Friday, 25 May 2012

Swiss Deep-Sea Tugboat

This is a great example of how a Subconscious Musing can take on a life of it's own:

Mixed media on paper, 59x86cm.

Instead of pasting on strips of newsprint to begin with, like I had been doing on some of the previuos Musings, and still with a desire to jazz things up a bit, I started this one with an automatic colour painting then let the pastels wander hither and thither.

But with such a strong background it didn't take long before the tugboat emerged which raised the question: does Switzerland have any deep-sea tugboats?

Or are they just wind-up toy boats on Z├╝richsee?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Jacqui and Her Lilies

In preparation for a portrait painting I made this pastel drawing to bring together the figure, which was drawn some time ago, and some of Jacqui's favourite flowers - Day Lilies:

Pastels on paper, 59x43cm.

The Lilies started out as a much larger bunch bought about two weeks ago, but every other day J discards the lilies that are totally done in and cuts the remainder shorter to get a couple more days out of them. Then I squash them up into a more vertical format to suit my purposes.

So these lilies are the flowers that just keep giving!

ps: the painting ain't going well :o(

22 May 2012

I've run out of the blue-grey sugar paper so it's back to buff which doesn't show up the white pastels very well:

Pastels on sugar paper, 59x86cm.

 Letting the lines wander where they will and getting more adventurous with the addition of coloured pastels.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

La Petite Marie

Frequently I make studies of paintings by my favourite artists partly to learn what I can, and partly to simply excercise my own technique utilising a ready made design:

Modigliani's "Marie, daughter of the people". Oils on canvas, 45x35cm.

Modigliani is a favourite artist and I have always enjoyed this painting, also known as "La Petite Marie", painted in 1918 (original size 60x50cm). I have tried to research the internet to find more about the model but so far indefinitive (is that a word I have just made up?). The closest I can get is that she just might be Marie Vassilieff, a Russian painter in her own right who mixed with the painters of Montmartre.

I think what I like about it is it's simplicity of design and a bit of the artists idiosyncratic stylisation with the elongation of the girls neck, in this instance wrapped in a thick scarf.

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Big Ship Sails on the Eely-ally Oh

Starting with a background of torn newspaper strips yesterday's Subconscious Musing began to take on the form of some ancient sailing ship with it's great hulk, mizzen masts, and canopies :

Mixed media on sugar paper, 59x86cm.

And this put me in mind of the song we used to sing as children:

The big ship sails on the eely-ally oh,
The eely-ally oh,
The eely-ally oh.
The big ship sails on the eely-ally oh,
On the last day of September.

The captain said, 'It will never, never do,
Never, never do,
Never, never do.'
The captain said, 'It will never, never do,'
On the last day of September.

The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea,
The bottom of the sea,
The bottom of the sea.
The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea.
On the last day of September.

Other versions that I could find on the internet have it as: ally-ally oh, but I much prefer the eely-ally...much more fishy!

On the last day of September.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Fruit Bowl

When you see it, you just see it...and when I was having breakfast this morning in Cafe Cuccina I just saw it...there it was staring right in front of me:

Neocolour pastels on paper, 30x36cm.

Now art is, in my opinion, not just about painting what you see in front of your big bulbous nose (apologies to anyone reading this from Nose City) but the artistic impulse that constructs something else from the meagre fare presented. The little banana on the right-hand side was playing a dual role, originally sitting on the left, and the central apple, well, it just got eaten didn't it!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Jacqueline #4. 16 May 2012

Fourth and last in the series from our drawing session last week:

Pastels on sugar paper, 43x59cm.

At the beginning of a session it can go one of two ways - effortless and joyous, or no matter what I do it would seem I have suddenly become handless overnight.

I'm pleased to say this session was of the former ilk. Which is always a pleasant surprise.

But can I do it again next week? Will the Muse condescend to honour me? Or desert me? Will I run out of paper? Or pastels? Will I remember the smarties? 

Always so many questions, and never enough answers. Say lavee.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Jacqueline #3. 16 May 2012

It's weird when you are drawing a person, either as a portrait or a Life Drawing, when you start to draw their face and your eyes meet:

Pastels on sugar paper, 43x59cm.

Even, or perhaps especially, when it's your paramour the instinct is to immediately divert your eyes, look away and draw something else, go back to the stripey stockings or the toes if you can get them on the page. Then, for a while at least, you become totally aware that the sitter (or in this case, the lyingdowner) is giving you the evil eye. Quite disturbing, and in her case, a bit disturbed.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Jacqueline #2. 16 May 2012

Number two (in a series of four) this one was resorting to charcoal, with a smudge of mauve pastel [on her blushing cheeks] that was still on my fingers from the previous drawing:

Charcoal pencil on paper, 59x43cm.

I start at the head (of course) and just let the lines fall down the page like a cascade till I reach her stripey stockings, then there is now where else to go but off the page and up my own arm like a sailors tattoo :o)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Jacqueline #1. 16 May 2012

Whew! I remembered the smarties this week and so my darling wife agreed to sit for me:

Pastels on paper, 59x43cm.

Don't you just love the sartorial elegance with floral patterned skirt and stripey stockings?!!!

Sunny Disposition...

...or, how to brighten up your day when it's otherwise grey!

Mixed media on paper, 59x36cm.

I think I was meant to be Italian, or Spanish. or maybe even Greek. Instead I find myself born and living in Scotland where we never seem to shake off winter, even in May, (or June), (or July). Hopefully August will be nice.
I'm cold all the time...can't seem to shake it off. There's a cold wind blowing in from the north constantly and yesterday dark rainclouds with it. I would be SAD if I wasn't so cheery.
But at least the artist has one way of brightening up the day - paint yourself sunny and warm!

ps: I've never found a job that couldn't be fixed with a ten-pound hammer :o)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Field of Coos

I know I like a bit of excitement and danger but this was an experience I won't forget in a hurry!

Sitting on my little canvas stool at the side of this babbling brook sketching somewhere in the Scottish Highlands, as I am want to do, with no-one for company but a small herd of coos at the far end of the field and a few midges:

"Walkabout Creek". Felt pens on paper in sketchbook, 2x19x25cm.

But coos, as you very well know, are inquisitive beasties and all the time I am sketching I am aware at my back they are now coming my way to check out the talent who has interloped into their field. All the time I am drawing I've got one eye on what's looming up behind me. "Nice coos, nice coos, keep yer distance for I'm not what you think I am...I'm a bloke and a human one at that!" But as they get nearer they start to pick up a bit of speed when I realise to my utter dismay they are too close for comfort and they aren't coos at all - they're young bullocks with an eye for a bit of rough and I'm off my canvas seat and flinging everything I've got across that burn in jig time!

A close shave but at least I survived to tell the tale and happily my adventures will continue for a while yet.

ps: and as for the midges? - well they are not in the mood yet for biting so that was another danger averted!

Sunday, 13 May 2012


You would think I lived in a flower shop sometimes:

Tulips: Neocolours on paper, 43x59cm.

Day Lilies: Felt-tipped pens on paper, in sketchbook, 2x25x19cm.

The organic forms and shapes are always worth exploring - keep you grounded in beautiful reality.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A River Runs Through It

There I was teetering on the edge of an abyss having climbed up from the village of Balquhidder, through the forest which included a wee bit of rock-climbing, and out onto an escarpement with this stunning view almost vertically below, laid out as in a map - a winding river:
River Balvag: Mixed media on paper, in sketchbook, 2x19x25cm.

And to the right, a view of Loch Voil:

Mixed media on paper, in sketchbook, 2x19x25cm.

And after such heady delights it's good to get down on ones knees and not so much pray as study the burgeoning life-force unfurling almost before my very eyes:

Fern. Mixed media on paper, in sketchbook, 19x25cm.

You don't see this sorta thing from a speeding car.

For two whole days we tramped the hills and glens of The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park swooped down on by eagles, tripping over red squirrel, overcome by colourful jays, and fighting off goosander for our fish tea*. Returned home exhausted from sleeping in someone else's bed and partaking of the local brew in the tavern of a one-horse town called Strathyre.

* pure exageration, of course, but we did see two eagles, one red squirrel, three jays, and two what's a bit of hyperbole between friends, eh?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

On Cloud Nine

And so, all the pieces fall into place and what do we find:

Mixed media on paper (collage, acrylics, felt pen), 59x86cm.

A cornucopia of incident - a female figure to the right all wrapped up to keep out the alpine chill, and a single female figure to the left reaching out to make contact with her counterpart across an open shuttered window high above Lake Lucerne in Switzerland where a small sailing boat lazily drifts across the placid waters (watch out for that big red iceberg!).
The Golden Gate Bridge spans the window opening bringing back fond memories of that time ten years ago in San Fransisco when they were both much younger. Both figures float on Cloud Nine (and Ten) happy to once again meet under these unplanned cicumstances. A second female figure, however, hovers on the shoulder of tippy-toe girl unhappy at her own loss. She is angry and confused and thinking how she could put a spike in their relationship.
On the other hand things could be much worse. The mummified male figure on the far left may not feel the cold for he is in fact lifeless and has been for a thousand years. Better to be alive here and now and accept the life we are given and live it to the full.
Like teeny-tiny Tinkerbell, who may be a capricious little tyke, but can also bring forth fun and laughter in an otherwise far too serious a world.

So there you have it...hope you've enjoyed this little interlude in artmaking.

And if you don't understand any of it then so what, it was all just just a dream.

NB: This collage started life simply as one of my Subconscious Musings which, instead of being completed within a day as usual, took over three months in the making changing direction time and again until it's completion just last week.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Caprice #6 (of 6)

The last in the series (hoorah!) and on face value, the least:

Mixed media on paper - collage, acrylics, felt pen.

Nine-and-a-half inch wingspan and seven inches tall this little "tinkerbell*" is no common fairy who mends pots and kettles. She brightens up our lives with her mischievousness leaving a trail of pixie dust in her wake.

She has, of course, personality extremes - at times being capricious and angry, and at others kind and compassionate.

My life would be dull without this little 'Tink'!

* J.M.Barrie

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Caprice #5 (of 6)

The mystery deepens, figures dissolve into primal squares - a patchwork quilt of humanity. Our task is to be non-judgemental, to take pleasure in them for what they are, to accept them for their essential quality:

Mixed media on paper - collage, acrylics, and felt pens.

The excitement is just about too much for me, after seeing this I cannot wait for tomorrow :o)

Subconscious Musing - 5 May 2012

Enjoying this blue-grey sugar paper which shows the white pastels strongly just as much as the black:

Pastels on sugar-paper, 59x86cm.

Undoubtedly this Musing was lying in my subconscious from Thursdays urban sketching trip with the verticallity of the tenement block and then the more horizontal emphasis of the skeletal steel structure.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Caprice 4 (of 6)

Hope you are not wearying of this capriciousness. Not long to go now.

Two mysterious female figures facing us:

Mixed media on paper - collage, acrylics, felt pen.

Who are these wimmin?
Do I know them?
They seem familiar but I can't really place them.
Do they know each other?
Or, are they strangers.
Are they lovers?
Is that why they both have flushed cheeks?
Are they embarassed about something?
Are they just good friends?
Why are they all wrapped up with heavy winter coats on?
Is it cold outside?
Why is the figure at the front standing on her tippy-toes?
Is she trying to catch my eye?
Why is the other figure hanging back?
Is she shy?

So many questions and not sure if there will ever be any answers.

It's a rum do, indeedy-doody!


Tenement and Steel

Wandering around the Garnethill area of Glasgow, just up behind the School of Art where I studied architecture, I came across this new structure under construction:

Mixed media in sketchbook, 2xA4.

Tied to the old sandstone tenement it projects outwards with a new vision of the future for the city. 

Friday, 4 May 2012


Or to give it it's Sunday name, 'Prunus Amanogawa', a Japanese flowering cherry of erect habit. Stands tall and straight even in the teeth of a bitter cold north wind.

Mixed media in sketchbook, 2x25x19cm.

Hope the flowers survive tonight which is forcast minus temperatures and frost.
Summer ain't here yet by a long chalk :o(

Must go and get my long-johns on.

Caprice #3 (of 6)

Half-way there and what do we find - red glacial mountains, a small sailing boat on a placid, red, Lake Lucerne, a suspension bridge from nowhere to nowhere, and strange elongated tenticle-like arms touching as nervous lovers do. Is this a dream? Or am I only a bit feverish?

Mixed media on paper - collage, acrylics, felt pen.

The excitement is getting too much for me...I'll have to go lie down in a darkened room.

See yous tomorrow, toots sweet :o)

Caprice #2 (of 6)

Scrap #2 is a construction of figure parts, technical lettering, and metalic paper suggesting some sort of latter day Barbarella floating in zero gravity and stripping off her space-suit:

Mixed media on paper - collage, acrylics, felt pen.

Only four to go.

Don't miss tomorrow's exciting installment :o)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Caprice #1 (of 6)

Some would say that I am the embodiment of capriciousness [now there's a big word!] - guided by whim, inconstant, irregular, incalculable - and who am I to disagree. And when it comes to art an inclination to fancifulness, even freakish, certainly work of sportive fancy :o)

What follows for the next six days (assuming I find the time to put one up each day without fail) is a set of small scraps or what I call 'Caprices'. Here is the first:

Mixed media on paper (collage and acrylics). 

It's a mystery to me too ;o)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

1 May 2012

I continue the practice of Subconscious Musings every morning that I get into the studio.

The most difficult thing is to quieten down, as in meditation, letting all the frantic thoughts and "designs" crashing through my head dissipate to a murmer before stepping up to the paper and letting the charcoal wander freely/automatically:

Charcoal on paper, 59x86cm.

Perhaps there is becoming a similarity between most of my Musings, but I still get a kick out of developing these somethings from nothing in this way.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Red Socks

Mixed media on canvas, 40x50cm.

A continuation from our weekly drawing session of 5 March this went through quite a few phases to become a painting.

Trying to simplify the shapes and blur the distinction between elements.