Fiesta Bay

(60cm x 30cm Oil) August 2016

I wanted to do a landscape painting this time.  This was a more free-flowing picture than the previous ones.  It started with a sundown sky and the shape of the bay.  It quickly became a busy touristy-type location with hundreds of high-rise hotels and apartments. The sky, the street lighting and the fireworks reflecting across the bay gave evidence to the expanse of water.  I can imagine walking along the beach, past the umpteen restaurants and cafes, watching the fireworks as I move through the throngs of excited and happy party people.  Mine’s a vodka and orange.  Cheers!  

No Words

(30cm x 40cm Oil) August 2016

Everyone would have seen the news coverage at the time of rescuers digging out this 5 year old boy from the rubble of what used to be his home in Syria.

The image was so strong but even more poignant was the fact that the boy just sat there, saying nothing, stunned, disorientated, staring out of the back of the ambulance.

The painting.

I wanted to paint this one simply because the image was so striking.  

The crumpled folds in the t-shirt, the tatty denim shorts, the dust-matted hair, the shoeless feet and, particularly, the boy’s stare.  You can hardly see the eye on the right because its caked in a mixture of blood and dust but the eye on the left had to show the look of disorientation and the delayed shock of what had just happened to him.

I wanted him to be dwarfed by the big orange seat to show just how tiny and fragile he is.  

(The boys name, I discovered later, is Omran Daqneesh.  He lost his older brother in the bombing but he didn’t know that at the time the photo was taken.  The door to that particular  nightmare had yet to be opened to him.)



(30cm x 40cm Oil) September 2016

This is Ben, my neighbour’s dog.

I had promised to paint him and had just finished the boy’s painting so I thought I’d have a go at painting an animal.

Bearing in mind this is not just a dog, it’s a dog that people have known since it was a daft puppy, bouncing around all over the place.  Now Ben’s grown into a ‘proper’ dog, with all the grown features.  He’s still got boundless energy and he’s one of the friendliest dogs I’ve known.

I painted Ben from a photo I’d taken when his owner had been throwing a ball for him to chase and retrieve.  He wasn’t even tired but it was the chance to get him to sit down for two seconds while I took the picture.

This is the first painting I’ve done for someone else to own.

Hardly a ‘commission’ but painting this was different from painting one of my own choice.  It’s more exacting, it’s got to please someone else, it’s not yours to say ‘That’s it, that’ll do’.


The RSC and Holy Trinity Church

(60cm x 30cm Oil) September 2016

One of my favourite places.  Stratford-upon-Avon.  As a family we used to spend the whole of the summer school holidays there.  Today, more than before, the town is dominated by, and owes its visitor income to, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  Recently remodelled with the addition of the tower (there did used to be a water tower almost in the same place) the new internal theatre structure and company facilities.  I was happy with the perspective and that I managed to crow-bar the Church in on the left.  Not quite exactly placed or to scale but I wanted to show a building that a lot of people miss. Almost hidden behind the Theatre.  I’ve noticed a little ‘impressionism’ creeping in but it’s all part of the ease that I look at some aspects of painting. For example, look at the theatre goers enjoying an interval drink or two under the red canopies.  I simply painted a load of dark dots just below the canopy edge, then a load of flesh-toned dots just below  that and then a mix of multi-coloured dots below that.  They represent nothing but when I take a close look at the ‘throng’ even I can make out individual people talking to other individual people.

JMW Turner

(Self Portrait)

(40cm x 50cm Oil) October 2016


The self-portrait was painted when he was twenty-four.

Born in Covent Garden, his cockney accent was initially a drawback in the art-world, to a point where, when giving a talk at the Royal Academy, all the audience walked out, except for his father.  They said his accent was so strong they couldn’t understand what he was saying.  It was a snobbery which they would learn to suppress when his paintings began to capture the public’s imagination and more importantly sell for huge sums of money.

For me, this painting shows an eagerness and an optimism.

Known as ‘The Painter of Light’ this is echoed in his final words:-

“The Sun is God”

Some say that copying is valueless to an artist.

I disagree.  The techniques used to simply apply paint to canvas has to be learned.  

You learn to look at, almost, microscopic detail at each original and attempt to reproduce it, as well as an amateur can.  Copying also steers you towards or away from certain styles of painting to a point where you start to develop your own.


Girl with the Pearl Earring

(40cm x 50cm) August 2016

This painting was going to be of Scarlett Johansson but when I searched for a picture of her I was reminded that she was the ‘Girl’ in the film ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ which was based on the life of Johannes Vermeer.  When I saw his original painting I knew this was the one I wanted to paint.

The eyes of the girl were the whole reason for the painting.  The look.  Her look.  

Usually I would start with the eyes; if you can’t get these right then there’s little point.  But this time, because I was really concerned about the eyes, I began with the head-scarf with its folds and creases.  Then I had to paint the mouth; which, if you look at the original, is not very distinct, almost a blur.  Then it was time for the eyes.  I spent as long on those eyes as I did for the rest of the painting, but it was worth it.

I had to force myself to stop painting this one.

The final clean-up seemed to go on forever.

You can go one step too far, as I nearly did, and ruin the whole thing.

Stop!  Sign the thing.  Lay down your brushes.  Step away from the painting and no-one gets hurt!


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Gallery 2