A few more towards ‘topping out’…

My last post suggested we were nearing completion…well if 27 of 35 is getting close then four more is closer still. Above we have (my vision !) of Mountsorrel, Rothley, Barrow upon Soar & Beeby. Luckily very few – maybe only one – of my regular observers will know any of these places!

Playground nears completion…

Cossington, 30 x 40 cm. Oil on canvas, Nov. 2020

I started Playground Of The Midlands rather a long time back*. Nothing that unusual as anyone who has followed this for some time will testify. But with these two this part of the larger project really is coming to a close. Of course there are some seven boroughs plus the city so, even with two completed, there are six to go…phew – will I get there? Who knows? But at the current rate of completions you’d be brave to predict success!

Queniborough, 30 x 40 cm. Oil on canvas, Nov. 2020
  • I just checked and the first From The Earth Wealth canvas was completed back in 2011.

Shameless additional plug…

I just donated my piece in this show to the cause…to get a book of the contributions made….and at the last time of looking it seems (with a little over a week to go) that it has only 22% left to raise. So why not head over to Kickstarter and pledge? There’s a range of goodies on offer and the book itself will be really interesting. This initiative from Andrew Bracey has already been a terrific success so please consider capping it with a contribution.

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know how I made my contribution…luckily well ahead of C19! But besides my work there’s plenty of others to tempt you!

Meanwhile back at my ‘day job’ I’m pushing on with part two of my epic journey around Leicestershire…the Charnwood Borough (with its strap line of Playground Of The Midlands…). Today I’ve signed off on Wymeswold (above) & Walton (below).

Turn about…

Thurcaston, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm., 2020

A complete volte face…back to my Playground of the Midlands series…and the lay off means having to put a very different ‘head’ on.  Back to working off of specific visual sources (that is referencing images crudely constructed from photos take on site). Working to resolve them whilst readjusting to using oils and as Thomas Nozkowski used to say keeping them open “so that everything is back in play”.

Sileby, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm., 2020

Stroll on…


and what a grand day to be doing so…hard to believe it’s still early February.  But we (being my pal Simon and myself) got stuck into the latest instalment of the seemingly endless task of visiting every place listed in the various District guides for the county of Leicestershire.  As it happens we haven’t yet completed Melton but a new year gets us out into Harborough (we polished off Charnwood some time back and I did NWLeics years ago).  The point of the exercise for me is to assemble a collection of small (40 x 50 cms.) paintings each representing, albeit very abstractly, every location visited.  For Simon it’s the photographs themselves and, as I’ve said here before, if you want top quality images his blog is where you should head off to!


The paintings are invariably derived, very loosely, from crude collages of images taken on the journey.  So here we have one such…using two snaps made in Thorpe Langton, one of the Langton’s (there are five in all) in the Welland Valley.  Actually the Harborough project is a rather tricky blighter…the previous three guides elided the places on the map contained within the guide and the ‘biogs’ of places therein.  But this one doesn’t – some places are on the map but not discussed and vice versa.  What to do? choose one or the other or do the lot?  A question that won’t need resolution until I get around to the paintings stage and that will be a ways off as Charnwood still has 18 canvases awaiting completion whilst Melton still hasn’t got its full set of collages.

Meanwhile other picture making continues apace…another canvas from a newer series that has a putative title to be announced here soon…  This one is The Approach, acrylic on canvas, 80 x 55 cms.

The Approach.JPG

La La La…

Well time to stick our fingers in our ears…and hope the news (wherever its coming from it seems) goes away… I’m picking out pieces from projects that really need pushing on…like Playground Of The Midlands…  So I give you South Croxton.


Doubt anyone out there will recognise it..though the last time I said that (about Quorn I recall) someone knew exactly where I picked up the imagery.  So you never know.  I wonder how many remainers there were out in South Croxton – you would likely only need one hand!

In the detail

Rock Crushedit’s often in the detail that you get a proper idea of what something is about.  I was re-reading my friend Andrew Bracey‘s excellent catalogue for his detail exhibition where he quotes the painter Malcolm Morley saying that it was in the detail, very close detail indeed that the energy of the painting resided.  Maybe its so…I just started out on the Rock sub set of my Landscape & Memory series…and thought it would be interesting – at the early stage of each of the eighteen works – to take a detail from each.  What it tells me who knows…but anyway I’m studying them nonetheless.


Besides getting on with this project – I’ve set myself a deadline of Christmas to have the lot completed – I’m also setting a harder deadline for the Playground Of The Midlands sub project (the Charnwood leg of the Leicestershire set that began years back with the From The Earth Wealth (aka North West Leics) group.  The third leg of this one – Painting The Town Red, the Melton district – got started at a lick last Spring and then fizzled out towards the end of May. So yesterday myself and my partner in crime Simon rebooted and got over to Bottesford, the most northerly outpost, to begin the task of completing the set.  It has to be admitted that as we plough through what will end up being over two hundred plus settlements across the county it gets harder to find distinctive features  in the many sleepy small villages we encounter!  As often mentioned before head over to Simon’s blog for the decent photos – me I settle for tatty aide memoires for what will become the paintings.  So above is a photo from Bottesford…and below the painting that resulted from a trip, quite a long time back now, to Hathern.

Hathern, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm., 2018

Playing in Charnwood


after all it’s The Playground of the Midlands project.  But sometimes its quite difficult to imagine who came up with this tagline for the Charnwood borough!  Not that Quorn, Barrow, Sileby & Cossington don’t have their charms…after all my pal found love today in the public carpark in Cossington!


So it’s back to this project now.  Three canvases are underway and now we have the visits to more than two thirds of the places listed in the guide under our belt.  As the autumn weather sets in I’ll probably feel more inclined to work up the painting ideas for more of the pictures…and to get on with making them.  Though given that my original deadline was the end of the year for completion of this enterprise I think some revision of the target may be necessary!



I only realised how long it is since I last posted here when I came to write this…one of the biggest longueurs in the time I’ve been doing it.  Whether this is fatigue or just the pressures of other activities or simply that I’ve nothing to say…well who can say? Certainly I cannot.  I’m working quite hard on the group of paintings of which the above is just one and that eats up the hours.  Nor actually doing it but pondering what to do really sees time slip away.  As for the one here it has been proving tough to crack…and plainly it still needs some serious surgery.

Scan 3

Meanwhile in another part of the forest (a good metaphor for my head full of dense wood) I’ve just acquired another Leicestershire District Gazetteer – this time for Melton.  Now there’s a severe danger I shall get ahead of myself, after all I’m only a quarter of the way into Charnwood – ‘Playground of the Midlands’ project.  But I’m amused with the opening sentence in this one – ‘Painting the Town Red’- of which more (much too much more) in the future!


Hustle & Bustle…Playground of the Midlands (2)


Yep its all happening on Main Street in Ratcliffe on the Wreake… just one of our four destinations today on our second expedition as part of the Playground of the Midlands project – aka Charnwood Borough.  My pal Simon gave a little guidance to this trip by weaving Thrussington into the itinerary I’d devised.  His local knowledge put these two locations together with Rearsby and East Goscote so that we were able to take in pretty much the whole Wreake Valley area of Charnwood.  Its been as good a day weatherwise as we have any right to expect in England in February and as we walked towards Thrussington the bright blue skies and the sunshine put a spring in our step.


This village is healthy and wealthy with a really delightful deli come cafe in the centre (and two pubs still functioning).  Its already apparent that in parts at least some of this borough is operating more effectively than quite a few of the villages in NWLeics. where my last project, several years back, revealed many hamlets with boarded up boozers.  On our return from Thrussington into Rearsby we do lunch at The Horse & Groom a very friendly local that does a decent reasonably priced pub grub lunch.  After which onto East Goscote…that I’d been warned not to expect too much from! (my companion in a previous life trod these streets on a regular basis!).  But curiously as we made our way into the centre it suggests an oddity being a village pretty much created from scratch in the 1970’s.  Of course much of it is pure suburban ‘ordinariness’ (at least from the outside)…


but the ‘civic space at its centre is a very eclectic mix of scandinavian and ‘new town’ architecture that contains a very dreary selection of retail outlets (one of which those of us in the know will recognise as run by Michael Portillo)…


But what will I take from the trip in terms of making a picture?  As always finding details and/or points of interest to stimulate the painting process can be hard but here’s a panel that may kickstart a canvas somewhere down the line…