Monday, 28 August 2017

Camden Conversation

Admittedly my painting style is tight and controlled. For this painting I set out with the intention of 'loosening up'. Now that it's finished, it's only slightly looser than usual but at least I managed to reduce some of the detail. I'm happy enough with the result, anyway. Let me put a load of strong red into any painting and I'm happy!

My wife and I spent a week in London last year. Coming out of the Seven Dials area one afternoon, we wandered into the Borough of Camden. Two young men who looked like students walked by, chatting to each other. I took a snapshot as a London bus passed them, slowing to a stop just ahead. When I finally got a good look at the photo, I felt that I could make a decent composition out of it. I widened the space between the boys and gave the boy on the left a red jacket instead of the tan jacket he had worn in real life. This provided a nice rhythm of red and black shapes across the width of the painting.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Little Glass Of Red

It seems I haven't got my fondness for painting cherries out of my system yet.

Today I enjoyed a fine glass of red wine while having lunch with my wife Peggie at Giuliano's in Edinburgh. That inspired me to call this painting "Little Glass of Red". However, the glass I had at lunch was a large one.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Beat The Drum

I've painted these two guys, who are members of the street band Clanadonia, once before, but I wanted to paint them again in more of a close-up approach. The kilt tartan was tricky - trying to focus on it nearly made me cross-eyed! Clanadonia can often be seen (and heard!) on the streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow. They're great entertainment, full of energy and character.

Monday, 10 July 2017


OK, this isn't my usual kind of thing, but I have done a few non-objective (abstract) paintings in the past. This one is heavily influenced by the style of an American artist, Mark Mehaffey, who applies watercolour and gouache to a surface called YUPO paper. It isn't really paper, it's plastic, and it doesn't absorb paint. That means you have to let the paint dry - very slowly - through evaporation only. The beauty of YUPO is that you can quickly and easily remove areas of paint later on, which you can't do with conventional watercolour paper. In fact, you need to make the removal of paint part of the painting process to get the best out of YUPO.

Anyway, I got hold of some YUPO last year and dabbled with it for a while. More recently I took it up again, borrowed some of Mark Mehaffey's techniques and added a couple of modifications of my own. I call my first effort "Signals". I think it has a bit of a sci-fi vibe, with a suggestion of stars and galaxies, and I completed it by adding circles to indicate radio transmissions from deep space. Even if you don't get it, well, it's colourful, don't you think?

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Sketching Outdoors

I haven't posted for a while... too many other things going on, or maybe I just didn't feel much like painting. 

Anyway, today being a beautiful day, I thought I'd try to get the creative juices flowing again by doing some pencil sketches outdoors. I got my gear together and headed off to the coastal villages of Limekilns and Charlestown. Both places have small harbours.

It was great just to sit quietly on a bench, with a sketchbook balanced on my knees, working away with my trusty 2B pencil. (2B or not 2B, etc.) Here's a photo of the first of several sketches I made, probably the best of the bunch. This little yacht was stuck in the mud at the mouth of Limekilns Harbour. It was actually flying the Jolly Roger! Fortunately for me, there were no pirates anywhere about, just a few noisy seagulls. Possibly the crew had gone to enjoy a few tots of rum at the nearby Ship Inn.

I think this sketch might actually become a painting sometime soon.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Rippling Reflections

You may have noticed that for a while I've been working on a short series of paintings of scenes in and around the harbour at Aberdour. This is the fourth and last one, "Rippling Reflections". I aim to exhibit them at the Aberdour Art Exhibition, 28-30 July.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Shallow Moorings

I just completed another small watercolour of boats in Aberdour Harbour. These particular yachts are moored in very shallow water. I haven't included the shore, but in reality it was just a couple of feet to the right. The water there turned from bright blue to dullish green in colour, maybe because of sand or weeds under the surface. A fourth and final painting from the harbour will appear shortly (or it will when I figure out what it's going to be)!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Bright Morning

Like the last painting I posted, this painting is an Aberdour scene showing a line of yachts moored in the harbour. The wooded headland in the background is called Hawkcraig Point. There's an old hotel out there with a couple of houses, plus the rickety remains of a wooden jetty that hasn't been used for many years. On a summer morning, the sunlight was flashing off the water in a thousand places. I really enjoy this sort of scene.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Glittering Water

Living on the coast, I've got plenty of small harbours and ports locally where I can find something to paint. Just a few miles from home there's Aberdour, a village that once boasted a bustling harbour with a tourist trade from Edinburgh. Nowadays it's a quiet backwater but it does have an active sailing club with quite a few yachts moored by the pier, including this one with (unusually) a sail and canopy in a strong red. I was just as keen to get the effect of the sunlight on the water as I was to paint the boat, mind you. To be honest, I'm not a sailor myself, I just like painting boats and water!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Hot, Tired, Filthy

This isn't my usual kind of thing, but I've just spent the morning producing this little painting of an exhausted coal miner taking a breather deep underground. It's called "Hot, Tired, Filthy".

Fife, the area where I live, used to be a coal-mining area. That ended as I was growing up, but I still remember the old miners. They had hard lives, those men, and so did their wives and kids. Sometime soon, a festival is being held locally to commemorate Fife's long mining heritage and I decided to do this painting for an exhibition which I'm told will form part of the event.

The style I've used is simplified and abstracted and it owes a lot to the style of an American artist, Alex Powers. I've been studying his book "Painting People in Watercolour". I started off in watercolour and then worked into that with charcoal and white pastel. I had old black and white photo references to work from but chose to introduce some earth colours (burnt sienna and burnt ochre) to suggest the warm air of a coal mine.