Work In Progress

Further to previous posts, here’s how far I’d got with this painting, as of 11pm last night. The flat white painting, which took HOURS to achieve, just wasn’t working. It looked too much like a ‘painting’. “But it is a painting, you twat”, says a voice and, as usual, I don’t listen to it. I’m after a very specific atmosphere, an image that opens up a vault of memories and sensations, and realised that what I needed was a flat winter Pennine sky, leaden and oppresive. The kind of sky under which Branwell Bronte went mad. After a full day painting nothing but layer upon layer of pale grey, it’s now done and I can finally crack on with the bird and the stones.

Work In Progress

Further to previous posts, here’s as far as I’d got with the current painting, as of yesterday evening. It’s amazing how much I can get done when I’m not shackled to a desk fiddling about with spreadsheets. I’m hoping to finish the bird before I go back to work next week, and then it will be all the insanely fine detail on the stones, painted in what hours I can salvage from each day.


My 2014 painting, ‘Christmas On Earth’. One of the last paintings I sold, back in 2018. This is supposedly the time to look back on reflect on the year now winding down to its end, but I prefer to look ahead. Yes, the prospect of 5 years of the current government is a spectacularly grim one. Yes, the whole world is going to shit. But I’ve never been able to completely give up hope. I remain optimistic, because in that state of mind, potential solutions and ways forward present themselves, whereas a pessimistic outlook assumes that all action is futile, and that no matter what we do we’re doomed. We may well be doomed, but in the meantime, there’s things to be done so, as Henry Rollins reminds us:

No such thing as spare time.
No such thing as free time.
No such thing as down time.
All you’ve got is life time.


Work In Progress

Further to previous posts, this is how far I’d got as of Sunday evening. An entire day spent painting a white sky. As the undercoat was a pale brown matt emulsion matchpot, it took multiple layers of paint to achieve the blinding white finish I was after. And it is indeed blinding. It’s like looking at a fresh field of snow under a bright winter sun. And there’s so much paint on there that you could probably fire at it with a shotgun – William Burroughs style – and the pellets would just bounce off. I’m now applying the colour undercoats, working at a Millais level of detail which should provide a potent contrast to the starkness of the snow and the sky. So far, so good. The best paintings are always the ones that tell you what needs to be done, rather than trying to be an “artist” who makes all the decisions. Artists, in my experience, don’t really have a clue, and just need to get out of the way and let the work flow around them, like a rock in a stream.

The Peregrine read by David Attenborough

An early Christmas present, comes in the form of these BBC recordings of David Attenborough reading from one of my favourite books: J.A. Baker’s The Peregrine. It’s been inspiring me since I first read it many years ago, an inspiration that’s fed into many a painting and drawing, a selection of which are presented below. Attenborugh’s warm reassuring tones are ideally suited to the book’s descriptive passages, but when Baker’s gives his inner Dylan Thomas free rein, I can’t help but wonder what Richard Burton or Peter O’Toole would have made of lines like “beauty is vapour from the pit of death.”

David Attenborough reads J.A Baker’s The Peregrine (BBC Radio 4)

Work In Progress

Further to my earlier post, this is how far I’d got with the current painting as of yesterday. Black undercoating now complete, so it’s time to start slapping on the colour, starting with the stark white winter sky. Working with white acrylic is a total pain in the arse though. It’s like painting with PVA and requires multiple layers to achieve the effect I’m after. I’ll unveil the results of those efforts tomorrow.

Work In Progress

After last weekend’s psychic disruption, I’m back to doing what I’d like to think I do best. A new painting is underway, and here’s the initial pencils, completed yesterday evening. So far, so good. This one has been brewing in the brain cauldron for a long time, and it’s the paintings made after such a long gestation period that usually turn out the best. I also have a title for it, one that I’ve wanted to use for a long time, which I’ll reveal when it’s finished.

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