Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I think that’s probably a correct assessment in respect to their approach to their work. There are two instances in my experience that confirm this statement

I remember a clip from a video I have of Fred Cuming RA painting outdoors ‘sur le motif’. The painting was quite advanced when suddenly he took a 3 inch house painters brush and covered a large middle distance section with a neutral grey. Drastic – but clearly the painting was not going well.

Even more surprising was Lars Jonsson’s complete removal of a bird from one of his paintings. In one of his books he showed a step by step demonstration of an oil painting. It showed a group of six partridges in snow. All of the birds were nearing completion when the next frame had a foreground bird covered with white paper. Sure enough in the final stage the bird had gone and he used a line of bird’s footprints to lead the eye in to the main group.

The lesson is that however much effort has been put in if things are not going well ruthless rubbing out may be the only solution.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I’m working hard with Acrylics at the moment exploring the working properties of the Golden Open brand. They’re a terrific improvement on existing heavy body acrylics and paint put out on the palette will stay workable for a week before it begins to skin over – that is if the palettes is covered over and sealed - (I use a plastic box with a close fitting lid.) At present I’ve got three new paintings on canvas supports on the go but for extra practice I’m also reworking older paintings.The first version of Ramsey Island dates back to 1991. I used Rowney Cryla or Liquitex on 6mm mdf board. These are the original sketchbook drawings made on a summer holiday in Pembrokeshire.

The reworked version developed from seeing a rather overcast evening sky through the studio window.

Ramsey Sound has a group of rocks known as ‘The Bitches’ which are a hazard when the tide is low. I’ve been able to indulge my current fascination with birds by changing some of them into a flight of Oystercatchers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Sorting through some of my sketchbooks today I came across a booklet printed to accompany an exhibition of James Sellars  life and work.  James Sellars  taught at the Hereford and Southampton Colleges of Art.  He developed a range of painting styles  suited  to the medium he was using. He worked in pastel, tempera, gouache, etching, aquatint, and lithograph.

There is a link to ‘The Brotherhood of Ruralists’ website which has an illustrated page about him. http://ruralists.com/features/sellars/index.html

Collage also was a significant feature of his creative output – a technique which was adopted enthusiastically by his students. The cover design was produced by one of them. It’s a lovely arrangement of decorative shapes which also uses strong colour to good effect.  The balanced placing of the printed title works well and the use of a sans serif font is entirely appropriate.

I wish that designs for our Ludlow Art Society Exhibitions were conceived in a similar direct way. There is a valuable lesson to be learned from a study of collage for designing publicity material. The following is another link which gives more information about the artist.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Stewart Island is located off the southern tip New Zealand. It is wild, and unspoiled. I was there last February and after a rather hectic week I felt in need of quiet solitude.  I spent the week-end reliving the experience through photographs I’d taken searching for subjects to paint. 

It is a natural paradise and a haven for wildlife. A guided walk on Ulva  Island a protected nature reserve in Half Moon Bay in heavy rain promised a sighting of South Island Kiwis which are not nocturnal. I think the rain must have kept them under cover but one flightless bird did present itself. A Weka  which was browsing in the bush just a few feet away from the footpath and quite unconcerned by the walking party.

For this sketch I’ve used Liquitex Acrylic on Canson pastel paper.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Local Sparrowhawk.

He's the 'invader' I mentioned on the earlier blog. It's always good when he pays a visit because he's an interesting bird to draw. I hope he won't outstay his welcome by making his visits too frequently!


Activity on my bird feeders has virtually ceased. Last week it was the local Sparrowhawk that provided some excitement. I caught a back view of a grey bird on the lawn that I assumed was a pigeon until it raised its head and looked around. Sure enough there was the hooked yellow bill and sharp eyes. The birds on the feeders took flight and he set off in pursuit.

I assume he didn't make a kill because he was back briefly on his branch in the apple tree. He was off before I had chance to take a photograph all I could manage was a scribble from memory. It was annoying because he presented a back view and I wanted to study the tail feathers particularly the underside. There was a brief moment of hope when he presented himself on the ash tree at the end of the garden. Hope was dashed when he changed his perch and presented a front view where he would have had a clear view of the feeders.

The 'regulars' kept away never to return that day. At the week-end there was an invasion of Jackdaws and today they were back together with four healthy looking magpies. The Jackdaws and magpies have acquired the skill of clinging to the fat ball feeders and pecking away to provide pickings for their mates waiting on the ground below.

Once they're away the resident Great Spotted Woodpecker returns to claim his place on the nut feeder and a few tits and greenfinches return for seeds. No sign of the Chaffinch and Goldfinches we used to get browsing the lawn.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Pied Stilts, Lake Okaro.

Lake Okaro is a lovely quiet stretch of water near Rotorua on North Island, New Zealand. There was a small flock of Pied Stilts feeding in a small bay. They were disturbed by the slightest movement so I had to wait quietly for them to return. I made these flight studies of some of the birds with the aim of composing a painting. The three left hand birds flew on by the two on the right were preparing to settle in the shallows.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Welcome Visitors

These Bramblings were some of the welcome visitors to my garden last winter. The bird feeders attract a number of migrant birds each winter as well as resident ones. We never see Bramblings or Fieldfares until migrant flocks arrive. More common are Blue and Great Tits and Greenfinches but usually from November on things become more interesting.