Thursday, 19 December 2013

More Window Action - Mandela, Lou Reed and the Baby Jesus !

The death of Nelson Mandela resulted in worldwide comment and commemoration - including this painting on the inside of our studio window. I didn't want to see Lou off so soon, so the look is overlapping posters on a Camden wall.
I first became aware of Mandela and South African politics in the early eighties, possibly as a direct result of this truly marvellous song by The Specials. Take a look at

On the other window I've done a painting for Christmas based on the central figures from Caravaggio's marvellous and inspiring and intriguing and emotionally moving ( or is it just me ? ) Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence of 1609. The original is lost - presumably irretrievably - having been cut out of its frame in the Oratory of S. Lorenzo in Palermo in 1969. Again, it's whacked onto the inside of the glass in acrylics and close up is quite crude but the impact from a distance seems to work well enough.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Thurrock Thameside Nature Park sketches

I heard the very interesting programme, Shared Planet, on Radio 4 yesterday morning, which included a report from the former landfill site in south Essex on the banks of the Thames that is now Thurrock Thameside Nature Park. This prompted me to look out and post these old drawings that I did there on a gloriously sunny yet very windy day last November.
They're done with a 0.2mm Unipin waterproof ink pen and watercolours in an A6 Pink Pig sketchbook.









Saturday, 2 November 2013

Lou Reed Window

As a fan of Lou Reed since the late 70s I thought the least I could do to mark his death last Sunday was to paint an instantly recognizable image of him on our studio window: hence this, the cover of his 1972 album Transformer. The picture's had a lot of  recognition and appreciation this week - I didn't know he had so many fans in Tollesbury.
It's painted in the same way as previous windows (Advent Calendar, Caravaggio's Adoration of the Shepherds, Diamond Jubilee, Etta James), on the inside of the glass in acrylics.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Boat Race Sketchbook

Our friend Simon and his son Finley invited Gabriel and I out on their boat to crew in a race out of Brightlingsea a couple of weekends ago. The almost total lack of wind led to a leisurely and sociable afternoon, and between tacks there was plenty of time to get the sketchbook out. These are all pages from my current favourite - a spiral-bound A6 Pink Pig - and are drawn with a 0.2mm Unipin then coloured in with watercolour later.





Monday, 3 June 2013

Satta Massa Gana !

We spent a great evening at Colchester Arts Centre watching The Abyssinians a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to get some sketching action too. I showed my drawings to the guys from the backing band packing up after the gig, and got ushered backstage to meet The Abyssinians. They liked their portraits, and were thoroughly charming and hospitable, even though Bernard said I'd made him too fat ! It was a real privilege to see them live, and to get to talk with them afterwards, and to get a three-way crit of my drawings too !  These are all done with a 0.2 mm Unipin in an A6 Pink Pig ring-bound sketchbook, then watercoloured afterwards.



Sunday, 14 April 2013

Let's Stick Together

I'd thought of adding points of interest, or some sort of narrative element, to a few rather empty landscapes - but something other than a distant sail or seagull shapes. Gabriel had done some lovely pencil drawings of fish and birds of prey at home and made them into posters for fun, or for school projects. I got him to come to the studio and draw me some brents to cut out and stick on the painting of the beach at Walberswick in January, and some birds of his choice - bittern, kestrel and terns -  for the one of the sea wall near Old Hall Farm.  I painted them on in actual size in oils, the idea being that they still look like his pencil paper cut-out originals.

Why Won't You Stay ?
Oil on board   16" x 12"
Come On, Come On
Oil on canvas  14" x 12"


You Are My World

I spent an afternoon at the Essex Wildlife Trust reserve at Thurrock Thameside last November. A desolate yet inspiring location, great views up, down and across the river, and old and new industry that makes the landscape, rather than just being a blot on it..... yes I mean Bradwell ! As well as doing half a dozen pen and watercolour sketches of varying merit I also took a panoramic sequence of photographs from the top of the excellent visitors' centre, then did this painting based on some of those back at the studio. It's the view east taking in - receding from the foreground - Mucking Creek, the sea wall breached to allow mudflat regeneration, the under-construction Thames Gateway deep-water port, the old Coryton refinery, and behind all that the low hills of south Essex and the pier at Southend.

 You Are My World
 Oil on canvas   39" x 12"

Friday, 12 April 2013

New Postcards

Julie's had four of her recent fashion designs printed as postcards. They are available from the studio and The Loft, either as single cards or as a gift pack. The originals are a combination of line drawing and cut paper, overlaid on scans of vintage material from Julie's collection.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Is This Caravaggio's Missing Masterpiece ?

Caravaggio's missing masterpiece, The Humiliation of St Kenneth, has miraculously reappeared in Tollesbury. Believed by experts to have been lost for ever after the painter's mysterious death in 1610,  the canvas was found in the porch of St Mary's Church in the village last Sunday morning.
But it now seems that the painting may have been in the area for a considerable time. Local  'character' Stan Mudrise (94) says he recalls the then heavily-varnished canvas, complete with frame, being use to patch up the leaking roof of his grandparents' outside lavatory, before that was destroyed by a bomb dropped from an off-course Zeppelin during the Great War.
Unfortunately the painting has, in the intervening years, been rather crudely restored, with the features of Caravaggio's original subjects now bearing more than a passing resemblance to the cast of  'Carry On Doctor'.
Experts from the National Gallery and the Courtauld Institute, as well as from Sothebys, are expected in the village at any time. They will be attempting to authenticate, and to try to put a value on, this immensely important work.
The Humiliation of St Kenneth is temporarily on display at Saunders & Co., where it can be viewed by appointment only.

The Humiliation of St Kenneth
Oil on canvas  40" x 30"

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Paper cut-out paintings

Julie's turned four of her paper cut-out landscapes into large acrylic paintings, and they look really impressive. She'd shifted loads as post and greetings cards and liked the idea of turning them into  paintings. The first she did, Tollesbury Creeks, was painted freehand but took coat after coat of acrylic to get the depth and solidity of colour that she wanted. This led to experimentation with various tapes and scalpels until she hit on a working method she was happy with. So these are more like one-off prints - masked up and cut out and painted. Come and take a look for yourselves;  they're bold, bright and crisp and are on display at Saunders & Co.

Across to Mersea
Acrylic on canvas  36" x 24"
Tollesbury Fleet
Acrylic on canvas  36" x 24"
Red Hill on the Blackwater
Acrylic on canvas  24" x 36"
Tollesbury Creeks
Acrylic on canvas  48" x 30"

New landscapes

Here are a couple of new Tollesbury landscapes, one large and one small.
The first, 'Yellow Field', is a view at low tide looking inland over the flooded field from the breached sea wall. This really is "As seen on TV !", as it's the very mud from which Ray Winstone as Magwitch ominously emerged in last year's BBC adaptation of Great Expectations
The second, 'Lightship, Creek, Creek, Hard', is the view looking over the saltings from the sea wall behind the sailing club. The four separate 7" x 5"canvasses are framed together in a reclaimed plank, giving the impression - I hope - of looking out of the windows of an abandoned boat.

Yellow Field
Oil on canvas  60" x 30"
Lightship, Creek, Creek, Hard
Oil on canvasses in reclaimed pine frame  8" x 36"