Station Cafe, Saltcoats

•February 23, 2017 • 2 Comments


A demo for New Cunninghame Art Club tonight. A painting of Cafe by the Station in Saltcoats. Painted in oils on canvas, 50cm x  50cm. A cracking victorian building right bang in the middle of town.

I started from top to bottom, quickly blocking in the sky and tentatively putting in the roof and chimneys. At this stage, I could see I was already being too cautious. I speeded up and chucked the paint on and everything seemed to liven up as I progressed. Carefully carefree.


Watercolour exercise (after Elizabeth Blackadder)

•February 19, 2017 • 6 Comments



A watercolour exercise that borrows from Elizabeth Blackadder. A simple nature painting from life. A bit of dead stem from the garden; a daff, a lily and another flower(?) from the shops; and a budding stem also from the garden.

A semi-botanical job, kind of randomly arranged. I would like to put in more to fill the space but there is enough here , I suppose, to get the gist of the exercise.

This is for you, Thursday group!


•February 11, 2017 • Leave a Comment


This was a tricky one. Commissioned as a surprise birthday present for Alan.

I was given a couple of pictures of Alan and was asked to paint his portrait with a violin.

I superimposed his head onto an image of a violinist I found on the net (thanks to Google images!) and clothed him in his own suit which I knew to be blue(ish). It was important to find a body with the right shoulder angle and correct body position for the head to look as if it belonged. It took a few attempts to get close to the rightness of it.

This is a very poor photo of the portrait. I forgot to get a good shot before handing the painting over.

Watercolour exercise

•November 17, 2016 • 4 Comments



An exercise for some in the Thursday gang. A twenty minute watercolour portrait.

Demo – town centre

•November 10, 2016 • Leave a Comment


irvine-coop-building-demoA demonstration today for HAC class.

This is an exercise showing perspective, enhanced colour and simplification of detail.

Demo time was restricted to 2hrs but probably I had 1 1/2 hours of painting. The idea was to show a sketchy, almost cartoony style of painting which is decorative and not beholden to photographic realism. I painted a similar demo a couple of weeks ago shown in an earlier post. I wanted to bring the style into the town, an ordinary town and make a colourful image from an urban photograph. Most members of the group paint from photos so this helps to see a photo as a painting, I hope.

This is Irvine on the south west coast of Scotland.

Book Covers

•October 25, 2016 • 3 Comments


I was looking for something to read when I came across these old things.

In the 80’s I was a graphic design student before coming to the conclusion I was more suited to being a penniless artist. It’s the money I am averse to!

One of the briefs was to produce three book covers as part of a series of Fontana publications. Each one representative of a title within the science, philosophy and literature sections of the series.

Here are my efforts from back then. I am still fond of these mock ups.

Hidden under the mock ups are the real books as follows; The Outsider by Camus, The Present Age by Kierkegaard and Once Upon A Planet, an anthology in aid of Friends of the Earth.

In the style of…

•October 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Yesterday, I demo’d  this painting from a photograph that one of the Monday group provided.

It is fairly common for students to pour over detail and produce a painting that flatly copies a photo and loses energy or vitality in the translation . The beauty of a memorable spot seen on holiday can be captured by the camera but back in the studio it becomes extremely difficult to add or maintain life in the painting.

In this style above, I have simplified the detail by using a bigger brush which cancels out any attempt at small stuff; I saturated colour and chose pastel colours instead of natural hues (darks become purple and blues); I worked quickly to maintain spontaneity; Also, I removed any distractions (in this case, figures) to simplify composition

Looking again, I should have been bolder with shadows under the trees.



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