing draughtmanship. What I like best about him though is that he rarely finished anything. He left a myriad of projects uncompleted and must have been the most frustrating person to work with. I can just imagine the officials' reactions at the local council when they saw him coming with his plans for a canal system: 'here comes that crazy old man again!' But still, crazy or not, he and his work have endured the centuries and his genius is still esteemed today. Thank goodness these lovely works have been taken out of their dark drawers for the nation to see, albeit temporarily. Which reminds me that I was surprised to learn that the drawings have been in the hands of the British royal family since around 1690so he's always been held in high regard it seems.

The exhibition continues at Southampton City Art Gallery until 6 May.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

New printmaking project

My printmaking output over the last few months has been utterly woeful. I've started several things but just can't seem to make any progress. Having knitted my way through the dark days of December, January and February, it really is time to put those needles down and get on with some artwork.

I'm hoping a new project and subject matter will help so Bursledon Brickworks it is. It's a fantastic place (see my post back in August last year) with so many creative possibilities. Did my first drawing / photo taking session a couple of weeks ago and was gripped by the wall of brick moulds near the kiln area.

No idea where this project will go ut feel it's ripe for printmaking and pop-ups.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Actual printmaking

I actually did some etching last week, after too many months away from it. Got a new project starting - more on that later.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Not a hat 2

I enjoyed knitting the colourful shawl (post dated 20 February) so much that I knitted another one straight away. They are presents but don't tell.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Death bed vigil

Had a few days in bed with a really nasty cold week before last. My cats are always very pleased to keep me company in these situations, provided there's no coughing. Coughing is an offence to them - they take it as a personal insult.

Made a few sketches of them which was most enjoyable. They move more than you'd think. Also, they're both tortoiseshell so quite difficult to get the shading right. Tabby cats are particularly good to draw as they have their own contour lines. Most helpful of them. I really must put the knitting down and get back to some drawing / printmaking.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Not a hat

Finished my fourth knitting project at the weekend - not a hat this time. This stitch sampler shawl was very satisfying to make and surpringly quick given the size (something like 22,000 stitches - because I have to Count Things).

I've decided that knitting is a bit like playing a musical instrument. Not just the muscle memory aspect but also the changes in rhythm and pattern. When playing the cello, we used to call sections of fast and complicated fingering 'finger knitting'. Maybe that's what I'm thinking about.