Friday, 30 May 2008

Huge & Lucious

Having recently finished my nude, I'm currently working on my large landscape.

But on days like today, where the rain has stopped me from working outside - I take advantage of my studio.

Painting still lifes of flowers may seem to some rather pedestrian, but I see it completely differently.

The challenge of capturing the complex variety of structures and delicate forms of garden flowers, whilst showing their freshness and luciously rich colours, is one that excites and inspires me.

In addition to their individual shapes, a vase or jug stuffed full of mixed garden flowers also has its own character as an 'arrangement', and it is this that I am trying to capture.

I almost always use only flowers from my own garden. This results in widely differing colours and varieties depending on the season.

It was when I moved to this area two years ago, inheriting a beautifully stocked garden from the previous owner (to which I added Cosmos, a gift from my stepfather), that I started painting garden flowers on large canvases.

The photographs above show the painting as it progressed throughout the day. I will continue with it tomorrow - and post the results here.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008


Yesterday I finished the nude that I've been working on with my model for the last month.

You have no idea how difficult I found it to type the word 'finished'.

My paintings change and develop in such a way that marks are added and taken away all the time. This means that in moving a painting forward towards completion I have to take risks.

Sometimes I lose aspects of a painting which I really like. So the process of creation also involves destruction. This can mean being ruthless. If you insist on retaining marks, aspects and features that you like and feel comfortable with, your painting will never improve and develop.

Here I wanted to keep the painting loose in style, as I felt the pose suggested some movement, although the model actually held her pose beautifully still.

The paradox is that I'm really pleased with this finished painting, but at the same time I know I lost great elements within it during the process of painting it. Equally, I could be tempted to continue with it for another session or two - but my judgement is that where it is now is 'finished'. Deciding when that moment has arrived is one of the most difficult decisions I have to make as an artist, and I am often wracked with doubt.

One of the really positive aspects of finishing a painting like this is that it has really inspired me to leap straight into the next nude. It has been such an stimulating process, from which I've learned so much, that I'm really eager to consolidate this by moving on to the next canvas and pose.

So, sometimes my sense of achievement is not only about having a 'finished' painting, but about what I am taking from that painting into the next one.

Saturday, 17 May 2008


Over the last few weeks I've been painting from the model in the studio.

This has been a very welcome return to a discipline that I consider vital as a painter.

It is also a fascinating and challenging process, which I aim to persist with.

The photographs above show the painting I've been working on as it developed from the start (top picture) to the finish (lower picture) of the session on a particular day.

They illustrate the difficulty of working on something which can appear very simple, but is in fact rather complex.

Some of what I liked about my painting at the start of the session has been lost by the end, but the painting is not yet finished - and my aim is to bring this back without losing the qualities I like in the later, lower picture.

It is a fine balancing act.

You can see in an earlier post here that the pose has changed somewhat. When we first started this painting the model's body was much more turned towards me. As that turned out to be an uncomfortable pose for the model we adapted it so that she was more turned towards the pillow. This meant that she could pose more comfortably, and for longer.

Each week the model re-adopts the pose. There will of course be subtle differences. These may be, for example, the elements of the model's body - the placing of the knee, the tilt of the head etc.

This is no reflection on the professionalism of my excellent model - but there are so many variables that such differences are inevitable.

Light will also be different, as will the placing of the material and backdrop. I make strenuous efforts to mark places and positions, such as drawing marks on the sofa on which the model is posing, in order to get the pose as accurate as I can each week.

I'm looking forward to our next session, when I intend to bring this painting to completion.

Thursday, 1 May 2008


Following on from the previous post, I started working in oils on the large canvas.

I'm still at the stage of working out where everything goes, which is why there isn't much detail yet. When I'm happy with the placing of everying in relation to each other - then I can begin to work with more intensity on each area of the canvas.