SGFA exhibition at Denbies Vineyard

13 December 2010

I'm exhibiting with the Society of Graphic Fine Art at Denbies Vineyard, near Dorking in Surrey. The exhibition is open 9.30 - 5 every day (Sunday 10 - 5) until 23 December.

Scribbling landscapes

11 December 2010

Ideas of landscape for the next project...

Willow Foundation auction results

07 December 2010

Thank you to everyone who supported the Willow Foundation auction, especially those who bought my painting, raising a stagggering £155 for the charity!

I'm not yet sure what the total amount raised is. But a few hours before the auction finished, the top twenty-five canvases alone had already raised nearly £20,000.

UPDATE 9 December: Just heard that the total amount raised is £58,000!

Roman Holiday VII: Largo di Torre Argentina

05 December 2010

Largo di Torre Argentina, a square in the centre of Rome. The sunken area of the right, in the centre of the square, contains the remains of four Roman temples and the Pompey Theatre, on the steps of which Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Now, it's a cat sanctuary.

Ink and watercolour on paper, 28 x 9 cm. Click the picture for a bigger version.

Roman Holiday VI: Arch of Constantine

01 December 2010

Painting in public usually attracts spectators. The good thing about Rome is that there are plenty of other things to distract them. When there's the Arch of Constantine in front, the Trajan Market behind, the Forum to the right, and the Colosseum to the left, I don't get much attention.

Ink and watercolour on paper, 28 x 9 cm. Click the picture for a bigger version.

Roman Holiday V: Santa Maria in Cosmedin

30 November 2010

Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. In the portico of the church is the "Bocca della Verita", an ancient stone face: if you tell a lie with your hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it will be bitten off.

We didn't test it.

Ink and watercolour on paper, 16 x 9 cm. 

Sussex Arts Collective Christmas show

28 November 2010

I'm exhibiting at the Sussex Arts Collective "Noel" show, at the Hop Gallery in Lewes.

Friday 26 November to Wednesday 22 December.

Monday to Saturday 10.30 - 5, Sundays 11 - 5. Lewes late night shopping event: Thursday 2 December 6 - 8 pm.

Hop Gallery, Star Brewery, Castle Ditch Lane (off Fisher Street), Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1YJ.

Roman Holiday IV: Rooftops

27 November 2010

View across Rome: Looking east from the Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi on the Janiculum Hill.

Ink and watercolour, 15 x 9 cm.

This is a fascinating view to draw. What strikes me is that there are no skyscrapers breaking up the view. The highest buildings are still the domes of the Baroque churches (of which there are many), and the large white building to the right: "Il Vittoriano" (National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II), which is 81m high.

However, everyone else likes this view as well. I could have stayed drawing for much longer, but I was getting too many spectators to feel comfortable.

Willow Foundation auction

26 November 2010

Stars on Canvas 2010 auction: Hundreds of canvas each created by a different artist or celebrity - from Tracey Emin to Jude Law, raising money for the Willow Foundation to provide special days for seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds throughout the UK. The auction is live now on ebay, and continues until 5 December. An exhibition of the canvases runs from 2 to 5 December at the Catto Gallery, Hampstead.

And it's probably the only time that one of my paintings will be exhibited next to Tracey Emin.

New English Art Club

25 November 2010

My "St Mary Axe/Leadenhall" linocut will be in the New English Art Club open exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. The exhibition runs from Friday 26 November - Sunday 5 December 2010.

More information
New English Art Club
Mall Galleries

Roman Holiday III: Pyramid of Cestius

24 November 2010

View from the English Cemetery, where Keats and Shelley are buried. The pyramid, which is a mausoleum for a Roman magistrate, dates from 18BC; the city walls were built around it. It's 37m high (I couldn't fit it all on the paper), and still covered in white marble.

Ink and watercolour on paper, approx 28 x 9 cm. Click the picture for a bigger version.

Roman Holiday II: Via della Minerva

23 November 2010

This is a good example of what I was saying about choosing somewhere comfortable to sit before choosing what to draw.

Behind me is the Pantheon: the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome, even after two thousand years. To the left, is a curious Bernini fountain with an elephant carrying an obelisk on its back.

Ink and watercolour on paper, 9 x 14 cm.

But the wall I'm sitting on faces a lamppost and a MacDonald's sign, so that's what I draw.

Bella and the cello

20 November 2010

Interesting session at our life drawing group. Both drawings are pencil on paper, approx A3.

Roman Holiday I: The Colosseum

12 November 2010

The Colosseum from the north.

Ink and watercolour on paper, approx 28 x 9 cm. 

When drawing in a new location, the temptation is to draw the obvious things: the big sites and tourist attractions.

However, the priority has to be somewhere comfortable to sit: away from too many crowds, and preferably where no one can stand behind you watching. Then I draw whatever's in front of me. This often means that I end up drawing something unexpected, that I wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

But wherever you sit in Rome, you find yourself in front of some important world-famous, jaw-dropping, historical monument.

And as a bonus, the sun shines, even in the middle of November.

Cuckmere Valley, final stage

02 November 2010

Final stage of this print, at last.

Seven-stage reduction linocut, 24 x 17cm. (Though now it's finished, I think, "Seven? Surely I could have done it in three?")
It wasn't until I'd started to print this image that I realised it makes a good pair with my "Across the Downs" print: This view is from High and Over, the highest point on the road between Seaford and Alfriston, looking north over the Cuckmere Valley towards Wilmington Hill. The earlier print shows the view looking west from Wilmington Hill, towards Firle Beacon. I wonder if I can get a view from Firle Beacon looking back to High and Over, to complete the circle.

Family pawtrait

31 October 2010

Mr and Mrs Cat proudly show off their new kitten.

To be sold in support of the Willow Foundation (Stars on Canvas auction, starting 25 November 2010).

Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20cm.

Cuckmere Valley, stage 5

30 October 2010

Stage 5, stage 4, stage 6? This print has been dragging on so long, I think I've lost count. However, the latest darker layer has been a big jump forward: the details appear, and at last, the end is in sight.

One more stage to go.

Or maybe two.

Cuckmere Valley, stage 4

28 October 2010

Another, darker, green layer. Some of the fields appear.

The tones in the earlier layers look more "correct" now that this mid-toned layer is in place.

I thought that the print would need only two more layers, and that this would be the penultimate one, but now it looks as if there will still be two more after this one.

Life drawing

27 October 2010

My drawing of Guy from Saturday's life drawing session:

Pencil on paper, A3.


Ink on bristol board, A4.

Cuckmere Valley, stage 3

19 October 2010

Third stage: A blue-green to yellow-green blend over the previous layers. The trees on the distant hills appear.

This stage looks too dark. Or are the previous stages too light?

I'm hoping there will be only another two layers to complete this print.

Cuckmere Valley, stage 2

15 October 2010

A slightly darker version of the blend that was on the first stage, but still trying to keep the tones light.

The clouds and the river appear. That's the sky finished, at least.

Chrysanthemums, probably

14 October 2010

Two hours to draw three-and-a-half chrysanthemums? Where does the time go?

Actually, some of it was spent deciding whether these were chrysanthemums. Or dahlias. Or Michaelmas daisies.

Ink on watercolour paper, 20 x 20 cm approx.

Cuckmere Valley: Stage 1

12 October 2010

First stage of a new linocut. I've cut away a few marks that I want to stay white, and then printed a blended layer from ultramarine blue to yellow ochre to a blue-grey mix.

Not much to see yet. Forcing myself to keep the early stages as light as possible to create more contrast with the darker, later stages.

Life drawing: Guy

09 October 2010

Today at the life drawing group, everyone produced some inspired work with our new model.

Here are my three warmup drawings, and a longer pose.

Each: pencil on paper, A4 or A3.

SGFA Private View

06 October 2010

Last night, we went to the Private View of the Society of Graphic Fine Art's 89th annual exhibition. It was at the Menier Gallery in London.

As we reached the gallery, I saw something in the window that I recognised.

Remember that?

The exhibition was opened by Victor Ambrus, the illustrator whom you might have seen on Channel 4's Time Team.

Pigs in scarves

18 September 2010

Ashdown Forest was originally a royal hunting ground where monarchs such as Henry VIII hunted animals. Here, we see a group of boar sent out to entertain the king. It was a cold day, so they put on their sensible hats and scarves to keep warm.

Back to life drawing

16 September 2010

New life drawing group just started.

Back to life drawing
Pencil on paper, A3.

See more at London Road Life Group.

Ashdown Forest linocuts, final stage

07 September 2010

Final layer of colour: I used a near-black, mixed from ultramarine, cadmium red, and cadmium yellow, adjusting the proportions to suit the underlying colours.

Ashdown Forest, Looking South.
Five stage reduction linocut, 10 x 10 cm.

Ashdown Forest, Autumn Morning.
Five stage reduction linocut, 10 x 10 cm.

The thing that I like about these prints is that I managed to keep the early layers very pale, which improves the contrast with the dark later layers.

The things that I don't like are some not-very-good drawing in places, and too many "Why did I cut that?" moments.

On with the next prints...

Croydon Art Society exhibition

06 September 2010

Croydon Art Society exhibition at Denbies Vineyard, Dorking, Surrey. 6 - 19 September, 2010.

Ashdown Forest linocuts, stage 4

05 September 2010

I put the prints to one side for a day or two. When they're not going well, it's hard to find the enthusiasm to continue.

At last, I added another layer.

I think the new layers have improved the prints; the darker tones give them a bit more impact.

I'll probably finish them now.

Ashdown Forest linocuts, stage 3

03 September 2010

Another layer on each of these prints.

And I'm still not happy. The second one has been particularly awkward. After printing a few, I noticed something wrong on the right edge of the print:

There's a strip of the underlying yellow layer showing down the edge of the print. It looks like misregistration -- but the left edge of the print is correctly registered. It's as if the block shrunk while it went through the press! The error is only a few millimetres wide, but that's enough to mar a small print like this (it's 10cm square).

After printing another copy I found that the error was consistent. I fixed it by hand-burnishing that edge before putting the block through the press, which seem to stick it in the correct place.

Ashdown Forest linocuts, stage 2

30 August 2010

Next stage.

A blend from slightly-darker-than-before-blue to dull green.

Already a bit worried about this one; those ferns in the foreground are a bit feeble, though they're not meant to be finished yet.

And this one has a blend from dull green down to warm yellow, which is intended to become the gorse flowers.

But I'm already a bit worried about this one as well. The background hill is a bit wobbly, and what was I thinking about when I cut that light patch out of the foreground? What is it meant to be?

Ashdown Forest linocuts

28 August 2010

First stage of two linocuts that I am working on in parallel.

I'm trying hard to keep this important first layer as light as possible. Both images have hills in the background that need to recede.

South Downs linocut, final stage

27 August 2010

A dark green layer completes the picture. Just finished this in time to show it at the Lewes Artwave exhibition.

Across the Downs. Five stage reduction linocut, 24 x 17 cm.

This is the view from the hill above Wilmington, East Sussex. The "Long Man" is just below, to the right. I'm looking west; the peak on the horizon is Firle Beacon. Just below it, you can see the steeple of Berwick church.

Dave Lefner film

26 August 2010

Here's an interesting film by Ric Serena about the Los Angeles printmaker, Dave Lefner. Lefner records the neon signs of the city in linocuts. They are big images: 36 x 13 inches or 36 x 20 inches are popular sizes, though Lefner appears to use only a 6" roller. I like the care with which they are drawn, and the saturated colours.

Nice studio, too.

To watch in full screen, right-click the video, and then click Enter Full Screen.

See more pictures on Dave Lefner's website.

(Found here:

South Downs linocut, stage 4

25 August 2010

Another green blend over the previous layers.

The greens on this layer are mixed from cadmium yellow with ultramarine blue instead of the cobalt that I used on the earlier layers. Ultramarine is warmer than cobalt; warm colours move to the front of the picture plane, increasing the sense of depth.

One more layer to go.

South Downs linocut, stage 3

24 August 2010

Third layer: A darker blend of blue green down to brighter green.

Yesterday, I was thinking about whether I should depict the landscape as it is (that is, wet and grey in England), or how it should be: warm and sunny.

Today, I realised the solution: Move to a country where the landscape is warm and sunny.

South Downs linocut, stage 2

22 August 2010

Second layer: I cut away more of the clouds, the grass, and some of the distant buildings, and then printed a blend from blue down to green.

As expected, the sky in the first layer was too dark. It doesn't look much like England.

There's a dilemma here. Do I make skies pale and grey, which is accurate and honest -- or do I make them warm and blue, which is cheerful and attractive?

What's the point of making pictures? To show the world how it is, or how it should be?

Lewes Artwave Festival 2010

21 August 2010

I'll be exhibiting at one of the Artist Open Houses, part of the Lewes Artwave Festival.

Where: 19 Mill Road, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2RU.
When: August 28, 29, 30; September 4, 5, 11, 12: 12noon-5pm.

More information on the Artwave website.