Going up the wall …

There is a famously disputed mural which graced the walls of the Ogdens, in Coronation Street. Stan thought it was the Canadian Rockies whereas Hilda thought it was the Alps. And here’s a question for true Corrie  afficienados – who named it a “muriel’ Hilda or Eddie?

Whatever it was it was a very modern mural in that it was created from printed image strips. It was not true to the origins of murals which were painted on wet or dry plaster. Although some may say that the cave paintings, from 30,000 BC, discovered in France were the first.  Many lost in the mists of time as wallpaper was introduced, churches were destroyed and the moisture in the British weather cycles took its toll.

When I was commissioned to do a mural, it was with great relief, that I was given a very open brief. The space is 20.5 m x 4.5 m at it’s highest point, and already 2.5 m off of the ground. There are no architectural features to incorporate (as was often the case in the old days when working in churches and vaulted ceilinged houses).

So the design has been bound only by a general subject area to tie in with the clients business. The method, medium and style being left to me which is lovely on the one hand and quite daunting on the other! Worse case scenario … the client does not like it and the white emulsion roller comes out …

In the process of drawing out and tacking to the wall to make sure it all works, before gridding it out and loosely transferring the design to the wall.

I’d like to have the colourful spontaneity of my usual style, but need to reduce the detail as this will be lost in the space, so a return to my more graphical colour block routes is on the cards.

Having just spent some time in Canada admiring the deco /beaux arts buildings it seems timely to be looking at poster designs and style of that age.

it’s going to keep me busy, together with a number of planned trackside visits from the end of June onwards to capture some more wheels in motion both digitally and on paper.

Painting to photograph to print

The cutest spirit level ever ...

What’s the difference between taking a quick on a wing and a prayer snap yourself on a smart phone or compact digital camera and a professional taking carefully set-up shots?

Evidently a pro DSLR camera, tripod, spirit-level, colour-scale card (sure there was a technical name for that) and of course a bit of garden string? Well those pesky canvases kept refusing to stay still on the easel for their shots!

I found out there is a great deal of difference. Hennie of Wellman Photography, who has extensive commercial shoot experience, was the only choice for taking some photographs of my works to enable me to retain the option to create print runs of works that are being sold in June as part of an Exhibition of Paintings – Colour in Motion. Looking at the camera back viewer, as Hennie was working, it was clear to see that my previous efforts had not picked up the texture and depth of the painting marks which would be essential for a print that I’d be happy to offer.

    Why Hennie?

Well I’d been blown away by his portfolio of commercial photographs. The imaginative use of light, creative framing and understanding of the subject made me comfortable that he’d capture the detail and match the colours carefully. And unbelievably he is located right on my Essex doorstep, although like many of us he does travel in the UK and beyond to get the right shots and to resolve creative briefings.

The results are stunning and I look forward to sharing them on the site from 15th June; it’s going to be a busy few weeks until my Exhibition of Paintings, Colour in Motion I am ready to create prints for 24 June 2012.



Can you paint a javelin thrower?

So what do you get for your lovely wife that’s very original and unique when they are a brilliant athelete? A picture of them in action was the answer.

Commissioned to produce an artwork in the style of another artist, Fletcher Sibthorp who had originally started working in sports and took his love of movement into painting dancers. This made the research interesting and provided with several photographs of the lady in action and some video extracts it made the prepatory sketches easy.

The life drawing sessions I had been doing made working out the muscle groups and limb angles much easier. The difficulty was trying to capture the point of plant … where unfortunately the head would have been much further back and hidden more behind the throwing arm.

It has been an enjoyable commission, on a much smaller scale than I would usually work. The colours were warm and the movement had to be implied in the background.

Well we hope to get away with artistic licence and a little interpretation.

Mothers Day Gift

Mortehoe, Devon 80 x 60 cm Acrylic Canvas

What do you give a lovely mum in her mid-eighties who has everything?

Something no-one else has, was my thought. “I’ll paint you anything you like” was the offer to my mum for a gift for this years Mothers Day.

After dismissing a picture of one of the recent life models I’ve met, as being too much for a woman of her years (not!), she decided that it shoudl be something that would bring back memories of when my sisters and I were little … happy times, happy holidays.

We looked at photographs of Mudeford but could not find one that really captured it as my mum felt it. So taking the time-machine further back we settled on our childhood holidays in Devon. The gorse on the hillsides. A quiet cottage on top of the cliffs. The tight windy cliff paths down to the glittering seas, and the white horses breaking over the rocks.

The wonderful sweep of the bay as the powerful waters roll in, and pull a little more of the cliffs each day. Rock pools that contained little pinching crabs, limpets and swaying sea anemones.

Ooh I hope she likes it when it’s delivered in a couple of weeks time.

No throwing in the Towel

Well, I am pleased to say that after ten days of sketching in conte and watercolour, and then transference to canvas and acrylic I’ve completed my interpretation of Frank Bruno’s hey-day.

It’s interesting to watch all the boxing videos from over twenty years ago and to look at the many images of Frank Bruno on the web.  I decided to capture a look of steely determination showing the strength of mind and body that is required to undertake this sport.

The original will be varnished and framed for auction at The President’s Sporting Club Gentleman’s Boxing Evening near Harlow on Monday 1st November 2010. Held annually. With tickets at only £50 for a dinner and a night of boxing – it’s very good value.

Watercolour painting commission- Southwold Shoreline

watercolour painting fourth part of Southwold

Southwold Beach Huts

It’s commission time. This is a is the fourth watercolour painting in a quadtic to capture the length of the Southwold shoreline.

Recreating the beach, the lighthouse, the groynes and the beautifully coloured beach huts there are also a few surprises like spotting the pigs in their corrugated tin shelters behind.

Research was tough for this one. A stroll along the pier to look closely at the ironwork whilst indulging in an ice. A stroll along the beach with kids playing in and out of the water’s edge leaving magical footprint patterns, sand castles and their names in the sands. Plentiful water in supply to do a few watercolour sketches. This helped to narrow down the final palette of colours used across the four to keep the whole cohesive.

By the time the light was fading it was time to go to the chippy and enjoy paper wrapped hot vinegary potatoes whilst collating the photos and sketches. The final picture is watercolour washed over graphite pencil which has then been reinforced to give a gentle outline. A black ink overlay would have been too strong.

The logistics of the scaling of the four elements and then carefully stacking them in the frame caused a few dramas. Measure twice and cut once being the best maxim here.

The final picture is one that people keep going back to as they see something else in the detail. I loved doing it and glad it was liked by the commisioner and the recipient birthday gal.



The Frog in Shropshire

“The artist is the only one who knows that the world is a subjective creation, that there is a choice to be made, a selection of elements. “

Anais Nin


It’s always interesting working on an unfamiliar subject. Totally reliant on photo/video archives and Googled information to capture a moment that’s not been experienced!

It certainly looks like a beautiful, majestic part of the world. Rocky outcrops and plains of scrub. Lots of stones with spiritual significance across the hills or petrified witches if the tales are to be believed (Mitchell’s Fold).

So the pictures are all packed and on their way to adorn the walls of the holiday let. I hope that they are enjoyed by the guests.

Inspiration was closer to home, but yet so far away last weekend. An exciting Grand Prix at Hungary reminded me of my trip in 2007. Digging out the pictures and being further inspired by the heat-haze views of this year’s cars I will be adding a couple of large acrylics on canvas to the Motorsport collection in August.

Will also be finishing works on the Torro Rosso pit crews from 2007 Indianapolis which went on hold as I could not work at an easel for a while.

So watch this space to see the developments.