Winter closes in…

Drifter no. 25, 15 x 21 cm. mixed media on paper, Nov. 2021

Today the weather is, at present, fairly decent…chilly but sunny.  But it’s that time of year when some days are pretty gloomy and it comes hard to work in the cold studio.  So out come my box sets, not the videos but one or the other of my ongoing series of small paper works.

Drifter no. 28, 15 x 21 cm. mixed media on paper, Nov. 2021

Over the past few days I’ve been adding to the Drifters (15 x 21 cm.).  They sit in size order between the Landscapes (20 x 23 cm.) and the Festive’s (13.5 x 15 cm.) with the Pockets (10 x 10.5 cm.) and Baby ‘G’s (8 x 8 cm.) further down and the Geo’s (27 x 27 cm.) further up the line.

Drifter no. 29, 15 x 21 cm. mixed media on paper, Nov. 2021

What is the point of all these you might reasonably ask…well it’s a way of recycling paper works that never resolved, trying out ideas and – well – just keeping busy…

Drifter no. 34, 15 x 21 cm. mixed media on paper, Dec. 2021

Time past and time passing…

Davie’s July Sixty Four, 75 x 65 cm., acrylic on canvas, Sept. 2021

I didn’t know Atta Kwami well but our paths crossed occasionally over the years through his partner the artist Pamela Clarkson who I’ve known since the 1980’s.  So it was a sad shock to see that he has passed.  My thoughts go to Pam, a printmaker of distinction whom I briefly mentioned in my Cloughies Eyes blog.

One of Atta’s great strengths as a painter was his mastery of colour, something I rather struggle with.  My solution has normally been to go towards pastels and darkness…though in the past decade I’ve tried to be bolder with my use of the palette.  At the moment I’m working on three new canvases where, alongside the colour, I’m trying to let in the light too.  Perhaps a response to the gathering gloom of late autumn as we hurtle towards winter.  The first of them is finished I think and uses a fragment of text from July 1964, a poem by Donald Davie.

Mopping Up…

Painting The Town Red, the Melton leg of The Heart Of Rural England series. 28 30 x 40 cm. oils on canvas 2020/21

I’m rubbish at finishing up anything…I’m not – as someone once said on one of those awful management profiling sessions – ‘a completer’. Still by my standards the first of this group was only dated back in early 2020 so this is both high productivity and well-honed decision making! And as luck has it the group consists of twenty eight so neatly fitting together in the seven by four grid. This means I’ve now got three of the districts that make up The Heart Of Rural England (that’s the strap line taken from the Leicestershire county boundary sign). It’s taken very nearly a decade to get NW Leics., Charnwood & Melton sorted and with four more to go…plus the city itself its a moot point as to whether this series is ever completed – by me at least! The only plus point being that I seem to be speeding up as I go.

Church & States…

Church of St. Basil, Toller Fratrum, Dorset

Sometimes images just beg to be the beginnings of a painting and this conjunction of the fragment of the Magdelene set into the wall with the shelf and plate above at the Church of St. Basil in the tiny hamlet of Toller Fratrum in Dorset is certainly one such for me. Of course the final painting may turn out nowt like its origins as plainly explained by the sadly departed Thomas Nozkowski in this interview. And yes before you ask we have been gallivanting again…courtesy of our pals Allan & Moira…to the Jurassic Coast, a favourite nowadays. We were following in the footsteps of John Piper, as eloquently explained in Alexandra Harris’ book Romantic Moderns, an artist I’ve come to admire more and more as I get older.

Pocket Geo no.2

The trips away more often than not galvanise me into action on my return and on this occasion it got me moving on a resolution of yet another of my box sets. I’d quite some time ago prepped another set – one to sit between the Baby Geos and the Festive Geos as regards their size. But until today I’d not found either a title for them or indeed completed any to my satisfaction. Now hooray I have six made – and the Pocket Geos are ready to go! They are just the thing for fiddling with at the kitchen table under the daylight lamp in the early hours through winter.

The loose ends…

Mort’s Hermaness, Acrylic on paper, 110 x 30 cm. 2021

I’ve a passion for poetry that began in my early teens. Actually it went underground between my twenties and sixties but has come back roaring in the past decade. I have an inkling its that way as regards our obsessions for many of us. I’ve rifled through a fair number of my favourites for the text that wraps around my paintings of late – Redgrove, in particular and Charles Wright is another. But recently I’m rather taken with Helen Mort‘s Division Street. Not least because of her poem North Of Everywhere that takes Shetland as inspiration. Perhaps because her work is more contemporary I’m wondering what the etiquette and legality is in using fragments of these many poets? Of course – as yet – I’ve not exhibited these works much (several were installed at Deda last winter but, courtesy of COVID, nobody saw them) and other than this blog they’ve not been publicly released but…

Mort’s Shetland, Acrylic on paper, 137.5 x 33.5 cm. 2021

Anyway these two have been on the studio wall since late June, so time to get them completed ahead of our holiday…stand by for reports from the Outer Hebrides…

More thinking…

Frisby (Painting The Town Red), oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm. 2021

Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what you are trying to do – take for instance the project I’ve mentioned once or twice – the Hinckley and Bosworth leg of my Heart of Rural England series. I went out on the first trip for this leg two weeks back and again this past week. But I was struck by the fact that my enthusiasm for taking the photographs that have previously made up the imagery for the canvases has somewhat waned. Not surprising really given that as I go into this part of the project it gets harder and harder to find arresting and original images that might make up the canvas in question.  After all Burbage (trip 1) is really no more than a suburb of Hinckley nowadays and is not so different to several others…The villages of Ratcliffe Culey, the ‘Sheepy’s – Magna & Parva, and Sibson (trip 2) much like many others across the county.  Maybe it’s time for rethink?

Craxton (Painting The Town Red), oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm. 2021

I mused on this whilst walking across to Burbage Common – a walk that took me away from the ‘town’ and into the Leicestershire Countryside, and again whilst journeying between the latter group, a longer trip of around 7.5 miles.   Of course I took plenty of pictures in and between locations that might just be what I’m looking for on this leg of the journey.  But it needs mulling over for a bit….more thinking required!

Something that doesn’t need much further thought is the alarming decline of our rivers and streams.  The second trip involved criss-crossing Shenton Brook several times and passing the rivers Sence and Tweed.  All seemed pretty much as dead as the dodo in regard to wildlife…a sad story if my surmise is correct? Meanwhile two more completed paintings from part three of the Heart Of Rural England (Melton Borough – Painting The Town Red)


For some reason I cannot title the image directly underneath anymore (thanks WordPress!). But this is a reworking of one of my many Map pictures that never got resolved and I’ve titled it GBloodyseven in the context of it being an OS map of West Penwith with the site of the G7 event picked out in the composition of it (acrylic on map, 90 x 101 cm.). I did it this morning reflecting on the fact that these people see themselves as ‘Global’ leaders…even though they represent only around 10% of the global population (though with around 60% of its wealth). Looking at them lording it round Carbis Bay it made me think that they were the perfect examples of ‘never put in charge anybody who wants to be in charge’!

Still here…still plugging away

It seems I’ve missed posting anything for well over a month – I guess that’s ‘lockdown’ for you. But I’m still at it, making work and planning projects. One is coming up soon…and monopolising quite a bit of my time at present.

There’s more information about it here…but if you just want the pictures they will appear on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook each day from SATURDAY April 17th.

Meanwhile I’m still pushing on with both the Lunar Pulls pictures (though rather occasionally and with a change of focus and approach) and the latest instalment of the ‘mega-project’ that is tracking the whole of Leicestershire through series of paintings for each district. I’m currently on the third leg, the Melton District, that I’m calling Painting The Town Red. This is the painting for Kirby Bellars.

Kirby Bellars, 30 x 40 cm., oil on canvas, 2021

As the days drift by…

Work continues, and some things are completed. But it gets harder to find motivation during this – seemingly – everlasting lockdown. Not least as the prospects of work ever seeing the light of day seem ever more remote. However I had my first jab a couple days back so as more and more of us are inoculated we can only hope that some kind of partial resolution of our predicament is somewhere up ahead. Meanwhile I’ve polished off another Enid panel…

Enid’s Chelsea Nightclub, Acrylic on panel, 30 x 30 cms.

and I’m also delighted to be able to post the very first of the paintings that will comprise the third series of Leicestershire boroughs – Painting The Town Red – the Melton District series. This one is Welby. I doubt anyone knows the place so my take on it remains an enigma!

Welby (Painting The Town Red), oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cms.


Enid’s Nash, acrylic & ink on board, 30 x 30 cm., Feb. 2021

These panels were carried over from Very Like Jazz…from a few years back. So I’ve dusted them off and worked them up dreaming my dreams of Marx and Nash in NYC – I don’t know if either of them ever visited but no matter…

Enid’s Ticker Tapes, acrylic & ink on board, 30 x 30 cm., Feb. 2021
Enid’s Morning Lake, acrylic & ink on board, 30 x 30 cm., Feb. 2021

And amongst them are one or two from other reveries…

Krazy Keyser Korner Geezer, acrylic on board, 30 x 30 cm., Feb. 2021