Saturday, 4 December 2010

Bottoms Up!

After an almighty struggle Harry finally gave in and fell asleep for his afternoon nap beside his Pappa and, after a while, I managed to sneak away and get some pastels and paper. I couldn't get round to see his face but thought the bums-up position was good enough to draw:

Neocolours on cartridge paper, A3.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Pre-Walking Harrison

See on a Monday when we look after Harry it's the greatest pleasure and hardest test of our endurance!

He is such a bag of tricks for a wee baby not-yet-able-to-walk I am totally exhaused by five-o'clock when his daddy comes to take him home.

But what fun! Endless games of knock-the-box-over, and Old MacDonald, and wibbly-wobblies on unsure legs, and how-come-you've-got-all-those-teeth-and I have only got two?

How on earth do you capture any of that high-octane activity?


Watercolour pencils in sketchpad, A5.

This ones like Golom!
Watercolour pencils in sketchpad, A5.

I can do up-side-down!

Watercolour pencils in sketchpad, A5.

Raspberry to you, Pappa!

Watercolour pencils in sketchpad, A5.

Ah, if only I was ten years younger.

I wouldn't be a grand-pappy!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Roxy Bar Flies

Reliving past glories here, since I am presently incapable of doing any drawing or painting.

This goes back to our first camping expedition this year in May when we visited Girvan on the coast of the Firth of Clyde, overlooking Ailsa Craig, and in the evenings downed a few pints in the hottest pub in town: The Roxy Bar.

And, as is my want, I sketch the clientel in all their Saturday Nite glory:

Pencil in Sketchbook, A6 x 3, #1

Pencil in Sketchbook, A6 x 3, #2

Pencil in Sketchbook, A6 x 3, #3

Pencil in Sketchbook, A6 x 2, #4

I liked the diamond cut-away sections of the back of this lassies dress.

And finally three american golfers who thought they had died and gone to heaven to be playing golf in Scotland AND spending an evening in the company of these sirens out on the town looking for a good time:

Pencil in Sketchbook, A6 x 3, #5

And I think they found it.

A good time was had by all!

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Long Black Coat

I don't know if this is just a reflection of the mood I'm in or whether I just saw the graphic potential of her Long Black Coat with Fur Collar?

Since I can't get to Life Drawing Group at the moment and being perpetually skint, I have "employed" my darling wife to model for me once-a-week:

Pose #1, Charcoal on cartridge paper, A2.

Pose #2, Charcoal on cartridge paper, A2.

Pose #3, Charcoal on cartridge paper, A2.

Well, I might as well get something for the nine-and-sixpence SHE paid for the marriage license!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Degas Devotions

I am writing this post in response to a new artist I have just met in Bloggerland, degasblog, and our common interest in the art of Edgar Degas, and also in ballet dance.

Myra_plus_paint_plus_degas (as she is otherwise known) and I share a mutual enjoyment not only of looking at Degas's work but also of making studies of his drawings and paintings, in particular those of the ballet dancers, always hoping to learn and hopefully have some of his magical ability rub off.

For me it's his pastel drawings that attract my greatest interest - the quality of his figure drawings and the pastel techniques that I love so much.

We are very fortunate here in the West of Scotland to have some terrific works exhibited in our Burrell Museum and Gallery in Pollock Park where I frequently spend many hours visiting. And, of course, making my own studies:

"The Green Dress".

"Behind the Scenes".

I have also tried my hand at painting in the same style in oils:

"The Rehersal Room".


"Taking a Break Behind the Scenes".

As those of you who have been visiting this blog for a while will know whenever I attend any live performance I always make my own sketch impressions of the action and about two years ago made a series of sketches from Scottish Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty. These, along with sketches from Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo, were later to form the basis of five paintings done in February last year for Project 2 of my painting Course.

Now, I haven't made this posting in order to brag about anything I have managed to do but more as a conversation piece and sharing of artistic pleasures. And it has also given me a happy opportunity to look back again at stuff I have done and wonder anew as to how on earth it all came about!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Firth of Clyde

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside,
Oh, I do like to be beside the sea....

Today found me with an hour to spend while I waited on my darling wife coming home on the ferry from her week's sojourn on Arran. The island was hardly discernable across the firth with dark clouds and mist and the sea between a brilliant shade of blue/purple and green:

Ink in small sketchbook, A6x2.

The tide was rapidly coming in and a strong breeze blowing: I found it exhilarating.

I also find rock-pools fascinating:

Ink and spit in small sketchbook, A6.

I can sea whole different worlds and great abstract shapes. Didn't find any crabs or whelks, or shrimps this time but I know they are lurking there waiting for high tide to liberate them.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Lay-zee Boy

I took a few sketchpads and sketchbooks on holiday with me to Puerto Pollensa at the beginning of October along with watercolours, pastels and various other drawing implements, and apart from one day on the beach the only other time I pulled my little A6 sketchbook out was whiling the afternoon away at Club Pollenca cafe where I could order a constant stream of coffees and watch all the people - holiday-makers and locals - pass by.

Here's the first five:

Pencil in sketchbook, A6. #1

Pencil in sketchbook, A6. #2

Pencil in sketchbook, A6. #3

Pencil in sketchbook, A6. #4

Pencil in sketchbook, A6. #5

Each one is often jotted down after having only the merest glimpse, for example the little girl on her daddy's shoulders was "snapped" in my mind's eye when he stopped very briefly to read the menu outside the restaurant.

Don't these people realise they are being captured for posterity?

No wonder I have trouble sleeping at night!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Grace Hartigan

I'm not sure where the original idea sprung from but I found myself searching out the work of Grace Hartigan, one of the American Abstract Expressionists...but with a difference. Mostly her work is based on figures and some more abstract than others.

Grace apparently spent a lot of time searching for figurative and abstract meaning in her "inner" and "outer" world. This has great resonance for me:

"Mott Street", Oils on canvas, 198x182cm.

Another painting, "The Massacre" painted in 1952 also resonates strongly with me:

It reminds me of a much smaller acrylic painting I made in 2002 which I called "Spot The Ball":

Acrylics on board, 30x40cm.

But, while I am currently researching the work of Hartigan the real joy behind this blog was when I Googled her name and came up with a whole bunch of Graces' paintings I was also surprised and thrilled to find a link to Melinda's "Shamans" included (albeit on page 15!). But why should I be so surprised for what Melinda has created is as good as anything Grace has done.


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Still Clinging On

I'm like a mountain-climber taking on the North Face of the Eiger, alone and without crampons or a safety rope, clawing my way up the ice-bound faces by my fingernails (sends a shivver down yer spine!!!) knowing there is a point when I CAN claim the top is mine but cannot see it through the shrouding mist and wind-blown snow, exhausted but still clinging on, talking to myself (and getting quite coherent answers back), telling myself "I can do this", but always fearful I will lose my footing and plumet to the depths (been there alreadys), lacking oxygen and only a cheeky little shiraz to keep me going, urged on by many ethereal voices (some telling me they have the exact spanner size I'm looking for), when a shaft of light breaks forth and with frost encrusted nasal hairs I find the strength to....More Next Week.

In the meantime I am back my holidays, had a week recovering from 10hour delayed flights (never going abroad again) and a bout of the flu (which I still haven't recovered from yet and tomorrow I'm flying solo for the first time with wee Harry since his Nanna has deserted me yet again for another holiday with her sister on Arran [so watch out pottery]...I'm sure Harry will survive, but will I?)

Back to the North Face: It's within my grasp, but still it eludes me...I'm almost there (I can feel it) but it requires a supreme effort.

I know I am getting closer:

Mixed Media on board, 42x61cm.

Half close your eyes and hopefully you will see what I mean.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Subconscious Musing

I've been doing this kind of thing for many years now but only recently have I made it a regular, daily, happening, and also dramatically changed the scale at which I am musing on. Previously it was always small "thumbnails" but, inspired by the daily emaki studies of Mayako Nakamura, a young, gifted student from Tokyo, in Japan, I have taken to make my own musings A1 size. This allows much more scope for the experience and memory inherent in the blood and bones and muscles of my arm to come into play.

The idea is, instead of launching into trying to paint the usual visual reality straightaway when entering the studio, I try to give expression to the other, unseen, reality first. Loosens up the arm and gets me thinking about abstract elements before I give them figurative descriptions:

Acrylics and black Neocolour pastel on paper, A1.

When I take my musing as far as I can at the time I then stand back and can often see the potential for solidifying these feelings into something more tangible and what arises is a painting like this:

Mixed Media on primed board, 42x61cm.

It may be a "road less travelled" but I know there is a road ahead somewhere along this grassy path, and where it leads is the adventure of my life.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Back to the Future

Well here I am living in my bedouin tent somewhere in the wilderness of Western Sahara smokin' my hookah and trying to find the Meaning of Life and where my rounded edges fit with the square holes I have dug for myself, raising goats and milking camels, and fending off dark eyed beauties, and when I have time a little drawing and painting to while away the weary hours between sun-up and sunset. Not a bad life and something I could become accustomed to and yet there is the call to arms and what the hell is that camel-driver doing with my brushes?
In this state of in-between I turn first to Subconscious Musings to let my inner mind have it's say and because my fragile mind can't take too much excitement:

Mixed media on paper, 60x87cm.

Automatic painting with no design thoughts just whatever arises from within (anyone got a spanner?)

Then I return to things I know best: drawing with charcoal and straightforward painting with no intentions to bend reality:

Jacqueline's New Dress 1
Charcoal on paper, 61x42cm.

Jacqueline's New Dress 2
Charcoal on paper, 61x42cm.

Jacqueline's New Dress and Coat
Charcoal on paper, 61x42cm.

This is her outfit for Harry's christening this coming Sunday.

Jacqueline's New Dress
Mixed media: Acrylics and collage on primed paper, 61x42cm.

Was that a mosquito buzzing in my ear?

She really suits this type of dress. Reminds me of her style as a young woman.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Three Artists...

…who happen to be women.

Last week (before our failed camping trip - broken tent-pole [say no more]) we set off for the Edinburgh Festival by train to see two current exhibitions of paintings. The first is of Impressionist paintings gathered from around the world and is getting big licks in newspaper reviews. Unfortunately it is also attracting huge crowds with airport-style queuing systems to get in. Not for me. Gave it a miss for the time being and hopefully in a month or so, after the Festival has packed up and gone, we will try again.
Their present loss however was undoubtedly our gain for in order to escape the crush and madness that is Princes Street and Waverley Gardens we headed out to peace and quiet of The Royal Botanic Gardens to see the other exhibition that is also getting big licks: Joan Mitchell at Inverleith House.
Now, with all this thrill and excitement coursing through my veins I enjoy what I call “delayed gratification”. It’s good for the soul, I believe (and a bit nutty). It means not rushing headlong to the object of your desire but holding off with other diversions first.
So, first stop along the way was into the Open Eye Gallery where they are showing my kinda stuff:

Barbara Rae

Colourful, loud, highly expressive abstracts based on landscape or as I would have it - semi-abstract landscape painting. A lot what I would have liked my semi-abstract figures to have been.
Next stop, the Scottish Gallery, in Dundas Street where they are showing new work by another Scottish artist, Victoria Crowe. Quite different to Rae’s work, quieter, more refined even, and very beautiful. In my less exuberant moments I sometimes paint like this. But not often. I am inspired again by both of these artists, but not as much as I am about to be by the third, non-Scottish artist on my itinerary, although I don’t see any reason not to make her an honorary Scot: Lady Joan of Inverleith perhaps?

What a fabulous park The Royal Botanic Gardens is. I need to get back there again soon, on my own, just to sketch and paint the wonderful parkland views. But it is to Inverleith House which stands on a promontory in the park and the exhibition I have come to see.
Greeted at the door by this fantastic poster I immediately buy one just in case there is a sudden rush and I am left disappointed:

Untitled, 1969”

Inverleith House is an old 18th century mansion converted into an art gallery with spacious rooms, white walls and natural wood floors, large windows with a lovely quality of light flooding in, and views of the park looking out. What a wonderful place to show these monumental canvases:


Well, it's big, but not that big, it's just that Jacqui is so small!

And smaller rooms showing some of her pastel studies:

Untitled, 1992”
I wish that eejit would get outa the way and let me photograph the picture!

In the basement study room a 58 minute video was showing which was fascinating to listen to Joan, as an elderly lady, talking about her life and work. The quality of filming wasn’t always good and the soundtrack often hard to follow, but still so much to get from it:

I paint from landscapes of the memory I carry with me - and feelings from the memory of them which naturally become transformed…I prefer to leave nature to itself. I do not intend to improve it…I could never mirror it. I love most of all what it leaves inside me”.

And this quote by her gallery owner, Robert Williams: “If only you were French, and male, and dead!”. I’m sure that may resonate with many of you ladies out there.

I liked this one - Joan says: “While out walking one morning (in New York) I met Hans (Hofmann) who says: ‘Why aren’t you working?!”.

And this one is for Melinda: “I often painted at night (in Paris). When it got light I went to sleep”.

So, three more women painters, each one inspiring me to get back painting again.

Now where did I put my brushes after cleaning out the budgie-cage?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Figurative Artists

Last week I was pleasantly surprised to receive complimentary comments on both this site and my Semi-Abstract Figurative Paintings blogsite. Nothing new in that I hear you say since I get them all the time (or at least only the ones I allow you to see) but this time there was an added compliment which I was extremely pleased to accept at first asking - to join a new online registry of Figurative Artists being created by the loudest artist (her own words) I have ever met in Bloggerland: Paula O'Brien.

This would provide me with a direct link into my own principal website ( which I set-up five years ago.

The big issue, common to many artists I hear, was that for the past two years while I was focused solely on the OCA Course, my own website was languishing in the doldrums. I often thought it was about time to re-jig the site and make it much more specific to figure painting but was always far too busy. This invite from Paula was just what I needed - no more summer holidays for was time to get down to business!

With inclusion in Paula's new registry I could not allow any unsuspecting visitors to freefall into the assorted ragbag that was my official website. So I set about re-building it from scratch. And here is the results if you wish to have a look yourself:

Now all of this raises the next, obvious, question - what do I expect from this sooper-dooper streamlined website? And more importantly, what do I expect from the production of my fabulous artwork?

Originally I had dreams of my opening show in New York, but with the passing years I will be lucky if I ever get anything accepted in Glasgow. You see, I have been hiding my talents under a bush. I know I need to promote myself more because I have always wanted my art to be at least be self-sustaining. So over the next few weeks I will be turning my mind to developing a strategy to try to sell at least one painting before the year is out.

"String of Pearls", oils on canvas, 40x30cm.

Any offers?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Poetry at Dove Cottage

This will be the last post for a bit while I take off again in search of The Great Outdoors.

And a poetic one it will be.

The day before we left the Lake District we went to visit Dove Cottage where William Wordsworth lived and produced many of his finest poetry.

We were taking advantage of a programme of free poetry in the grounds at the rear of the Wordsworth Museum run each summer, sitting on wooden benches on a grassy slope in the dappled shade of great oak trees.

As usual I cannot miss not just the free poetry but the free models for me to draw while they recite their stuff:
Got the girl's name is in fact Penny Boxall, and the bloke is Andrew Forster.

And this was Katie Hale telling us "How to Kill a Mermaid":

And while I draw, my darling wife amuses herself with the goings-on of Cheryl Cole in 'Hello' magazine!:
Keeps me from getting too high-falutin' she does!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Happy Pappy

Ah, summer days...nae work and living the life o' Riley!

Fathers' Day took on a new meaning this year with wee Harry joining the Cornelius Clan:

Nanna the Photographer even managed to get herself in the picture!

And here's the proud mum with her son:

Apart from a few nice pressies for Fathers' Day I got an excellent bottle of wine:

As you can see, Pappa needs a bib in case he spills any!

Not much chance of that happening!!!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Dream

While on holiday last week we went to see a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream put on the local Village Hall by the Grasmere Players

Without wishing to over-exaggerate (which I am prone to do) this was undoubtably one of the best productions I have ever seen and although by amateurs you could be forgiven for thinking them professional. The set and costumes may not have been the most lavish but the acting, enthusiasm, and remembering all the words was top of the class!

And, as usual, while waiting for 'curtain up' I get out my sketchbook and observe my fellow theatre-goers:

I think the guy was from Nose City.

Big Ba' Heid Strikes Again
Expletive deleted.
Why me? Is this guy wi the big ba' heid and sticky-oot ears following me around?

And now the play has started you must remember I am viewing the action through his lugs when he turns to the side, and drawing by the dim illumination of a fire escape light.

"...The actors are at hand; and, by their show,
You shall know all, that you are like to know

A very creative touch to have all the tradesmen wearing dungarees:

The Rude Mechanicals
Snug, Quince, Starveling, Snout, Flute, Bottom.

Then here's the two young ladies in love with the same man:

Hermia and Helena
These two were excellent, even playing out a very realistic cat-fight on stage!
And, although the play is set in early Greece the costumes were more Arabian but still very good for all that.

But..."The course of true love never did run smooth":

Lysander and Hermia
Hermia arguing with Lysander and eventually throwing herself at his feet.

Bottom was absolutely brilliant with a perfectly glaiket face and daft expression:

If ever I could remember any lines and got the chance to act in this play then I would most likely be cast as Bottom...overly enthusiastic, wanting to play all the parts, always falling in love with dangerous women, and a bit of an ass...
he-haw, he-haw!!!

But what is this?:

Cobweb and Mustardseed

"Over hill, over dale, Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over Park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the Fairy Queen.."

These two wee lassies were just terrific!

And, of course, the second best joke in the play is when Bottom it turned into a donkey which Titania falls in love with:

The fairies tie this brilliant donkey-head hat onto Bottom's head (wish I could get a hat like that - I'm sure it would suit me). Then Titania falls asleep with him on her woodland bower.

But the very best part of the evening was the acting of this young lad as Flute, the Bellows Mender who is made to play the part of Thisby in their own play-within-a-play:


"Nay, faith, let not me play a woman...I have a beard coming".

With a wig of wild shocking red hair, his lips plastered with bright red lipstick, and wearing a dress over his dungarees and wellington boots this guy was hilarious, although as he went on his words grew higher in pitch until he sounded more like Madge Simpson or Miss Piggy from the Muppets!

A brilliant evening which sent us out into the summer night feeling good and smiling :o)))