Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Rob and Caz Together

Rob and Caz Together (Oil with sand on canvas, 30x30 cms)

First of all, I hope you all had a good Xmas.

Like last year, I set myself a secret project which I couldn't tell you about until now. This is a painting based on a photograph I took at the wedding of Pat's son, Rob, to Caz (or Caroline, depending on who reads this) and I did it as a combined wedding and Xmas present for them. Luckily, they stayed with us for a few days at Pat's flat in Tynemouth, so I was able to give it to them on Xmas Day, even though the surface was still a little tacky.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Sunday, 19 December 2010

For Auld Lang Syne

Architctural Fragment (Pilot disposable pen in A5 sketchbook)

One of the traditions of the Art Club is to hold a bit of a party in the studio on a Thursday shortly before Xmas. And that's what we did last Thursday. Despite a fresh scattering of snow, there was a good turnout of around 25 people. The tables were well presented with pies, cakes, sausage rolls, and all the other things that members had thought fit to bring., including bottles of wine.

We all had a good time, but what made this one memorable and worthy of comment here, I think, is that this was the last such party we'll ever have in the studio at Bolbec Hall. Things have been uncomfortable at Bolbec for some time now, because the owners can't let the rest of the building, they're losing money on it hand over fist and a new buyer hasn't been forthcoming. Would you want to buy a building with the oldest (listed) lift in Newcastle and an art club in the attic?

So, in April next year. we'll up sticks and move to new premises at the Newcastle Arts Centre. This promises to be an interesting new era for us. I understand the studio there isn't quite as big as the one we currently occupy and it will cost us more, but I'm sure there will be compensations (not least the presence of an arts materials shop downstairs).

The club will also be changing it's name from the North of England Art Club (incorporating the Newcastle Society of Artists) to the Newcastle Society of Artists (incorporating the North of England Art Club). You see what we did there? There are historical reasons for the change, as well as practical ones - galleries are more interested in a "Society" than a "Club", for instance.

So the party was a good one, but certainly a poignant one.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Sargy Mann, Blind Painter

Sargy Mann from Peter Mann Pictures on Vimeo.

Sargy Mann was diagnosed with cataracts at age 36 and eventually lost his sight altogether. However, he continues to paint.

An inspiration to us all.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Preview Night at Churchill House

Newcastle, in common with many cities round the country, has innumerable 19th century offices standing empty. Years ago, a group of artists I was associated with tried to negotiate the use of one of these offices as a gallery space, The problem turned out to be that most of them are on the first floor or higher and the fire escapes are inadequate or even non-existent. As a consequence they constitute a hazard for public use and the idea came to nothing.

So when I received this invitation to a private view organised by the Newcastle Artists Society in Churchill House, I was curious to see how they'd arranged things. Churchill House in Mosley Street is a big impressive, listed building fallen on hard times. There's an Italian restaurant on the corner, but not much else that's memorable (and I have doubts about the memorability of the restaurant). The current owners are making efforts to do up the inside and rent out office space. As part of that they've come to an agreement with the NAS which allows them to mount exhibitions on the corridor walls and up the staircase. Artists get exposure (with the potential for sales) and the building gets free decoration: seems to be a reasonable arrangement.

It was a fascinating experience wandering the warren of corridors on three floors (I gather there are plans for a fourth to be opened up) , one of them turning out to be circular and the map I got from the reception room proved very useful! The work comprised paintings, prints and wall-hung sculpture; not all of it to my taste, but I'd have it no other way.

Private views have been disappointing in the last few years. Many of the decent galleries have gone and what we've been left with is the glitzy end of things where pushy salesmen try to sell you crap cartoons dolled up with a bit of "hand embellishment" and passed off as art. Yes, yes, that's a value judgement, but it's my value judgement. What these galleries attract is the type of punter who knows nothing about art, has no wish to talk about it other than to wonder if it will go with the decor. Artists themselves are generally not to be found.

So it was great to walk into Churchill House last night and immediately find myself talking to Richard Dobson over a couple of bottles of pils. I'd never met Richard before, but he works at the framer's I used recently and lives only a short walk away from me. Small world.

It's always good to be able to trade experiences with another artist and it doesn't have to be a painter. When Richard left, I fell straight away into conversation with Glenn Gibson, a photographer from Newcastle whose work graces the entrance lobby. Completely different from Richard, but just as entertaining a conversationalist, I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Glenn.

So, a good night which I wasn't really expecting. I hope I might be able to participate in shows there in the future. As for the title of the show - don't ask me. "Corperation-ism" is neither a word nor a term in my vocabulary, but I suppose it makes a change from "New Paintings".

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


Vindolanda (Oil on canvas, 12 x 12 ins)

Although I managed to clear the stairs to the studio of snow a couple of days ago, I've not felt really keen on going down to paint. A combination of the bitter cold that's kept the snow on the ground despite there having been no further falls and a general malaise which always accompanies the end of a session of concentrated effort, in this case that for the Xmas paintings, has left me not a little dispirited.

As a consequence, I've spent my time over the past week or so simply drawing cartoons for The Cartoonist's Hat and surfing the web. To be honest, I think I'm on a cusp. My work may need to be shaken up a little. In a practical sense, I'm not sure I can go on filling up the house with the biggish paintings I've been making when the opportunities for displaying them are drying up.

Working on the cartoons has brought back to me that sense of enjoyment I always get working close up to a sheet of paper and I think perhaps a renewed effort to broaden my working methods might pay dividends.

Meanwhile, as I pondered these and other thoughts, I decided I should at least make a concerted attempt to get something done in the studio today. Hence this small painting which allowed me to tackle head on my bête noire, the landscape's ubiquitous green (perhaps that should be bête verte). I decided to simply not paint it green at all and for now at least, I think it works.

By the end of the afternoon my feet were frozen solid. I can heat up the air of the studio, but I can't do anything about the concrete floor.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Sign of the Times

As I sit here hoping this won't be the 10th day of snow, and wondering if this time I might be able to clear the steps to the studio without tumbling down two flights, more cheerful news come in the form of an e-mail. Here it is, edited where appropriate:

"I .... have unfortunately been tasked with contacting you with regards to the exhibition you had been discussing with [us] for 2012. As you will no doubt have heard, the Government is intending to make significant cuts to the amount of money it gives to local authorities. In the case of [the] Borough Council, this means that over the next four years spending has to reduce by £22 million from a budget of £107 million. Unfortunately in order to reach these target savings the Council are proposing to withdraw the subsidy from the Arts Centre.

At this stage whilst work is ongoing with partners to identify alternative options to closure, if these new approaches are unsuccessful then unfortunately the Arts Centre will have to close. Due to this uncertainty whilst we will continue to host exhibitions as programmed until July-August 2011, we can not guarantee exhibitions beyond this time and feel it is prudent to cancel all exhibitions beyond July 31 2011."

Friday, 3 December 2010

Cautionary Tale

I know that while many gallerists are kind and honest folk, there is a small minority that gives the trade a bad name by devious practices.

Stories have been reaching me of an artist who has done well both locally and nationally. He showed some pictures with a gallery at a recent art fair where they sold very well. The gallery wanted more, but for whatever reason, they were unable to get the artist himself to supply them, so they went online and bought some from a website. The pictures they'd bought did not do well, however. In fact, they didn't sell at all.

When it came time for them to pay the artist, they did something I still find quite astonishing: they gave him back the recently acquired paintings, deducting their cost from what they owed him, and then factored in the cost of VAT and told him he owed them for that!


Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Old Drawings #62

In the Yard at Lemba (Charcoal, compressed charcoal on cartridge paper, 60 x 60 cms.)

As the snow continues to swirl round the lamp standard across the road, as it has done for days now, let's move back again into the swirling mists of time to the sun-drenched Cyprus College of Art, where I last talked about the curious wall there and showed you one of the drawings based on it. This is the last of those drawings, done in the studio at University and, as usual, ignored by all and sundry. I find I get increasingly cross now thinking about that, but I still like the drawing.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

And the snow continues ...

Snow has come early here this year. Last year's began on New Year's Eve, but it's been snowing on and off for days now and most of it is lying. I had to abandon a trip into town to see my buddy Kev tonight - the walk up the hill is just too treacherous and coming back down even more so.

I'm going to have to think through my options carefully if this continues. We're never prepared for weather in this country, yet we get so much of it!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Private View

(Photo taken as the gallery was set up for a lecture.)

It's a week ago and seems to be already almost lost in the mists of time, but the Private View for the Christmas Show was a lot of fun. It was very well attended and the comments I received on my work, both directly and indirectly, were very encouraging.

I'm now in the flat period that always follows a time of intense concentration and work to bring a set of paintings to conclusion. What I should really be doing to get over it is to launch myself into a new project, but the weather is against me, making the studio steps unwelcoming, so work on The Cartoonist's Hat will have to suffice.

Thursday, 25 November 2010




11 am

Encouragement , if encouragement were needed, to sit in my nice warm study and get on with sorting out the new blog, was provided by the newly inclement weather. Never mind Xmas Day, we've got snow now!

It snowed for a good part of the night and on and off throughout the day. It's 5pm now and it's snowing again. Getting down the slippery back stairs to the studio was not an option, so on with The Cartoonist's Hat.

{Note to self:If only there were an exhibition I needed to do some winter paintings for.]

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Cartoonist's Hat

(Marker, digital colour)

"It's perhaps important to point out that I find cartooning and painting almost totally incompatible, in that they each require a different mindset. When I wear my cartoonist's hat I cannot paint and vice versa."

"In 1973 .... I gave up all thought of art college. The cartoonist's hat was firmly on for the next 15 years."

"If [painting] keeps me sane, it's worth it, but every now and again I find my head itching for the cartoonist's hat."

Those are quotes from an article I wrote for my fanzine, PIE in the SKY, in 1992 and serve to demonstrate the ongoing difficulty I find in working in both fields at the same time. It ought not to be so difficult. I've mentioned before that Wayne Thiebaud draws a cartoon every day and while I'm far too modest to put myself in the same paddock as Thiebaud, if he can do it, I don't see why I can't. Maybe not every day, but I don't see why painting and cartooning can't co-exist in my art practice.

All of which is by way of announcing the opening of my new blog - The Cartoonist's Hat. There's more work to be done on it in terms of banner headings and the like, but I've copied across all the cartoons from this blog, together with contributions to Moleskine International Exchanges. From now on Moly work and pieces done for Illustration Friday will appear only on The Cartoonist's Hat. If you'd like to keep up with those things, you'll find a link in the sidebar, or better yet, why not subscribe to posts using the handy widget in that blog's sidebar?

Monday, 22 November 2010


(Black marker, colour in Photoshop)

A contribution to the latest brief from Illustration Friday: Sneaky. I find I still get enjoyment from doing this sort of thing, but reactions (or more accurately, the lack of reactions) from readers of this blog suggest that these posts are of limited interest. I'm thinking that it might be useful therefore to set up a new blog to post cartoons and related drawings, such as Moleskine Exchange contributions. Watch this space.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Kastela Seaside Restaurant

Kastela Seaside Restaurant (Oil on canvas, 12 x 12 ins)

This is the painting I finished at the Club last week, when I finally got round to putting in all those fiddly white lines. It brings back good memories of our week in Kaštel Lukšić and the fine meal of fresh fish we had in this restaurant. The restaurant is in Kastel Stari and its name, should you find yourself nearby, is Labinezza. Highly recommended.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Christmas Exhibition

If you're able to do so, come along and say hello! Further details in the sidebar.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

I'm Proud of the BBC

Something I think should be said more often and as widely as possible.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Snow by the Tracks

Snow by the Tracks (Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 ins)

This photograph could be better; I think my hand shook a little and I've had to tighten up the picture in Photoshop. However, this is the last of the paintings for the Xmas Exhibition. I took it and two others to the gallery today, using a taxi to avoid the awful winds blowing across the region.

As it was still morning, I wandered down to the Club and found a few regulars hard at work there. Although I hadn't really intended to do so, the atmosphere got me working and I finished one of the Kastela Restaurant pictures. Photo next time I'm there.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Side, with Snow

The Side, with Snow (oil on canvas, 36 x 36 ins)

I finished this, the second of the bigger pictures yesterday, although I'm still waiting for some of the white paint to dry. I had it out in the garden sunshine for an hour or two, while I hacked away a year's accumulation of brambles, but the sun seemed to make very little difference.

After that I stood it in front of the radiator all night as I continue to pander to the idea that heat will help, even though I know in my heart of hearts that oil paint dries by oxidation rather than evaporation. I'm supposed to get it to the gallery today, but I suspect I may be able to delay until tomorrow. That would be a good thing for a number of reasons, not least the weather forecast for today, which is truly horrible.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Not Wanted

Breakfast & T-Shirts (Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cms)

Paintings & Prints ((Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cms)

Ah well, it was worth a punt, but the Royal Institute of Oil Painters didn't like my two paintings enough to want them on the walls of the Mall Galleries. I'm sure there are lessons to be learned from this, but at the moment the only one I can think of is that I should refrain from sending the ROI (or indeed the NEAC) any more pictures. It would certainly save me some money.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Turnbull Winter

Turnbull Winter (oil on canvas, 36 x 36 ins)

I could probably go on tinkering with this forever more, but I signed off on it today. Pat helped me deliver the first two pictures to the gallery this morning and this one is now ready to go too.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Brand New Moly

(Markers, fibretips and coloured pencils in Japanese accordion-fold Moleskine)

As I've indicated previously, progress on Moly_x_63, the Totem Pole Moly, has been slow, so I recently signed up for another Moleskine exchange. This is my first contribution to Moly_x_25, just beginning its second round after a successful first one.

I find it really relaxing to sit in front of the tv and draw things like this. There's no theme to this one, so I decided to start with a cornucopia and let it disgorge its contents, surprising me in the process.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Almost Done

Turnbull Winter (work in progress)

Several hours of fiddly work later and this painting is getting close to being finished (as much as any paining is ever finished).

There are some areas where the tones need re-balancing as a result of the snow being lightened; there's also the never-ending need to get the red (red!) on the sides of the building to meet my expectations. Overall, though, I think it's getting there.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Orange House

The Orange House (oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cms)

What happens beyond the Archway will have to wait. Today, I took this painting to the Club and finished it.

It's one of those paintings that leaves me puzzled. I began it at the same time as the Archway picture, but it seems to have turned out completely differently (allowing for the fact that the Archway picture isn't finished).

Sometimes paintings really do take on a life of their own and no matter what you want them to be, they simply have to be true to their own nature.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Moly Once More

(Markers, fibretips and coloured pencils in Japanese accordion-fold Moleskine)
[Illustration Friday - "Burning"]

It's been well over a year since I was able to add to any of the moleskines in the Totem Pole Moly exchange, Moly_x_63. Unfortunately, this seems to be the nature of the beast. Things are on the move again, however, and this is my latest addition.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off

Archway (work in progress)

I suppose there are only two ways to deal with disappointment: you can sit around and mope; or you can get on with things. Although I admit to a degree of despondency when I first found I'd been rejected from the NEAC open competition, I chose the latter. Off to the Art Club again, this time with a painting I started in July.

I made good progress with it, which lifted my spirits, and I now have a week to think about what can be seen through the archway. I know it's a sunlit wall, but ... what else?

No Fanfare

(Black marker, colour in Photoshop)

The New English Art Club
posted their chosen works on the Mall Galleries website today. My two paintings aren't on the list. Tsk.

I've been adopting the attitude that I probably wouldn't get in the show, in the hope that I'd not be disappointed. Didn't work, and the day seems somehow rather flat.

Prague Tram No.3 (oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cms)

Prague Tram No.4 (oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cms)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Reclaiming My Work

Turnbull Winter (work in progress)

Have you ever gone down a road and realised after a while that you should have turned left some way back, but continued on in the mistaken belief that you might find a way to your destination? Me too. I did it with this painting. I've been unhappy with it for some time, probably shortly after it got started.

As time went on, I realised that it was someone else's painting; I was trying to make it work by making it look like paintings by some other artist. As a result it didn't look like mine and I didn't know how to finish it. It had become misty, undefined, and the one thing I think you can say about my usual work is that it's well-defined - chunky, someone once called it. I also didn't like the fact that it was painted with a different palette from the other paintings I'm preparing for the Xmas show.

A few days ago, I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to take a radical swipe at it and make it my own again. I did that today and while it still has, to me, an unusual look about it, it feels like my unusual look. There are elements in it of paintings I did years ago and elements of what I've been doing more recently. In that sense, it may prove to be an important piece of work for me. Even if not, I feel that, with a bit more effort, after the paint dries, it'll sit far more comfortably in my oeuvre, as we say in Gateshead.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Early Evening, Chania

Early Evening, Chania (oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cms)

I had to make a trip into town today and since it seemed like months since I'd been to the Art Club, I made a detour. Once I was there and the gossip was all caught up on (if Old Tom's gossip can ever be caught up on), I figured I might as well get some work done.

This little painting of part of the harbour at Chania in Crete turned out to need very little to finish it off and I came home to my snow pictures feeling a degree or two warmer.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

... and back to the chimneys

The Side, with Snow (work in progress)

Under pressure now to provide details of titles, prices and images for publicity for the Xmas show, I'm moving quicker on this painting. I do find I work better under pressure.

Using charcoal, I've sorted out some of the confusion of roofs under snow and delineated the chimneys, so it's easier now to work on the various planes. My usual problem with red makes me wonder if the red building is too red, but perhaps it's the snow that's too blue. We'll see how that develops in the next session.

The use of charcoal reminds me that I've often considered employing line in my paintings, but so far that has never happened before. Something for the future, perhaps.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

More Windows ...

Turnbull Winter (work in progress)

This is a terrible photograph, I'm afraid. The studio light is reflecting far too much on the most recent layer of paint in the sky and skewing the balance of colours. Still, it serves to demonstrate that I'm back on this painting.

[Slightly better photograph uploaded 11 October 2010]

The painting is, in fact, giving me all sorts of problems. When I left it last time (can it really be June since I worked on it?) I knew it had become far too tight and fiddly and I was particularly unhappy with the trees. All of which put me off doing more to it: I didn't want to continue in that very descriptive manner, I knew there were many more windows to be put in (Windows! Why did I choose to be a painter of buildings?) and I didn't want to have to measure them and apply bits of masking tape.

I realised today that I needed to deliberately spoil the tidiness that was keeping me back, so I put in the new windows in a much more careless (carefree?) way. Irregularities can be made good as the picture goes along and while they're too dark at the moment, they can be knocked back easily enough later.. I've also painted over the trees, using a mixture of tools - rags, crumpled paper, a painting knife and a fan brush. The intention is for that to provide a better underpainting for the next session.

Finally, I used some of the paint mixtures on the palette to make thin layers mixed with white to film over parts of the sky. I've been doing that each time I've worked on the picture and it's starting to produce an effective glow.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


Underpass (oil on canvas, 36 x 72 ins).

I have no real reason for posting this picture today, other than not liking to have a post with no image attached. This is a painting of an underpass in Newcastle and was part of my Degree Show in 2001. It's never been displayed since then.

I suppose a very tenuous connection to it might be made by my having gone to Newcastle today, but that really is stretching things, considering we didn't even drive anywhere near the eponymous underpass.

My friend and fellow painter, Allan, drove me to the rather scummy but today very busy Rye Hill campus car park to wait for the arrival of Mike Challoner's Picture Post courier van. After a while I waved goodbye to four paintings and a chunk of cash. Mike has taken two of my pictures for submission to the NEAC Open Exhibition and two for submission to the ROI Open Exhibitions at the Mall Galleries in London.

Last year I had a go at getting into the Threadneedle Prize, but failed. I determined then to keep plugging away at other open exhibitions, and this is the first opportunity I've had to do so. I have to admit that watching the money drain away is a bit dispiriting: if nothing comes of these submissions, I'll be at least £175 out of pocket. There's a limit to how often I can afford that outlay, but as my cheery window cleaner assured me on Friday, "If you don't buy a scratchcard, you won't win".

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Newcastle, East and West

Newcastle, West of the Tyne Bridge
(Oil on 3 MDF panels, 24 x 144 ins)

Newcastle, East of the Tyne Bridge
(Oil on 2 MDF panels, 24 x 96 ins)

Each time I go to the RVI, I experience a sense of irony as I pass the Ophthalmolgy Department's casualty waiting room, because each time I catch a glimpse of two of my paintings. They're quite big - 2 x 12 feet and 2 x 8 feet - and hang in the corner of the room.

The paintings were commissioned as part of an Arts Lottery Project in 1997/98 and as Germaine Stanger, the Arts Consultant on the Project put it in her booklet:
The paintings in casualty are very popular as you would expect, for the subject matter and style of painting makes them instantly recognised by a partisan Geordie public. But some comments are not about the subject matter but how it is painted and show a well deserved appreciation.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take decent photographs of the works when they were originally first hung, because Health & Safety insisted on acrylic glazing being put over them which made photography impossible. Fears of painting sabotage proving unsubstantiated, the acrylic was taken off the following year and I should have photographed them when I supervised that, but I didn't. Time passed and the urge to get a proper record faded., but my enforced renewed association with the place makes me think i should go in when the waiting room is quiet (whenever that might be!) and take some decent photographs.

Meanwhile, I remembered Germaine's booklet and scanned these images from those printed (very small!) in it. There's also a photo of me (much bigger, in too many ways) in the studio:

"Harry Bell in his studio in Gateshead"

The full text of Germaine's article can now be found in the Reviews section of my website.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

RV Eye

Marker with Photoshop colour

After some weeks of remembering to routinely put three drops from two bottles into my left eye in the right order each day, I went to the RVI today for a check-up. The pressure in both eyes now registers as normal, so hurrah! Most of the time, I've been quite blasé about the potential seriousness of the condition, but occasionally I'd secretly admit to a little worry or two.

Anyway, although the drops regimen has to continue for another four months (at least), I feel happier about it now and more able to concentrate on painting.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Man Who Came Back in the Cold

The Side, with Snow (work in progress)

Funny, isn't it? I come back from Croatia where the sun shone and the temperature was on average 25C, and it takes only a few days of miserable, grey, wet and cold England to get me thinking about my snow pictures again.

Yesterday I found time to make some modifications to this one, working over the snow, defining the buildings a little and beginning to sort out the chimneys in the foreground. Feels like lots more to do, however, so I'd best get a move on.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

When in Doubt, Draw a Tree

Trees, Kastel Gomilica (0.5 fibretip, A4 sketchbook)

There were a million and one things I might have drawn in our week in Croatia, but there never seemed to be time. I did promise myself that I'd get one drawing done in my sketchbook, however, so on the last full day there, Pat and I walked along the Kastela coast to Kastel Gomilica.

Kastel Gomilica is one of the last little towns we'd not walked to to previously and it certainly lives up to its guidebook reputation of being one of the most picturesque. It doesn't reward visitors with copious eating and drinking stops, however, so after feeling a little faint, we made a short detour up to the main road to find a baker's shop, bought a croissant for Pat and a börek for me, then walked back to the sea front to eat them.

Afterwards, I thought about drawing the old kastel (built by Benedictine nuns in 16th C) but I knew I didn't really have the time to do it justice, so, while Pat sat in the sun and watched two elderly men parade up and down the seafront dressed in nothing but rather small Speedos, I spent what time was available sitting in the shade drawing these two aged cypress trees.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Old Drawings #61

Beyond Lemba (Charcoal, compressed charcoal on cartridge paper, 60 x 60 cms.)

This was the second large drawing I made based on the curious wall round the Cyprus College of Art. Things seemed to be going really well, I thought, and I continued with a second large painting of the same subject, working on it at the same time as the painting already posted here.

Beyond Lemba (Oil and collage on board, 60 x 48 ins)

"Great!" said the MA student in the adjoining studio. "You should try not to be simply The Man Who Paints Newcastle."

Ah, if only. Unfortunately, the market locally calls for paintings of Newcastle and until I can establish a greater presence outside the area, I may have to ensure the greater part of my output continues to be Tyneside oriented.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Rob & Caz

On the beach below Highcliffe Castle

Sometimes, painting just has to take a back seat. Over the weekend, Pat's younger son, Robert, married his fiancee, Caroline, at Highcliffe Castle. Pat and I flew from Newcastle to Southampton to join them and a thoroughly wonderful time was had by all. They're a great couple and I wish them all the very best.

Only a few days and we're off again: back to Croatia for a week. A drawing in a sketchbook may be made there, but I'm not overly optimistic that many more pages will be filled. But we will have a good time.

And then it's back to work in real earnest.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Snow - Outlook Clearer

The Side with Snow (work in progress)

More information came to light today about the "winter" show. I now have a clearer idea of what will be needed and how much work I need to get done by November.

I've been mulling over how I wanted to this painting to be; mulling so much that it's taken until today to get it started. It's a view from the Tyne Bridge looking down on the buildings of The Side; a view I've tackled many times before, but never with snow. It always surprises me that the end result is so different from each previous painting of the same subject. At the moment, I'm a little puzzled by the overall look of the painting. Not at all like my usual style, but as the work progresses, I dare say it'll fall more into line.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Old Drawings #60

Lemba (Charcoal, compressed charcoal on 60 x 60 cm cartridge paper)

This was the next drawing based on the wall at Lemba College of Art. I was getting quite excited about the turn my work had taken at this point and began to make plans to construct still life set-ups of random junk from which to make drawings.

Meanwhile, I started a painting based on this drawing. It drew no comment from any of the lecturers and as it was nearing the end of term, I think it was abandoned rather than finished (although not a lot more was planned on it).

Lemba (Oil and collage on board, 60 x 48 ins.)

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Back Porch Rebuilt

It may be architecturally unimpressive, but I'm delighted with my new porch.

When the winds blew in across the Valley from the north, it terrified me to go outside and down the stairs to my studio, all the time listening to the glass in the porch windows shake and rattle. I was convinced that one day the glass would shatter and take off my head. OK, I admit I watch too many slasher horror movies, but the thought persisted.

So it was a great relief to have Alan the Joiner come along, take out the old frames and insert some sturdy new ones. Not actually an easy task single-handed, given that above the wooden frames are three courses of brick and a flat roof, but he solved the problem by holding up the bricks and roof with some Acro Props.

All of which is by way of explaining why, yet again, I've managed to get no work done. As Alan was working on the porch, I couldn't get out to the stairs to the studio.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Night Station 2

Night Station 2 (oil on canvas, 18 x 24 ins.)

One done, one still under construction:

By the Tracks (work in progress)