Sheena’s Mum

shenas mum 49

49-49-49 logo

I have started this project for the upcoming 2018 Open Studios Weekend at the Courtyard Studios in Irvine.

49 portraits on 7″x7″ boards, each taking 49 minutes to paint.

This means just under two per day till Oct 4th. It’s doable, yet a bit mad to commit to such folly!

It’s a cure for procrastination and a great way to keep learning.

This is number 6 with 43 to go.

Janie (half way stage)

Janie unfiniahed 5aug

I am painting Janie partly for an exercise for the Thursday group, to show in detail my process of three quarter length portrait painting. Also, to build up a portfolio of portraits to have in the studio.

This is after four two hour sessions at the easel. Not including sitting time and composing the photographs. So there are four layers of thin paint on the face and only one layer on the body and arms. The face is actually almost finished.

This is quick for me which is encouraging, I am learning speed at last! It has helped to schedule the work into a daily routine of sorts. Keeping distractions to a minimum is always a struggle but I am winning for now.

It ain’t over till it’s over

Margaret Strang portrait 30 may 2016

Playing a risky game going back to a painting I thought I had finished. It needed another session, though, to adjust and correct and give it a once over. You need to reach that point where you have done all you can and know that any more will not improve it.

Sometimes, of course, you can misjudge and lose the work or at least lose the freshness. Here, I think I am satisfied that the final session was worth it.

Now, if I can resist painting a little bit more on the neck, it is finished.

that neck, though….

It’s that woman again

Margaret demo Ayr sketch club

This study was a demonstration for Ayr Sketch Club. An oil portrait of Margaret who is enduring a long spell as my favourite subject for demo’s for the time being. I have one more to go on Wednesday and then Margaret’s face can have a rest. I do plan a finished oil portrait of Margaret one day, but time won’t allow it for a wee while yet.



Judy Phillips

Judy Phillips


This is Judy Phillips, wife of Stephen who has already been portraitised and shown seven posts ago. Their son Richard is also pictured below. I painted Richard for a demonstration in the Saturday class!

I had to be aware of the other portrait in terms of colour and composition; knowing they will be hung together. I’m still enjoying the prussian blue. It’s a current favourite.

One thing I found surprising was how dark I had to go on the left background in order for the face shadows to look right. I also had something confirmed and do so every time I start a new canvas; painting is difficult!

Richard Demo



A demonstration this morning for the Saturday group. Emphasising tone over colour (without neglecting colour!).

It’s a real shove to force the darks towards the correct level. Your instinct tells you to paint flesh tone, but you have to remind yourself to paint the reflected light instead.

Stephen Phillips MBE

Stephen Phillips portrait pin


A portrait of Professor Stephen Phillips MBE, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Editor-in-Chief of Parasitology, School of Life Sciences at University of Glasgow.
Stephen has a project in mind to have his family in a series of portraits. This being the first one to be completed, Stephen is shown wearing the colours of his team, Partick Thistle.

Alex Salmond portrait

anna mcguire salmond opt


My friend and ex-student, Anna McGuire, had her portrait of Alex Salmond, the outgoing First Minister of Scotland, presented to the very man last week. He very kindly sent her thanks and this photo.

Anna has been a supporter of the SNP for years and is so pleased to be also offered an exhibition of her work at the Scottish Parliament.