Friday, 25 December 2009

Drawing Attention

My model Rachel is a very striking and beautiful woman, who draws attention wherever she goes.

One challenge when drawing her therefore is to capture this sensuality, in pencil and pastel.

Drawing can be such an abstract process, and there is a great deal to think about - such as the position, proportion and structure of a figure. It is important that, in dealing with all of this, one doesn't forget about the lyricism of the line - and how this can evoke the beauty of the subject.

[Happy Christmas to all my readers. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to read, view and comment.]

Monday, 21 December 2009


Here is a photograph of the painting of the river Stour which I finished yesterday, leaning against the wall outside my studio.

The top photograph shows it alongside some others which are currently in my studio. Shortly after I took the photograph early this afternoon, three of the paintings shown were collected by the Cadogan Contemporary Gallery, for their Christmas Exhibition.

I'll post details here as soon as I have them.

Sunday, 20 December 2009


I was back on the banks of the river Stour, near Bryanston again today - as I have been nearly every day this week.

Although we haven't had the deep snow seen in other parts of the country it has been bitterly cold, with light snow showers and freezing drizzle.

The canvas I've been working on is relatively large, and it takes time to simply cover in paint - let alone to make continual decisions about the direction and development of the painting.

I finished the painting today, and I'll post a picture of it once I've had a chance to photograph it. As usual I'm working right up until dark, so I didn't have a chance to do that when I ended the session.

Monday, 14 December 2009


Today I returned to my favourite spot by the river Stour.

It is also my favourite time of year for painting landscapes and riverscapes.

This is because I am fascinated by the bareness of the trees, and the stark patterns they make against the cool, light sky.

I started work on this canvas this morning, and worked on it until dusk fell, as the final photograph shows.

If the weather is consistent I will have the painting, which is quite large, finished by the end of the week.

Sunday, 6 December 2009


One of the effects of chemotherapy is short-term memory loss.

Whether this was the reason for my lapse today or not, I don't know.

What happened was, as I opened a tin of paint with which to decorate the kitchen, I heard a knock at the door.

It was my friend and model Cheryl. We'd arranged a drawing session for today, and it had completely slipped my mind.

To have her arrive therefore had the feeling of an unexpected gift - and it was certainly much more pleasant than painting the kitchen!

Indeed it was a very productive session, with which we were both pleased. I'm really grateful to Cheryl for giving up her Sunday - and for working so hard in some challenging poses.

The five drawings - four in pastel and one pencil - are here on my website.

Friday, 27 November 2009


I have written before about how hard a model has to work - even in maintaining a 'short' pose.

Today I had a second session with one of my new models, Julia. We only had two hours in which to work, but it was a very productive time.

The poses we chose were demanding, and she put as much effort into holding these as I did in capturing her lithe grace.

There are a couple more drawings from this session on my website.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Christmas In London

I was pleased to receive the Browse & Darby Christmas Exhibition invite through the post this week.

Two of my latest Tresco paintings, beautifully framed by Geraint Davies, are included in the exhibition.

The opening dates and times are shown above. If you're anywhere near Cork Street I'd strongly recommend a visit - there is some great work on display by a number of important artists.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Two Life Models

A drawing from each of my two sessions with different models last week.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Day Of Rest

Few people truly appreciate what hard work it is to sit for a drawing.

The word 'sit' itself implies a degree of rest and relaxation.

I can say from personal experience that it is anything but.

Holding a pose can be extremely tiring and intense. There are times when the physical discomfort can become overwhelming.

I'm very grateful for the huge effort that my models put into 'sitting' for me.

Here are some photographs from todays drawing session. A more detailed version can be seen at my website.

Friday, 13 November 2009


I spent today with another wonderful model, Dot, who has also had breast cancer.

I was really pleased with how our first session went. She will be visiting again in a few weeks for another session.

There's another pastel drawing here on my website.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Cheryl - First Session

Cheryl, who I met during my radiotherapy treatment late last year, became my latest model today.

Here is a sketch from our first session together.

I made preliminary sketches today as I intend to work with her again later this month.

I feel very lucky to have met Cheryl. She has been an inspiration to me. I didn't think it was possible to meet someone with a more positive attitude to breast cancer than myself - but Cheryl has!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Hammer and Tacks

I recently re-discovered this painting of the studio space at the Medlock campus in Manchester - where I did my first degree in Fine Art from 1986-89.

The first thing I noticed about the painting was its construction. I still make, stretch and prepare my own canvases. But the difference is that I now have my own staple-gun, which would have been a rare and expensive item for an art student in those days. I used a hammer and tacks to secure the canvas - as you can see from the photograph above.

This painting was originally hung at my mother's house in Normandy, and much admired, but then put into storage and forgotten when she returned to England.

I was thrilled to see it again, though briefly: it has just found a buyer, and is being shipped to the United States.

I will write more later this week about the memories of Manchester, and my days as a student there, that the painting has awakened.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Death of Actaeon

Earlier this week I took a trip up to London, partly to be photographed for The Times (of which I'll write more later), and also for a visit to the National Gallery.

I always enjoy spending time looking at the beautiful painting by Titian, The Death of Actaeon.

I love the drama, the movement, and the warm brown colours. Titian captures pure beauty and strength in his women - and it is a huge privilege to be able to see his paintings for free in London over 500 years after they were painted.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Island Paintings

I'm back from Tresco, but my paintings are still on the island - drying.

I had a really productive week, and was once again bowled over by the help and generosity of the islanders and of the Tresco Estate.

The weather was also wonderful, almost like the summer we never had.

You can see my latest Tresco paintings here on my main website.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Makeshift Easel

I was painting on a beach on the east side of Tresco this afternoon, at Blockhouse Point.

The light was dramatic.

I was pleased to find a large piece of driftwood on the beach, which I dragged into position where I wanted to work. I dug away the sand on one side of it, piling it across to ensure I had a good height to lean the canvas on.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Daylight Robbery

I'm on Tresco again.

The island is so wonderful to paint that I got straight out there the moment I arrived.

However, with evenings drawing in so quickly I don't have as much daylight to resolve the painting.

Both photographs were taken in the evening, as the light faded quickly. The top photograph shows me painting on Sunday evening, when the weather was quite cloudy and overcast. Today was much clearer and brighter - as shown in the photograph below.

Note the plastic bags over my painting boots. The long grass is very wet in the evenings, and I don't want my boots to get too wet as I'll be wearing them all week.

I've painted the same view yesterday and today, looking east towards St Martins. It's interesting for me to compare the two paintings.

Tomorrow I start work on a larger canvas, before visiting Bryher for the evening.

Here are some paintings from my last trip here in March.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Hampshire Art Fair

I've just got back from the private view at the first evening of the Hampshire Art Fair.

This is a well-displayed exhibition of paintings by about 20 artists, which includes six of my paintings.

It is well worth a visit.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Rachel Reclining

Another day spent life drawing, this time with Rachel.

She is a wonderfully patient and adaptable model, and I love working with her.

I'll collect more of my drawings and paintings of her together some time - but until then you can see some more of today's drawings here on my website.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Mirror Image

I've been continuing my series of drawings this week, and today I switched from charcoal to pencil.

I am really getting the most out of the sharper, more lyrical, line and greater 'sparseness' that this allows.

Some of these self portraits will be included in the breast cancer exhibition that I'm currently putting together.

More drawings here on my website.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


I was very fortunate to have a whole day with a friend who worked very hard indeed at sitting for me as my model.

She was very tolerant, and patient with my sometimes rather abrupt direction. In my enthusiasm I sometimes put models in poses which are not always easy to hold, but this did not faze her.

For this session I worked on lots of quick charcoal studies. Next time she sits for me I'll use pencils, which will demand a different approach. I had a really enjoyable and productive day, and I'm really looking forward to drawing her again in November.

I've put more of the drawings up on my website.

These drawings are part of a series I'm working on in preparation for an exhibition I'm planning on the theme of breast cancer and women who've been affected by it. I'll write more about this in the coming weeks.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


These figures studies were produced using charcoal, paper, a mirror - and myself as the model.

It might sound blindingly obvious, but it is rather hard to keep still at the same time as drawing.

This presents an interesting challenge that makes me simultaneously enjoy the process, and more fully appreciate the luxury of working from a model that isn't me.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Precious Lives

I have a couple of paintings in an exhibition which opens this week on Tresco.

These were painted in spring this year, following my trip to the island. They have been beautifully custom-framed by hand.

I wrote about the paintings here and here.

And this painting has already sold, with part of the price going towards the Precious Lives Appeal for a children's hospice in the south west.

If you are interested in buying either of these two flower paintings, please contact Gallery Tresco direct.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

H. Barber 36" x 32"

As finished work leaves the studio I'm preparing more canvases for the seascapes and other paintings I'm going to work on in the coming months.

The first stage of this process is to slot together the bought stretchers, and cut canvas to size from a large roll.