Doreen (Granny)

Doreen (Granny). Its been a while since I uploaded any of my work so here is one of my personal favourites from my archives. This one was done in Bristol when she visited Lesley and I in the 1980s. It's a large pencil sketch on heavy water colour paper. We will all be thinking about our dearly loved and sadly lost 'head' of the family this Christmas and remembering her exceptional warmth and good cheer - and of course her prodigious festive cooking. 


Tales from an old sketchbook/3

Tales from an old sketchbook/3 is the third of a short series done in 1978. Oil pastel and pencil on paper this one is based on a number as the starting point.


Tales from an old sketchbook/2

Tales from an old sketchbook/2 is another page from an early sketchbook. Done in oil pastel and pencil on A4 white medium paper, this is the head of a man seen through memory. The process involves the careful building up of layers of oil in wax then removing and reworking the surface.


Tales from an old sketchbook/1

Tales from an old sketchbook/1 is an A4 oil pastel on paper landscape. I have had quite a clean-up in the house and found some old sketchbooks - this is from 1978. I like the way the edges of the paper have become marked over the years of storage and somehow add to the picture. I will publish images from these old sketchbooks over the coming months.


On the Beach 2006

On the Beach 2006 is an A4 drawing in pencil and ink on white cartridge paper. People in their mid years have related this to their family holidays from childhood. Curious.


An Event (series)

An Event (series) is one of the many pictures created around a sense of an event about to happen or that has just passed leaving the viewer to figure out the details of what might have been or may be to come. This version is a very large oil painting on canvas done a long time ago but still feeding my imagination.


Rod and His Genie 2

Rod and His Genie 2 is a smallish oil on canvas painting developed from the first 'genie' picture featured earlier on this blog site (see January 2008). It's me having some more fun with an old friend (at his expense of course). This time Rod's 'genie' girlfriend appears any time he fancies a cuppa - she lives in his tea caddy in the kitchen. Rod has a particular fondness of tea.



Gilles - a small pencil drawing. One of numerous studies for a large oil-on-board painting based on a Watteau painting.


Goya enters the event

Goya enters the Event is a small detail from a large oil painting on canvas from my long running Event series. These Events are built up over time from memories and a wide range of visual stimuli sources that gradually find their narrative. This picture making process is, I suppose, the story writing phase of creating each Event. I like to leave it up to the viewer to interpret the story or stories that are suggested on the canvas and to form their own imaginings - in a way its a bit like the freedom of reading a book when your visual imagination allows you to hold a unique picture of that book, almost independent of the picture in the authors mind.


Two for the price of One?

Old Man, Antwerp (above) is a very small pencil drawing on soft yellowed paper. It was done from memory of seeing a group congregated on a street corner near the railway station in Antwerp about two years ago. For some reason when shown in an exhibition and when people see prints of this innocent study everyone seems to react very strongly (fortunately in a positve way) towards the image. Then I found an image (below) drawn from a Watteau painting that I had done as a study for a large oil painting almost 30 years ago (yes I am that old)....

I was amazed at the cycle of experience it suggested and wonder if what motivated me to draw the man in Antwerp was somehow prompted by my earlier drawing? One can only ponder but it is a beguiling thought when you wonder about the process of making images. Well I thought the images are linked even if you may not see it that way!


Yellow Cat 2008

Yellow Cat 2008 is another variation from the Cat series. The series has been produced over a period of some years. See previous blog postings.

Violet Cat 2008

Violet Cat 2008 is a small study in oil pastel on textured coloured paper. A variation on the original line drawing done some years ago of one of our cats.


Fireplace Fragments 3

Fireplace Fragments 3
is one of the series described in the preceding two posts on this blogsite. A series of small drawings in pencil, graphite and colour on cartridge paper.

Fireplace Fragments 2

Fireplace Fragments 2 is one from the series described in the preceding posting. A series of small drawings in pencil, graphite and colour on cartridge paper.

Fireplace Fragments 1

Fireplace Fragments is a series of small drawings that collectively form a nearly lifesize image of one of our old fireplaces in Bristol. I remember the flat where we lived was not heated and so we borrowed Doreen's old tin parrafin heater. The smell of mothballs from the pellets used to combat the parrafin fumes and the huge amounts of water vapour that condensed on all the windows still fill my mind with horror! The heater was a very interesting design and colour and so it became the focal point of this series. I will include a few more from the series in the next few postings to my blog.


My Mother

My Mother is an A3 sized mixed media image mostly watercolour, pencil, colour pencil, pen, gold paint, cut outs and glue. The small photo when Mom was young (in the background) is in stark contrast to the photo I took of her when I was in my mid twenties. Mom was extremely reflective and was quick to criticise herself and others. She always said she was only really happy in her younger days though I also have many happy and fond memories of her. I too am represented in the picture as a column on the left of the picture as you look at it. I have used this photo that I took of Mom many times as her deeply etched face seems to say many things.


The Gold Cat

The Gold Cat is about the elegance of movement and form of our furry friends that is highlighted by putting all the 'detail' in the edge of the shape, where one shape meets another. I also wanted to play around with the negative and positive dynamic to see if this enhanced the qualities of our, now sadly long departed, friend. It is made with gold paint and pencil on hard white paper.


Urbino (revisited)

Urbino (revisited) is an A3-sized rambling in pencil and graphite on white paper. The image was also treated very gently in Photoshop to tease out other qualities, following my nose as the image changed. I like to play with my favourite painters creations, trying to bring them into my lifetime and see where they take me. Here I have returned to one of my all time heroes, Titian.


The First Nightmare

The First Nightmare is one of the more developed studies for the graphic novel I am currently working on with Sid Smith. This image is in pen, pencil and graphite on white medium grade surface paper. The image follows the outline supplied as text by Sid. We are trying to keep the spontanaeity as strong and fresh as possible, so his words give a framework, but more importantly a lift-off point for my images (in much the same way, I guess, that most readers respond to words with scenes in their mind that may differ from those in the mind of the writer). Similarly the images then hopefully spark Sid's imagination when he writes the next sequence of events in a hoped for equal process between writer and illustrator.


Mr and Mrs Cannaby 4

Mr and Mrs Cannaby 4 is a small (1/3rd A4) version of a larger work done on comission late last year. I was, as ever, intrigued by the relationship between people and people and their chosen special objects and of the memories and messages they give out. I was also interested in the 16:9 ratio (roughly) that has come to dominate our view of the world hence the stretched layout here.


Self Portrait in green and yellow 2006

Self Portrait in green and yellow is a straightforward study mainly in watercolour on medium paper with emphases in pencil and pen; the image is roughly A3 size. It was done without preliminary studies. At the time I was doing a lot of thinking about what I wanted to do with the next stage of my life...the jury is still out of course but I am devoting more time to my artwork than for many years which feels right.


One hand two heads

One Hand Two Heads is a small pencil drawing on yellowed paper. It is from the same series as Twisted. The words were 'in flux' and this prompted two figures to present themselves. I don't know (yet) who the hand represents - is it a third character or does it belong to one of the two figures in the picture? This is a story still in the making.


Room, Study 2006

Room, Study 2006 is just that - a study. This is a pencil drawing on medium white cartridge paper that is almost purely about the sense of space and of light, using tone and line and the interplay of intercutting and overlapping shapes. I enjoy these 'quiet' exercises as they can tone up your eye and your sensitivity - its a bit like going to the gym I suppose. Also the ease of the medium allows you to enjoy aspects such as composition quite spontaneously so you can almost walk through the space as you draw, picking up ideas for future reference.



Speechless is one of the drawings from the same series as Twisted (see previous posting below). The word this time was, of course, 'speechless' and the feeling was 'uncertainty, confidence'. It reminds me of those African sculpture heads that so intrigued Picasso leading to his Les Demoiselles d'Avignon - though I hesitate to link myself to an artist as great as Picasso, but he has been and is so inspirational for me particularly when my confidence evaporates. Whether we like their work or not, artists like Picasso encourage us to be free in our method of expression and to respect that freedom whilst developing skill and discipline.



Twisted is a small pencil drawing on yellowed paper from 2006. This is from a long running and continuing series of explorations prompted by a word or a few words (in this case 'trust') coupled with a feeling that then literally generates an image by way of my hand being guided purely by instinct - as far as is possible. Sounds a bit contrived when explained like this (i.e. clumsy words) perhaps, but that could not be further from the truth. Instinct is intrinsically honest and with discipline memory and visual laziness does not taint the image. The image that emerges sometimes takes my mind full circle back to words prompted by the image and here those words were: "There are times when you cannot even trust yourself".


Self portrait as a tarnished angel

Self portrait as a tarnished angel is in oil pastel, oil paint, pen and pencil on board. It is about A3 in size. Based on an earlier, more straight forward drawing, this was done in Bristol some years ago. I was trying to allow my minds eye to follow the details of my face and figure with as much autonomy as possible to see what is really there - a spirit if you will. I began this exploration, letting my minds eye or inner eye freedom to 'see' the reality or the possibilities, in the late 1970s/80s . I still do this today and I believe that I see more 'clearly' now than ever before.


Self looking down

Self (looking down) is one of many self portraits done regularly over the years. I think my first serious self portrait was when I was 16 or 17 years old. The one shown here is, for me, a typical line drawing using a soft pencil on A3 medium surface paper. Line has such immense power yet appears to use very modest means. This is deceptive as line can be varied to such an extent that it conveys depth, tone, surface properties, light and shade, and, sometimes even colour can be implied by the graphite in the pencil. Yet for all this virtuosity the line of a pencil always maintains a sense of understatement that gives a drawing breath and intimacy. It is also immediate in terms of execution which helps to minimise the distraction between observation and imagination, that is, line retains a high sense of integrity and honesty.


Protoype Image 1

Prototype Image 1 is one of a series of prototype images for my current adventure with creative partner Sid Smith. We are building a graphic novel. Work started on this project in the autumn of 2007 and it is progressing well. The style of imagery has now more or less been agreed. The images are produced on paper using graphite, ink and pencil. Each image is no bigger than A4. Sid and I jointly research for image source materials and ideas. Clicking on this image enlarges it so you can see the texture and marks that help create the atmosphere of the scene. Our story is developing well and images are being produced regularly. There is a link on this blog if you want to see more images from the novel. The working title is 'A Scent of Cinnamon' - see link below in the right hand column.


In Between

In Between is a large oil painting on canvas, approximately six by four feet. It was painted from life after several studies and sittings. The figure is my father who at the time was recovering from serious heart problems and heart surgery. I wanted to create a sense of slipping and tension but also to suggest more than one way out of the of the situation. Details such as one foot on the floor whilst the other touches the table/map, that is tipped up almost parallel with the picture surface, are important to what I was trying to express. I also wanted to leave the scene fairly sparse but at the same time fill the space. Despite a seemingly clear concept in my mind when creating the picture, a lot of the story ('on and off stage' as it were) developed intuitively during the making. Though my Father was agreeable to being the subject he told me later that he found the completed picture too close for comfort in his situation.


Family Portrait 2006

Family Portrait is a large drawing on rough surface paper using pen, oil pastel, pen, ink, pencil, watercolour pencil. The shoes each represent one of our three children. Shoes are one of those items that quickly assume the identity of the wearer and as time passes the identity of the wearer becomes stronger and more vivid in their shoes. They harbour their own memories and sentiment. Many artists from Van Gogh to Emin recognise this process in their clothing and personal belongings. I too am fascinated by the way our seemingly inaminate posessions become as much a part of the person who owns them as say the way their hair changes over the years. I am currently interested in how other possesions with less maleable material may also acquire this relationship with their owner.


Rod and His Genie

Rod and His Genie is an oil painting of an old friend done some years ago. It is based on observation enhanced by imagination - imagination that itself is based on my understanding of Rod. The sense of humour is very important in this picture reflecting Rod's own sense of humour. Rod is sitting in his bedsit in Bristol with one of his "women" in this case a genie that appears whenever Rod feels the need for company by simply switching on his kettle - then out of the mists of steam she appears, ever reliable. I never saw Rod with a girlfriend at that time and this was my way of helping him out at the time! There are several versions of this picture and preparatory sketches. As far as I know Rod still has this picture. He is happily married now with children so I guess the kettle is gathering dust in his loft! The picture is quite small, about 60x40cm.



Partners, graphite on yellowed paper, shows two personalities that decided to appear from somewhere in my memory and imagination. This drawing initially emerged out of thoughts about time and distance in relationships. As is often the way with my work, when I started letting the image come out it found its own story independent of my original thinking but its hugely interesting when that happens! In the last few years this is mostly how my creative process works when conceiving an image. I am also interested in how putting two "figures" together inside a frame invariably creates its own narrative different for everyone who looks at the image. This drawing is quite small measuring about 20x15cms but in my minds eye it is a large image. It was created in 2006.