Welcome to a blog in which you will find examples of my work in two areas and comments on whatever topics come to mind.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Oil on Canvas Board 9 x 12 in (24 x 30 cm)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Oil on Canvas 40 x 70 cm

Rubens's Helene again.  I took my time over this one.  But she's still 16.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Oil on Canvas Board 17.5 x 23.75 cm


The acquirer of the original of this small painting, suspecting it to have been by Leonardo, turned sleuth. It was on vellum, a support never used by Leonardo, but a carbon test proved the vellum to be 15th century. Leonardo's works normally bear a thumb print; one was found here, but unfortunately too slight to be of use. It could have been anybody's thumb print, a forger's. The peculiar head dress claimed attention; a historian of Renaissance costume declared it to have been the fashion for a short time at the court of the Sforzas -- a time during which Leonardo was known to have worked there. The subject, then, would have been a young lady of importance, connected to the court.  But who was she, and why would she have been considered a subject for Leonardo? The owner, in a process of elimination, after sifting through relevant drawings and paintings, settled on Bianca Sforza, illigitimate daughter of one of the Sforzas. She was young, beautiful, marriagiable. Noticing three small equidistantly spaced holes along the extreme lefthand edge of the vellum, the owner realized that this might have been a page taken from a book. That would explain the use of vellum. Further, that the book might have been a celebratory work, dedicated to Bianca, perhaps on the occasion of her marriage. So far, mere speculation; but now, the affair having been aired in scholarly circles, out of the blue came advice from a professor at an American university: 'Go to Warsaw, where there is just such a book.'  This advice proved decisive: the book in the Warsaw archives was missing a page, the painting page matched the size of the book pages, the three holes coincided exactly with the strings of the binding. The book's contents showed it to have been a celebratory work for Bianca to mark her marriage.

History records that the marriage of the young Bianca Sforza took place, and -- sadly -- that she died not long afterwards, giving birth to her first child.

Monday, June 11, 2012

After Rubens's Helene Fourment

Oil on Canvas Board 13 x 18 in (33 x 46 cm)

This is my first serious attempt to portray Rubens's second wife, Helen.  Below is the original.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Late Sumer Scene

Oil on Canvas Board  9.5 x 12 in

I haven't gone in for 'challenges' much recently, but I had fun doing this -- for Daily Paint Works http://www.dailypaintworks.com/.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Quick Sketch of Peter Paul Rubens's Painting of his Second Wife

Oil on Canvas Sheet 25 x 30cm

In 1630, four years after the death of his first wife, Rubens, aged 53, married the 16 year-old Helene Fourment.  Helen inspired the voluptuous figures of later paintings.

Helene is a lady I am anxious to know -- in a manner of speaking; as I've begun a large painting of Rubens' painting of her for the atelier I belong to in Bordeaux; which is serious and will take a long time.  I've looked at her a lot, in order to go on seeing her when I'm away and can close my eyes -- the tilt of her small black hat, the transparency of the material covering her right shoulder, the glint of her jewellery, the colour of her skin and many-hued hair, those floating ostritch plumes, and the grey-green-blue background on ochre and orange underpainting, the relationship between one thing and another.

This was done quickly, without drawing, a matter of taking a deep breath and just plunging in.  Good to do that occasionally. Rough work.  An exercise.  An approach.  She might recognize herself -- but only just.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Parc des Batignolles, Paris, 1890s; after Ambrose Andre

Oil on Canvas Frame 14 x 22in (38 x 55cm)

After a painting by the late and not well known 19th century French artist, Ambrose Andre -- typically Impressionist, an innocent subject, joyful and sunlit and full of colour.  I found this a challenge, partly because it is a much larger canvas than my usual.  It was done for the Atelier Magie des Couleurs, Bordeaux.