Irvine Harbour Demo II

•October 23, 2014 • 4 Comments

irvine harbour ii


The second demo in oils of a harbour, this time with a solitary boat.

I used photographs taken at the weekend when the weather was bright and breezy, a little clear blue sky among the clouds. I found I had to lighten my photos afterwards as the sky was exposed fine for colour but the land became very dark underneath. So, working from two sources caused a bit of trouble, but solved after a few goes at putting in the sea colour.

Again, looking at the same artists as below , not so much as trying to copy them, but trying to see what they might see in a landscape using a photograph as reference.

Irvine Harbour Demo

•October 22, 2014 • 5 Comments

Irvine Harbour 1


A demonstration oil painting of Irvine Harbour. I was highlighting the styles of current painters in the west coast of Scotland like Robert Kelsey, James Orr and a few others. All have distinctive mark making technique without being a million miles apart.

Common among them is the seemingly carefree,  dashing brushstroke. Opaque paint applied with a swoosh and a “hit and leave alone” attitude.

Variation includes angle of attack, round brush/flat square brush, each have their own palette of colours ( all use colour saturated and heightened, they sprinkle a dash of primary colour here and there)

My biggest challenge here was making Irvine Harbour look attractive!

A much younger Kate / Mary

•September 30, 2014 • 6 Comments

Kate oil on canvas 30 x 30


It is interesting to see Kate as a 5 or 6 year old to compare with the 17 year old portraying Mary. It is her ability to look straight down the lens with that relaxed gaze, even at this early age, that I knew I could rely on that same look  to show the calm, humble, accepting Mary in the painting below.

I will show the two paintings together at the studio this weekend before they part and lead separate lives. ( Open Studios weekend at Courtyard Studios, Irvine) I hope to put together a storyboard of sorts, to show the development  from idea to the final image, via studies, photo shoots, conversations and inspirations.

It will be thrown together but hopefully it will deceive as a thoroughly considered project!

Mary in the Frame

•September 29, 2014 • 19 Comments

Mary framed


The painting was delivered today all framed up. A framer was recommended to me that could offer a hand painted and gilded thing. It is a beauty and I think it sets off the picture really well. Built up and sanded down from layers of gesso, it has those nice rounded edges.

The timing of it is fortunate cause I have an Open Studio weekend coming on the 4th and 5th. So I will have it on show before it has to go to it’s new home. I could gladly hold on to this one!


•August 25, 2014 • 14 Comments

mary final painting sunday

The portrait of Mary is finished after a clean up session. I had to redo the halo. It never occurred to me that the faux gold I used would easily tarnish with exposure to the air. Real gold stays clean for all its life, so it is now real gold that is on the canvas. Thanks to my studio neighbour ,  a professional bookbinder, I was given the real stuff to remedy the schoolboy error.

I dropped the shoulders slightly to relax the figure. I refined the hands with a lighter layer, and just generally cleaned some dirty marks. All done!


•August 20, 2014 • 18 Comments


Mary for blog

I have nearly finished my portrait of Mary, just a final refinement of tones to the hands and it should be complete, save for a “once over” to make sure.

This one has taken me some time. There was a fair bit of toing and froing due to the nature of the commissioning process. Luckily, the client was sure of what he was asking for because any chance I could have had, I was for taking it to a more contemporary place. That will be for another time though. I have another two or three staged Mary’s all photographed and waiting for canvas.

One thing the client stipulated was that he just wanted a depiction of the girl from Galilee.

This will be heading for a church near home when it is framed in the next week or two. Fingers crossed it will go well with everyone involved.

Yes Posters

•August 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Here are three of my favourite entries for a poster competition run by Bella Caledonia and the Scottish Independence Convention (@ScotIndConv)

To see the long list of entries visit


Ciaran Murphy

yes MOUNTAIN copy

Rosie Balyuzi

Andrew Mac

Andrew Mac


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