Monday 30 December 2019

A Work-in-Progress

I've been busy working on a couple of paintings recently, these will be for a friends family who runs a charitable foundation.  Can't say more at the moment as they haven't seen the first completed painting, but suffice to say, I have enjoyed doing these paintings.

On my easel at the moment is this one, the Work-in-Progress

The "Purple" colour is merely Background for the Oil paint, soon to be added.   Then there will be Details to add and then drying time.  This all takes a while to complete from idea to completed painting.  I think most of the work for an oil painting goes on before paint even touches canvas.....

* Choosing a scene to paint

* Choosing a suitably sized canvas (or panel)

* Thumbnail sketches to decide on a pleasing scene

* Sketching the outline onto the canvas

* Deciding on the colours to be used:
~ Warm tones
~ Cool tones

* Mixing said colours on the palette in readiness to paint :
~ this includes the various Tones for each colour

*when all that work is done, 
then comes the fun part,
Adding paint to canvas


Thursday 12 December 2019

Christmas lunch

As part of volunteering for Arlington Court - National Trust -
they acknowledge all the hard work us volunteers put into helping during the season by
arranging a Christmas lunch. 

Looked forward to, not only for the splendid food, but a chance to catch-up with colleagues.
This being the tail-end of the season for Arlington, heading into Christmas and the Winter break before it all kicks off again in February.

anyway....enough of that....Graham took a photo of me at the table.
No, I'm not surrounded by Swans!!!  (just in case you wondered)



Thursday 5 December 2019


Fame?!....well, sort of

Our daughter, Lil, appeared in a recent program on Channel 5, all about raising awareness for Donkey's as part of Help the Animals campaign.

here's a screenshot only, but if you look at the bottom (arrowed)
that's our daughter feeding the donkeys - she also appears further in the program segment, so if you would like to watch this clip from the program then highlight/click the link below.....


One of Lil's photos appeared in Best Magazine 

here's the photo:

📸  📸  📸

Wednesday 27 November 2019

A very enjoyable Commission

I love doing Commission paintings and recently I was asked to do a painting for online friend Eileen in North Wales

The subject was "Annie" her lurcher - now I'm sort of used to drawing a lurcher aren't I, so right up my street  

With a good reference photo to work from and the brief was that the medium could be my choice.   Usually I know straight away the medium I'll use, but I was swayed between Oil and Watercolour here.   I often do a Watercolour to start me off as it gets me into the feel of a subject/testing tones etc.  However, for texture and colours in Annie's coat, Oil painting is great to use.   I finally opted to concentrate on Oil.

I'm delighted to say that Eileen and her husband were really pleased with the painting - (I surprised them with a gift of the watercolour too).  They have sent me photos of the paintings framed and now hanging on their walls.    

"Annie" - Oil 

and here's the Watercolour



Monday 11 November 2019

at the 11th hour, 
on the 11th day, 
of the 11th month

we will REMEMBER them

AJ KEEN (my great grandad)
Photo: taken in France 1918 at the end of WWI  prior to returning
He had looked after and saved horses under fire, ultimately receiving a bravery award

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Okay, so you have seen these paintings before....

but I just can't help but do a Vimeo of them on the shelving unit.  I'll keep them 'resting' there, then spray varnish with a breathable varnish, which will allow the deeper layers to dry naturally.

(here's a Screenshot)

and here's the 

Vimeo  ⤵︎

Tuesday 29 October 2019

A look at Leading Lines

Leading Lines are important in a painting, although they may not be obvious. They tell the viewer where the focal point is and draw the viewers eye around the painting.  Not a new invention, the old masters used leading lines in their works and we still do today.

Here's my reference photo taken on a recent holiday in Cornwall

Veryan Beach

I do a quick sketch to get an idea of layout

in the next image I've added notes to show where the leading lines are

- also you will see a barely perceptible grid of thirds,
that's why I made a note about moving the building over to it

This was enough information for me to set out the drawing onto a

6" x 4" board for this oil painting

(small and quite fiddly to paint in detail, but nonetheless I enjoyed this little piece)

Thursday 24 October 2019

Palette Cleaning

I know!

not the most riveting of videos, but after all the oil paintings, thought you may be a tad interested in seeing how the 'palette' I bought a while back is cleaned up
(don't worry, it doesn't show ALL of the clean up, only part)

Wednesday 23 October 2019

A small canvas on the easel

I tend to select a canvas size according to the subject I'm going to paint.

In this case it was a photograph our daughter had taken of a Lamb,

and I happened to have a small

8" x 8" canvas read and prepared with an acrylic background...

Looks very garish in pink doesn't it.

I love the anticipation of this stage in the process, itching to get paint on the canvas

and at the same time wondering if it will work.

In the eye of the beholder, of course, 

and it's up to others to decide if it's their cup of tea.

"A Day in Spring"

Oil on canvas

(think I did a slight "tweak" of this lamb AFTER I'd taken this photo,
but it was only slight and basically this is the finished piece)

As I have quite a few canvases prepared, and knowing there will be Wet Canvases sitting around in the studio, I decided to clear some shelf space in readiness for those wet Oil paintings

Sunday 20 October 2019

Oil painting on canvas

You may have noticed this painting yesterday in the slideshow,

thought it was worth it's own blogpost today.

This is one of my favourite Arlington paintings as the angle is so different.

It was also fun to paint, lots of thick paint on the palette knife...nothing like it,

and the painting virtually paints itself.  Believe me, that's true. 

Get the Tones right for each colour and your away.

Title:  "A Walk in the Meadow"
Size: 12" x 12"

Monday 14 October 2019

Knightshayes National Trust

Visiting National Trust properties always gives me lots of opportunities for Painting Reference Photos, and Knightshayes was no exception.

 Oil painting on canvas 16" x 16" (40 x 40cm)

alla-prima textured paint

Title:  "Once in a While"

Thursday 3 October 2019

Textured Oil painting

Painted this little 8" x 8" (20 x 20cm) yesterday.  
When dry it will fit into a deep white frame.

Sunday 29 September 2019

Something random....

Not Art today, but thought I'd add this random find.

Recently we were staying in Dorset and took a drive along to Studland via Swanage.

Saw this SIGN on a gateway.

Ummm!  wonder if it's true or just something added as interest.


Friday 20 September 2019

Plein Air painting

From my plein air painting sessions at Arlington Court

I've now, finally, completed the Oil painting -

although I did the finishing touches in the studio,

so plein air for the most part.

previous blog post about


Tuesday 17 September 2019

There's work before an oil painting....

First I take photos

Here's one from a room at Arlington Court National Trust

I liked how the light came into the room and hit the seat on the chaise,
plus the light on the floor.

True, there's some artistic license, but that's the fun part of being the artist and making decisions.

1. Decided not to have the net curtain, but show the window with a hint of greenery outside

2. I didn't want the electronic gizmo on the wall (something that's needed in historic properties) but not for my painting

3.  I simplified the furniture/items in the room

4.  Added some extra colour to cushions and the rug which tied the painting together 


"Summer Evenings"
Oil on Canvas • (12" x 12")

Saturday 31 August 2019


I've been spotted at Arlington Court

and I wasn't aware that picture was being taken.  Small world here in Devon.  A friend of a friend, had been walking around Arlington and had taken this photo yesterday.  My friend realised it was me and messaged to tell me as it was on Facebook.   I feel very honoured that someone thought a picture of me was worthy of their own facebook post.   (When I found out, I got permission to use this photo - I love it when people are generous like that).

I am still working on that painting, it certainly has been a work in progress.

Blogpost about it coming soon.

Meanwhile, have a great weekend all.

Monday 26 August 2019

I'm definitely enjoying oil painting these days...

Sometimes the inspiration to do a painting just strikes me.

A walk over at Heddon Valley, you may remember blogposts of this area before.

I would have painted plein air, but didn't fancy standing in the middle of the road

for this scene, probably a wise decision, so a photo reference had to suffice.

Oil painting on art panel • 10"  8" (25 x 20cm)

Titled: "Summer in the Valley"
(painting depicts The Hunters Inn Exmoor)

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Something of a painting challenge...

A challenge I set myself, what was I thinking!   but firstly, and this is background to why I set myself a challenge in the first place.....

Here's a Watercolour, painted by the late Chrissie Peters who lived at Arlington Court years ago.  As with the owner of the house, Rosalie Chichester, Chrissie Peters was also a very keen artist.  She did this painting of the Boudoir room, with its silk wall hangings....

It occurred to me to do an up to date version of this but in Oils.  I took a photo for reference (no flash) but as you see this room is very dark.  Purposely so, as they need to keep light from damaging the silk wall hangings.....

You'll see this makes it extremely difficult to do a painting -

so I lighted up the photo in an App,

Even lighted, the image still isn't ideal.   The small amount of light in this room anyway, distorts photos.  So in another App I tried to take out the artificial light effect and got this

This is probably a truer image, and does show how the silk wall hangings have faded over the years, somewhere in the region of 200 years!

It would still make for quite a dull painting, and so in the end I have to use artistic license.

I wasn't going to face the intricate design for one thing,
and felt that an Impressionist style would be the way to go.

So here it is 

Oil Painting on canvas
Textured Impressionist style
12" x 12"

my version of the Boudoir room today

Saturday 17 August 2019

A work-in-progress

I don't always remember to stop and taking photos of the various stages in a least I remembered this time (sort of)! lol

This painting is actually now completed, but here's the Work-in-Progress stages....keep in mind that the PINK is a Background colour only - 

Stage 1

Stage 2
 You’ll notice I changed the seat colour as felt it would be too similar to the blue background -

 Stage 3
Completed painting

Title: Safe Landing
measures 12" x 12"
Oil on Canvas

 ~ My inspiration: Based on a chair at Arlington Court National Trust ~

Sunday 11 August 2019

When you are faced with a wet and wild Saturday

The weather on Saturday was horrendous.  It had all been predicted by the weather gurus, so we were at least ready.

This meant quick dog walks, when we were nearly blown off our feet, so staying indoors for most of the day was the best option.   That gave me an opportunity to tackle a painting that has been waiting in the wings.  Well, the IDEA of a painting.   Now with the storm, I had no excuse.   Here’s a comment I gave on facebook when I had posted the finished piece...

 “I just wanted to say, and perhaps this will help some, but I went about this painting NOT with the notion it had to be Perfect.  Instead I looked upon it as an experiment, if it didn't work out, then I could learn from it.  That took any pressure off my inner critic as I could just Paint and Enjoy.  Turned out I'm very happy with this painting and also the journey of creating it, and that's a BIG part of the process for me.”

Like any painting there are Stages to the process:

1. The subject / Thumbnail sketches - getting the balance of the subject right

2.  Preparing the canvas / grid the canvas / draw the outlines

3.  Get ready to paint / Premix colours - Tones

4.  Have fun painting

Fortunately I remembered to take a photograph in the early stages of the painting, although I should  have done several step-by-step pics.  Anyway, here's the painting on the easel with the sky painted in.

The "PINK" is an acrylic coloured ground on the canvas.  It allows for little portions of the pink to show through when the palette knife/brush 'Misses' the canvas.  I don't fill ALL those little 'Misses' in to begin with, once they are filled, you can never get them back!  So I wait until the end of the painting and review the 'Misses' and cover some of them, leaving just a few to 'Sparkle'

Here's the completed painting:

(12" x 12" Oil on canvas)
Subject: The TeaRoom, Clovelly, Devon

~ ~ ~

Thursday 8 August 2019

Oil painting completed....

Cat on the windowsill painting which I've named:


(measures 8" x 8" - will be framed when the paint is dry)

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Cat on a windowsill....

At the Work in Progress stage

This painting measures 8" x 8"
and I've used mostly palette knife for it.

Tricky and fiddly with a palette knife on a small piece, 
but have been persevering.

Not finished as you see, but almost there....

Monday 5 August 2019

Oil painting:Heron

Having completed a painting of the lake at Arlington Court, I decided to do a small painting of a heron. The heron is the iconic emblem for the estate, depicted in various places it holds an eel in its beak. The birds themselves can often be seen by the river and perched in the trees.

this is on a wooden block panel measuring 6" x 8"

Now it needs to be touch dry before I add *retouching varnish
(*protects the surface, this allows the painting to breath whilst the rest dries thoroughly)


Monday 29 July 2019

Plein Air painting at Arlington Court

I never tire of painting over at Arlington Court.  When I think that the various locations have been painted enough, I find another angle and the view dictates the kind of painting, be it Landscape, Portrait or as in this case Square.  Seasonally it changes too, and also the weather makes a difference.

Last week I painted by the Lake, with the Lily's out.  It was slightly overcast, the occasional dark cloud threatened, but luckily it didn't come to anything.  At least it was cool enough to paint, temperatures recently have been high and HOT!

and guess what came along to see my painting

Yes, a Dragonfly.  It rested on the side of my pochade box for probably about 5 minutes. Time enough for a photo, perhaps it knew to wait.

The majority of the painting was done in the time I had, but I did complete finishing touches to it at home in the studio.

Here's the completed painting, and you'll see I added a couple of people
sitting on the bench overlooking the lake.

and a close-up of the piece, which measures 10" x 10".

 🎨 🎨 🎨