Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Three Lovelies

From the last few weeks.  Wonderful models, all of them!

I have been doing small edits when I get home, usually that night or the next morning.  Working from memory whilst it is still all fresh is quite a good way of tidying up a bit without losing spontaniety and authenticity.  I photograph it first, then do my edits before checking back to compare.  I generally just correct major faux pas such as dislocated arms and extra limbs and maybe the occasional value tweak if its really off in the cold light of day.


Wot, no black?

Pan Pastel on Fabriano Tiziano
24 x 28"

Monday, 17 November 2014

Persistance, persistance, persistance

Regular repetition is the only way to really improve at something, I am naturally inclined to bounce around a bit too much - the sign of low threshold of boredom or a poor attention span perhaps.  Anyway, working from life, week in week out, month in month out is the best way to improve ones observation and drawing skills (one is drawing even if one is painting).  If I look back it seems like I am such a slow learner and have been doing this forever, but on the other hand its very, very challenging and I only have so many hours to devote to it. 


Yesterdays monthly workshop in Swindon went really well as have my recent weekly sessions, could it be the planets are finally aligning and consistency is sneaking up on me?  

Our superb facilitator Rosemarie had kindly taken up my suggestion of using a warm coloured backcloth and so presented us with a very macho model in a very girly pink setting.  All was good though, in our cool British natural light or under the utilitarian fluorescent tubes white skintone can look quite cadaverous against a blue cloth. 

As ever I exaggerated the warm tones but I dont seem to have any control over that unless I restrain myself by using earth colours.  


Our very excellent and professional model had brought along his own portable light which gave us strong direct light to work with - another really very helpful factor which should come in the 'How to Run a Life Class' manual.

So thanks to Terry for being such a splendid model and thanks to Rosemary for another great year of monthly Sunday sessions - that was my last one until 2015

All these are Pan Pastel on various papers
24 x 28" approx
Standardising my tool kit?

Friday, 7 November 2014

Lets twist again

Not an easy pose to hold, there's quite a twist to it and I dont think there was much feeling left in her arms by the end.  Natalie did a great job but a models discomfort is my discomfort.  Wonderful shapes and shadows though and I like the slightly abstract elements.

Pan pastel on Fabriano
24 x 28"

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


From last Tuesday, the lovely Jade.  I change a lot of my beauties to redheads, it just looks better on the black paper somehow.

Pan pastel on Fabriano
24 x 28"

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

October Life

A small selection from the last few weeks, 5's and 10 minute poses, slightly longer, then about an hour or so.

All Pan Pastel on various papers 20 x 30" ish.

I think this one was about 20 mins, and that giant foot is most deliberate.  I quite like the subtlety of the light here.

This lad was modelling for the first time he was very good and an absolute superstar holding that leg up for so long.  He reminded me a bit of a fifties lifeguard and I think I may have been trying to channel Cadmus.

If I think they might turn out half decent I have taken to doing small edits when I get home, whilst the model is still fresh in my mind. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Prof


I was lucky enough to shake this mans hand last month, so I have studied him close up and was compelled to do a little oil sketch.  At some point I may do a bigger more considered portrait, he has very expressive and elegant hands and I reckon something in contrast all those cheesy publicity shots of him might be interesting.

Oil on clear primed linen
12 x 12"

This was my first proper painting with my Rublev paints, its so much easier using earth colours for a portrait although I have to admit I wouldnt want to be restricted all the time.  Loved the paints, the canvas less so - much prefer panels these days especially for small portraits.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Love Live Life

Its soooo good to be properly back to life drawing on a Tuesday night.  Yeah, I was rusty but it was two hours of total concentration and relaxation - it should be on the National Health! 

Pan Pastel on paper
16 x 24"


I positioned myself in an area which was pretty dark by the end of the session so I'll try and remember some extra lighting next week and actually see what I am doing. My plan for the next few months is to work a bit smaller so I can keep the proportions under control and I also need to concentrate on the values.  Still loving the Pan Pastels for life work and looking forward to a full days sessions next Sunday.

 Pan Pastel on paper
16 x 24"

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Artists can never afford to slack

Its not always possible to devote all the time we would like to our art, but usually I have always managed to keep a reasonable level of activity up come what may.   The backbone of my art is the life sessions but the natural break of the summer extended too far this year with too many distractions and I feel serious amounts of rust may have set in.  

I didnt manage any plein aire at all but I did a bit of studio painting here and there including adding a few more to the eggs series with another one still in the pipeline. 

 Broken Egg
 Oil on wood panel
 4 x 4" Diptych

 Oil on wood panel
 8 x 8"


 One, Three, Two
 Oil on wood panel
 16 x 8"

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Gift

Usually I make a point of only working from my own photos and source material, but sometimes an exeception is made.  This is a pastel which I did from a photo lifted from a friends facebook page.  I wanted to do a painting as a suprise present for her - a risky undertaking but I was inspired.  Its an area I know from my childhood and she has come to know from walking weekends and sailing trips, Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in Dorset and part of the Jurassic coast.  Handing it over and watching as recognition gradually dawned on her was priceless and either she is the best actress in the world or she really liked it.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014


.....and the livin' is easy.  Well I dont know about that but thats our last Tuesday night session finished till mid September now.  The lovely Jess did us proud and I upgraded to some quality paper and kept the colours sensible this time.  Quite pleased with this one, gotta do some painting now for a new opportunity that has presented itself for September.  Exciting and a new area for me.  Watch this space.

Pan Pastel on Fabriano Tiziano 
 20 x 30"

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


Well soon it will be time for the summer break and a chance to review and plan for the autumn.  My thoughts right now are that since I have been working on large black paper with pan pastels and other blunt tools my artisty and composition has developed but sometimes at the cost of accuracy and correct values.   


Overall I think progress has been made and the fact is I usually see the flaws pretty quickly.  I've enjoyed exaggerating and playing with the proportions and colours although I am still inclined towards, and therefore conflicted about, a certain level of realism.  


For sure the Pan Pastels have helped my mark making and tendency to get too detailed too soon although sometimes I still manage to kill the life in some of the longer poses.  


Black paper is great with pastels and I am thinking of working slightly smaller to help keep a handle on the proportions and also working on better quality paper - I've orders some BFK Rives noir to try.  


I am pleased to have managed to take a few photos from the last couple of life sessions and will have a go at using them those alongside my drawings and doing some slower and more considered pieces.  Life drawing/painting is a mad race against time but there is nothing like it and it definately helps 'studio' work. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Channelling Zhaoming Wu

We decided to go for a two week pose at the Tuesday night session and attempt a Zhaoming Wu style pose and set up.  Having studied with him I have some insight but even so its a tall order to try and emulate such a master.  Our model didnt want us to take photos which was a possible route for me to attempt a more finished piece and of course we have the usual issue of rapidly changing light.  So at the end of day one although I had produced a more subtle and sensitive painting (pan pastels) than I have been doing recently it was a bit boring and I didnt know where I was going with it or even if I was going to bother for the second week.
I am glad I did bother though, the opportunity for a longer pose would have been wasted and its all too easy not to persevere.  Of course its hard to get the pose back, lots of things changed but I selected what I was going to change and what to leave as was and after all these years of life drawing I ought to have a bit of experience to draw on now. All in all I am happy with the 'atmosphere' - a big thing with Zhaoming, and although I could do more with the surroundings its OK I think.  Our Tuesday night sessions are such a pleasure, I love my art tribe and everyone did really stunning pieces with the extra time and we definately all feed off each other.  The consistency and conducive atmosphere has been really helpful to my progess.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Where am I going?

 I'm wondering if I ought to start mussing with these drawings back on the easel when I get home.  I follow quite a few blogs and just recently the very talented and hardworking Derek Jones has got me thinking.  There's something to be said for leaving them fresh and purely from life but maybe I should be pushing myself more.  Some weeks the only art I do is the life work and they just go into a great big pile until its time to prune then a whole load just get binned.  Its something to ponder.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Lady in red

It really throws me getting a clothed model every now and then, the fabric takes longer to render and one has to think hard about the figure beneath.

I failed to second guess the quicky poses well enough to get them looking sensible on the page but playing with the perspective of the last standing one was fun - placing her behind the other two but drawing her bigger.  There was a lot to get done in five minutes, too much really.


Shareen is very special though, very elegant and poised right down to her hands and feet, I would like to have had longer to capture that element of her.  She also has a lovely neckline and an overall serenity.  I guess I'd need a lot longer to do her real justice but its wonderful having such an inspiring model.

1 hour approx
Pan pastels

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Pastel girls

These are all from the Tuesday night sessions

Pan Pastels
1 hour-ish

A wonderful young model with extremely long legs which I is what I wanted to accentuate. 

Pan Pastel
A hour-ish

The ever lovely Claire who we have known for a while and is growing, although not literally, as a model. I wish I did more justice to her 5 minute warm up poses.

I was pleased with the long pose though, not sure if I had gone a bit overboard withthe red feet, but you gotta push it sometimes.
1 hour
Pan pastel

The fabulous Shareen, very inspirational.

Five minute warm ups and an hour
Pan Pastels

Monday, 26 May 2014

Pan on Black

These are all from the monthly Sunday workshop.  I missed last month so was looking forward to getting back.  Andrew is a great model, very professional and rock steady.

Five minute warm ups
I couldnt believe the model chose to stand for the long pose, what a trouper.  I was working speedily so opted to do two paintings (I always think painting with pastels, its never drawing).  I brought  more colours into my palette, the original drawing set being earths, because it doesnt take me long to be craving some harding hitting pigments.

These were about 45minutes and 30 minutes respectively.
Pan Pastel

I am trying out different black papers, its provided on the  Tuesday night sessions and I think is just a pretty basic sugar paper.  I've also tried Canson Ingres Vidalon Paper which is nice but with laid paper you do have have to pick the smooth side - I dont like lines down my work. I've also used Fabriano Tiziano which I like too, it grips the pastel well.  Its a balance buying paper cheap enough so its not too precious to burn through but decent if something comes out really well.

The pose above was about 45 mins and the one to the right aobut 30 mins.  I rarely touch them without the model in front of me but I can see some fixes on these.

 Tried to get that belly coming forward.

The corpse pose - our model finally got a rest.

1 hour