Thursday, 22 February 2018

Crab Pots and Men's Sheds

I was recently contacted (through Gateshead Art Society) by Graham Storer, asking if I might agree to the use of one of my paintings on a postcard to advertise the establishment of a Men's Shed in Staithes.

OK, you may not know what a Men's Shed is and I admit I didn't either, but researching the movement, it looks like a very worthwhile thing and I gladly gave my permission to use the image without a fee.

Here's what Graham has to say about the postcard:

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Trees and Mausoleum

Trees and Mausoleum
(acrylic on board, 30 x 30 cm)

This is the painting I worked on last week to get it ready for the Newcastle Painters Group meeting on Saturday. I had to fight my natural inclination to use brighter colour, but I thought it important to maintain the mood and sombre colour seemed appropriate to do that. So it is that most of it was achieved with raw umber, Payne's grey, unbleached titanium and sap green. Only the sky was allowed a little variation to include cobalt blue, ultramarine, cerulean blue and more Payne's grey. This may not be obvious from the photograph because of reflection into the camera lens. I hope the eventual varnishing will help with that.

[I'm not very happy with the title - Trees with Mausoleum may be accurate but falls short of the more poetic title I think it probably deserves. Serious suggestions welcome.]

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Spanish Pot

Spanish Pot
(acrylic on board, 7 x 7 in.)

Friday afternoon at Gateshead Art Society sometimes presents me with a decision on what I should do. There's a published programme that I'm free to ignore or follow, as the whim takes me, and this can be useful when I'm between paintings.

This week we had visitors at home so what spare time I had available was used to finish of a painting to take to the Newcastle Painters meeting on Saturday (more on that tomorrow) and little opportunity to research subject matter for a new painting to start at the Shipley on Friday. The programme suggested we do a painting without using any brushes and complete it in one session. In a rush, I chose a few tools and paints, grabbed a small prepared panel, printed off a photograph of a pot I'd seen in Seville and set off to make my little painting.

And after about an hour and a half, the painting was done. It was fascinating, frustrating and enlightening to see what could be done with my chosen tools - a pipe cleaner and a cosmetic sponge. The pattern on the pot proved most difficult but I like the rather primitive effect the folded sponge achieved.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Under the Knife

Following the death of my old friend Ian Bennett, members of the Newcastle Painters Group were invited to take whatever of his painting materials they wanted to remind them of him. I needed very little in the way of paints and canvas, but I asked for one or two small brushes and a painting knife.

On Friday, just before going to my session with Gateshead Art Society, I decided I'd take along the painting knife. Then it occurred to me that writing "IAN" on it would ensure it didn't become mixed up with my other tools and that I'd always remember him when I used it.

Imagine my surprise when I turned it over to write on the back with a Posca Pen and found somewhat worn but still legible the "H." that I've often used on my cartoons and sometimes to mark my effects. It was my painting knife! How or when Ian came by it, I have no idea, but I think he would have laughed as much as I did.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Up the garden path again.

Trees and Mausoleum WIP
(acrylic on board, 30 x 30cm)

Another day at Gateshead Art Society, another landscape. Somewhat inspired by The Tower in the Woods, I've begun another building in the woods. The woods in this case came from a sketching trip to Auchterarder and the mausoleum I found on a holiday in Majorca. They came together in my mind, a meeting place for many impossible things before breakfast.

I think it will work OK but in what way, I'm unsure. At the moment it looks a little eerie but whether my sunny disposition will win through, only time will tell.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Sketch Crawl - Shipley Art Gallery

Pieces of 2 Clarinets & 1 English Flute
(0.8 marker and Japanese brushpen in A4 sketchbook)

Very much on home turf for this sketchcrawl last Saturday with the Urban Sketchers Tyne & Wear. The Shipley Art Gallery is where Gateshead Art Society meets and where I go to paint on most Fridays. On those painting days I've often thought I'd like to take a closer look at the objects in the display cases, so while one or two hardy sketchers went out in the icy wind to draw the outside of the gallery building, I concentrated on the cases that contain the contents of the former Saltwell Towers Museum (very much a Cabinet of Curiosities).

Drawing the pieces of musical instrument, I puzzled over how they might fit together. It wasn't until I located the catalogue that I found they were pieces from several different instruments!

Time then for coffee and biscuits in the Henry Rothschild Room, where Kim took this photo of us displaying our creations.

A good turn out!

After coffee, I went back to a drawing I'd started of some bowls by Lucie Rie displayed in a case with some other ceramic pieces. I decided to add a little colour with markers and coloured pencils to bring the whole together. If the perspective on the lower row looks a little suspect (and I know it does!), it's because there was a gap and for the sake of the composition I added another pot from an upper row.

Lucie Rie Bowls and assorted ceramics
(0.8 marker, brushpens and coloured pencils
in A4 sketchbook)

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Mint Street Parade

Mint Street Parade
(acrylic on board, 25 x 25 cm)

In December I had trouble with very visible Sharpie lines on this panel but solved it with a layer of thin paper. Last week I pushed on and thought I'd finished the painting. 

I was a little dissatisfied with what seemed to be simply a street scene with a man standing there with his shopping bag and I'm always acutely aware that the good folk of the North East don't like buying pictures of places they don't recognise and Mint Street is in Lincoln.

My admiration for Carel Weight suggested an addition. In many of Weight's paintings there are mysterious or unexplained events, often taking place out of the picture, and into my head jumped the idea of a passing parade. Hence the balloons.

Oddly, when I showed this picture to my friends at the recent Newcastle Painters meeting, no one noticed the balloons and my little joke was lost.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Winter's Jar

Winter's Jar
(acrylic on board, 24 x 24 cm)

In an effort to get some things done before the next meeting of the Newcastle Painters Group, I pressed on and completed this small winter landscape, featuring another of the pharmacy jars I saw in the Fitzwilliam Museum. The landscape itself is a view of hills in Little Langdale, where I went on one of my painting trips ten years ago. The snow, of course, is pure invention.

I'm really quite pleased with this picture and was glad to find it met with a favourable reaction at the Painters group meeting.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Ian Bennett

Ian Bennett

I'm greatly saddened to report the passing of my old friend and painting buddy, Ian Bennett, who died on 29th of December 2017.

Ian was one quarter of the Figure 8 painting group which we set up in 2004. We had our first exhibition together in that year in the Long Gallery, University of Newcastle and went on to show as Figure 8 in twelve further exhibitions over ten years around the region.

Ian was also instrumental in starting the Newcastle Painters Group and acted as the unofficial "secretary" until last year.

It may have been due to his calling (he was a Canon at St Nicholas's Cathedral in Newcastle - I referred to him fondly as "the loose canon"), but I prefer to believe that it was because he was just a Very Nice Man that I never heard him say a bad thing about anyone. Everyone who knew him liked him.

To the end his greatest wish was to get back to his painting and when his family came to see to his affairs, there was a fresh canvas on his easel.

I shall miss him.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

The Last Cake

The Last Cake before the New Year Diet
(black marker with digital colour)

In the last few days I've posted on my Facebook Pages albums of all the paintings I completed in 2017 and all the sketchbook drawings I did in 2017 directly from the subject (on sketch crawls and on holiday). 

There were 14 paintings (excluding one or two that need to be re-photographed) and 16 sketches. That's not too many. Last year was a somewhat confused year and it took me quite some time to get into the creative swing of things. Drawing with the Tyne & Wear Urban Sketchers kept me (relatively) sane and there was the displacement activity of the Sketchbook Circle, but it wasn't until June that I began painting again.

I expected to resume oil painting and had bought a new radial easel to ease the transition from my old, larger basement studio to the new, attic conversion studio. But in the end, I found myself renewing my acquaintance with acrylics and working at a desk. Partly this was due to my use of water-based media in the Sketchbook Circle books, partly because I wasn't sure about the white spirit fumes in the smaller studio and partly out of a genuine desire to shake things up and try something new.

I last used acrylics in the late 80s and I was delighted to find how different they are today. I'm so please with the paintings I've done with them that I fully expect to continue exploring what they can do for the foreseeable future. 

As for drawing, my sketching with the Urban Sketchers will continue (next sketch crawl is on 27th January - venue yet to be decided) and having dropped out of the Sketchbook Circle for this year, I plan on getting more self-initiated sketchbook work done.

To that end, here's the first little sketchbook drawing of 2018. In the sketchbook it's only a black line drawing, but I still get great enjoyment out of colouring these things in Photoshop. Still, I may try some watercolour on the original in an effort to get more to grips with the slippery stuff so I can use it outdoors.

I hope my Regular Reader stays with me for what I hope will be an interestingly creative twelvemonth. Best Wishes to you all!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Sketch Crawl - The 'Into' Building, 16th December

South Africa War Memorial, from the Into Building
(0.8 marker in A4 sketchbook)

For some reason I completely forgot to post this drawing, done on the last sketch crawl of the year. The "crawl" was a bit unusual, in that the Tyne & Wear Urban Sketchers were invited to join the Newcastle Painters Group for an informal lunch, before we went up to the top floor of Newcastle University's 'Into' Building to do some sketching.

What a view! I've never been able to see the angel on top of the South Africa War Memorial so clearly before and I'm well pleased with the drawing I made. A good end to the year's sketching.

My Dad's Diary : Wed 31st December 1947

"Work again.

Paid 1st full monthly salary £21.14.9.

Saw the New Year in at Mother's with Ronnie & Glad, Billy & Winnie."

And that, of course, is the last entry of the Diary. In the Notes at the bottom of the final diary page are these important dates:


Harry born Jan 29th.

Established as Sen. Mss. Nov 10th."

Finally, at the back of the diary, is a list of music that presumably my Dad listened to and thought worthy of noting down:

"Mood Indigo.
Moonlight Sonata.
Concerto for Two.
Rachmaninoff's Second.
The Flea.
The Folks Who Live on the Hill.
On with the Motley.
The Student Prince.
The Desert Song.
Tommy Dorsey - Getting Sentimental.
Cabin in the Sky.
Gloomy Sunday.
Westering Home (Robert Wilson)
Tenement Symphony (Anne Shelton)
The Folks Who Live on the Hill."

And yes, "The Folks..." does appear twice.

I hope at least some of you have found these diary entries of interest and my thanks to those who may not have found them so, but stayed on nevertheless.

To those who unsubscribed because "Content no longer relevant" I have nothing to say because you won't read it anyway (smiley face).

Friday, 29 December 2017

Ian Bennett RIP

I'm saddened to report that my old friend, Ian Bennett, died last night of pneumonia. His wife Rachel died earlier this year and when I saw him last he was looking very frail.
Ian and I, with two other painters, formed Figure8 in 2004 to show our paintings and we held shows round the region for ten years. This is part of the poster for our last show together in 2014. I shall miss him.

My Dad's Diary : Mon 29th December 1947


Mother minded Harry in PM. 

Took Doris to Westgate to see Charlie Chaplin."

Monsieur Verdoux Poster

The film was probably Monsieur Verdoux, a black comedy in which Chaplin abandoned his little tramp persona to play: "A suave but cynical man supports his family by marrying and murdering rich women for their money, but the job has some occupational hazards."

The film was not well received by the press and did better in Europe than America, but it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing in 1947.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

My Dad's Diary : Sun 28th December 1947

"Usual Sunday. Pottered about in garden.

Five Wand at night."

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

My Dad's Diary : Fri 26th December 1947

"Had walk out with Doris & Harry. Wreath on father's grave."

My Dad used to take me to Saltwell Cemetery every Xmas, without fail, to lay a holly wreath on his Father's grave. After his Mother's death, we changed the day to Xmas Day itself so that we could lay the wreath on her birthday.

My parents were both cremated but I had their ashes put in the same grave and I've made sure I continue the tradition of laying a wreath on the grave, although I now do it on Xmas Eve. This is this year's:

Monday, 25 December 2017

Sunday, 24 December 2017

December Sky

We've been getting some spectacular sunsets recently. The sky last night was particularly impressive.

My Dad's Diary : Wed 24th December 1947

"Everybody half tight in afternoon. Glad to finish off.

 Kept sober myself."

Xmas parties at "The Ministry" were notorious. Shortly before I went to to work there they were stopped, reportedly after a couple were discovered having it off in a telephone kiosk in one of the Blocks. 

After that, we could only have office parties in the local pubs, most notably "Block 18" - The Newton Park Hotel.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Friday, 22 December 2017

My Dad's Diary : Mon 22nd December 1947

"Joe on holidays. Looking after 10 & 11 Blocks. Saw Bennett re. shuttle instructions."

Thursday, 21 December 2017

My Dad's Diary : Sun 21st December 1947

"Took Harry for a walk, called in at Freeman's.

Usual night with Ronnie."

I don't know who Freeman was.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

My Dad's Diary : Fri 19th December 1947

"Association night.

Bought D.L.I. Journal."

Monday, 18 December 2017

My Dad's Diary : Thurs 18th December 1947

"Damp & cold.

Drew £3 out of Post Office. Went to Ritz with Doris."

Ritz Cinema, that is.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

I Looked *Everywhere*.

Winter's Jar WIP
(acrylic on board, 24 x 24 cm)

Still Life with Fish and Chair WIP
(acrylic on board, 10 x 10 in)

Collage Jar WIP
(acrylic on board, 18 x 20 cm)

On Friday I decided to try to get these three paintings finished in time for a meeting of the Newcastle Painters Group on Saturday, only to realise I couldn't find my box of paints. During the week we'd moved the rest of my stuff from the old house and in making room for all the boxes, I'd put my container of most-used colours Somewhere Safe.
After a search Everywhere, I pressed on with some of my other colours but progress was slow and I didn't complete any of them. Still, they were well-received on Saturday and I've since looked in that other place that wasn't Everywhere and found the mislaid paints.

My Dad's Diary: Wed 17th December 1947

"Damp and cold."

Saturday, 16 December 2017

My Dad's Diary : Mon 15th, Tues 16th December 1947

Mon 15th 

______________ [no entry]

Tues 16th

"Damp and cold.

Using bicycle for work again."

Thursday, 14 December 2017

My Dad's Diary : Sun 14th December 1947

"Ronnie's baby christened.

Usual night at Five Wand."