CURRENT WORK BLOG

poppy heads oil painting

Monday 16 January 2017

For a long time I have been drawing and painting poppy heads, but none have yet reached a final piece until now. I especially like them when they are in Autumn/Winter and there is open network of skeletal form, but that I am still studying! These are Autumn poppy heads before they have started to rot away and all the lovely reflections and forms you get on their skin. I have also hidden a little camouflaged friend as poppy heads with their seeds are crucial for food for the birds who hang and pull them over as their seeds drop out so they can eat them. Gardeners are too keen to tidy seeds heads are great fuel for the birds throughout the colder months. The bird here is of no particular species and is camouflaged and smaller so the dead heads take priority in the picture ready to be picked and thrown aside.

poppy heads bird oil painting
     
Autumn Trees colour

Tuesday 1 November 2016

The way in which I paint takes often months to years to complete. This is due partially to the oil painting technique in which I use, slowly building up the layers of very thin oil paint. The other reason, like all artists is due to adding, taking away and tweaking the paintings until it is absolutely right. This is the case with Farewell to Autumn shown left and the close up on the right. This painting I have had in my studio for a while, and have wanted to show the autumn colours, the avenue of equally spaced trees planted by man, giving the landscape an un-natural symmetry and the leaves each a carefully painted pentagon to create the forest floor. Recently I have completed it by adding in the far distance a landscape inspired by the South Downs with the final creature leaving for warmer climbs. The texture in this work disrupts the calmness of the image is a metaphor for the underlying nature that we do not see or understand.

Autumn trees colour
     
Dahlia flower pink

Tuesday 27 September 2016

The symmetry within Dahlias are irresistible. I have admired these flowers for so long. These two paintings of Dahlia's hopefully show the precision in which the petals are arranged. The work is textured, as a lot of my paintings are to show that nature is not just what we see on the surface, but there is so much more that we do not see or realise.

Dahlia flower pink oil painting
     
Teasel oil painting

Tuesday 12 July 2016

The Teasel on the left is another painting in progress as I am working towards the background and teasel having muted colours so that the turquoise of the butterfly is illuminated and leaps from the board.

The two mixed media works on the right are made from seeds and pressed flowers. I have spent so many years painting the natural world that I thought I would like to start using it! These have been mixed with painting mediums too and I have mounted them in sealed box frames.

     
oil painting flowers daisy garden

Monday 9 May 2016

Both these paintings are works in progress. The right painting still has a tree and bluebells to be added and is called Storm. I was driving from Wisborough Green towards Billingshurst and saw the dark moody sky against the pale harvested field from last year, and was struck by the contrast and colours.

On the left is Under the Daisy, and still needs butterflies and bugs added to the background in camouflage. I like the idea that this is a glimpse into a colourful world on a minute scale.

storm landscape oil painting
     
sussex landscape oil painting

Tuesday 8 March 2016

As I travel around the Sussex countryside the colours of the landscapes and seascapes are captured in my head. Sussex has extraordinary large skies compared to the neighbouring counties of Surrey and Hampshire; this isn’t because the skies are any smaller but simply because Sussex is less wooded and has big expanses of open fields especially around the South Downs. I love crossing the Devils Dyke and dropping down into Brighton this way because you can see the sea with rolling hills in front and a large backdrop of sky. These skies can be stunning in the autumn, as I’m often out and about when the sun is setting and the myriad of colours of the whole landscape is simply breath-taking. Therefore I have spent a day in the studio getting these images out of my head as they get stuck in there until they are painted and take up precious head room until I can paint them out!!. So the paintings left and right are not specific landscapes but colours and atmosphere from the Sussex landscape that my head captures!

 

sussex landscape oil painting
     
Echinaceas oil painting bird

Monday 22 February 2016

The painting on the left, "Echinaceas" depicts the end of season flowers as the echinaceas die they create amazing shapes and forms with their petals.  Unbelievably, these have been painted with the colours relatively true to life with the pinks, oranges and purples of the curling petals contorting into different shapes as the petals dry out and turn to a dark red/brown.  The centres become cone shaped as the flowers age, giving Echinacea’s their common name of cone flower and the centre really does have bright orange spikes against a dark brown/blue centre.  I painted this picture from the beauty I saw in their death, and their seeds will bring life to birds throughout the winter, I have camouflaged a goldfinch into the background who like to feast on the large seeds of Echinacea and Teasel.

Even though the painting is of the end of summer and of flowers dying, they are perennial plants and will return year after year.  It took me several years before I was successful in growing them because the slugs and snails love to eat them!   I have got round the problem, by growing them in a very large pot outside my back door so I can keep a beady eye on their growing progress and remove any offending molluscs!

The painting on the right of Violas is concerned with the miniscule that we ignore.  I love Violas as they are vibrant colours, like jewels that shine up at you early in the season, when you think that the garden is still asleep.  That is why I have tried to make the flowers glow from the board, by mixing the opposite colours of purple and yellow, so they fight for supremacy, and of course naturally occur within the viola and pansy family.

 

pansies violas flowers purple
     
flowers rudbeckias oil painting

Monday 18 January 2016

The painting on the left of Rudbeckias are of the bright yellow flowers that brighten up our gardens each summer, however the background is an abstract based upon the patterns found within butterfly wings. I didn’t want the butterflies to be identifiable as the Rudbeckia flowers in my garden often have a cloud of butterflies around them so that the scene becomes a jumble of flowers and insects which is why I have painted the background in this way.

Autumn Colours has been inspired by the trees changing colour. I love autumn because the colours are so vivid and all I can see is the colour and the forms of the landscape that they are in becomes secondary, which is why I have simplified the forest view to the brightly coloured path covered in leaves as an almost mirror image of the canopy above.

Autumn colours trees
     
butterfly linocut

Wednesday 15 July 2015

This summer I have enjoyed making little pictures for the browser for my exhibition. I enjoy the process of linocuts as it slows the creative process down quite considerably. However rather than mixing my colours in the print I have chosen to hand-colour them with watercolour looking back to the hand-coloured prints in books of the past. Again my subject is to with the nature that surrounds me including “Butterfly” on the left and “Summers Day” on the right inspired by the flowers waving in the warm summer breeze surrounded by insects in search of sugar.

daisies insects linocut
     
Dandelion fly seed head

Monday 8 June 2015

This painting is concerned with the minutia that surrounds us, and the fly shown is no larger than my smallest finger nail.  The plant which the fly is on, is a dead dandelion, the drooping petals and sepals around the bare centre as the clock seeds are long gone.  As with my Spiral painting depicting the pattern of the centre of the flowers, you can see that more spirals can be found in the seed placement on the dandelion head.  Each dot on the empty dandelion head is the space where the seed has left behind, showing us the spiral arrangement of the clock.  This weed is not as mundane as it first appears.

At first glance I like the idea that it is not so easy to tell what this painting is of, the dandelion head could be a jellyfish, yet more forms in nature repeating in different places.  This also isn’t instantly recognisable because it is so small, and it was not obvious until I bent down to photograph it that even I saw the fly.

The colours are inspired by the changing light during the day, and this is based at the end of the day under a tree so that the shadows are casting many different colours upon the plant and fly, but it is pretty accurate to what I saw, even if a little over-emphasised!

 

dandelion fly pen and ink
     
     
     
landscape sea sky

Monday 18 May 2015

These are studies of cloud formations above the sea, and the colours captured in the darkening skies of the sunset (right) or the bright early morning skies (left) on a sunny day. I am always fascinated by the changing colours and light during the day, and how the sky can suddenly darken that you need to put lights on and in an hours time, the storm clouds have passed and the sun is again streaming through the windows. These paintings are of the ever changing skies and the dramatic colours.

sky sea landscape
     
foxglove bee flower oil painting

Tuesday 10 March 2015

This painting of a foxglove may not look immediately as though it has anything to do with mathematics, but there is a distinctive shape and pattern to the bells that repeat up the stem, this has been over-emphasised by me, by ensuring that each bell has a very similar shape. There is a distinct shift in this painting as I am no longer looking down upon the flower, but up at it, as if from an insect’s point of view, and have begun a series of paintings with this view point. This is because it is not the way we normally view our flowers or our gardens, so I spend my time lying on my tummy in the undergrowth trying to snap that view, and it is only from that view that you notice the bee disappear into the bell for pollen. I like how this makes the foxglove imposing, and majestic, looking down upon us viewing the painting. It reminds me of the imposing frescoes of Christ in the churches in Italy, reminding us that we are mere mortals, and in the case of the Foxglove we are at the mercy of nature.

The background is inspired by the skies of Sussex and the stunning colours that just take my breath away. Sussex has few trees which make you believe the sky is bigger than in the neighbouring wooded counties of Surrey and Hampshire. This majestic painting of a Foxglove is reminding us that it should be admired, but is invariably ignored as it brightens-up our roadside verges.

flower oil painting foxglove bee
     
peony flower butterfly camouflage oil painting

Monday 12 January 2015

The painting on the left is of a peony and camouflaged butterfly and is a close up detail of a much larger painting. I like to emphasise the colours that I see, the Peony here is a white one and the inspiration for the colour ways, is from the other coloured flowers being reflected onto the petals and the changing light during the day casting shadows and colours across the white flower. I love growing them and I appreciate the fragility of the large pristine flowers. Of course this so often means that I have to run out during early summer storms and pick the blooms for the house so that they are not completely ruined!

pen and ink flower peony
     

 

daisy flower spirals painting

 

Daisy oil painting blue

Monday 3 November 2014

These are my current works in progress all hopefully to be finished ready for my solo show to open on Monday 15 December at the Ropetackle.

The Daisy on the left will have a spiral of butterflies flying towards the centre. The centre itself is made up of 55 spirals created by very small butterflies themselves each representing the small bud that is found in the centre of daisies. This is exploring the patterns on the smallest scale around us, a close up can be seen below.

Bumblebee on the right is a detailed close up of a bumblebee, a harmless insect that does anything it can not to sting, but I so frequently see them angrily swatted and mistaken as a threat. This painting is a positive portrayal of a bumble bee.

The Peony below is the pair to Helenium, which I have painted in such a way to look as thought it could be an insect itself, this still needs further painting to emphasise this.

 

 

Bumble bee oil painting

 

     
Helenium red flower

Tuesday 14 October 2014

I painted the Helenium on the left, which was taken from my garden, I liked the natural shape that the petals created, because the petals on the top left and right looked as though they were antennae themselves.

Consequences on the right is of a fluttering butterfly, this was inspired by my photo below, that was taken at Wisley, when they filled their glasshouses earlier in the year with butterflies. The title is referring to the idea that we are unable to determine the cause of a butterfly flapping it's wings in a forest, the famous metaphor for chaos theory, although I use it to some extent in a frivolous way, it does have very valid overtones to the nature that surrounds us. Nature is ordered, butterflies themselves, have scales across the surface of their wings that are ordered and grown in a geometric pattern, but these are hidden from us, all we perceive is the chaotic fluttering, as they flit from one flower to the next. Chaos of course is not chaotic, it is the mathematical investigation and discovery into the idea that nature is ordered and logical and even what we consider as random acts (chaos) can be mathematically predicted.

 

 

   

Thursday 28 August 2014

High Altitude on the left is my fascination with the idea that the majority of nature, and the lives of the insects around us we are completely unaware of. High above us, where we may need help with our oxygen supply insects of all kinds, flies and butterflies are being swept across seas, and travelling many miles to new lands using thermal air currents. The clouds and sky was inspired by the many large skies in Sussex, and the stunning colours that I see. Over the top in fine layers butterfly shapes can be seen in various shapes of flight.

On the right Sunflower Spirals is a drawing in Pen inspired by the intricacies of the geometry that we can see in many "daisy" type flowers and most easily seen in Sunflowers because of the size of the seeds. I am completely fascinated by this geometry and will probably be still drawing and painting variations of it for years to come. I have drawn 55 spirals and this is a Fibonacci number, significant in nature as these numbers re-occur time and time again. I have used ladybirds to depict the seeds in the centre of the Sunflower.

A Hungry Mollusc has been inspired by the many slugs and snails that are around this year because of the incredibly damp weather. Snails have even been eating the petals on my flowers... yep the petals, so I thought it only right to depict a snail full of flowers, after all there must be many in my garden full of daisy petals!!! I love daisy type flowers and I grow everything from Ox-eyes, Gazanias, Rudbeckias and Sunflowers. I can unhappily report the slugs and snails particularly like to eat my Gazanias and Rudbeckias! :(

 

pen and ink snail

 

     

 

Monday 16 June 2014

Spiral Swarm on the left, is a daisy with the 55 spirals in the centre, set into an ellipse as though you are looking across at the daisy. Surrounding the daisy are ladybirds all moving in a spiral formation to reflect the spirals within the daisy. I chose ladybirds, because when I walk through the wild area of garden, amongst the Ox Eye daisies, ragged robin and many other wild flowers and you pause just for a few moments, you will see so many insects that you previously haven't seen. Ladybirds are much more abundant than you realise, as are many others, that are all around us, but are only seen when we stop our busy lives and begin to look and notice just for a few moments.

The three works on the right and below are studies, and experimental works exploring different ways of painting. I love to explore unpredictable ways of using paint and mixing many medias. My fascination with branches, and the structure of these, has interested me for a long time, the bare branch is considered to be a fractal as a tiny branch is the same shape and style of the overall tree and it is only the scale in which we see that allows us to determine whether it is a branch or a tree.

Over the years I have frequently used texture as it disrupts the image, a subtle way in which I can show the viewer that even though the image on the right is of a simple buttercup, flowers are not all they seem, they are complex organisms, growing in spiral formations, containing hormones that allow them to grow up or down or towards the sun. Texture simply shows it is not a simple flat image, but there is more to the subject than what is shown.

I often change the colour of my work as I want to enrich the beauty of the colours I see, I cannot improve upon nature, but all the fine tones and subtleties of greens for example aren't seen. So I try to divorce the colour from the subject, so we look at the colour and the form of the subject in a different way.

 

     
tree insects watercolour fern pattern

Wednesday 22 April 2014

The red tree is formed from lots of bugs that can be found in leaf litter, including silverfish, centipedes and rove beetles. These beetle create the contours of the patterns found in bark. Surrounding the tree are shapes inspired by ferns indicating that this is the undergrowth from a woodland. The idea is that the tree sheds it's leaves and creates the leaf litter vital for the insects, that subsequently break the leaf litter down to become soil/compost that gives the plants, such as the tree vital nutrients. This ecosystem inspired the title , "tree of life" because each of these elements are interdependent on each other. An insect has a vital role in the world around us.

     

Friday 28 February 2014

Inspired by the Winter's weather I created the painting bottom left, "It's Raining Again" which lets the paint destroy the painted contours of the landscape and the sky. In contrast to the picture above it, called 'Summer Ladies' where the background consists of many ladybirds, in contrast to the Rudbeckia in the foreground. This has been created from mixed media as has the painting on the right which is looking up into an Aquilegia flower an unusual perspective as these flowers usually hang down.

     

Thursday 30 January 2014

Left is an oil study of Cranes Bill, an indigenous wildflower to the UK, cultivated into Geraniums and is in many gardens. Few notice the shape of a Geranium, 5 Petals with 2 sets of 5 stamens in the centre. Even the leaf has 5 distinct pointed parts. The multi-coloured background is of 5 sided polygons, emphasising the pentagonal nature of this plant. The painting below is one of the under layers of painting that then gets built up by layering translucent layers of oil.

The painting to the right has snowflake shapes underneath this very thin layer of oil painting. I have left drips in the sunrise sky to slightly expose the layer beneath which again is seen through the thin pale green/blue frost layer of the grass in the bottom half.

 

     
landscape sussex oil painting fields

Friday 29 November 2013

To the right, Autumn Pentagons is named because each leaf on the ground has been created by painting a 5 pointed leaf. This was done into wet paint so they have blended slightly giving a textured look to give the feeling that you are walking through an autumn wood. The focus of the painting is low, so that the viewer sees what is beneath their feet.

To the left, A Study of Stripes and Curves is of a cut wheat field and the stripes that it creates disappearing into the background. The series of curves creating the landscape that is so indicative of the Sussex rolling hills. The plain blue sky is in contrast against the geometry of the warm colours of the harvested fields.

     

 

 

geometry landscape oil painting

Thursday 26 September 2013

"Rye Field" is an oil on board painting depicting the half harvested Rye Field in Sussex on a walk just behind where I live. As I was lying down photographing the Rye against the moody sky I could see the small insects and flies still landing on the remaining Rye seen below. The public footpath cuts right across the field, which is walked through by many, but it isn't until you stop and sit quietly before you see the wildlife, the stoat rushing across the path, and the flies visiting the remains of the crop.

The second landscape, "Geometric Landscape", is exploring the forms found in the landscape, the tree mirrors the mountains with geometric lines and shapes. The colours celebrate the diverse palette that the landscape gives us across the day with the varying light.

     
spirals daisies oil painting

All daisy type flowers whether they are huge sunflowers, or Ox-Eye daisies have tiny flowers that make up their yellow/orange centres. These open and release pollen, the open flowers create the fluffy edge to the centre. This is hardly discernible by the naked eye, but instead can be seen under a microscope.

I have tried to show in "Spirals" that these little flowers make up the interlocking spirals we see in the centre of daisy type flowers. This is a bee's eye view flying through a field of Daisies in June. Snaking through the bottom of the painting is some goose grass, a weed, but a geometric beauty because of the arrangement of it's leaves.

     
flower oil painting bugs purple

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Overpopulated #1 (to the left) is a painting of a scabious with the centre replaced with a swarm of ladybirds, but the ladybirds have been manipulated to emulate the small petals of the scabious itself. Similarly in Overpopulated #2 on the right is of 3 Aquilegia where the stamens have been replaced with insects. These insects in both paintings should not be overly obvious when you first look at them but revealed as you look closer. People generally shy away from insects but their relationship is imperative to the shaping and well being of our landscape.

aquilegia flowers oil painting
     
cow parsley colour fly flower i love Cow Parsley, it is so elegant, and I wanted to show it's whispy-ness. I achieved this by working into wet paint, and have put colour into the background to emphasise the subject. As I sit in my garden I watch all the insects that are attracted to it, including flies, and am always surprised at how many flies visit flowers, and simply by brushing pollen must have a plant reproductive purpose too. So on the crest of the flowers I have a camouflaged fly, merged into the background. This is continuing my theme of celebrating the small flowers, and insects that are all around us.