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

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Oil on Canvas Sheet  9.5 x 12in (24 x 30cm)

These two old friends have been in my family for a long time. You might take them for representing Beauty and Utility.  But in fact, no one has ever known what to put in the red lacquered box, and, while inviting something exotic -- old maps, forgotten wills, love letters -- it remains empty. The blue of the vase is indeed exquisite (not of course done justice to in my painting).  The vase has lived dangerously since the 18th century, perched precariously on its elaborately carved stand. Both objects have, for me, what certain South Sea islanders call 'baraka' -- a power instilled by years of human handling and affection.
This was my submission to Alice Thompson's Calypso Moon Artist Movement challenge for March 2010.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hommage à Chardin

Oil on Canvas 18 x 24cm (9 x 10in)

This is my attempt to approach Chardin’s Jatte de prunes, une pêche et un pot d’eau, c.1728. 45 X 56.8cm; Washington, the Phillips Collection.


I’ve been poring over an old issue of the Connaissance des Arts devoted to an exhibition of the work of Charles Siméon Chardin, 1699 – 1779, held at the Grand Palais, Paris, in 1999. I knew that he was considered marginal by the Rococo standards of his day; that he flouted the codes of the Académie by painting in earth tones still lifes featuring household objects not thought worthy of attention, servants caught in moments of reverie while washing clothes or peeling an onion, simple arrested gestures in the lives of women, girls and children; in preference to idyllic landscapes with numphs and shepherds or huge canvases of literary or historical subjects, or elegant scenes of court life. But I did not know – and was glad to discover – that he was largely self-educated; that he showed little promise to begin with; that he was poor at drawing; that he was always a slow worker. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Oil on Canvas 18 x 15in (46 x 38cm)

The lady cogitates, wonders whether to apply a touch more white lead, noticing herself older today than she was yesterday morning, before the ball..
Why paint the past? -- In this case merely because an old print of an 18th century pencil sketch of table and lady came to hand and I started on the drapery, thinking it would be a good exercise in dealing in colour with the folds, highlights and shadows, and of course texture, rendered in the drawing.  Once started, I felt obliged to provide a setting; and this became in the end quite elaborate.  Other than that, though, I could equally turn the question:  Why not paint the past -- at least occasionally?. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Half Jug with Two and a Half Oranges


Oil on Painting Paper 9.5 x 12in

This is my entry for the new Rookie Painter blog challenge.  I send best wishes for success and long life to the new enterprise.  .

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow in Paris

Oil on Canvas 30 x 4Ocm (12 x 16in)

Snow is much in the news this week -- Washington up to its waist in it; much of the U.K. ditto.  Well, it snows in Paris too, but not as much.  This exercise in 'Snow Pointilisme' came partly from a false memory syndrome:   I thought I recalled the great Impressionists -- Monet, Sisley especially -- having painted snow when it was falling; but I was wrong.  They wisely waited till the snow was on the ground (cf. Sisley's 'Road at Louveciennes,' and Monet's 'La Pie,' that wonderfully lit snowed-in gate with the magpie perched on it).  No, it's not easy and quite time consuming making all these snowflakes, and all equidistant from each other!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Oil on Canvas Board 18 x 24cm (7 x 9 1/2in)

   A summer day on the Champs de l’Elysée, belonging to a young woman who strides in the prime of health and beauty, 'assured of certain certainties' -- one of these being that she has the world at her feet.

Monday, February 1, 2010



  Turkey is or was a great place to start a bicycle trip, as I found a few years back, when I started with a girl friend (subsequently my wife) from Izmir (ancient Smyrna) down the gorgeous Anatolian coast.  A couple of cyclists was a novel sight for the inhabitants. Cruise ships, yes; solitary cyclists no.  The classical sites, the scenery, the friendly people -- all made for an unforgettable trip.
  Intrigued by the stories, half legendary, half authentic, of Croesus -- the alledgedly fabulously rich king of what is now south-west Turkey -- I wrote the noveL.

  Here is a resumé:

 While touring the classical sites of south-western Turkey during the early 1980s the beautiful American wife of a rich dealer in Middle Eastern artifacts finds herself mysteriously stranded in Ephesus, and obliged to seek help from a Scottish archaeologist who faces the even more puzzling – and graver – problem of having just killed in self-defence an unknown assailant.  Subsequent events assume a disquieting resemblance to those in a tale, half history, half myth, concerning a beautiful and murderous queen, her lover, and the fate of Croesus, last king of the region.
Order from Trafford Publishing, http://www.trafford.com/Bookstore/BookSearchResults.aspx?Search=osler.  $13.99. Or from the author.