Sunday, December 12, 2010


Following on from the success of my drawing of "TonyHargreaves" which was voted " the most popular painting" at the Cambridge Drawing Society's Annual exhibition in the Spring, I am now working on an exciting and related project. The chalk drawing I did of Tony clearly touched many people who saw it.

My aim now is to produce a body of drawings and paintings of people who, like Tony, are either homeless or have experienced homelessness and to eventually stage an exhibition of this work . So far, I have visited and sketched in two centres in Cambridge-- Willow Walk and 451 ( Newmarket Road) . I have also written a short article for Flack magazine which is based in Cambridge and is aimed at the homeless, assisting and encouraging them to rebuild their lives. Kirsten Lavers, the Creative Director of the magazine, has been instrumental in introducing me to the centres.

Below are a few of the drawings I have done so far.

Sketching at 451. Michael, one of the residents was the model.

The finished drawing of "Michael" was done in charcoal,chalk and conte on a linen ground prepared with pastel primer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Painting in the snow

On the positive side , this recent Arctic weather has provided amazing opportunities for painting en plein air. It is something I have done a lot of, even in near zero temperatures. On with the thermal underwear, the furry hat , the fingerless mittens and six layers of clothes and off one goes.

What could be more enchanting than to stand painting in splendid isolation, listening to the sound of silence. On a crystal clear day, the colours are amazing. The white of the snow is a myriad of colours- pinks blues, purples. How does one capture it?

It most certainly isn't for the faint hearted. I can well remember painting in Scotland once, during the worst winter in living memory. I was working in gouache and suddenly felt the paint was becoming difficult to manipulate, only to realise my medium was turning to ice on the surface of the board. It certainly gave some interesting effects when I took it back to the warmth of my cottage and the painting thawed out!

Here's one I did earlier!

The Abbey Gardens, Bury St. Edmunds. Oils 40" x 30"

Future Day Workshops.

Plans are well ahead for 2011.

I will be running the following workshops at the beginning of the year.

Saturday, 15th January, Portrait
Sunday, 20th February. Life.
Saturday 19th March Portrait.

All workshops run from 10 a.m. - 4p.m. and are held in Barrow, near Newmarket, Suffolk. The cost is £35 for an individual session or £30 per session if two or more are booked . This will include model fees, tea, coffee, biscuits. Students have to provide their own packed lunch.

I will also be holding workshops in Grantchester, near Cambridge. Details to follow shortly.

If you have any queries,please telephone me on 01284 810 460 or e mail

Another successful portrait workshop

Last Sunday, I held another portrait day workshop. I am pleased to say it was a great success with students coming from all around Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.
After an initial warm up session, people set to work in the medium of their own choice, from charcoal or pencil to watercolour, pastel and oils.

Our model, Flo, the daughter of a friend, was superb. For the whole day, she sat like a rock, barely batting an eyelid. What a relief from those models who constantly twitch, let their eyes or their head wander. Or even fall asleep!

On the day, my function was merely to advise and offer comment, as well as do the odd practical demonstration.

Prior to this, however, I had the pleasure of doing a pastel portrait of Flo.

This portait was done with a combination of hard and soft pastels as well as conte chalk, particularly useful in capturing the delicacy of her hair.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Demonstrations to art societies

This last month has been incredibly busy with portrait commissions, teaching , and also giving portrait demonstrations to art clubs and societies.

The latter can be great fun, particularly if it is a society you have visited before. Rather like meeting up with old friends and continuing an ongoing dialogue. The banter can be energizing. I do encourage the audience to ask questions and make comments. There is nothing worse than standing out there to the sound of silence. At a recent demo, one person commented that it was actually a "performance" as well. To produce the artwork is one thing, but you also have to keep the audience engaged , entertained and amused. More and more do I find myself turning into Billy Connelly!

Above, is an oil portrait demo I did for Clare Art Club. This was done in about one and a half hours with lots of palette knife work and large brushes. No time to fiddle around. The subject was David Gilbert, President of the club. He is a larger than life character and a great subject to paint!