Wednesday, 26 July 2017


For quite a long while now I have been absent from blogland partly due to the loss of my mojo and partly due to a lack of time, however, I've recently had two events that have spurred me on to doing some art again. Firstly, after a long absence from my blog, I was staggered to receive an enquiring post from one of my followers, Hilda Muxo Klinger. To say I was very touched is an understatement. Thank you Hilda. The second event was a commission.

In October 2015, my sister and her husband, Ian, were out together when he suddenly collapsed. An ambulance was called but despite the determined efforts of the paramedics my brother-in-law never regained consciousness. He had shown no signs of illness and was a very active 63-year old. His loss came as a massive shock to us all and my sister was devastated, the suddenness robbing her of any opportunity to say 'goodbye'.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister asked me if I felt like tackling a portrait of Ian. At times like this our 'mojo' is irrelevant and I said I'd be happy to do a pencil portrait for her. Suitable reference photo's were hard to find and none showed his eyes as anything other than black blobs, which showed no life. However, a little artistic licence allowed me to create some 'sparkle' and detail where the photo's had none. I have been quite anxious about doing such an important portrait but today I handed the framed portrait to my sister and I was delighted with her response..... she was thrilled.

And now, with the portrait finished, I find myself wondering "What's next?". That's a good sign, right? But first of all I'm off to have a look at some of Hilda's wonderful pastels.  ;-)

Monday, 27 February 2017

A little nostalgia

Once upon a time, as a young teenager, my friends and I used to go train-spotting. Sometimes, as a special treat, we would take a packed lunch and catch a train ride to another station a stop or two down the line so we could 'spot' other trains. One very regular engine on those runs was an Ivatt class, 2MT 2-6-2T No 41218.  It was built at Crewe works in September 1948 and remained in service until July 1965 when it was withdrawn and ultimately scrapped.

My brother-in-law/cousin is a keen train enthusiast with a substantial model layout in his spare room. He also used to train spot at the same time as I did and it was reminiscing with him that inspired me to want to do a drawing of this fondly remembered engine. Fired with interest I did some googling and found a couple of photo's of similar engines (different numbers but the same class) online. I used them for reference to recreate engine 41218 in graphite. 

It's been a long time since I last did anything like this and I thoroughly enjoyed every second.

N.B. For any beginners interested I've posted a series of Work-in-progress photo's on my web site.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Best Xmas present ever

There are significant medical reasons why I never expected to ever be a grandparent, and I'm not going to elaborate on them in such a public arena, but suffice it to say it was something I never dare dream of. Which is why, when my daughter Tracy gave birth to a bonny bouncing baby girl on Tuesday, December 13th, it really did feel like a miracle. 

"Holly Evelyn" weighed in at 6lbs 12ozs and mother and baby are both doing very well. Husband and new father Darren is doing a sterling job of looking after the girls in his life and I'm immensely proud of them all. 

My wife and I have a bauble on our christmas tree for each close family member, and both of our dearly loved and long-passed dogs, Sally and Tess, so it was with huge joy and a bursting heart that I added one more bauble to the tree this year.

We will be spending a few days with Tracy, Darren and Holly over Christmas and I have a sneaky feeling that Santa's sack is going to be quite a lot heavier than usual.

Whatever you're doing this Christmas, and whoever you're doing it with, I wish you the very best of Christmases and hope your dreams can come true too. 

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Pen with Ink washes

LOL. I started this post with the words "It's been a long time since I last posted....." but then noticed my previous post which started the exact same way. Thing is, while non-arty matters initially got in the way of my art, over time I totally lost my mo-jo. Even when I did find myself with time for art, I was totally devoid of the slightest inclination. Those of you who've experienced it will know just how it feels. 

For some odd reason, a few weeks ago I started thinking about how ink might be diluted in water to create an ink wash. After a while I decided I just had to have a go to see what the effect would be. I haven't done any research or looked things up online, I thought I'd just jump in and discover things for myself. Having found a suitable subject I spent time doing a pen drawing which would provide the framework and detail to which the ink washes could then be added. 

The pen work was fairly routine for me as it's my favourite medium anyway but I found the excitement mounting as I neared the final stage of adding the washes. I obviously didn't make too many pen marks where I knew the washes would be. Estimating the ratio of ink to water involved a lot of guess work but that was half the fun. Where I got a real buzz was when I dropped neat ink into still wet paler washes. Watching the ink bleed and teasing it into the right places with my brush was amazing and I absolutely love the purple tints that magically appeared in some places. I imagine that different inks will cause different colour separation so I'm keen to try various inks. If any of you have experience with inks in this way I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Pastel Pencils

"Sally" - Pastel Pencils - 8" x 6"

It's been a long time since I last participated in blogland as 'life' gets in the way sometimes, as we all know. Though I'm not properly back into my art yet I did have an opportunity a few days ago to draw or paint for a short while. Last Christmas my daughter bought me a small set of Pastel Pencils because I'd expressed an interest in them and I thought it about time that I got them out and had a play. I don't know what sort of thin card I used so don't know how typical it is or how it compares to 'proper' pastel card but this oddment was lying around so it seemed sensible to use it for my first trial. I have to say I found the experience quite enlightening. I  found the mixing of colours on the 'canvas' and the blending process so much easier than with coloured pencils. On the negative side I did find sharpening the pencils difficult as some of them kept breaking and obviously they don't keep their point for long. All in all I really enjoyed my short venture into Pastel Pencils and hope to do a lot more with the, in the future.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Scurry racing

For some time now I've fancied trying to draw something bursting with drama and action but finding a suitable subject hasn't been easy. A few weeks ago I had the idea of Horse & Carriage racing having seen a photo of Prince Philip doing just that. Searching the web I discovered the Facebook page of photographer Paul Orchard whose wife Chris Orchard races scurry's. Paul's site is oozing with fabulous photo's of this action-packed sport and one photo jumped out at me. Dropping him an enquiring line I was delighted when he replied saying I could use his photo as a reference.

The picture is of Chris Orchard (driver) and Charlotte Kenyon (counter balance) and the scurry is being pulled by ponies "Rough and Tumble". The event was the Horse of the Year Show  at the NEC in October 2015.

Friday, 12 February 2016

If at first ...

As we all know, not every drawing or painting comes out  to our entire satisfaction. Some artists will paint over work they are displeased with, or scrap it and do it again. That is something I have never done .... until now.

You may remember that just before Christmas I produced a pencil portrait of my father. Though I was fairly pleased with it, there were a few things about the drawing that have always bothered me. Nothing that stops me thinking it's a good portrait and a good likeness, but just little things that maybe only I would notice. These things have been niggling at me and causing me to think I could, and should, have done better. So here is my second attempt .... "Dad 2".