Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Venice Revisited






I was fortunate to make a return trip to Venice earlier this month.

It was a short visit, just two nights, with so much to see and do – but I was delighted to have a few opportunities to dig out my sketchbook.

Here are some snaps of pen drawings I made on Fondamenta Nani in Dorsoduro, and at the famous Caffè Florian on St Mark's Square.


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Help Yourself To Figs





My joint show near Bath with Hinchcliffe & Barber ends on Thursday.

The top photograph shows my sister Polly, with a life drawing I did of her.

The exhibition and space has a very stylish 'country' feel to it.

Do come along if you're near enough.

I'll have all of the paintings which are showing up on my website later this week.


Friday, 30 August 2013

Join Us In Bath


I'm really pleased to be part of the Hinchcliffe & Barber exhibition in Bath next month.

It is always a privilege to exhibit my paintings alongside artwork which I value, and which is of such a high standard.

The John Hinchcliffe original prints have recently been released in a beautiful limited edition hand-printed on Somerset velvet paper by the Curwen Press. I've just hung my set at home, and they look simply stunning. If you can't make it to Bath then you can view and order them here.

One wonderful thing about visiting friends all over the country is the surprise of seeing what Hinchcliffe & Barber ceramics each has. Nearly everyone I know has at least a few pieces, often including early examples from the 1980s. The show will be an opportunity to add to – or start – your own  H&B collection.

I myself will be displaying my recent large paintings of fresh garden flowers, a Dorset seascape, a painting of the river Stour at Bryanston, and some figure drawings – all being exhibited for the first time.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Kitty




My 15-year old niece Kitty kindly gave up a day to sit for me recently.

Unlike most portrait painters I actively avoid working from photographs.

I see a portrait's true purpose as being a way of capturing something of the subject that a photograph can't.

Spending hours with someone; moving, sitting, chatting with you – means that the character, attitude and personality of that sitter will make an impression. And it is elements of that which I will try to capture.

A photograph freezes a moment lasting just a fraction of a second.

When an artist copies a photograph, it is unavoidable that the photograph itself will dominate in their painting, no matter what other observations and approaches they use. The photograph effectively dictates what the painting will look like before the painting is even started.

Conversely, having someone sitting in front of you – moving, breathing, talking – forces the painter to have no option to look. And look they must – for hours on end.

That's not to say that photographs don't have their place – as art in their own right, and as useful reference material. A real portrait should give much more than the click of a shutter can offer you.

Equally important in portrait painting is the fact that – unlike a landscape or still life – the subject of your painting is actually themselves working hard too.

Sitting still, being sensitive to the studio environment and the needs of the painter, is far more taxing that one might imagine.

With Kitty I felt very privileged to have such a beautiful model who sat very still.




Cosmos






My first ever 'proper' painting in oils of flowers was of tulips in a pewter vase in front of a window.

I was aged about fifteen, and was inspired by the work of my mother – herself a Slade-trained artist who was taught by William Coldstream and Patrick George.

Ever since then my motivation to paint flowers has never ceased. It is a unique and frequently denigrated subject matter in art, which actually requires huge control and discipline. I've written about this several times before.

My preference is always to paint garden flowers. I pick them immediately before starting the painting in order that they are fresh, vibrant and long-lasting.

This year I once again planted Cosmos in my garden, in great quantity.

The first time I painted Cosmos was when my late step-father John Hinchcliffe brought some round for me to plant. I went on to produce a series of paintings of those Cosmos that year, which I consider to be some of my finest work. They are now owned by Tresco Estate.

I'll never forgot John's friendly laughter on seeing these paintings, remarking with a hint of artistic rivalry that that was the last time he was going to bring me Cosmos!

Like my mother John also painted flowers, often using textiles as a background – reflecting his roots as a designer in textiles and ceramics.

My strength in painting flowers therefore comes from those strong traditions, and also from my own study, influences and tastes.

Over the last few months garden flower paintings have been my main focus.

The latest can be seen here, and are available for viewing in my studio.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Painting In Texas


 


 


In my previous post I wrote about painting at Panther Hollow near Austin, Texas.

I spent a lot of time there, painting in a variety of locations at different times of day. The photographs above show me on three different days, along with the rather stylish car I was using – with my primed paper on the back seat.

The subtle but notable differences between the Dorset greens and Texan greens as the countryside moved though Spring were fascinating and deeply inspiring.

I'd arrived in Texas after a very intensive few days in New York, visiting every gallery I could get to. It was exciting to then shift my focus back to an immersion into the landscape – returning to the rigour of my own Slade discipline and approach.

The novelty of working in a different landscape and climate was something that simply did not wear off during the entire time I was in Texas. I didn't want to leave. I certainly didn't want to stop painting. I left hungry for more time, and for a deeper acquaintance with the hollows, creeks, rocky valleys and plains of the Hill Country where we were staying.

There are four paintings in the Panther Hollow series, and they can all be seen here on my website.

One recently sold at auction in Austin. The remaining three are still in Texas, and I will be arranging framing there, and making them available for sale.

I'm already planning my next trip to the Lone Star State, during which I will paint intensively – with the aim of building a sufficient body of work for a US exhibition.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Panther Hollow






I've recently returned from a trip to see my sister Polly, who lives in Austin, Texas.

I couldn't have visited such a beautiful place without taking my brushes. I bought oil paints in Austin.

One of the inspiring places I found was Panther Hollow Trail near Polly and Jon's house. Although close to the home comforts of suburban River Place it was a truly wild piece of Texas Hill Country – as evidenced by the deadly Coral Snake which crossed our path one day. My cousin Emily managed to keep her cool and snapped a photograph of it as you can see above.

The reddish brown Texan dirt and crystal-clear creek were canopied by fresh new-season leaves, whose greenness was made vibrant by the late-spring sunshine. It was truly a beautiful place to spend time, and I wish I could be there now.

I've donated one of the paintings I produced there to The Autism Trust, and it will be auctioned at their Give Autism A Chance charity dinner this Saturday, May 18th.

Further details are here.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Family Sketches






I visited the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas last week, and was impressed with the current exhibition of works owned by UT alumni and loaned to the gallery.

One of the paintings on display was a portrait by Edouard Vuillard, painted on unprimed cardboard.

I don't usually sketch on toned paper myself, but with some to hand – and with a number of relatives available as models – I used some pencils, including white chalk, to make some family sketches.

There are more on my main website.

(above: cousin Emily, daughter Dorelia, brother-in-law Jon, nephew Toby)



Sunday, 31 March 2013

Scale





Whilst in New York I had the opportunity to make a few sketches and notes of the view, as shown in my previous post.

I thought I'd write a little more about the reasons I use a sketchbook in this way.

It is important to be able to record a particular aspect of what I'm looking at. In this case it was the vast scale of the buildings of the city, in contrast with the cars and people below.

The pen was a really quick way of making a few lines to capture just that.

As an artist who prefers to work in situ I find such notes very useful on occasions where a particular view (in this case from my hotel room) is unlikely to be available to me again. These are the sort of visual notes that draw me back to both a subject and place.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

NYC



I'm in New York for a few days. The idea of the visit was to get round to major galleries. I hadn't intended to draw.

However the view from my hotel is so good that it was impossible to resist.

Here's a quick sketch I did this morning this morning looking west down 44th St.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Winter Light




I've been back to Ringstead to paint, on lead-primed paper.

During the last few months I have spent a lot of time drawing my friend, artist and mutual-model Martha. These sessions have been productive, and also very valuable in respect of turning my focus to the discipline of drawing – with an emphasis on line and structure.

The landscape at Ringstead is something I know intimately, and have painted countless times. It was very inspiring therefore to return to it while still retaining that focus on drawing from the sessions with Martha.

This lead to my being acutely aware of the distance between me and far features of the landscape. For example the complexities and subtlety of the banks of shingle as they span that distance towards the headland of White Nothe were something I wanted to specifically describe. It is an exciting challenge to note and respond to the undulations of the shingle banks, the many facets of the headland, the vastness and variety of shade of the sea – and the intricate relationships between them all.